It seems appropriate that Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” has been hacked up and stitched back together into various cinematic forms over the years as audiences have been subjected to wacky re-imaginings of the novel. The latest attempt to reconfigure the 19th century sci-fi/horror masterpiece will come courtesy of Max Landis, who has penned a new take for Fox.
During a recent interview, the screenwriter discussed his screenplay, which actually started as an original project before Landis realized he had unwittingly written a riff on “Frankenstein.” Calling his idea “touching” and “exciting,” he insists that this won’t be some “dark and gritty retelling,” nor will it be an “action re-imagining” in the vein of “The Mummy.”
Instead, “it’s ultimately about the characters,” and his version will actually be told from the perspective of Igor, the stock hunchback character that has populated horror films throughout the ages. The character didn’t even originate with Shelley’s novel or even in the original Universal Frankenstein, where the mad doctor’s assistant was actually Dwight Frye’s Fritz.
Instead, Ygor didn’t properly debut until 1939’s “Son of Frankenstein,” Universal’s second sequel that introduced Bela Lugosi as a deranged blacksmith who uses Frankenstein’s monster to exact revenge on those who attempted to hang him for allegedly stealing bodies.
Since then, countless riffs on Igor have persisted in other version of Frankenstein and beyond, and Landis is well aware of the misconceptions surrounding the character. After scouring through multiple versions of “Frankenstein” throughout the years, he realized that “we were missing the Igor that everyone seemed to know,” which gave him pause.
With the exception of Mel Brooks’s “Young Frankenstein” spoof, Igor as a hunchbacked assistant to the doctor is a bit of a myth. As such, Landis’s new version will attempt to reclaim the character and spawn a movie that stays true to a “version that only lives in the zeitgeist and has never really existed.”
He went on to explain that he hopes to do it in “an intelligent, hopefully, thoughtful way” in a film that will explore “friendship and science, genius and madness, love and ambition, life and death.” Instead of using Shelley’s original novel as a starting point, he’s taking the clichéd framework of “guy with hunchbacked assistant makes monster” and reworking it into something that’s “fun, sad, scary, and, hopefully, touching.”
Paul McGuigan will direct Landis’s script, and the film is currently in the process of nabbing Daniel Radcliffe, who is in talks for the Igor role. Production is expected to get underway this fall, which should put the film on track for a 2014 release.