Frankenstein in Heels: Women and Monsters

Did you know that there’s only been one female version of the Frankenstein monster? Of course I don’t mean that there’s only ever been one female character to be re-animated on film, and I’m also not referring to the “brides”, but speaking strictly of Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s creation, only one lady has ever filled those enormous shoes.

German born Austrian model/actress Susan Denberg was and, as far as I know, still is the only female to play a Frankenstein monster…and, well, that kinda sucks.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with the actress herself, Denberg (as you can clearly see) was an absolutely beautiful  woman with one heck of a body, and as an actress she wasn’t half bad. I first saw her in Frankenstein Created Woman about twenty years ago, at around 2am, on a sleepless summer night, and all I could think was wow, a female monster? Be still my tween heart; I was shocked, awed and won over by her subtle performance as the ill-fated Christina.

But…

As I got older, old enough to have watched most (if not all) versions of Frankenstein, I started to wonder about the lady monster. I wondered why she was so beautiful; beauty is no crime of course, but the classical idea of a Frankenstein monster doesn’t exactly bring to mind blond locks and a flawless feminine physique. In short, where the bloody hell were her scars?

Seriously, every Frankenstein monster before and after has had scars or, at the very least, had been grotesque; why not the girl? From Lee to Karloff to DeNiro and even Aaron Eckhart, despite being build like a navy seal in that awful movie I Frankenstein, he was still sporting a road map of scars all over. Not that it diminished his overall prettiness in the least…

Ahem, apologies, I drifted.

Now, I get the whole idea of the film, wherein Dr. Frankenstein takes a disfigured young woman (a red patch of scar tissue on the left side of her face) and, after re-animating her, makes her beautiful. That’s alright I guess, but it feels like a cop out.

Imagine how cool it would be if Frankenstein was re-imagined (yes, I hate that expression too) with a female in the role as the monster, scars and all. Picture it, Victor Frankenstein sets out to make a woman out of bits and pieces he finds in the morgues and graves of Ingolstadt. A female torso, maybe male arms, odds and ends and mismatched parts all put together to make a monster. A monstrous woman who rages against her creator, a stitched-up pissed off ex-dead chick that, really, just wants to be loved.

Dibs! Dibs, dibs, dibs. My idea! T fucking M!

The more I thought about Frankenstein, the more I came to realize that there are no female monsters, not really, not in the strictest sense of the word. I mean, think about it, women have no Freddy Krueger, no Jason or Wishmaster, there’s no female version of The Fly getting all slimy and gross and puking on her food. Salma Hayek might have transformed into a snake/vampire thing in From Dusk Til Dawn, but dammit, she still had lipstick on and her boobs were still perfect. I don’t get it.

And yeah, I know there are a couple of exceptions, like Angela from Night of the Demons, Alien Chick in Species, Ginger and her Snaps; they all turned to monsters BUT it didn’t last. When a female villain transforms into whatever demon/alien/werewolf it’s for a limited amount of time, and even then, they’re not usually all that fucked up looking anyway. When transformed, the alien in Species has big pointy boobs and washboard abs for fuck’s sake. Does Jason have a huge, bulging package or does Freddy have a six pack? Fuck no, Freddy has nasty scarred skin and dead people’s heads where his abs would be.

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So why not the girls?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I wanna see actresses get in touch with their inner monster. Dream demons, deformed (and death proof) slashers with a mommy complex, full fledged monster transformations; shit, even a female Hellboy would be nice.

Come on, there’s gotta be actresses with the guts to pull it off. Jennifer Lawrence is pretty ballsy, I bet she’d be a great movie monster. Like maybe as a scientist who perfects teleportation, but oh no, a fly is in there with her, but it’s too late, dum dum dummmmmm, cue the puss and melty face make-up. Studios are remaking every other bloody movie anyway, I can’t imagine The Fly could be very far behind on the list…but I suppose originality would be too much to ask.

Does it even make a difference if we have women as monsters, not only in behavior but in looks as well? Well yeah, it does make a difference. It doesn’t make sense to have gruesome, legendary male villains and on our end to have alien boobs, lipstick vampires and monsters that are more caricatures than characters.

The one recent exception I bca74f07bb95d53ce8b522a5b0a28ccfcan think of is the wicked ghost Bathsheba in The Conjuring, that was one intensely unsexy villain. But guess what? The talented performer who portrayed the hideous Bathsheba was a MAN! Why? Was there no female actor capable of looking ugly enough for the role? Bah!

And before anyone asks, no, this is not some woman’s lib rant, there’s a time and a place for that of course, but it’s not here and it’s not now. I’m just really tired of this subconscious expectation that female villains must always look good and have feminine traits or only transform into their monstrous alter egos for less than a minute, and even then they’re still kinda pretty.

Well fuck that noise!

Women can be equally as gross, equally as fierce and most definitely equally as terrifying as any of our classic male cinematic monsters. I would definitely go see a movie with a female beast as the antagonist, and I know for a fact that there’s plenty of people, regardless of gender, that would agree with me. Anyway, the big bad man monster concept is getting kinda tired, and worse yet, all the greats are either too old, too not alive or just plain retiring their razor gloves.

Of course, Hollywood could (and probably will) just start all over and remake everything, even the stuff they’ve already remade…even if remakes usually suck a hairy nutsack. Instead of all that mess, it would be awesome if some sassy horror chicks just rubbed off their make-up, put on their game face and just went full monster…but please, for fuck’s sake, leave the lipstick at home.

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