Where would science fiction movies be without the ubiquitous mad scientist?
Science is good for so many things: curing terrible diseases, inventing miraculous devices and materials to make life better and develop new ways of thinking that literally change the course of history.
But Hollywood generally isn’t interested in that kind of thing: they want monsters, mayhem and, of course, madness. Some of the best sci-fi films – or horror films with a sci-fi element, rely on so-called “mad scientists” to drive them, and here are some of my favorite uses of this character.
Has there been a better character that embodies “mad scientist” quite like Dr. Frankenstein? Everyone remembers the monster, but it’s the doctor who brings it to life and, like all slightly unhinged experiments – it comes back to haunt him. In fact, there is rarely a time when the scientist doesn’t come out either dead or worse in the end. Case in point . . .
This movie wasn’t a huge hit in theaters, but the story behind it is so creepy and disturbing, I can see why it didn’t connect with people. Genetic engineering is kind of scary on its own, but Splice takes the worst-case scenario and somehow makes it even worse than you could imagine. My hat’s off to Delphine Chanéac for taking on a unique, bizarre role and to Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley for taking things seriously. And for a brutal end that should make you want to take a long shower to wash off the feeling it leaves behind.
Who hasn’t thought about how much better the world would be if you could just teleport yourself around. Instant travel – no pollution – horrible side effects, ah – there’s the rub. While there are two versions of The Fly, David Chronenberg’s 1986 version with Jeff Goldblum sets the standard for good intentions gone bad. It turns out that teleporting is great – provided it’s you and just you doing the teleporting. Accidentally thrown in a winged friend, and you start the long, slow slide towards becoming a hybrid monstrosity. One wonders what would happen if two people decided to teleport at the same time . . . better yet, maybe it’s best not to imagine the possibilities.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Before we started having things like trials and animal testing, it turns out drug testing was a much less regulated matter. In this case, Mr. Hyde is convinced that man has both a “good” and “evil” side, and that by separating the two sides, it will liberate him. It sure does – it liberates his evil side, Dr. Jekyll to run rampant and ruin his life. Remember, drug testing is a good thing – don’t just go around injecting or ingesting random chemicals.
The Island of Dr. Moreau
This is a truly mad scientist: one who considers himself more a god than a man. What makes him so mad? Well, there’s the whole “mannimals” thing; interspecies breeding; being worshipped by his creations; and his “lab” lovingly called the “House of Pain”. Yet, once again, his pride gets the best of him and in the end he get his.
It just goes to show that even the best intentions, the greatest minds, the most amazing inventions – can all turn very bad, very quickly. Sometimes it’s best to follow the rules and regulations – you can go rogue – just remember, it will most likely result in a violent death, angry mobs or horrific transformations. You’ve been warned, mad scientist! But will you ever learn?
Chris Kavan is the Community Manager of FilmCrave.com and the only thing he’s mad about are movies.