PRINT March 1991



IF MARY SHELLEY INVENTED the monster-making genre (her Frankenstein appeared in 1818), filmmakers invented its now-beloved visual clichés—the bubbling, smoking beakers, the obsessed egomaniac at the controls, the dungeonlike lab in a gloomy Gothic-style home. These disappeared with the advent of outer-space mythologies, all cyborg and android. But from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, 1926, to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, 1982, they were narratives about trying to control what we’d unleashed. Any walking, talking bucket o’ bolts had better be a servant like R2D2. Or as the high-tech axiom goes, we could all be replaced by machines.

Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, 1990, pays homage to the old school with its cartoon Transylvania perched vulturelike at the edge of a suburb, and with Vincent Price, the horror-movie legend, cast in the role of scientist. But this is also a very up-to-date parable.

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