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The Daily Cinema: “Frankenstein”

“Frankenstein”, the black and white 70 minute horror film originally released in 1931, is a stirring and intense flick that showcases the sheer insanity of Dr. Frankenstein as he creates his infamous re-animated creature that goes on an absolute tear. Although the length means large portions of Marry Shelley’s outstanding novel are left out, the heart of the story and it’s ability to sell a creature that is truly unmanageable is brought to life by Boris Karloff in his famous turn as “the monster.”

For the full review, hit the jump.

The story starts with an ominous warni9ng that the film just might be too scary for some audiences. Psshhh. Move right along. Kicking off the story, we are given little background about Henry Frankenstein as he is already in search of a body and a brain to complete the necessities for his experiment. Helping Frankenstein is his trusty companion Fritz, the hunchback helper who has a nasty tendency to mess things up.

As we are sped through the storyline of Frankenstein toiling away in his abandoned bell tower in an effort to complete his creation, we are shown the destruction it is causing to his bride-to-be Elizabeth. After giving life to his creation, Frankenstein and Co attempt to control the monster but are completely unaware of the devastation they are about to unleash.

While the story itself f0llows Shelley’s book initially, the creature is dopey and slow, which is a far cry from the lumbering and quick creation in her terrifying novel. In fact, the creature in this film is what many have taken influence from, as makeup artist Jack P. Pierce added the touches of an ill-fitting suit, bolts in the neck, and flat head. The length of this film is one of its greatest flaws, as it feels rushed in the middle and given a prolonged yet rushed-to climax.

The stars of the show is Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as the monster. They are what push the film beyond just a stripped down version of Shelley’s novel and give it—shall I say—life. Had they stuck closer to the story, perhaps this film would have really been a hit.

As it stands, the horror is intact but “Frankenstein” often stumbles when not focused on the dramatic. Praise has to go to the cinematographer as well, as the camera work and lighting all help set the mood. Overall, worth the short time to see Clive and Karloff give great performances that capture some of the essence of the classic novel.


January 22, 2010 - Posted by | The Daily Cinema |

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