It seems like everyone is caught up in March madness, filling out brackets and keeping an eye on scores, but if you’re like me and don’t enjoy sports – or if you’d prefer to see some really personal fouls – here are 13 of horror’s maddest scientists.
Doctor Giggles (1992)
Dr. Jack Griffin (The Invisible Man, 1933)
A mysterious guy, with a bandaged face and sunglasses, takes a room at an inn in Sussex. He never leaves and demands that the staff leave him completely alone. This man surely has a dark secret, one that is slowly revealed to his suspicious landlady and the villagers: he is an invisible man. How did he manage that? Well, he discovered the secret of invisibility while conducting experiments with a strange new drug called monocane. The drug has rendered him invisible to the human eye, but it has also driven him insane. Such is the cost for the advancement of science.
Herbert West (Re-Animator, 1985)
Technically he’s a med student, not a full-fledged doctor, but he can make people come back from the dead, a feat that would make any M.D. jealous. I’d recommend the story by H.P. Lovecraft over this movie, though; it really is disgustingly terrible.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal)
Here, fresh from the Baltimore State Mental Hospital, is Hannibal Lecter, PhD., psychiatrist, narcissist, cannibal, and, you have to admit, genius. Edward Norton claimed he was insane in Red Dragon, but you have to admit that it takes some massive skills to perform a craniotomy, a la Hannibal. Really, dear ole’ Hannibal is just too smart for his own good; or, I should say, too smart for our good. For instance, when asked to give Police the name of a suspect, he gives them an acronym for the chemical make-up of fool’s gold. He’s a sociopath to the core, something you never want your doctor to be. Thank God he doesn’t actually (mal)practice medicine anymore. Unless, of course, you’re in Jamaica, or Argentina.
Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes, 1972)
Dr. Heiter (The Human Centipede: First Sequence, 2009)
Sometimes being a world-renowned expert at separating conjoined twins isn’t enough; you have to dream bigger. Like, say, creating Siamese triplets that share a single digestive system. Yeah, that’s a great idea.
Dr. Henry Jekyll
Dr. Seth Brundel (The Fly, 1986)
Of course I’m talking about David Cronenberg’s The Fly, because the 1958 version was not a masterpiece. Another non-M.D., this scientist (played by Jeff Goldblum in one of his greatest performances) creates machines that allow instant teleportation of an object from one pod to another. There’s one catch: although the telepods can transport inanimate objects perfectly, they don’t work on living things (think about the baboon that gets reintegrated inside-out). But then Brundel fixes the machine and, drunk, attempts to teleport himself. It works, but a fly sneaks into the machine with him and his DNA begins to merge with that of the fly. As with all Cronenberg films, the brilliance of this movie is that it comments on the failing medical profession and the lack of trust we now have for doctors – malpractice suits are more numerous than ever.
Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, silent – 1920, 2005)
Dr. Frank-N-Furter (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975)
Has any doctor ever looked as sexy in a corset and garters than Tim Curry (who I love, love, love, love, love!) did when he played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the original musicals? I didn’t think so. Plus, he knows “the secret to life itself.” And he knows the facts of life as well… if you know what I mean.
Dr. Nick Cavanaugh (Boxing Helena, 1993)
Dr. Finklestein (The Nightmare before Christmas, 1993)
Dr. Frankenstein (Frankenstein, 1931 and The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935)
In the book his first name is Victor, but in the movies Colin Clive plays young Henry Frankenstein, a man whose all-consuming desire is to create human life through electricity. It works, so much so that now he “know[s] what it’s like to be God.” Heavy stuff, indeed: no wonder it goes to his head. Of course, he immediately regrets what he’s done once he sees the violent tendencies of his newborn (even though in the novel and Bride of Frankenstein the Creature learns to talk like a regular person) and knows it must be destroyed. Part of being smart is knowing when to say when, and even though the good Doctor meant well, like some miracles of science, he took it too far. His achievements, however, are legendary.