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...And now our feature presentation

Frankenstein (1931)

Cast                                                                               Credits
Colin Clive. . . . . . . . . . . .Dr. Frankenstein                      Studio . . . . . . . . . . . Universal
Mae Clarke. . . . . . . . . . .Elizabeth                                  Director . . . . . . . . . .James Whale
John Boles. . . . . . . . . . . .Victor Moritz                           Based on novel by. . .Mary Shelley
Boris Karloff. . . . . . . . . . .The Monster                          Cinematography. . . . Arthur Edeson
Edward Van Sloan. . . . . . Dr. Waldman                          Edited by . . . . . . . . Clarence Kolster
Frederick Kerr. . . . . . . . . Baron Frankenstein                Sound by. . . . . . . . . William Hedgcock
Dwight Frye . . . . . . . . . . .Fritz                                       Make-up  by. . . . . . .Jack P. Pierce
                                                           Run Time: 70 minutes

The possible ratings are as follows:

   Abysmal. Complete trash-- bad acting, writing, cinematography, etc.

   Bomb. One or two redeeming qualities, but inferior overall.

    Average. Not outstanding in most respects, but worth checking out.

    I had a ball. Solid acting, writing, cinematography, etc. Superior in many respects.

Excellent. A true classic. Few, if any, flaws.


          Everybody knows the story of Frankenstein or at least some variation of it. Therefore, I will not take the time to recap that here. Instead, I'd like to jump right into my thoughts on the film. Frankenstein probably does not work as a straight horror film anymore. We, as movie goers, have become so desensitized my scary images--we seen them all. Instead, we crave films like Scream which rely on tight shots and figures jumping into the frames to scare us. Heck, even the blood-letting films of the late '70's and '80's make us laugh now. With that said, Frankenstein is a frightening film on a different level. The ideas behind the stroy are especially relevant in a world in which we are told that full blown human cloning is not only possible but is possible right now. For those scientists who plan on going forward in this wonderfully exciting and totally untested field, a quick trip to the videostore to rent Frankenstein should be be right up there in priority with buying beakers and flasks. Perhaps after a viewing and some deep soul searching, might those scientists understand the etical mine filed onto which they are stepping.

         Let's not distort the story of Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein was not an evil man. He did not create the monster in order to hurt people. There was a genuine scientific need for his experiments. There was also an ego driven desire to be the first to reanimate dead humans. Imagine the applications--a person dies of a heart attack, get a new heart, pump it with 80 gaziilion volts and viola, the person is back to life. No one can questions the utility of such a possibility. The same argumets persist from those who desire to clone humans-- a person has heart disease, take some tissue from the person, and regrow not A heart, but his heart. The impact on the medical world could not be measured. These men who claim to be able to do this have an ego-driven desire to fill a medical void just like Frankenstein. To these brilliant men of science, I would simply say, before you create something, make sure you can control it.

              Apart from the story, the film generally receives mixed reactions from most. Almost everybody is amazed at the wonderful make-up artistry. It is well known that Boris Karloff hated the marathon sessions required to make him look like Frankenstein's monster; however, even he must have been amazed by the transformation. The make-up was simply dazzling. The Frankenstein monster of the 1931 film was by far the best looking (if that's possible) Frankenstein ever placed on film.

         More people have complained about the set design. The film is clearly shot on a sound stage. Some dislike this because it detracts from the realism of the film. I liked it though because it added a surealism that fit the mood of the film nicely. The graveyard scenes, with the craggy earth and wooden crosses, were spooky and artistic all at the same time.

          The acting was basically good. I would only say that I found Mae Clark to be the worst actor in the film. Her movements were awkward and her lines were delivered mechanically. In this respect, she was probably the first horror film femme fatale as we know them from such masterpieces as Sorority House Massacre and hundreds of other schlocky, unscarry, unfunny slasher films. It doesn't change the fact that she really couldn't act.

          Overall, I liked the film a lot. In the end, it is one of a very few horror films that have attained the status of a classic. I can't give it the highest rating, however. For that, I would have liked more commentary about the society the character were living in, and I would have like to have seen how Dr. Frankenstein changed because of his own blunder knowing the pain that it caused to so many. With that said, my rating:



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