The benefit of Wallflower Press’ Cultographies is that they allow extended studies of specific films in 100 laser-focused pages. As a devoted Frankenstein cultist, I totally understand writer Robert Horton’s desire to use that particular item as the subject of his Cultographies book. It may not have been the best choice because the topic is so far-reaching (and he does stray from James Whale’s 1931 film to assess the uncountable sequels, remakes, and related films quite a lot) and because other books have dealt with it in a much more far-reaching way. The historical portion, which constitutes one third of Cultographies: Frankenstein, and the final section that looks at the Monster’s place in the larger culture, are like Cliffs Notes for Susan Tyler Hitchcock’s essential Frankenstein: A Cultural History. They offer no revelations for anyone who has already done his/her Franken-homework. The book comes to life for Horton’s 40-page scene-by-scene analytical survey, which is lucid and smart. He’s dead-on in concluding that the Monster’s “bad” behavior all stems from self-defense and poor parental guidance and not his “abnormal” criminal brain. What would you do if someone were shoving a torch in your face? However, the author’s decision to hop over the pivotal drowning of Little Maria completely is a head scratcher of monstrous proportions.
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