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#87 - Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's novel gets its quote-unquote definitive film treatment in this 1931 classic horror flick from director James Whale. A scientist (Colin Clive) creates life from death by building a creature (Boris Karloff) from parts of exhumed corpses. Hilarity ensues.

I don't think I have the cinema chops to appreciate this film. The things I've read laud the strength of the mood setting, and the excellent pacing. But to me, it just looks so dated. It's slow. The acting is wooden and melodramatic. The painted backdrops are cheap and look bad. The three different sets are dull looking. I don't know. I guess this was cutting edge in 1931.

I presume that this film is on the list because (along with Dracula) it basically created the horror film genre. So I can understand that. Perhaps this is why it seems so dated. I see the hunchbacked assistant and the lurching monster and while I know that this is the film that those (now) cliches came from, I still can't escape feeling that the whole exercise is silly.

Perhaps I would have a higher opinion of the movie if I saw the many imitations and parodies that followed. To my (and Samantha's) eye, it doesn't really stay true to the source material. But perhaps, compared to others, it does. I have a feeling, though, that I'll never find out -- which, for better or for worse, I don't think is a huge loss.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)

Comments (2)


Hey - it's 1931 - just imagine the times. I think it's impossible to look at cinema with a clear eye when you are going back that many years. To appreciate Shelley's concept, let's consider today's world and cloning. We can now see, in a year 2005 viewpoint, what Shelley was trying to portray. Taking pieces of a human being to create another. It's a pretty advanced concept, for her time. I'm pretty sure a 1931 film just can't do it. That's all for now. What's next on the video screen?


It's "Franc-en-steen!"


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