31 Scary Movies: ‘Frankenstein’

October is the time for ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night, so let’s celebrate Halloween each day this month!   For 31 days, Art House Film Wire will write about our favorite scary movies.  Hey, these films are our cinematic caffeine, because they keep us up at night.  They may not always be your favorites, but these 31 movies present a well-rounded mix thrills, chills, classic moments, and yes, all-out blood-and-guts gore.

It’s time to put away the coffee and watch these movies.

“Frankenstein” (1931) – Even 80 years after its initial release, this monster movie classic still holds up.  Although not particularly frightening by 2018-standards, director James Whale’s picture scores high on the disturbing-scale.  Now, even the most green moviegoers have seen several incarnations of the seven-foot giant, like  “The Munsters” (1964 – 1966), “Young Frankenstein” (1974) and even “Weird Science” (1985), but watching the original is – quite frankly – required viewing.

Like many horror films, a graveyard is the setting, and with slicked-back hair and a determined look, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) along with his hunched-back assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye), focus their attention on an ordinary funeral.  After the mourners leave and the body is buried, Frankenstein and Fritz strike by digging up the coffin, placing it in a cart and hauling it away.

You see, Frankenstein is a scientist who specializes in electrical biology, and he wishes to play God.  Not by jolting a dead body back to life but by piecing together a being through severed body parts from several corpses and then, create life!  In his creepy laboratory filled with Tesla-like electrical coils and other steampunk-like contraptions, he (**spoiler alert**) achieves his goal with mixed results.

Frankenstein cries out repeatedly, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”, but what sort of life has he created?

The gruesome look of Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff) is what one would expect, but the sympathy towards him is the biggest surprise!  Fritz teases and tortures The Monster with torches and whips, and Karloff’s truly tragic character spends his days locked up in chains.  Whale gives his creation ample reasons to quite agitated, but you won’t be upset with Whale’s pacing.

With only a 71-minute runtime, his movie flashes by with a no-nonsense march, complete with Henry Frankenstein’s love interest, a dark castle, an angry mob carrying an endless supply of torches, and The Monster himself….in his nightmarish glory and proving that it isn’t easy being green.

Image credits: Universal Pictures; Trailer credits: Movieclips

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