To celebrate Halloween, my blind spot for the month is the James Whale Universal horror classic, Frankenstein.
Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is mad with one singular purpose: to create a man with his own hands, to play God essentially. He has built a man with assorted dead body parts and the brain of a murderer. On a dark and stormy night, Frankenstein’s monster comes to life, through electricity. But the doctor does not anticipate the kind of horror his monster will unleash.
Although Frankenstein wasn’t included in my list of films for this series, it’s been a blind spot for a very long time. This film is iconic, the foremost in the monster movie genre. It’s been parodied and referenced endless times. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but a beautiful, even soulful film was not what I anticipated. This is classified as a horror movie, and rightly so. Its stunning black and white photography, eerie graveyard images, and a monster assembled from corpses and a killer’s brain definitely carries plenty of horror. But as I said, it’s a soulful, moving film.
The monster, brilliantly portrayed by the inimitable Boris Karloff, is a victim of circumstance and his creator’s madness. Karloff was completely transformed by that famous makeup, which involved a very long and arduous process. He brings a lot of sensitivity to the role. I was on the verge of tears during one tender scene that quickly turned tragic. But the monster, though he’s misunderstood, is nonetheless a frightening creature. Any tall, hulking half man roaming a countryside or appearing unexpectedly in a young woman’s bedroom is scary.
Colin Clive was also deeply impressive as Henry Frankenstein. I’m not sure if his vivid and intense performance is credited for helping to solidify the film’s iconic status, but it definitely should be. I found Frankenstein to be totally compelling, just like the monster.
The film is remarkable too for its pacing. It runs over just an hour long but isn’t too short. The story and characters are engrossing throughout, and it’s perfect viewing for a dark stormy night.
This is my October entry for the Blind Spot series. Click the banner below for more.