Frankenstein is not the first ever movie about Frankensteins Monster that achievement goes to director Eugenio Testa with his 1921 short film Il monstro di Frankenstein, however the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff is the adaptation which helped to shape and develop the monster into the horror icon he has become.
The movie is filled to the brim with Iconic peformances such as Colin Clive who plays the mad doctor, it was he that first screamed the lines “HES ALIVE, HES ALIVE”, both Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan make a return from Dracula this time with Frye playing Fritz the doctors hideous assistant and Van Sloan playing Doctor Waldman, Dr Frankensteins previous teacher at the university but even with all of these wonderful performances the best performance is given by none other than Boris Karloff who plays the title role of the monster.
Karloff played the monster as a lost puppy type of character, the monster was dangerous but his bursts of anger and destruction came from his confusion and the way people reacted to seeing him more than it was his own decision, the monster wasn’t cruel it had just never had the chance to experience kindness, there is a very powerful scene in the movie where a young girl gives the monster a flower and unfortunately she is killed by the monster when he accidentally drowns her in a river while they were playing.
An interesting piece of trivia about Frankenstein for those who haven’t seen it is that the film first begins with a warning from Edward Van Sloan its a chilling warning that im sure would have set many people into a fit of fear back in the day, the opening dialogue is as such” How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you”.
Frankenstein is an amazing piece of history that still stands the test of time, it is one of the most enjoyable of the older Universal classic horrors and its performances went on to inspire multiple books, stage adaptrations and newer Frankenstein films, its a monster of a movie which has enough heart and fright for any movie fan, the Blu-Ray has many features including three documentaries and two commentary tracks.
you can purchase the Universal Classics Monsters Collection on Blu-ray here
A DVD version can be bought here
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