Early Influence of London Monsters

Updated on July 2, 2018
Dr. Wilfred Glendon, The Werewolf of London at the Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum.
Dr. Wilfred Glendon, The Werewolf of London at the Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum. | Source

The Creation of London Monsters

Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll (1886) came just before the Jack the Ripper, a real serial killer, began to commit murders on the streets of London. Bram Stoker’s publication of Dracula in 1897 and Curt Siodmak’s screenplay The Wolfman in 1941 added to the horror that was taking place in the city. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was published earlier, in 1812.

H.G. Wells' terrifying science fiction novel, The Invisible Man (1897), features an ingenious mad scientist in London. His other classic, The War of the Worlds, tells the story of mankind's clash with extraterrestrial life, and like the aforementioned works, is set in London.

The Plot of the Werewolf of London

Dr. Glendon (Henry Hull) visits Tibet to collect a rare Mariposa flower that blooms under moonlight, but doesn't expect to get bitten by a werewolf. He carries the curse back with him to London. Dr. Glendon’s Mariposa experiments attract a nosy Asian doctor (Warner Oland), who is interested in obtaining the flower for himself. Glendon doesn’t realize that Dr. Yogami is secretly the werewolf that bit him in Tibet. The crisis alienates Glendon from his wife, Lisa (Valerie Hobson), so she turns toward an old friend from her youth, Paul Ames (Lester Matthews).

Glendon needs the Mariposa's magic for a temporary cure, but he has difficulty getting the Mariposa to bloom when he needs it, and, consequently, kills several women. He is extremely concerned for his wife's safety, since, according to a legendary belief, werewolves threaten to kill the person they love the most.

The Werewolf of London's lead character, Dr. Glendon, feels enormous pressure in the botanist lab. Unable to alter the the Mariposa to his liking, he's unable to fight against the monstrous side that takes over his body and mind during a full moon. He is a tragic doctor, whereas, Dr. Jekyll and Griffin were mad scientists experimenting around with dangerous substances.

Werewolf of London' star actor, Henry Hull.
Werewolf of London' star actor, Henry Hull. | Source

Bad Health Influenced the Creation of Jekyll and Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson was born November 13, Edinburgh,Scotland, 1850. He frequently visited London for numerous business trips. During the years 1844-1847, he lived in the London seaside town of Bournemouth, and hoped the fresh air would remedy his chronic illnesses. The 19th-century author was afflicted with many illnesses that confined him to bed. These included:

Types of Illnesses:

  • Chronic tuberculosis
  • Chicken Pox
  • Whooping cough
  • Feverish colds
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Digestive difficulties
  • Gastric fever
  • Hemorrhaging of the lungs

Chronic illness tormented Stevenson into adulthood and was a factor during the period he wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His nightmarish dream of hell inspired Hyde's evil character. Feverish symptoms contributed to the narrative of eerie transformations. Stevenson's own career choices influenced the novella: His father wanted him to become an engineer, he wanted to become a writer, a compromise that led to law studies, and a life devoted to divided interests.

Shadow play of Jack-the-Ripper and Jekyll and Hyde

Stevenson’s novella may have indirectly influenced the legendary serial killer, Jack-the-Ripper. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was performed by Richard Mansfield on the Lyceum London stage, 1888. He collaborated with the play writer, Thomas Russell Sullivan. Nearby, lay a dangerous area known as the Whitechapel murderer site; Jack terrorized 5 women prostitutes and brutally murdered them. Mansfield’s startling Jekyll and Hyde transformations horrified audience members; many suspected he was Jack-the-Ripper. Mansfield was never incarcerated as a suspect and contributed to charitable foundations.

The stage play included a love-interest in Dr. Jekyll’s life, Agnes Carew, daughter of Sir Danvers Carew, his fiancée. The relationship spiraled out-of-control after Hyde strangled Agnes' father. The stage play aroused audience sympathy for a female character struggling to receive consistent attention from a man divided by his dual identity. Spectators felt tension and feared Agnes was threatened by Edward Hyde. The bloody terror Jack-the-Ripper caused on London streets preoccupied their minds. The Hyde monster looked grotesque, but the stage adaptation didn’t revise the story-line to depict a woman brutally murdered. An abused girl incident originally dramatized in Stevenson’s novella resurfaced in the stage play: Hyde trampled a ten year-old girl who screamed out in pain and public witnesses forced Hyde to pay damages.

