Sunday, June 19, 2011

Frankenstein (1931)

The original Frankenstein is as good as they come. James Whale takes on Mary Shelley's classic tale of a mad scientist who builds a human from pieces of different corpses and brings it to life. Not only does Whale give the monster a face but he gave us a film that has gone down in history and will never be forgotten.

Audiences must have been frightened half to death in 1931. Sure they had the dark horror films from the Silent era with horrible disfigured faces and freaks of nature, generally from the great Lon Chaney but Frankenstein takes dark to a whole new level. Its filled with grave diggers, hunch backs (Dwight Frye), a decrepit zombie, child murder and blasphemous undertones.

The great Jack Pierce created to look for the monster which would of course become a classic iconic image that to this day is known instantly at first glance and is still copy written from Universal Studios. Boris Karloff on the other hand, even through tons of makeup and a completely unrecognizable face gives the monster character and emotion. I remember the first time I saw Frankenstein was in elementary school. Our teacher had our parents sign permission slips in order for us to be allowed to watch the film during class. I remember most of my fellow classmates being bored which I suppose is okay for a 8 year old kid growing up in the 80's who is being subjected to a old time 1930's film but I on the other hand loved it and I remember while other kids fell asleep how horrible I felt for the monster. At a young age Karloff's performance was able to reach me and I definitely had a connection with the monster. The scene where he kills the little girl is still a powerful cinematic moment today.

I was recently lucky enough to catch this thing in the theater as a double feature with its sequel Bride Of Frankenstein and while I have always felt that Bride is the more entertaining film with added elements of black humor, upscale special effects, excellent cinematography and at times a more blasphemous tone, The original Frankenstein is still the scarier of the two. Your never to old for a good monster movie and a good monster movie never gets old. So check out the king of the zombie flicks with the number one ghoul... Boris Karloff.

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