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Average review score based on 17 user reviews
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Even though this film varies drastically from its source material (Frankenstein (Book, 1818)) it still manages to be both frightening and entertaining. The movie follows Henry Frankenstein who is engaged to a girl named Elizabeth. He leaves his fiancée for four months to work on an experiment with his assistant Fritz. His experiment is to revive a dead corpse but since he is unable to find a perfectly healthy human corpse (they had to have had something wrong with them if they died after all) he ends up grave digging and putting all of the pieces together to create “The Monster”. When he succeeds in giving it life the Monster manages to escape and cause trouble throughout the entire countryside, killing at will. Will anyone be able to stop the monster? So basically the story is very good although it hardly follows the novel at all, even changing the main characters name from Victor to Henry (yet they named a minor character Victor to add to the confusion). The Monster’s intelligence is also drastically brought down to the point where he can’t even speak. The main loss though is the fact that the good guy/bad guy relationship is much more black and white. In the original novel it was open to interpretation but here the Monster is clearly bad with Henry being good. So the story is very entertaining, but also a missed opportunity.
When it comes to the acting in this film I truly feel that all of the actors did a great job in their roles. Colin Clive plays Henry Frankenstein and really pulls off the mad scientist vibe really well. Then there is Mae Clarke who plays Elizabeth but the script doesn’t give her very much room as it makes her out as the damsel in distress. Keeping that in mind though she pulls it off well. And next up is Dwight Frye as Fritz, often incorrectly called Igor by viewers. Frye is great as the crazy and stupid hunchbacked character. Most importantly we have Boris Karloff in the film that raised him into star dome. Even though he is covered in makeup and doesn’t have a single line of dialogue he manages to be the best actor in this film. He really helps the audience sympathize with his character but at the same time manages to be the angry evil monster. So overall there is some great acting here.
All of the makeup and special effects are excellent here with some realistic looking wounds and decomposition on the corpse of the Monster. In addition there are some great sets in the film which truly set the mood with the exception of the final scenes where the Monster is being chased on a mountain which looks somewhat fake. And as for the musical score it complements the picture tremendously. Frankenstein is a very technically sound film overall.
As a classic of the horror genre at the time and one of the most famous monster movies ever made I was slightly disappointed with the film. I am a huge fan of the original novel and was disappointed that so few elements transferred over to the movie but nevertheless it is still an excellent monster movie and one that is worth your time. It is very good technically with excellent special effects, sets, and music plus it has some great acting especially from Boris Karloff as the Monster. So give this film a try if you have any interest whatsoever in monster movies, horror, or Frankenstein. But don’t expect it to be anything like the book.
This is the finest DVD release of this horror classic. It boasts new remastering and some excised scenes and an additional disc of bonus materials. This breakthrough Karloff film doesn't even mention his name in the opening credits. His name does not appear until the end and Karloff is not seen util the movie is well underway. His famous entrance still manages chills, and his sympatric portrayal of the monster is a testament of great acting. Sporting heavy make-up and 50 pound boots this was an extremely difficult to portray and only Karloff could do such a masterful job. Under James Whale's perfect direction, the monster is not just a killer but a very misunderstood creature that has the capacity for love in his childlike innocence. Whale employs many religious themes in this film, particularly when Karloff is captured by the mob and tied to what appears to be a cross giving the scene an almost "Christ like" quality. This is not just a "scary" movie but boasts finely edged characterizations and is truly a morality tale. The mob is more cruel than the man made creature with a damaged brain. This was the first movie to claim a superior sequel, a rarity in Hollywood even today. Karloff manages to convey subtle emotions without dialog and the hindrance of ponderous make up. They glued his eyes half open to give him a more menacing appearance.
The role was originally offered to Bela Lugosi, fresh off his success from "Dracula" but he turned it down due to the lack of dialog. Lugosi would later parody the famous Universal monster in later films. But no one has ever quite hit the right note as Karloff. The film is now forever immortalized in this newly remastered 70th Anniversary Edition.
A note to the readers: Universal also release the same edition for Lugosi's Dracula.
This is early horror filmmaking at it's very finest. A must have classic.
Along with Dracula, Frankenstein is the prototype Universal horror film. It made Boris Karloff a household name, although the opening credits give the monster a question mark. No horror collection should be without this 1931 gem.
What can I say that hasn't been said already.
This is THE classic horror film.
Mild by today's standards. My kids laugh at it. But in it's time this was horrifying.
The story was really the scary part. The idea that you can reanimate lifeless tissue was considered blasphemy. Today well today anything is possible. We don't look at life the same way. Science is not the mysterious subject it was 80 years ago. People understand DNA, stem cells, heart, liver, kidney transplants. They comprehend cloning. These things are not in the realm of fantasy any longer.
The film still holds it's own though as long as you view it in the context of the time it is supposed to take place and the time the movie itself was produced.
Don't compare it to today's films.
The is the DVD to get for any fan of Frankenstein or the classic horror movies. It is full of extras and behind the scenes material. The movie is still great and has stood the test of time. The packaging is wonderful also, it is designed to resemble book binding. If you're to get any version of Frankenstein, this edition hands down is the ultimate.