A depiction of the malformed Igor.

Igor, or sometimes Ygor, is a stock character, a sometimes hunch-backed laboratory assistant to many types of Gothic villains or as a fiendish character who assists only himself, the latter most prominently portrayed by Bela Lugosi in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). He is familiar from many horror films and horror film parodies. He is traditionally associated with mad scientists, particularly Victor Frankenstein, although Frankenstein has neither a lab assistant nor any association with a character named Igor in the original Mary Shelley novel. The Igor of popular parlance is a composite character, based on characters created for the Universal Studios film franchise. In the first Frankenstein film (1931), Fritz served the role; in subsequent sequels, a different physically deformed character, Ygor, is featured, though Ygor is not an assistant in those films.

Origins

Dwight Frye's hunchbacked lab assistant in the first film of the Frankenstein series (1931) is the main source for the "Igor" of public imagination, though this character was actually named Fritz. Fritz did not originate from the Frankenstein novel, but instead originated from the earliest recorded play adaptation Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein where he was played by Robert Keeley.[1][2]

Boris Karloff as the monster, Basil Rathbone as Dr. Frankenstein's son Wolf Frankenstein, and Bela Lugosi as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939)

The third and fourth sequel films Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) featured a character named Ygor portrayed by Bela Lugosi. This character is neither a hunchback nor a lab assistant, but a blacksmith with a broken neck and twisted back as the result of a botched hanging. He reanimates the Monster as an instrument of vengeance against the townspeople who attempted to hang him for grave robbing. He survives a near-fatal gunshot and appears in the next film in which his brain is placed in the Monster's body, but the body is rendered blind because Ygor's blood is not compatible with the Monster's blood and it is caught in a chateau fire. Still, the Monster returns with its original brain in the next few movies: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, burning to death in that one as well.

Universal Studios actively cemented the idea of the hunchbacked assistant to the "mad scientist" in the Frankenstein film series' The House of Frankenstein (1944) with J. Carrol Naish playing a hunchbacked lab assistant named Daniel.

In the horror film Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), Ivan Igor is the name of the mad wax museum curator. The film was remade as House of Wax (1953), but the name Igor was given to the curator's henchman (Charles Bronson) rather than the curator himself. This character is deaf and mute, rather than a hunchback.

Another Igor appears in Van Helsing (2004), portrayed by Kevin J. O'Connor.

The film Igor features an assortment of Igors who are assistants to different mad scientists of the fictional country Malaria. The titular Igor (voiced by John Cusack) was the assistant of Dr. Glickenstein (voiced by John Cleese).

The film Victor Frankenstein features its version of Igor (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe) whose abnormality is caused by a cyst on his back that Victor Frankenstein drains.

See also

References

  1. ^ Behrendt, Stephen C. (2012). "A Hideous Bit of Morbidity": An Anthology of Horror Criticism from the Enlightenment to World War I. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 97. ISBN 978-0786469093. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was adapted for the stage many times, and the first of these interpretations was Richard Brinsley Peake's Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein (1823), which dramatized key scenes from the novel and added Frankenstein's assistant, Fritz, to the mix.
  2. ^ Doe, John (August 2001). "Cast and Characters - Romantic Circles". Romantic Circles. RC. Retrieved September 20, 2018.