James Broderick Guest Blog: Frankenstein Gets a Makeover
In early June we told you about author and professor James F. Broderick's Now a Terrifying Motion Picture!, after which he offered to write a guest blog for us. The result is this hilarious satire about how Hollywood often ridiculously distorts classic works for contemporary audiences.
[The following information – compiled and transcribed from various legal pads, voice recorders, and Blackberries of certain movie studio executives – reveals the extent of Hollywood’s interest in the Frankenstein story and the desperation to find a new angle for a remake that will appeal to a contemporary, teen-aged audience. This sheaf of papers and transcripts, currently in the hands of a major literary agency, has been documented as authentic and will be published next year as part of a larger cache of documents under the title I Know What You Did Last Pitch Meeting: Horror Movies They Thought You’d Actually Pay To See. The author/compiler of this work wishes to remain anonymous. The names of the studio executives have been redacted for legal reasons.]
STUDIO EXEC #1: (first part of sentence is garbled) …and then – whoosh – the creature appears!
STUDIO EXEC #2: But why, exactly, is he naked?
STUDIO EXEC #1: She.
STUDIO EXEC #2: (After a pause) Ah… (scribbling happily). Tell me again how the creature tracked down the posse of tormentors?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Hacked their Facebook page.
STUDIO EXEC #2: (Nodding as he writes) Got it. That’s good.
[Pages missing here. Notes resume in a different hand, date uncertain]
PRODUCER: …Won’t work – he flopped in that disaster film last quarter. We gotta go with somebody else.
WRITER: So who you looking at? Brad Pitt?
PRODUCER: Nope. Too expensive.
WRITER: George Clooney?
PRODUCER: Too good looking.
WRITER: Jim Carrey?
PRODUCER: Too manic.
WRITER: So what are we left with?
PRODUCER: (Emphatically) Chris Farley.
WRITER: Chris Farley? But—
PRODUCER: Perfect body type! He’s a natural for the creature! Remember that scene in Tommy Boy where he puts on David Spade’s blazer?
WRITER: “Fat guy in little jacket?” I love that scene! (audible laughter)
PRODUCER: Everybody does! Imagine two hours of that!
WRITER: But… um, isn’t Chris Farley dead?
PRODUCER: That’s the beauty of it! We’ll save a fortune on salary! We’ll build the part around outtakes and leftover footage from all his other films. It’s all CGI. It’s perfect! He plays a creature who gets resurrected from the dead and he, himself, is dead! Think of the marketing angle!
WRITER: (Sitting back, reflecting) You know, you might have something here. (Holds hands out in front of himself, spreads his hands out, reading imaginary words, excitedly) “YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN!”
PRODUCER: (Writes that down, pauses) Hmmm. Was Frankenstein a good man? (They look at each other, unsure.)
WRITER: (slightly ashamed) I never read the book.
PRODUCER: It was a book?
[Meeting transcript ends; what now follows was reconstructed from a series of brief texts lifted from a well-known Hollywood agent’s Blackberry device found in the men’s room of a West L.A. sushi bar. They are somewhat disjointed. The editors have regularized spelling and punctuation for clarity.]
NOTES TO SELF:
CONSIDER MAKING THE CREATURE A MORMON (HOLD OFF FINAL DECISION UNTIL ELECTION);
INSTEAD OF A WINDMILL, STAGE CLIMACTIC FINAL MOB SCENE AT COMIC-CON;
POSSIBLE LOVE INTEREST BETWEEN CREATURE AND CREATOR, A LA “BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN”;
WORKING TITLE: “FRANKENSTEIN – ANOTHER AVATAR OF DESTRUCTION” (IN MARKETING CAMPAIGN, WE’LL SHORTEN IT TO SIMPLY “ANOTHER AVATAR.” CH-CHING!)
James F. Broderick is an associate professor of English and journalism at New Jersey City University in Jersey City. His most recent book is Now a Terrifying Motion Picture!: Twenty-Five Classic Works of Horror Adapted from Book to Film. He lives in Glen Ridge, NJ.
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