I’ve been working my way through the classic Universal Frankenstein movies, some of which I’m sure I’ve seen before, and some of which I’m sure I haven’t. Of course, they get filtered through having read the book at least three times and having watched Young Frankenstein many times.

Last weekend I watched Bride of Frankenstein. It’s a good movie, but the framing sequence bugs me. In it, Lord Byron is telling Mary Shelley how much he enjoyed her tale of horror, and proceeds to revisit the high points in the 1935 version of “Previously, in Frankenstein…” Unfortunately, just about everything he mentions wasn’t in her book! (Neither the 1818 or 1831 versions.) He then bemoans that it should have ended so abruptly, at which point she says something like, “Ended? That wasn’t the end at all!” and proceeds to tell Percy Shelley and Lord Byron the tale of, well, the next movie.

All this, despite the fact that the movies clearly take place in the 20th century, though they at least went to the effort to dress Byron and the Shelleys in period costumes.

On one hand, it’s a nifty conceit, made somehow more appropriate by casting the same actress, Elsa Lanchester, as both Mary Shelley and the Bride.

On the other hand, it’s emblematic of Hollywood’s mixed demand and contempt for original source material and its authors. This is the industry that brought us both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, trading on the author’s name as a claim of authenticity while still taking things in their own direction. (To be fair, both movies made efforts to include aspects of the original stories that are usually left out. And MSF followed quite well until about 5 minutes before the end, at which point it took a 90° turn and flew off into another movie entirely.)

Neil Gaiman says it best in his short story, “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” (in Smoke and Mirrors):

She managed a pitying look, of the kind that only people who know that books are, at best, properties on which films can be loosely based, can bestow on the rest of us.

Mnemovore #5 came out this week. (For some reason issue #4 shipped twice—once just before Comic-Con and again last week.) This week’s issue, or at least my copy, has a strange quirk to it. Some of the word balloons are faded, as if a rubber stamp was pushed down with unequal force, or as if someone ran a gradient tool over the text with Photoshop. I’m still not sure whether it’s intentional or just a coloring or printing error.

This scan should be relatively non-spoilery:

Panel showing faded word balloon

At one point I thought they might be the result of coloring gradients applied above the word balloons instead of below, but I could only get a few to match up.

The thing is, it’s appropriate for the book—if maddening to try to read. The premise is that into our information-saturated world has come a predator that feeds on information, eating people’s memories and leaving them amnesiac or worse. In a story about information loss, gaps in information make thematic sense. And there was one panel with the same effect last issue: “They can make it so you can’t…”

Just one issue to go…

Late lunch today (there’s a news flash). Heard the last bit of an interview with Rob Zombie about The Devil’s Rejects, which was all over Comic-Con. Interesting perspective on the MPAA rating process, where he actually had to contact the MPAA directly to negotiate down to an R. Apparently after going back and forth on cuts with the studio as a mediator, he got to the point where toning down the villains made them seem less evil. Instead of making a film with violent villains, it was heading toward becoming a violent action film. After another round of calls directly with the ratings people, he apparently managed to get them to agree with him.

Also interesting: The MPAA will let filmmakers show much more graphic violence with a known celebrity than a B-list, cult, or unknown actor. With any commercial film, you know intellectually that the actor isn’t really being killed. But with someone you recognize, you have the added sense that there is no way that (for example) Brad Pitt’s skull is really being ripped open. With an actor you don’t know, your brain doesn’t have that extra disconnect layer and (in theory) takes it closer to face value.

Miss two weeks and they pull the rug out from under you:

…the cast, crew, writers and producers of Angel deserve to be able to wrap up the series in a way befitting a classic television series and that is why we went to Joss to let him know that this would be the last year of the series on The WB

At least the WB had the decency to let them know in time to do some sort of wrap-up, unlike the way certain other shows were treated by channels that shall not be named.

Unfortunately we live in a world where the offbeat has to make way for the mainstream. I don’t care if the WB puts up some new “reality” show, as long as I can find the kind of shows I like to watch. With so many hundreds of cable and satellite stations available, you’d think there’d be room for shows like VR.5 and Crusade.

Still, Angel managed five years, which is pretty damn respectable – especially in the modern era of cancelling shows without even airing half a season.

Joss Whedon sums up the perils of producing anything that strays too far from the beaten path:

“Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I took the road less traveled by
I totally shoulda took the road
that had all those people on it.