Screenplay adaptations continued to include a love interest in Dr. Jekyll’s life. The leading lady was always addressed by a different first name, but still played the role of Carew’s daughter. Spencer Tracy’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) screenplay adaption changed Carew’s name to Sir Charles Emery, but he is essentially the same character-type victimized by Hyde.

Later film adaptations of Jekyll and Hyde seemed to have been inspired by Jack-the-Ripper. The John Barrymore’ (1920) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde film included a burlesque dancer and another dark lady of the night; Mr. Hyde met them in immoral dance halls, opium dens, and bars. Fredric March’s dual-character portrayal (1931) dramatized Hyde’s cruel treatment of a prostitute, Ivy Pierson (played by Miriam Hopkins); she was raped, enslaved, physically and mentally shattered until he strangled her to death. Ingrid Bergman played Ivy Pierson, a bar maid working in the seedy side of the streets and suffered the same fate. She co-starred with Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner.

Hyde's London street environment

Hyde always had a key to enter Dr. Jekyll's laboratory. Dr. Jekyll's residence was set in the middle of many other houses and difficult to identify. A passerby was confused where one house started and one ended. The streets were dimly lit with old-fashioned lamps. Hyde made his getaways in horse driven hansom cabs. He fled through less populated streets. London fog helped obscure visibility. Strong wind and the biting cold discouraged people to walk the streets.

London White Chapel Murderer's map

Jack-the-Ripper had numerous option getaway paths to escape
Jack-the-Ripper had numerous option getaway paths to escape | Source

Invisible Man terrorizes London

Griffin, a mad scientist, turns himself invisible and arrives at Bramblehurst railway station during a freezing winter snow blizzard.He threatens to murder people and becomes a thief. He experiments with powders, test tubes, and flasks, a passionate interest that reminds us of Dr. Jekyll.

London’s stormy weather, fog, darkness, lonely shadowed streets and alleys, and hansoms, help Griffin avoid encounters with people and obtain refuge.

The Invisible Man’s disguise includes:

  • assorted clothing and bandages from head to foot wrap him up
  • shiny material covers nose
  • brim of hat cast face in shadow
  • hands warmed by thick gloves
  • side-lights are attached to large big blue spectacles
  • coat-collar’s bushy side-whisker conceals more facial area
  • a white cloth serviette wrapped around mouth and jaws muffle voice
  • White bandages cover forehead and ears
  • Dark brown velvet jacket includes a high black linen lined collar turned up about neck

Invisible man weaknesses lead to his destruction:

  • Dogs scent his presence, barking and threatening to bite him fiercely
  • Bundled-up features arouse unusual attention (people suspect he’s an Anarchist); he walks outdoors only at twilight amidst lonely pathways and overshadowed trees and banks
  • He and children share a mutual dislike for one another. Kids call him, “The Bogey Man”
  • unpaid rent angers landlords; Griffin risks stealing more money
  • Newspaper headlines warn London about Griffin’s dangerous character
  • Unexplained noises tip-off Griffin's presence
  • Aggressive pursuers follow a trail of footprints
  • naked, Griffin resists food; matter he's unable to assimilate becomes visibly gross
  • Rain, fog, and snow, highlight the contour of Griffin’s naked body
  • Dr. Kemp's public awareness plan with the chief of police warns people an Invisible Man lurks among them

Griffin’s exhibits dangerous behavior while invisible:

