I’ve not read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Not just because I don’t own a copy of it, but also because I’m lazy enough to have the film adaptation from James Whale tell it for me. The Boris Karloff classic had been on my radar for some time, as were a lot of the other Monster Movie classics. They provide a good basis for how the horror genre has evolved, and Frankenstein bears the torch for the classic monster movie.
Whale’s set designs and direction are positively magnificent, with Frankenstein boasting a visually verbose and enjoyable setting the whole way through its running time. Colin Clive’s leading performance as Dr. Henry Frankenstein is truly superb. The maniacal terror and glee captured in his on-screen presence before creating his monster is fantastic, and gels very well with a seemingly concerned supporting cast.
A few of the sub-plots present questionable effect on the overarching achievements of Henry Frankenstein. Now considering I’ve not read the book, we have to take my opinion with a grain of salt for the time being, but why is it so important that he’s getting married? Why did his father show up out of the blue with his bride to be? I was expecting a monster on the loose, not a wedding ceremony.
The writing on the whole though is rather great. Adapting Mary Shelley’s novel would be no small feat, especially if we take a look at some of the other Frankenstein adaptations. Colin Clive and Mae Clarke do a superb job of selling the script, which does have its fair share of truly enjoyable segments. The “It’s alive” scene somehow managed to live up to the hype I had received for it.
Still, it doesn’t detract an awful lot from the film on the whole, and Frankenstein is still a thoroughly enjoyable film, kickstarting a genre that still rages on to this very day. With strong direction from James Whale and some impressive make-up and performances from Boris Karloff, it’s easy to see why Frankenstein has sat well with horror fans after so many years.