Since their creation, Universal Monsters have found their place among horror fans who have since turned them into beloved icons. From Frankenstein to Dracula to Wolf Man and more, these monsters have surpassed their screen presence. They’ve become household names, featured in pop culture for generations. One of the more well-known icons is that of Frankenstein, created from the young mind of Mary Shelley. And since its inception in 1818, Frankenstein has seen its fair share of adaptations, both retellings and reinterpretations.
With the newly released horror/comedy Lisa Frankenstein, from director Zelda Williams and writer Diablo Cody, there’s no better time to explore films inspired by the infamous creature. From animated features to grindhouse shock-feasts, each of these seven films offers an unique perspective on Shelley’s timeless story.
Synopsis: A medical student sets out to recreate his decapitated fiancee by building her a new body made of Manhattan street prostitutes.
Why You Should Watch: From Basket Case director, Frank Henenlotter, comes a darkly hilarious and raunchy take on Frankenstein that only Henenlotter could accomplish. A cult classic since its inception, fans of grindhouse and exploitation films will want to watch this immediately.
Where to Watch: Currently, Frankenhooker is available to stream on Peacock, AMC+, The Criterion Channel, and Shudder.
Synopsis: When a boy’s beloved dog passes away suddenly, he attempts to bring the animal back to life through a powerful science experiment.
Why You Should Watch: Who doesn’t wish they could bring back their favorite pet after it has passed? Frankenweenie tells the story of Frankenstein through the reanimating of pets and the mayhem that unfolds. Just remember to bring tissues for the inevitable tears that’ll come.
Where to Watch: Currently, Frankenweenie is available to stream on Disney+
Synopsis: A disillusioned field surgeon suffering from PTSD makes a man out of body parts and brings him to life in a Brooklyn loft.
Why You Should Watch: Directed by indie favorite Larry Fessenden, Depraved uses the Frankenstein tale in a story about a US armed medic grappling with PTSD from the horrors he saw at war. In creating his own creature as a way to deal with his survivor guilt, the film’s unique perspective sheds light on the real-life struggles of veterans dealing with PTSD.
Where to Watch: Currently, Depraved is available to stream on AMC+.
Synopsis: The Shelleys visit Lord Byron and compete to write a horror story.
Why You Should Watch: From visionary director Ken Russell and starring Gabriel Byrne and the late Julian Sands, this movie is wild from start to finish. A fever dream of weirdness, it offers a fictionalized glimpse into Mary Shelley’s inspiration for “Frankenstein.”
Where to Watch: Currently, Gothic is streaming on The Criterion Channel and Tubi.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Synopsis: The solitary life of an artificial man – who was incompletely constructed and has scissors for hands – is upended when he is taken in by a suburban family.
Why You Should Watch: Tim Burton’s second film on the list, Edward Scissorhands, echoes many elements of Frankenstein’s monster. Blending gothic aesthetic and bubblegum mid-century modern design, this approach offers a softer portrayal of the classic creature.
Where to Watch: Currently, Edward Scissorhands is streaming on MAX.
Synopsis: The incredible tale about the fantastical evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by the brilliant and unorthodox scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter.
Why You Should Watch: Emma Stone gives a standout performance as Bella Baxter in Poor Things. Bella’s character mimics Frankenstein’s monster through her childlike essence and evolution amidst life’s trials and tribulations. Stone’s portrayal gives a fresh perspective on themes of creation and identity.
Where to Watch: Currently, Poor Things is in theaters but keep your eyes peeled for when it drops on VOD.
Synopsis: A socially awkward veterinary assistant with a lazy eye and obsession with perfection descends into depravity after developing a crush on a boy with perfect hands.
Why You Should Watch: If anything, watch for Angela Bettis who delivers a stellar performance as May. It’s a disturbing and unsettling film that delves into the pursuit of perfection and the debilitating nature of loneliness. It’s parallels to Frankenstein are threaded throughout in May’s quest to build the perfect friend.
Where to Watch: Currently, May is streaming on Tubi.