October 16, 2009

HULKenstein: Part 3

The two part episode of the Incredible Hulk entitled "The First" is an all out Frankenstein extravaganza. Episodes 12 + 13 of season four aired in march, 1981. The basic plot lines strongly resemble SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, with lingering elements from all three Frankenstein films. The HULK television series is produced by Universal Studios, so it's pretty much all in the family.

David Banner travels to a nondescript small town on order to study the research of Dr. Jeffery Clive. Clive was experimenting with gamma radiation thirty years before Dr. Banner. Although Banner is not the actual son of Dr. Clive, he is the next generation, and a fellow scientist. Experiments by both scientist's resulted in the anger induced metamorphosis of their respective test subjects. The only difference is that Clive found the cure, then pass away just days later. An angry mob caused him to fall to his death, or something of that nature [sounds familiar]. So, David Banner [with the help of Clive's old assistant, Frye] inhabits the deserted lab hoping to find the cure.

The parallels, similarities and such are quite numerous. Just starting with the character's names. Dr. Clive is clearly named for Colin Clive. Clive's vindictive assistant [and cured test subject] is Dell Frye, namesake of Dwight Frye. There is also the ever present lady-fair named Elizabeth. And don't forget the peacekeeper/law-man doing his best to stop trouble before it starts. There's murder, enraged townies with torches and villagers with guns. There's rooftop light shows and plenty of glowing gadgets, levers, and test tubes galore. Of course it all ends with the destruction of the lab and loads of heartache.

It's where the story deviates that things get interesting. In this story we have two creatures. David Banner becomes creature number one, the HULK. The HULK may be angry [and enjoys throwing things] but he never kills, because David is incapable of murder. The mean-spirited and manipulative Dell Frye is quite different. He tricks David into irradiating him again. When Frye gets mad and becomes his own creature, he always kills. This character may be named Frye, but he most closely resembles Bela Lugosi's Ygor. The crippled Frye comes across nice and helpful when he wants something, but quickly changes to show his true colors [in more ways than one]. Frye is a murderer with an incurable desire for revenge. Once he gets the strength back, there is no stopping him.

In these two creatures we have both sides of Frankenstein's monster split in two: the friend and the killer. It speaks to the cult of personality, nature vs. nurture, or is it nature + nurture. It's the abnormal, criminal brain versus the normal, benevolent brain in physical hand to hand combat. Plus you also have the adage of David Banner being both Frankenstein and the Creature all in one.

below are comparison stills from "The First: Parts 1+2" paired with various stills from all three Universal Frankenstein films.

check back next friday for more HULK.

1 comment:

John R said...

It it so interesting how similiar your dueling screenshots are with one another! I also realised that I am becoming more and more infatuated with instrument panels and general scientific machinery represented in old horror and sci-fi movies. There are some really cool and fascinating contraptions in some of these movies. I am also entertained watching the actors and how they interact with them.