  • poisonous chemical experimentation
  • gold coins robbed from vicarage
  • lunatic laughter
  • he slams bedroom door in the Hall’s faces
  • a temper tantrum results from people denying his requests (example: obscene language, smashes chemist bottles, and taints atmosphere with chlorine)
  • He physically pushes and punches people including the police
  • Griffin shares his identity to a bum, Mr. Thomas Marvel, and frightens him to provide shelter, food, and keep guard of his 3 large volumes containing private experiments
  • Griffin catches men looking through pages of his experiments, grabs their necks, and smashes their faces into a table.
  • Griffin steals clothing
  • public windows and street lamp smashing causes chaos in London streets. people act hostile towards one another; they fight each other for hiding places
  • The London and County Banking Company’s tills, shops, and inns, are robbed
  • Griffin threatens to kill Marvel with a knife and punches a policeman at the Jolly Cricketer’s Bar
  • Griffin's arm is shot by a policeman’s pistol; he hides at Dr. Kemp's residence
  • Griffin reveals the secret of invisibility;Kemp thinks he's mad and homicidal
  • Griffin tortured an old woman’s cat and made it invisible
  • Griffin is addicted to strychnine
  • He set a house on fire and attracted people to it
  • He hides inside a large Emporium
  • He throws art pots and lamp stands at pursuers
  • Griffin breaks into a costume shop, hits the owner over the head with a stool, gags him with a Louis Quatorze vest and ties him up in a sheet. He steals masquerade supplies, food, gold and silver
  • Griffin threatens a Reign of Terror all over London
  • He throws a child aside and breaks his ankle
  • He murders Lord Burdock’s steward, Mr. Wicksteed; he uses an iron-rod to smash his head and splinter his walking stick
  • He delivers a life-threatening letter to Dr. Kemp
  • Chief Colonel Adye’s servant is assaulted by Griffin and he grabs her note
  • Griffin smashes 3 windows in Kemp’s house and seizes Adye’s revolver
  • Griffin's ax breaks down Kemp’s front door and strikes down policemen’s pokers
  • Griffin pushes an officer down the stairs and causes another officer to hit the gas brackets
  • Invisible Man chases Kemp through city streets

Secret of Griffin's invisibility

Transparent larvae and jelly-fish inspired Griffin to study physics and experiment with light, optical density, pigments, and refraction. “Visibility depends on the action of the visible bodies on light.” A body absorbs light or either reflects or refracts it. Transparent glass changed to liquid equals identical refractive index. His biological tissue became a colorless and transparent organ. He converted his blood’s red color matter into white (colorless) and retained normal functions.

Director James Whale visits Universal's 1933 set of Invisible Man

Claude Raines starred as the Invisible Man (appears with bandaged face)
Claude Raines starred as the Invisible Man (appears with bandaged face) | Source

Dorian hides self-portrait masterpiece

Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray builds enormous foreshadowing that sets an ominous tone for the entire novel. Dorian’s image is compared to Adonis and Narcissus. Shakespeare’s poem, Venus and Adonis, depicts Adonis, a handsome youth, more interested in a wild boar hunt than welcoming Venus’s aggressive affections. The boar destroys Adonis and deprives Venus of her longing. Narcissus fell in love with his reflected image; he stared into the lake, fell in, and drowned. The Greek myth appears in Ovid's Metamorphoses.

The interior garden of an Artist’s Colony Studio that belongs to Basil Hallward contains scented flowers such as roses, lilacs, and carnations. Flowers seasonally shed off old blossoms but regenerate fresh ones each year, a symbol of renewed youth.

Dorian’s self-portrait was completed by an artist who evokes a certain amount of mystery; Basil oddly vanished from the company of Aristocrat Lord Henry Wotton's friends two years ago and his presence was unaccounted for. Lord Henry is shocked; Basil is reluctant to exhibit Dorian’s portrait because it reveals too much of his soul (Basil is sexually attracted to Dorian).

Basil's early speech rings like an ominous prophecy. “Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are, my fame, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray’s good looks: we will all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.”

Dorian’s strange wish comes true. “If it was only the other way! If it was I who were to be always young, and the picture that were to grow old! For this---for this---I would give everything. Yes: there is nothing in the whole world I would not give!”

Basil reluctantly introduced Dorian to Lord Henry and dreaded bad influences that resulted from it.

Dorian visited Curzon Street and waited for the arrival of Lord Henry and annoyed by the repetitive ticking of the Louis Quatorze Clock.

Dorian Gray’s London include:

  • dimly-lit streets
  • gaunt black-shadowed archways
  • evil looking houses
  • women endowed with harsh voices
  • chuckling women call his name
  • drunkards curse and self-chatter like apes
  • grotesque children stand on the doorsteps
  • shrieks echo from gloomy courts

Lord Henry’s bad influences include:

  • smokes heavy opium-tainted cigarettes
  • He's married to a woman but engages in deceptive affairs with men
  • He scoffs at upper class English democracy; only they indulge in vices of drinking, stupidity, and immoral conduct
  • He thinks only mistresses are worth touching; discourages Dorian from marriage and classifies women as two types: 1. Plain women earn a respectable reputation, 2. Painted ladies appear younger with cosmetic make-up.
  • He breaks off a scheduled date with an older man to attend theater with Dorian
  • He believes all influences are immoral and man is afraid of his desires
  • He lends Dorian a Yellow Book that reveals men's habit of cross-dressing and various interests in life that encourage sinful behavior (Oscar Wilde suffered from personal homosexual activity considered disgraceful in London).

