We’re taking a short writing break to recover from the amazing colossal LIST O’ VILLAINS! We’ll be back to rambling next week, don’t worry, but in the meantime please enjoy the opening salvo of our equally-exhausting COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN!!
That’s the ever-creepy Dwight Frye, in the role of lab assistant Karl in Bride of Frankenstein. Frye also played Renfield in the 1931 production of Dracula, and the hunchbacked lackey Fritz in Frankenstein.
Frye pretty much invented the screen archetype of the mad doctor’s assistant through these three roles, though he was never named Igor in any of them.
That name for the hunchbacked assistant seems to have become popular sometime after the SHOCK! package of Universal monster movies hit TV in 1957, and was common enough by 1962 for the name to have been tossed in carelessly in Bobby Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers’ “Monster Mash.” Which, hey… We might as well go ahead and get the obligatory Halloween posting of THAT old chestnut out of the way right now…
(God, it’s the “Stairway to Heaven” of Monster Kid anthems, isn’t it? You’ve heard it a million times, and no matter how sick of it you get, there’s still an undeniable power to it.)
Anyway… The Igor thing is most likely a confusion of Frye’s hunchbacked Fritz with Bela Lugosi’s mad gypsy Ygor, who doesn’t show up until the third Frankenstein film, Son of Frankenstein, and is neither a hunchback nor an assistant to anyone. It’s a great name for that sort of character, though, so I can see why it stuck. And any chance of it being untangled was, of course, scuttled entirely by Marty Feldman’s turn in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein as the hunchbacked Igor:
Of course, my personal favorite movie hunchback also isn’t named Igor. That would be Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as creepy a hunchbacked assistant as you could hope for: