Monday, October 14, 2013

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 963: Watch “Frankenstein” (1931)

Halloween is a little over two weeks away and in the spirit of that spooky holiday I watched a classic horror film last Thursday that I’d never seen before, 1931’s “Frankenstein.” A couple of years ago I read that “Frankenstein” had been included on Fangoria magazine’s list of “300 Best Horror Films,” and it dawned on me that I’d never seen the complete, theatrical release of this classic film, which is why I added it to my “life list.”

Based on the novel by Mary Shelley, “Frankenstein” was directed by James Whale and starred Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein and Mae Clarke as his fiancé, Elizabeth. Other actors in the movie included Lionel Belmore, John Boles, Dwight Frye, Marilyn Harris, Frederick Kerr and Edward Van Sloan. One hour and 11 minutes long, this movie was released in theatres on Nov. 21, 1931.

A lot like the “Dracula” vampire movies, “Frankenstein” has been remade so many times that it’s been ingrained in popular culture to such an extent that most people can tell you the basic plot without having ever seen the original 1931 film. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it’s about Henry Frankenstein, a young medical doctor who is trying to unravel the mysteries of life by creating a man from scratch out of dead body parts. He manages to bring the patchwork man to life, but he finds out too late that the brain he used is from an abnormal criminal.

Dr. Frankenstein’s “monster” turns out to be a disaster, and the good doctor keeps him chained up for a little while in his creepy watchtower laboratory. The monster eventually escapes and begins to terrorize the countryside. After the monster accidentally drowns a young girl, a violent mob assembles and tracks the monster to an abandoned windmill. There, they set it on fire in an effort to rid the world of Frankenstein’s creation.

This movie is considered a classic of the horror genre, and if you consider yourself a horror fan, you really need to watch it if you’ve never seen it. One interesting side note to my “Frankenstein” experience was that the movie I watched was on a DVD along with the 1935 movie, “Bride of Frankenstein.” To me, “Bride of Frankenstein” was actually the better of the two movies and was more entertaining to watch. That's not to say that "Frankenstein" was bad, only that "Bride of Frankenstein" was better.

As mentioned, “Frankenstein” is based on a novel by Mary Shelly, and I also highly recommend this book to those of you who have never read it. Originally published in 1818, this novel is considered a classic of horror and science fiction and is still entertaining nearly two centuries after its original publication. If you’ve never read it, you’re in for a treat and will not be disappointed.

In the end, how many of you have seen the 1931 version of “Frankenstein”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? Why? Let us know in the comments section below.

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