Early in the novel, Dorian falls in love with a Shakespearean' actress Sybil Vane, a very good actress until he courts her. Sybil falls in love with him and sacrifices her career. She deliberately performs badly onstage during an evening Dorian arrives at the theater with Basil and Lord Henry. Dorian feels humiliated and refuses to forgive Sybil. He hardens his heart.

Later, Dorian regrets his harsh attitude and writes a love letter to Sybil, but it’s too late. Lord Henry reveals tragic news; she poisoned herself to death. Dorian looks at his portrait and notices each of his sins make it gradually appear more grotesque. Dorian hides his portrait in an old upstairs locked room. He has ruined the reputation of many women and men. The entire town whisper rumors about him. He is shunned by upper society. Some close relations commit suicide because of him. Homosexuality was an obvious underlying theme of the novel, and carried an evil connotation because of the moral attitudes of Wilde’s time. Dorian alarms Basil by showing him his devilish self-portrait and stabs him to death. He finally stabs the portrait to shreds and ages until he turns to dust and ashes. The self-portrait returns back to Dorian’s youthful handsome image.

Dorian Gray self-portrait admired by painter, Basil Hallward and Aristocrat, Lord Henry Wotton

Eugene Dété (engraver, d. 1922) after Paul Thiriat (fl. c. 1900–1918) - Mississippi State University, College of Architecture Art and Design. Frontispiece to Oscar Wilde's “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, wood-engraved illustration
Eugene Dété (engraver, d. 1922) after Paul Thiriat (fl. c. 1900–1918) - Mississippi State University, College of Architecture Art and Design. Frontispiece to Oscar Wilde's “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, wood-engraved illustration | Source

Martian invasion cause public panic in London

H. G. Well's science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds dramatizes the city of London fighting Martians and their technological machinery. The Planet Mars attacks earth with tripod-machines equipped with heat-ray devices that cause countless deaths and demolishes the city's infrastructure. Chaos breaks out among the people. Martians would have succeeded taking over earth if they hadn’t died from earth's bacteria; the aliens molecular structure failed to adapt.

The London monster becomes the people of the city reacting irrationally under an alien invasion. The London police organization and railway service plunged into complete chaos. People fight each other to get inside carriages. Stampedes of people trampled and crushed helpless victims in the streets. People overload Boats and barges at Tower Bridge’s northern arch. Sailors and Lightermen fight-off people at the riverfront.

The narrator struggles with a curate; they are trapped inside a house struck by a Martian cylinder. The curate drinks too much burgundy and eats too much. The narrator has to ration food for 10 days. The curate complains of hunger and makes too much noise. The narrator has wrestling matches with him, and is alarmed by his companion's loud religious-fanatic-style voice. The narrator knocks-out the curate with the butt end of a meat chopper blade. A Martian's tentacle enters their pit to investigate. The narrator sacrifices the curator's life for his own survival.

Chaos erupts at Liverpool Station:

  • revolvers fired
  • people stabbed
  • police broke pedestrians skulls with impatience
  • several overturned horses
  • rushing vehicles: bicycles, motor-cars, hansom cabs, and carriages
  • narrator’s brother saves two ladies; men attempted to drag them out of pony chaise
  • robbery attempts
  • disoriented people walk around streets
  • blind man lost in confusion
  • dehydrated Chief Justice placed on stretcher
  • poor man injured by horse’s carriage

Description of Martians (many sections of the novel list descriptions)

Martian metallic spider includes:

  • five jointed agile legs
  • numerous jointed levers
  • reaching and clutching tentacles
  • retractable arms
  • 3 long tentacles: rods, plates, bars

Martian creature features include:

  • huge round heads-4 ft. diameter
  • face lack nostrils and sense of smell
  • pair of enormous dark-colored eyes
  • fleshy beak
  • tympanic surface behind head and back (ineffective ear function with our denser atmosphere)
  • 16 slender whip-like-tentacles set around mouth-arranged in two bunches of 8 each
  • hands struggle to operate under our gravitational conditions
  • feed off blood of other creatures and inject it into their veins (bipeds and siliceous sponges)

The Martian brain is considered it's greatest anatomical structure. It sends enormous nerves to eyes, ears, and tactile senses, but earth's gravitational conditions cause the creatures outer skin to display convulsive movements and pulmonary distress.

