It’s hard to believe but after two years of writing about horror movies, I’ve managed to avoid writing about the classics. Mostly because everybody knows about then but now it’s time to give them their due.
Made in the good old Pre-code days this 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel was the third filmed attempt and the most memorable. The first was from Edison’s film company and was a 16 minute silent film made in 1910.
Everyone should be familiar with the plot. Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive), fascinated with life and death, tries to bring to life to a piecemealed body that Frankenstein and his assistant, a hunchback named Fritz, constructed out of dead body parts. A mistake on the assistant’s part results in the wrong brain being placed in the monster. Naturally once the monster (Boris Karloff) is brought to life, he terrorizes the countryside.
Directed by James Whale, the film was the subject to all sorts of controversy when it was initial released. The scene where the monster interacts with a little girl by the lake resulting in her death was particularly controversial. Several states wanted the scene cut along with the line that Dr. Frankenstein utters when he brings the monster to life, “It’s alive! It’s alive! In the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!” This was considered to be blasphemous, comparing what it must be like to be God. After the production code was put in place in 1934, the line was cut short by a thunderclap and wasn’t restored until 1999.
What followed in the film’s wake were multiple sequels, spin-offs, remakes and spoofs but the first is still the best.