There have been innumerable movies based on the premise of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) by Mary Shelley or on the play Frankenstein (1927) by Peggy Webling, itself based on Shelley's original. These movies are of varying interest, as indicated by the discussion below. Some, like Frankenstein's Great-Aunt Tillie (1983 Mexico/USA), have been omitted either deliberately or through ignorance; the pool of Frankenstein movies is virtually bottomless.
1. Frankenstein US movie (1931). Universal/Carl Laemmle. Pr Carl Laemmle Jr. Dir James Whale. Spfx Kenneth Strickfaden. Mufx Jack P Pierce. Screenplay John L Balderston, Francis Edwards Faragoh, Robert Florey, Garrett Fort. Based on Webling's play. Starring John Boles (Victor Moritz), Mae Clarke (Elizabeth), Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein), Dwight Frye (Fritz), Marilyn Harris (Maria), Boris Karloff (Monster), Edward Van Sloan (Waldman). 71 mins. B/w.
Aside from a 1910 silent short by Thomas Edison with Charles Ogle as the Monster, this seems to have been the tale's first screen outing, and is a fine example of both Gothic Fantasy and early Technofantasy. Henry Frankenstein and dwarfish servant Fritz rob graves and gallows because Henry wants to create life from dead material. Fritz steals a brain from Goldstadt Medical College, not realizing it is that of a psychotic. Henry's fiancée Elizabeth, friend Victor and Dr Waldman arrive at his windmill laboratory in time to see the Monster vivified using electricity drawn from a storm; they become Henry's co-conspirators. A few days later Fritz inadvertently terrifies the Monster; the Monster is thrust into a cell and taunted by and kills Fritz. Waldman convinces Henry his creation must be put down, but instead prepares to vivisect the Monster, who kills him, too. Roaming wild, the Monster encounters child Maria, whom through misunderstanding he drowns. Henry confronts and is vanquished by his creation, who drags him to the windmill, on which a mob converges. The Monster tosses Henry to them, as if in supplication, but they torch the building and, presumably, the Monster.
Parts of the movie grate, but it is full of poignant and abiding images: Henry's boyish exhilaration as the Monster's hand twitches into life, the charm of shared innocence as the Monster and Maria play together with flowers, the advancing tide of torches as the mob ascend a nighttime hillside – all have become Icons, as has the sorrowing visage of the shambling, much-wronged Creature. [JG]
2. The Bride of Frankenstein US movie (1935). Universal/Carl Laemmle. Pr Carl Laemmle Jr. Dir James Whale. Spfx John P Fulton. Screenplay John Balderston, William Hurlbut. Novelization The Bride of Frankenstein * (1936) by Michael Egremont (Michael Harrison). Starring Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein), Dwight Frye (Karl), Gavin Gordon (Byron), O P Heggie (Hermit), Valerie Hobson (Elizabeth), Boris Karloff (Monster), Elsa Lanchester (Bride/Mary Shelley), Una O'Connor (Minnie), Ernest Thesiger (Dr Pretorius), Douglas Walton (Percy Bysshe Shelley). 80 mins. B/w.
Widely regarded as a masterpiece, this sequels 1, although the dovetailing is imperfect. The Monster, surviving, kills the father (here called Hans, rather than Ludwig) and mother of the drowned child Maria, and sets off into the countryside. Henry, recuperated at home and now Baron, dreams of repeating his feat, but is dissuaded by Elizabeth. Sinister alchemist Dr Pretorius arrives, and forces himself as collaborator on the unwilling Henry; Pretorius has succeeded in growing life "from seed" to make charming living miniatures. He insists they must make a mate for the Monster. That individual, meanwhile, is caught and imprisoned; he bursts his chains and makes his slaughterous escape, finally reaching a blind hermit's cottage; Monster and hermit find friendship and a release from loneliness until two hunters arrive. Fleeing again, the Monster hides in a mausoleum, where he encounters Pretorius selecting a body to revive as the Monster's mate. They seize Elizabeth and use her as hostage to force Henry to complete the revivification. But the Bride is a more sophisticated creation than her intended mate: she rejects immediately the advances of the Monster. Mournfully, the Monster tells Henry and Elizabeth to flee, then short-circuits the equipment to destroy Pretorius, Bride and (presumably) himself.
