Why did they add the abnormal/normal brain thing in the Frankenstein movie

doesn’t it kinda miss the whole point of the book

[Go ahead and risk getting whooshed people, not me…]

It did, and there was no need for it. The monster – even in the original James Whale film – was not really all that abnormal or murderous. He only killed after being provoked and by accident (because he didn’t know little girls didn’t float).

Abby … someone.

It does, indeed. And it’s not in the Peggy Webling play the movie script is at least nominally adapted from. I suspect that they wanted some way to explain why it was the creature seems to act in an evil fashion, or perhaps explain why it doesn’t simply act like it has an ordinary person’s mind in a monster’s body.
As i’ve explained elsewhere, in the book the creature isn’t stitched together from old corpses – it’s as if Frankenstein uses old bodies as raw materials from which to construct his creature, rather than as if he were building a car from parts he got from parts yards and chop shops. He even uses material from animal bodies in the book – which is perfectly understandable if you’re just getting biological compounds, rather than sewing together whole parts. The creature’s brain reallt was supposed to be a tabula rasa, not a Dead Guy’s Brain sewed into a cobbled-together collection of corpses.

And, yes, the movie does miss the point. Stephen Jay Gould wrote an essay about precisely this. Another one appeared in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer about a year or two ago.
The thing is, the films just can’t seem to get away from this notion. Besides the 1931 Universal film (and the 1975 parody Young Frankenstein – “Abby …Somebofy.” “Abby Somebody?” “Abby … Normal.” – the idea of the Creature’s brain being damaged somehow shows up in the 1957 Hammer reboot Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 (the brain is in a cloth sack, and gets smashed against a wall, and gets glass shards in it) and in the 1994 Kenneth Branaugh film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, where the creature’s head gets struck as the body is pulled up during its vivification.

Because of the way Marty Feldman says; “Abby-Something.”

I dunno - maybe it was with the assumption that if the brain had been normal, the monster’s murderousness would have been inexplicable to the audience? In a similar vein, I never understood the whole “protomatter” thing in Star Trek III, some doofy wrinkle thrown in to explain why the Genesis Planet was disintegrating, as opposed to it being just, say, an overall design failure or the result of the torpedo being detonated inside a nebula instead of on a planet as intended.

Heck, I’d like there to be a organ-transplant horror movie with a twist - sure, the replacement hands were donated by an executed criminal, but the real reason the recipient became a serial killer is that he was one all along - that in fact his original hands were lost when feeding an early victim’s body into a wood-chipper.

And that would be Peter Lorre’s Mad Love, the film version of The Hands of Orlac. Plus* Hands of a Stranger*, which just doesn’t measure up.

ETA: Sorry, no wood chipper. Train accident. You can’t have everything.

Well, it does show that a mad scientist is only as effective as his hunchbacked assistant.

And that should be a lesson to us all.


Wasn’t there a made-for-TV Frankenstein movie in the 1970s where the monster was handsome, even cute? And then he starts to get all gnarly because there’s something wrong in “the process” (this I remember, was a key plot point). I can’t remember the name of it. Might have even been Frankenstein. I was a kid, though, and may have seen this first, instead of the classic Boris Karloff version.

I don’t recall the implication that DeNiro’s Creature had an abnormal brain. I thought the movie made it clear that he was angry at Frankenstein for his rejection by his maker, and his being the only one of his kind.

I could be wrong, it’s been about ten years since I’ve seen the movie.
He’s going to be very popular.

Here it is: Frankenstein: The True Story (1973), starring Michael Sarrazin, who the next year would star in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, as well as Jane Seymour. Sarrazin was indeed quite the hottie; no wonder 10-year-old me was in love with him!

It was quite the all-star cast, including also James Mason, Agnes Moorehead, and John Gielgud!

Yes – that was the inappropriately named Frankenstein – the True Story, which was written by Christopher Isherwood and his friend Don Bachardy. It stands out as exceptionally well-written (Isherwood wrote the “Berlin Stories” that were basis for the movie I Am a Camera and the musical Cabaret), but by no means a faithful adaptation of Shelley’s book.
There have been faithful adaptations of Shelley’s book that don’t feature abnormal or damaged brains – I love the independent film Victor Framnkenstein, (AKA Terror of Frankenstein from 21976, starring Leon Vitali as Frankenstein (He was Barry Lyndon’s older son), and Per Oscarsson as the Creature. It’s the first realy faithful movie based on the book. Also the Hallmark TV adaptation with William Hurt as Dr. Waldmann and Donald Sutherland as a too-old Captain Walton is probably overall the most faithful.

'Cause they were making a comedy…and it was funny?

The OP is asking about the original Frankenstein movies, not Young Frankenstein.

I think one of the things also is that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written in the early 1800s versus the movie being made in the mid 1900s. In between that time there was considerable advances and study in the psychology and psychosis of the brain. To Shelley the brain might not have been such a big deal in terms of identifying personality, but by the time the movie was made folks were using the brain to explain every aspect of a person’s behavior, right or wrong.

Haven’t read the book since High School, but I recall either in the book, or discussions of it, that the monster was fearsome because it had no soul. It was probably much easier to make a story of more basic fears than than delve into the philosophical issues, though I recall some of that brought up in at least one of the movies.

There aren’t many movies that stay true to the details of the book they were based on. I think many books are written today more like a movie script, either to make them attractive to movie producers, or because that’s what the typical reader is looking for, but I doubt Mary Shelly was considering the film rights.

“But . . . her name was Ivory!

She was thrilled to see the stage adaptation “Presumption or the Fate of Frankenstein” which deviated greatly from the book.

Actually, it can be argued that the monster shows more soul in the book than his maker does. Although, you might have a point in saying Victor’s revulsion at his creation was his perception, wrongly, that it had no soul.