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Drunk History Resurrected the Tale of How Mary Shelley Brought Frankenstein to Life

Evan Rachel Wood stars as Mary Shelley in the Drunk History retelling of Frankenstein’s origin story.
Evan Rachel Wood stars as Mary Shelley in the Drunk History retelling of Frankenstein’s origin story.
Image: Comedy Central

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society: Drunk History tells the true story of how an opium-fueled sex party inspired not one—but two—of history’s greatest fictional monsters.

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Comedy Central’s Drunk History opened its latest season with an entire episode dedicated to the story of how Mary Shelley (played by Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood) came up with the idea for her legendary horror novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Set as a parody of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, comedian Rich Fulcher regaled the Drunken Society with the tawdry tale. Here’s a clip from the episode, which you can watch in full on Comedy Central’s website.

During a getaway at Lord Byron’s estate at Lake Geneva—which was basically a giant orgy sustained by shots of liquid opium—Mary (then Mary Godwin) and her companions were challenged to come up with scary stories. After overhearing Lord Byron (played by Jack McBrayer) and her lover/eventual husband Percy Shelley (Elijah Wood) discuss galvanism (the practice of using electricity on the bodies of dead animals), Mary proceeded to have a terrifying nightmare that inspired her own short story. All about a certain doctor (Seth Rogan), his monstrous creation (Will Ferrell), and the tragedy that befell them all.

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That story was later expanded into Frankenstein, which has become one of the most iconic horror stories (and monsters) of all time—part of Universal’s regular rotation of movie monsters that recently tried, and failed, to have its own Dark Universe. But that’s not all that came out of that sexy romp in the country: Lord Byron’s own scary story, about a sexy vampire, was expanded into a novel by his physician, John William Polidori. That book, The Vampire, eventually inspired another horror classic: Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

Whenever someone makes sure to point out that “Frankenstein” is not the name of the monster, it reminds of Stephen King’s It whenever that comes up in conversation. 10 times out of 10, someone will go “did you know about the sex scene in it?!?”

Yes, we know these things.