I’ve been trying to mix it up with movies this month, so I thought I’d pop in a little indie gem you might not have heard of: Frankenstein. Okay, so the last thing the world needs in 2019 is a review of the Frankenstein movie from 1931, but this Universal Monster yarn was the perfect way to break up an enjoyable but occasionally grim lineup of flicks.
Though the opening credits would have you think the role of The Monster to be a still-unsolved mystery—it’s credited with a big fat ? in the opening—Boris Karloff is one of a handful of reasons Frankenstein is still so fantastic today. This was the legend’s big break, and the world of horror is something he’d go on to embrace for the rest of his life. The role was originally intended for Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi, but he ended up turning it down, reportedly due to how much of his face was concealed once all the makeup was finally applied.
It’s a good thing he did, too, because Boris Karloff is The Monster. Like most early Universal Monster movies, Frankenstein is short and to the point; content to play out almost like a play across its lavish sets. It still has plenty of time to humanize Dr. Frankenstein’s doomed creation, though, and Karloff speaks volumes with a few grunts and some pained but sympathetic expressions.
This one’s probably available “wherever movies are sold!,” but I got mine in a Blu-ray collection that packs Frank in with Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s a nice set and its liner notes helped make me sound like I know at least one thing.