H.G. Well's The War of the Worlds" magazine art

Source

Jack the Ripper inspired fiction

Title
Author
Story line hint
Year Published
Jack the Ripper: Case Closed
Gyles Brandeth
Arthur Conan Doyle narrates Jack's 1894 return to London. Story includes Oscar Wilde.
2017
Stalking Jack the Ripper (3 book series presented by James Patterson)
Kerri Maniscalco
English Lord's 17 year-old daughter gets secretly involved with forensic medicine, a serial investigation, and sinister period photos.
2016
The Jekyll Revelation
Robert Masello
Environmental scientists finds Robert L. Stevenson's journal that include Jekyll and Hyde notes and Jack the Ripper's secret identity.
2016
I, Ripper
Stephen Hunter
Jack the Ripper's diary
2015
The Ripper
LA Maldonado
Detective tracks down serial killer who believes he's possessed by ghost of Jack.
2014
The Name of the Star (Young Adult)
Maureen Johnson
A young girl witnesses a ripper-type-killing and becomes a target.
2012
Downtime
Tamara Allen
An attractive woman's magic sends a detective back in time during Whitechapel killings.
2012
Yours Truly, the Ripper (Anthology of novels and short stories)
Robert Block
Jack stalks 1940's Chicago
2011
The Whitechapel Conspiracy
Anne Perry
Pitt works undercover at the East End four years after Whitechapel murderers.
2010
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors
Edward B. Hanna
Holmes solves Jack the Ripper case.
2010
What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper
Paula Marantz Cohen
Author Henry James, his psychologist brother, and invalid sister, pursue Jack.
2010
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson
Lyndsay Faye
Holmes and Watson track down Jack.
2009
From Hell (Graphic Novel)
Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
A blend of true and fictionalized events about Whitechapel murderers (based on "From Hell" letter).
1999
Savage
Richard Layman
A young boy hiding under bed witnesses Jack's last known killing.
1993
The Last Sherlock Holmes' Story
Michael Dibdin
Holmes suspects his greatest enemy, James Moriarty, is Jack the Ripper.
1978
The Lodger
Marie Belloc Lowndes
First Novel influenced by Jack the Ripper killings.
1913
The Curse Upon Mitre Square
John Francis Brewer
First literary adaption, a short graphic novel
1888
Chronological list starts from most recent year. It doesn't include every Jack the Ripper novel; there are numerous other creative works. Titles are listed in Amazon.com., Good Reads.com, and Wikipedia.com.

London horror story quiz

What horror story listed first appeared as an original screenplay?

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10 Creepy Facts about Victoria London

London monsters' summary

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, are great examples of early classic horror novels. The Werewolf of London was brought to life by a Hollywood screenplay and inspired future popular 1980's werewolf movies such as, An American Werewolf in London, Wolfen, and The Howling. All the classic novel titles listed were adapted into successful American movies. Filmmakers of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) were conscious of the Hollywood film code and adapted the novel with a heterosexual tone. The Invisible Man and The War of the World novels illustrate that chaos in the streets can result in people turning against each other. Jack-the-Ripper, the legendary serial killer, credited primarily for five prostitute deaths, remains a mystery with many questionable conjectures and uncertainties. Jack-the-Ripper is studied in many nonfiction books and inspired countless fiction novels, documentaries, and screenplays.

Dorian Gray's supernatural portrait

Albright's painting of Dorian Gray, from the 1945 film that starred Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, and Peter Lawford.
Albright's painting of Dorian Gray, from the 1945 film that starred Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, and Peter Lawford. | Source

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    • rebelogilbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      8 weeks ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Thanks for taking a look at it Bill. Except for "The Werewolf of London," all the movie adaptations were taken from novels. I understand you may identify with the stories as movies. There have been so many different screenplay adaptations of them.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      A fascinating look at the history of movies. You did such a great job with this. The research is topnotch, my friend, and I absolutely loved the information.

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