Nerds and Beyond is getting spook-tacular for the month of October! Each day one of our staff members will be sharing one of their favorite spookiest movies to get you in the Halloween spirit. On this fourteenth day of October, we are getting charged up with Frankenstein from 1931.
Based on the horror novel written by Mary Shelley and published in 1818, Frankenstein stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, and the master of horror Boris Karloff. It tells the classic story of Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), an obsessed scientist trying to assemble a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. Frankenstein succeeds and creates a monster (Boris Karloff) that has to deal with living again.
Relishing in the success of his undead creation, things go wrong for Frankenstein while trying to show that the Monster could understand the world around it. Frankenstein has it sit down in a chair, watching as the creature experiences its first glimpse of sunlight, peeking through the cracks of the ceiling. Suddenly, Fritz, Frankenstein’s, assistant comes into the room holding a torch. The flame gets too close to the Monster, pushing it into an uncontrollable and violent fit of rage, forcing Dr. Frankenstein to lock the Monster up. Fritz, who is tasked on checking on the monster, harasses it with a torch and whip, causing it to kill Fritz and escape. News of the abomination spreads quickly when the Monster ends up in the village. The Monster meets a little a girl, who it is desperate to be friends with, but accidentally kills. This causes the villagers to hunt the Monster down and kill it once and for all.
It’s important to note that while Frankenstein isn’t scary for us now, it was in 1931. When Frankenstein released, it was the first time audiences had seen a movie like it. Frankenstein is the first zombie type movie to be produced by Hollywood, and while it is considered a horror film, horror wouldn’t be recognized as a genre until 1934. Frankenstein helped pave the way for everything that we have come to know and love about horror. It helped push the limits for what audience wanted to see. Without this classic, groundbreaking film we wouldn’t have movie directors like George A. Romero, or shows like Supernatural and The Walking Dead. With its technical visuals and use of special effects makeup, Frankenstein is a timeless master piece.
Frankenstein is rated TV-PG. There is mild violence in the film, such as child drowning, a man gets hanged, another strangled, and threatening behavior towards the Monster. However, Frankenstein focuses less on violence and gore and more on fright and intensity. The appearance of the Monster may be disturbing for young viewers, and his actions are unpredictably violent. The film offers no profanity or nudity.
One of my favorite aspects of the film is the fact that Boris Karloff does not speak throughout the entire movie. He had to completely rely on his movements and facial expressions to convey to the audience what the Monster was thinking and feeling. That is not easy, and yet Karloff did flawlessly.
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“It’s alive! It’s alive!” is one of the most iconic quotes in monster movie history. This is also my favorite moment in the entire film. Thunder is roaring, bolts of lightning are flashing across the sky, and sparks are flying with electricity dancing through Frankenstein’s laboratory. Then, he lifts his creation to the sky while the storm is at its strongest, hoping for the perfect charge of electricity. Slowly, Frankenstein lowers his creation. Then, we see it: the subtle movement from the Monster’s hand.
Another moment from Frankenstein that I loved was the scene after the Monster has his tragic encounter with little Maria. The entire village is celebrating the wedding of Dr. Henry Frankenstein and his beloved Elizabeth, but walking down the road in a catatonic state with his little girl’s lifeless body is Maria’s father. It was both disturbing and heartbreaking.
I hope this recommendation sparked your interest! Make sure to check out this classic clip from Frankenstein below.