Frankenstein (1931)

A Review by Jason L. King

Starring: Boris Karloff
Directed by: James Whale
Rated: NR
Movie Released: 1931

The summer months have been whisked away and we are now heading into autumn with leaves turning colors and people’s doorsteps sporting jack-o-lanterns and skeletons. October is Halloween, month of the monsters, hence why many of the reviews you are seeing are horror films or monster movies. Throughout the month of October 2009, I will be focusing at least a solid portion of my reviews on various movie monsters each week. Week #4’s movie monster is Frankenstein’s Monster.

Final Grade:

It is the most classic of the classic movie monsters that have captivated movie screens, Halloween costumes and every bit of Halloween garp ever created. Witches probably lead the way but following close in foot is none other than the main monster himself, Frankenstein.

In 1931 Universal Pictures set out to put Mary Shelley’s classic monster tale of Frankenstein on the big screen. They gathered the likes of young director James Whale and Boris Karloff, a man who along with Bella Lugosi transformed the history of monster movie cinema.

Of course like all Frankenstein stories, the 1931 version is no different, a scientist named Frankenstein works tirelessly in his lab to bring to life his own creation, a human made of body parts that he has sewn together. Upon a dark and stormy night, his creation is brought to life only to become a hideous monster with great strength who begins to terrorize the countryside.

What I truly enjoyed about this film is that despite being made in 1931, I felt that it has held up over the ages. The film doesn’t drag, feel old fashioned or too corny. In fact, it is by far the best of the best monster films made. Perhaps this is because of the acting in the film. Each actor does a wonderful job of adapting this tale to film, and I never felt the parts were being over acted in any way. As I have stated time and time again, my biggest problem with older films is the way they “ham” it up in front of the camera, over acting dialogue in a play like style. The actors of Frankenstein did no such thing. Because of this it makes the story seem even more realistic despite its fantastic nature.

Perhaps the greatest part of the film is Boris Karloff as the monster. Karloff plays the monster with wondrous ease and anyone can easily see why his portrayal of Frankenstein has become the standard vision of Frankenstein’s monster. Perhaps one of the best scenes in the film is a scene where Frankenstein’s monster meets Maria, a little girl who teaches him that flowers can float on a lake. In return, Frankenstein teaches her that little girls do not float like flowers. It is a sad, yet humorous part of the movie. But then again, I also laugh at the little girl and the exploding briefcase in the film The Untouchables.

In the end, Frankenstein is the perfect way to end your Halloween spookfest of monster films. If you haven’t seen it put it on your list of things to check out. You’ll be glad you took the time to see this classic.

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