Looking Back on Classic Horror Movies – Frankenstein

Cropped screenshot of Boris Karloff from the t...

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I recently watched several of the classic Universal Studios monster movies with my daughters.    Last night’s selection was Frankenstein.  They were somewhat unimpressed and I can understand why.  The story as presented in this version is kind of a mess, picking and choosing only some bits from Mary Shelley’s novel, and playing up the “monster” angle, presumably for ticket sales.  Besides Boris Karloff, who manages to show emotion despite the makeup, the performances were 2 dimensional.  Many of the scenes simply don’t fit;  I’m all for “enter late, leave early” but not “enter late, everybody already left”.  I found myself laughing at some of the timing.  In one of the scenes, the monster is heard upstairs, so all of the men go that way, only to hear that he is now in the cellar.  They rush there only to find that he is now menacing a woman on the ground floor.  He moves faster than the rage-infected zombies in 28 Days Later…!

I am going to try to find the 2004 TV miniseries, which is mentioned as the most faithful adaptation of the novel.  Meanwhile, we’ll continue our journey through the Universal Monsters flicks. There’s gotta be something in there that will give the girls a scare!

About Tim Giron

There are some who call him... Tim.


  1. Janie Potocki says

    I totally agree and find myself rooting always for the poor misshapen monster. Was there one movie where the monster threw a child into a lake or something?

  2. I think it is great you are going through all the old Universal Monster flicks with your daughters! Too many times these days kids aren’t willing to give the old black and white movies a chance. I don’t remember at exactly what age I saw Frankenstein. I do recall to this day how creepy and sad the lake scene is. The monster seeing a little girl throwing daisy petals in the lake and, thinking all pretty things go in the lake, tossing her in after them resulting in her death. I always felt really bad for Frankenstein. Whenever I teach the novel, I show Kenneth Brannaugh’s version. I like that version quite a bit. What did the girls think of the movie?

  3. The classic monster movies, like a many older movies in general, are best viewed in the full context of when they aired, and their overall impact on cinema and our ideas. Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy are still with us today largely because of those movies. They impacted young movie goers who in turn set out to make their own movies, or write their own horror tales.

    I have little doubt people 40 years on will look back at our movies today and chuckle at many of their elements, if they remember them at all. The measure of a good movie isn’t just in its internal technique, but the impact it makes with what it had to work with.