It seems you have returned for another tale of terror. As you walk into the shops and see ghoulish costumes, of vampires and wolfmen perhaps you are unaware of where these images came from. Perhaps you mistake the current image of the vampire as having always been a charming figure, but these images all had a starting point, when the horrors for many began. So now I welcome you as we go back to where it began, to 1931s Frankenstein by Universal……..
There is no doubt that the 1930s Universal movies are what truly made the horror and monster genera, though yes there were films that came before, like Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Dracula came out a few months earlier than Frankenstein). The Universal movies are what solidified the cultural image of many of today’s classic monsters, and it was from these films that many of what would come took inspiration.
The film starts with a man speaking to the audience (which is what I’m emulating in the first paragraphs of these October reviews if you haven’t guessed yet) telling you that this is a tale of the mysteries of life and death. The film starts proper at a funeral, but after it’s over we see Dr Henry Frankenstein and his hunchback Fritz (yeah not Victor and Igor funny that) dig up the freshly buried body for their experiments.
Ok you know the rest, it’s a well known tale that has been done hundreds of times so I won’t really go over the plot. The film shows the doctor isn’t an evil man (unlike the Hammer Horror version) but he is close to madness with his obsession in his work, so it is a great difference when you see him at the moment he brings his creation to life, even commenting that he now knows what God feels like and then later when he’s taken away from all that and rested. You can see this was not a bad man, but lost to his work.
But lets talk about the REAL star, Boris Karloff. This was the film that made (pun very much intended) his film career. He manages without saying any real words, to make this stiff creature at times sympathetic and innocent but also a level of menace. It is great to be able to see that level of character. Ultimately this and Henry Frankenstein’s (yeah that’s what he’s called in the movie) earlier actions make you wonder who the real monster actually is.
This is an absolute classic and you can see why it was included into the National Film Registry in America to be preserved for all time. I highly recommend this for Halloween. If you haven’t yet watched it, hunt down a copy (legally please, don’t lose your morality to obsession like Henry did) and it’s only 71 minutes. They will be an entertaining 71 minutes as you see where those bolts you may be wearing this Halloween on your neck came from.