Frankenstein (1931) title

Tag line : A Monster Science Created - But Could Not Destroy!

Frankenstein (1931) coverSpurred on by the success of "Dracula", Universal pictures sought to replicate their success by adapting other stories from horror folklore. The first of which being this classic tale by Mary Shelley.

The film starts off with Dr Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his hunchbacked assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) doing a spot of late night grave robbery. Seems the good doctor believes he can a create a life from other body parts, and has been busy plundering the graves of the recently dead for spare parts.

Trying to steal a brain from the local medical school proves problematic when Fritz ends up swiping an abnormal brain. So when Doctor Frankenstein goes to bring his oversized creation to life with a bolt of lightning, instead of an intelligent, articulate being, he is faced with a hulking great bumbling psychopath, that promptly breaks out of the castle and goes on the rampage throughout the countryside, terrorising the local farmers.

With Doctor Frankenstein trying to put his failures behind him and marry his betrothed Elizabeth (Mae Clark), trouble brews as the monster kills the young daughter of one of the locals, then breaks into his father-in-law's house and attacks his bride to be, resulting in the now familiar scene of angry villagers carrying burning torches chasing the monster across the countryside...

Directed by James Whale (The Invisible Man) this adaptation of the old Mary Shelley novel (actually based on the stage adaptation) may look very dated now, as is the case with a lot of these old B&W films, but is still a very entertaining watch and, as is the case with "Dracula", is one I would recommend to all fans of classic horrors.

Overall marks : 4/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Bela Lugosi was offered the role of the Monster, but declined as he wanted to play the role of Dr Frankenstein. He did appear in the sequels as Ygor, one of the doctors mad assistants and would also go on to play the monster in some of the later films

  • Boris Karloff was not credited for his role in the film, instead a question mark "?" was used in the cast list next to the monsters name.

  • The thunderclap sound effect recorded for this film (referred to as the "Castle Thunder Effect") has subsequently featured in hundreds of films, TV shows, cartoons and adverts.

  • Dwight Fry, who plays Fritz, and Edward Von Sloan, who plays Dr Waldman, also starred in "Dracula".

  • The character of Fritz was not in the original novel, he was a character from the stage adaptation of the book, which the film is based on.

  • Dr Frankenstein's name was Victor in the novel, but the film makers thought this sounded too stern, so they changed it to Henry.

  • The original Mary Shelley novel does not mention how Dr Frankenstein brought the monster to life. The use of lightning was invented by the film makers. It has subsequently featured in every Frankenstein adaptation since.

  • The line "Now I know what it's like to be god" was cut from its re-issue in the late 30s and was not restored properly for many years. It does appear on the DVD release.

  • The scene where the monster throws the young girl into the lake took several takes to get right, as the director didn't think how she fell into the water looked quite right. But the scene was then cut from its original release as the censors thought it was too violent. The scene was restored in later years and is intact on the DVD release.

  • Boris Karloff got offered the role of the monster after director James Whale spotted him on the Universal Studios lot and thought he had "interesting facial features". Karloff was apparently slightly offended by this, but auditioned for the role anyway.

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