There won’t be any little monsters named Frankenstein knocking at your door this Halloween, even if that’s who they say they are. A common misconception about Mary Shelley’s ground-breaking 1818 horror novel, Frankenstein, is that the monster’s name is Frankenstein. Actually, the monster was created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, but does not have a name. Nevertheless, the name has become synonymous with the monster -- and Halloween. Worldwide, frightening Frankenstein-themed attractions make great trips for Halloween.
Mary Shelley’s book is set in Switzerland, not Germany, but literary historians believe she was inspired to write the book when she heard of a mad scientist living in Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt, Germany. The ruins of Frankenstein Castle still stand, and have drawn millions of visitors over the years. Every year, thousands of travelers arrive in late October and early November, when the castle is home to weekend Halloween parties. The castle has stood since at least 948 A.D., making it more than 1,000 years old, and is an ideal setting for the torture chamber, haunted halls and the hulking, greenish-grey collection of body parts that lumber around during the Halloween season. The castle is open for tours year-round, but only during the Halloween season does the Frankenstein monster, along with99 of his pals from the living dead, inhabit the castle. One of those friends is a ghostly pale lumberjack with a penchant for sneaking up behind unsuspecting guests and roaring a chainsaw to life. Now that’s good Halloween fun!
Madame Tussaud's Hong Kong
The little Adirondack town of Lake George in upstate New York is a great travel destination for outdoor summer recreation and winter skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing. But when the leaves are falling and Halloween is approaching, the town takes on a jack-o-lantern orange hue. In Lake George, Halloween parades, parties and festivals abound on Halloween weekend. Still, you might think the quaint and eccentric village is the last place to find a monster. But there on Canada Street, just steps from the shore of beautiful Lake George, is the House of Frankenstein, a storefront haunted house with the Frankenstein monster and many of his friends roaming the halls. It is an exceptionally cool attraction, especially around Halloween, and is open from April to November. Once you hit the haunted staircase, you’re on your own -- no turning back, not even when you feel hot monster breath of Frankenstein or one of his friends on the back of your neck.
Frankenstein might seem like a monster out of water, so to speak, in Hong Kong, but Madame Tussauds can make anyone feel at home anywhere. This Halloween season, the Hong Kong site of the world-famous wax museums presents “SCREAM @ Frankenstein’sLab.” The lab is a journey through the dark corridors, buried coffins, remains of corpses and frightful experiments that make you feel as though you’re an accomplice to Dr. Frankenstein. In the “lab,” guests need to summon all their mental and physical abilities to flee the gruesome lab before they become the enraged fiend’s next target.
Halloween parties are becoming more common in London. These days it’s generally pretty easy to find a good murder mystery theme or some sort of deadly seduction party in London’s vibrant restaurant and club scene. On weekend nights throughout October Frankenstein helps make Fright Nights at Thorpe Park, London’s top theme park, one of the scariest places on Earth. But London’s most prominent connection to Frankenstein is the home of Mary Shelley. Though she wrote most of the book in Switzerland, she was a Londoner by birth and lived most of her life in a luxury townhouse in the Knightsbridge section of London. Full of her memorabilia from Frankenstein and her other literary works, the house is open for tours year-round.
Jeff Thoreson is a travel writer based in Washington, DC.