October 27, 2008

James Dean Meets Frankenstein

This Rebel Without a Brain image was created by Jonathan Lapper (actually Greg Ferrara... see update below) — host of the extraordinary Cinema Styles blog — as part of his October Kill Fest series, a month-long celebration of horror films that is absolute required reading. Then again, Cinema Styles is required reading year-round, not just during Halloween season.

Cinema Styles careens through the ages of film, alighting here and there, isolating and observing a scene, a moment, reflecting on a genre, an actor, a filmmaker, taking notes, analyzing, considering and cogitating. Lapper is passionate and knowledgeable about movies, his observations are always fascinating, sometimes revelatory — and often funny, because they are honest and delightfully bang-on.

This month, just for eye candy Photoshop fun, Lapper turned a number of Hollywood stars into monsters. Alan Ladd is Bat Boy, there’s Marlon From The Black Lagoon, and Montgomery Clift makes a fine Wolfman. Turning the troubled James Dean into The Frankenstein Monster was inspired. In fact, Dean once played The Monster!

According to David J. Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror, Dean appeared as The Monster in a high-school comedy revue called Goon With The Wind. The surviving photograph shows the young actor not as a hulking menace, or goofing off in makeup, but in character, channeling the sensitive, bewildered Monster as played by Karloff.

Dean certainly shows a familiarity, perhaps a love, for the classic movie Monster.

And speaking of love, Jonathan Lapper edited together a short, two minute montage of scenes from Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Bride of Frankenstein, set to music, as a heartfelt tribute to the classic monsters. It’s called The Beautiful Monsters. Go look, it’s a real Halloween treat.

Update: Some time after this was posted, Greg Ferrara dropped his “Jonathan Lapper” pseudonym for what we presume to be his true identity.


Duc de Richleau Lapper said...

Pierre, I'm honored to be featured here. Thank you so much for all the kind words.

As for the picture, when I was surfing through Doctor Macro in September trying to decide which actors to use for my photoshops, and then decide what setups to use for the actors, Dean was one of the first ones (along with Gable and Leigh as zombies) that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with from the beginning. Since the monster is the classic 'misunderstood' character of literature, long before Dean's Rebel Without a Cause, it was an easy choice to marry the two images.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Just to give credit where it is due:

Although David J. Skal did write about Dean's appearance as the Monster, he was using Don Glut's THE FRANKENSTEIN LEGEND as his source.

Glut was, I believe, the first to report about Dean playing the Monster.


Pierre Fournier said...

Jonathan: I could go on and on about Cinema Styles. It’s a brilliant blog.

Max: Thank you for the info. I got mine, along with the Dean photograph, from Skal’s book. Don Glut, of course, is the living library of Frankenstein facts.

UniversalHorror said...

What is the link to where he has these photoshopped images? I couldn't find them, and there's no search function on his blog. Would love to see the other photos he did up.

Pierre Fournier said...

Here's the link to Cinema Style's October 2009 archive: http://cinemastyles.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html

Just scroll around and you'll see all the photoshopped images, and a lot of other goodies, too.

UniversalHorror said...


UniversalHorror said...

Those were absolutely brilliant...and hilarious!

VJESCI said...

.frankendean painting:


Anonymous said...

That photo of James Dean as Frankenstein was taken by the Fairmount High School art teacher. He was showing the art class how to make a crude camera, so the camera was homemade. He wrote and directed the variety show the picture is from, called Goon with the Wind. He directed this show and one called You Can't Take it With You, among others. He wasn't the drama teacher but was the class sponsor, so part of his duties were to direct the class play. He donated some materials to the James Dean Museum, but the museum closed and the archive was auctioned.