British actor Boris Karloff is seen in his trademark role as the monster of Frankenstein in this 1947 photograph.

Quick, name the two most famous "horror" creations in literature, film, popular media and Halloween costumes.

Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, right?

Well, one of them, or rather the book about one of them, celebrated its 200th birthday Jan. 1. I would have written this column then, had I known.

The book, “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” gets its name from the doctor, the prototype "mad scientist," who reanimates a crudely constructed corpse composed of parts of several men. The book's title, of course, refers to the scientist, Victor Frankenstein. The monster is never named in the book, but is usually referred to as "the creature," "the monster" or some other equally unflattering term.

The story has an unusual origin. The author, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, her poet lover – and later husband – Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron were vacationing in Switzerland, near Lake Geneva.

It was a dark and stormy summer …

The weather that summer of 1816 turned out to be cold, wet and miserable, so the three decided to stay indoors by the fireplace most of the time where, for amusement, they translated German ghost stories into French. Remember, these were educated people!

Tiring of this, at some point the trio decided to have a little contest to see which of them could come up with the best original ghost story. Mary, who was just 18 years old at the time, came up with the story that eventually became the basis for her novel, which she worked on for two years. It was published when she was 20, on Jan. 1, 1818, in London.

The novel was written in the form of a series of letters

Although best known as the poet Shelley’s wife and as the author of “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley wrote at least seven other novels, as well as short stories and some non-fiction. She died in 1851 at the age of 53 and is buried in the cemetery of St. Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

Her book has been translated into more languages than you can shake an electrode at. It has been made into plays, a ballet, motion pictures, comic books — my brother and I had the “Classics Illustrated” version — and even inspired a breakfast cereal, “Frankenberry.”

There is an old saying:

“From Ghoulies and Ghosties

And long-legged Beasties,

Good Lord, deliver Us!”

But really, down deep, we like to be scared.

So, you know your "Frankie," do you?

1. Where does the novel begin? Where does the novel end?

2. What happened to the monster in the novel?

3. Knowledgeable literary critics consider “Frankenstein” to be the first true example of what literary genre?

4. A quotation from what classic English book is printed on the opening page of Shelley’s novel?

5. Who starred in the title role in the 1935 motion picture, “The Bride of Frankenstein?”

6. The “classic” film adaptation of the novel was Universal Picture’s 1931 “Frankenstein.” what contributions to the film did Jack Pierce and Kenneth Strickfaden make?

7. What did it cost to produce the 1931 black-and-white film?

8. What was Boris Karloff’s real name?

9. When was the first film adaptation of the novel made and by whom?

10. What is the name of the funniest movie spoof of the novel?


1. On an ice floe near the North Pole, on an ice floe near the North Pole.

2. It escaped. “He sprang from the cabin window as he said this, upon the ice raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne

away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”

3. Science Fiction

4. John Milton's “Paradise Lost.”

5. Elsa Lancaster starred as the "creature's mate" in 1935's “The Bride of Frankenstein,” the first sequel to the 1931 Universal Pictures’ Frankenstein film starring Boris Karloff as the monster.

6. Pierce did the makeup, notably on Karloff, and Strickfaden was responsible for all the electrical gizmos in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory.

7. $262,000. It has grossed a reported $12 million.

8. Born William Henry Pratt (1887-1969), he was married five times and had a career as an actor that spanned 60 years. He died at the age of 81.

9. In 1910, Thomas Edison produced a black-and-white, silent version of Frankenstein, with Charles Ogle as the monster.

10. Hands down, it would have to be Mel Brooks' “Young Frankenstein” (1974), starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr, with Peter Boyle as the monster.

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O.C. Stonestreet is the author of "Tales from Old Iredell County," "They Called Iredell County Home" and "Once Upon a Time ... in Mooresville, NC."