By GLENN TOLLE
When I was a kid I discovered Bernie Wrightson’s illustrated adaption of FRANKENSTEIN. I can distinctly remember not being able to sleep for an entire week due to Wrightson’s depiction his monster skulking in the back of my developing mind. It might sound odd to those who aren’t horror fans but this “traumatic” moment made me a lifelong fan of Mary Shelley’s most famous work (not to mention Bernie Wrightson’s), but it did. By the time I discovered Wrightson’s Illustrated adaption of Frankenstein I had already witnessed Colin Clive bring the monster (played Boris Karloff) to life. I loved James Whale’s cinematic adaption but it was Wrightson’s illustrated adaption that cemented my love for the mad doctor and his misunderstood monster.
In this week’s edition of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES I will be recommending FRANKENSTEIN MOVED IN ON THE FOURTH FLOOR written by Elizabeth Levy, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein and published by HARPER TROPHY in 1981.
In the book, a man by the name of Mr. Frank moves into Sam and Robert’s apartment building. The man is secretive, brutish, and a collector of strange electrical equipment. What’s more, “moans and groans” can be heard coming from Mr. Frank’s apartment. Is he an experimental musician, or is he, as Sam and Robert surmise, Dr. Frankenstein?
FRANKENSTEIN MOVED IN ON THE FOURTH FLOOR is a perfect follow-up to Levy’s DRACULA IS A PAIN IN THE NECK; it contains all the energy and eeriness of the latter and manages to give a satisfying origin story for its Dracula doll. The suspense is on point and the soft humour that Levy injects into the horror keeps the book from being too scary. What’s more, she makes it clear that Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster. Interestingly, illustrator Mordicai Gerstein fails to make this distinction and illustrates Mr. Frank, (the alleged Dr. Frankenstein), to look like a youthful Boris Karloff (as the monster).
You can buy your own edition of FRANKENSTEIN MOVED IN ON THE FOURTH FLOOR on AMAZON for $0.98, plus $3.99 shipping, used, in “Good” condition.
FRANKENSTEIN MOVED IN ON THE FOURTH FLOOR is a breezy (or is that stormy?) read that offers a lot of clues but no definitive answers. Like DRACULA IS A PAIN IN THE NECK, it never reveals whether or not Mr. Frank is truly Frankenstein. Instead it leaves us wondering… whether or not Mr. Frank will move into our apartment building.