Frankenstein (1931)

frankenstein-1931-movie

The Grandaddy. Not only the rosetta stone for so many horror tropes but also a touchstone for sci-fi cinema. The mix of gothic graveyards and cavernous castles with buzzing, lightning bolt lab-horror is thrilling and foundational, even today. James Whale should be up there with Hitchcock as far as I’m concerned. He has such a grasp on the elastic tone – black comedy one second, straight-faced terror the next – and the entire design that isn’t specific to any particular time period has kept this a key text for over 80 years. Watch it again and marvel at how it seems to unfold in a timeless netherworld, like an American riff on the nightmarish shards of German expressionism. And the make up effects? Karloff? What is there to say? For a lot of us, Frankenstein is the one true creation myth, a Prometheus story to end all Prometheus stories. It’s also entertaining as hell and alive in more ways than even Dr. Frankenstein himself could expect. A beautiful grotesquerie.

Watched on blu-ray.

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