Hello, fellow moviegoers!
Halloween is a week away, so I figured what way to better get into the spirit than to watch/review some classic horror films from the past century! I’ve already watched several, but I decided to kick these reviews off with 1931’s Frankenstein.
Frankenstein is directed by James Whale, and it stars Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, and John Boles. It tells a story that we all know by this point. Dr. Frankenstein aspires to make his dreams a reality and create life out of death. He creates a creature by gathering parts from all sorts of deceased bodies and stringing them together. When he brings this creature to life, he very quickly realizes that it was not what he expected it to be.
I absolutely loved Frankenstein! This is one of those movies that when you’re watching it, you can’t help but appreciate why it has become a classic. There are so many different layers to this film that ultimately make it an extremely entertaining experience.
First off, the performances in this film were fantastic. Performances from this era of film usually have a sort of stage performance feel to them. Frankenstein is no exception, however, the stage performance vibe to this film works extremely well. The concept of Frankenstein is an absurd one, but this movie knows what it is and it capitalizes on all of its oddities magnificently.
Boris Karloff as the Monster gave by far the best performance. Through his facial expressions and overall body language, you understand why people are afraid of him. Conversely, through his subtleties, you know that this monster is simply misunderstood. Sure, he does some pretty despicable things, but he doesn’t know any better. People treat him a certain way, so he feels as if he needs to act that way. Frankenstein is a tragedy if there ever was one.
One thing stood out to me from the second that the film started, as you might expect, it was the opening of the film. The opening features a man walking out from behind a curtain to warn the audience about what they are about to witness. “It might even horrify you.” This warning makes this movie feel even more so like a show you've gone to see. It makes the overall experience feel more interactive. At the time, this might have been a legitimate disclaimer; I don’t know for obvious reasons, that's just my guess. Today, however, it takes on a different context. It might be considered to be funny today. It starts the audience off smiling. For me, it created a sense of curiosity. How would this compare to horror films of today?
Comparing this movie to the horror films of today is like comparing apples to oranges (pardon the cliché expression). Today’s horror films rely almost purely upon shock value and jump scares. Frankenstein focused on the imagination of the human mind. It looked at how we perceive things as humans, how we react to things that we don’t quite yet understand. Sometimes, we make judgments based on our first look at someone, when in reality they are much more different than we could have imagined. It is a theme that is equally as important today, as it was in 1931.
Frankenstein was a fantastic example of the art of film-making. It was a wonderfully put together movie. It was fantastically acted, and there was much more to it than you would expect on the surface. Many people today choose not to watch older films because they don’t like the black and white. I would encourage any of those people to watch Frankenstein. You hardly even notice the color difference, because the movie itself sucks you in. If you haven’t seen 1931’s Frankenstein, please do yourself a favor and watch it this Halloween.
So what did you think of 1931’s Frankenstein? How would you compare it to the horror films of today? Let me know by commenting on this post! Don’t forget, I’ll be reviewing several other classic horror films throughout the week. So check back in the next few days for my reviews of 1931’s Dracula, and An American Werewolf in London!
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