The story is prefaced by a scene in which Byron and Shelley persuade Mary to continue her story. Elsa Lanchester's dual portrayal of Mary and the Bride is noteworthy. The movie is sequelled by 31. [JG]
3. Son of Frankenstein US movie (1939). Universal. Pr Rowland V Lee. Dir Lee. Spfx John P Fulton. Mufx Jack P Pierce. Screenplay Willis Cooper. Starring Lionel Atwill (Inspector Krogh), Donnie Dunagan (Peter von Frankenstein), Josephine Hutchinson (Elsa von Frankenstein), Boris Karloff (Monster), Bela Lugosi (Ygor), Basil Rathbone (Baron Wolf von Frankenstein). 96 mins. B/w.
The hunchback Ygor was hanged for bodysnatching but, although his neck was broken, he has survived, and has been making the Monster (still alive) kill the jurors who condemned him. Henry's son Wolf Frankenstein comes to the village to inherit, and gradually discovers the situation. At last Wolf kills Ygor in self-defence; the Monster vengefully prepares to cast Wolf's son Peter into a boiling pool of sulphur beneath the laboratory, but is hurled into the sulphur himself. Wolf and his family hand over the Frankenstein estates to the villagers, and depart. The movie is stolen by Lugosi's eagerly cackling performance as Ygor. (The character of Krogh was hilariously parodied in 28.) With the debatable exception of 4, this was the last of Universal's Frankenstein movies to display integrity. [JG]
4. The Ghost of Frankenstein US movie (1942). Universal. Pr George Waggner. Dir Erle C Kenton. Mufx Jack P Pierce. Screenplay W Scott Darling. Starring Evelyn Ankers (Elsa Frankenstein), Lionel Atwill (Dr Theodor Bohmer), Ralph Bellamy (Erik Ernst), Lon Chaney Jr (Monster), Janet Ann Gallow (Cloestine), Sir Cedric Hardwicke (Dr Ludwig Frankenstein), Bela Lugosi (Ygor), Barton Yarborough (Dr Kettering). 67 mins. B/w.
Ygor and the Monster have survived being killed in 3. The pair reach the village of Vasaria and the clinic of a fresh Frankenstein – Ludwig, Wolf's younger brother – and his surgical colleagues Kettering and Bohmer. Young Kettering is killed by the Monster. Ludwig seizes on the notion that transferring Kettering's brain into the Monster will render it a force for good rather than Evil. The Monster would prefer the brain of Cloestine, a village girl, and Ygor bribes Bohmer to substitute his – i.e., Ygor's – brain in place of Kettering's. Ygor's plan succeeds, but his implanted brain is rejected by the Monster's tissues, and most of the main cast perish in his final, maddened fury.
Chaney took over from Karloff as the Monster for this movie; Karloff never played the part again (although he did appear in 6 and, as Frankenstein, in 11). [JG]
5. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man US movie (1943). Universal. Pr George Waggner. Dir Roy William Neill. Spfx John P Fulton. Mufx Jack P Pierce. Screenplay Curt Siodmak (1902-2000). Starring Lon Chaney Jr (Larry Talbot/Wolf Man), Patric Knowles (Dr Frank Mannering), Bela Lugosi (Monster), Ilona Massey (Elsa Frankenstein), Maria Ouspenskaya (Maleva). 72 mins. B/w.
Killed by his father at the end of The Wolf Man (1941), the Werewolf Larry Talbot is dug up and inadvertently revived by a pair of graverobbers. He flees to Europe, taking up with Maleva, mother of the werewolf who infected him and whom he killed. She reckons Dr Ludwig Frankenstein could cure him, but discovers he has been destroyed by the events of 4. In an icy cavern under the Frankenstein castle, however, Talbot finds the Monster and, in time, tracks down Ludwig's daughter Elsa. She guides the pair, plus Mannering, to her father's hidden cache of secrets and equipment, and Mannering restores the Monster to full capability. Wolf Man and Monster are battling to the death when a cunning villager breaks the dam over the estate, thus drowning them both. [JG]
6. House of Frankenstein US movie (1944). Universal. Pr Paul Malvern. Exec pr Joseph Gershenson. Dir Erle C Kenton. Spfx John P Fulton. Mufx Jack P Pierce. Screenplay Edward T Lowe. Starring John Carradine (Dracula), Lon Chaney Jr (Larry Talbot/Wolf Man), Boris Karloff (Dr Gustav Niemann), J Carrol Naish (Daniel), Glenn Strange (Monster). 70 mins. B/w.
Lunatic surgeon Niemann and equally lunatic hunchback Daniel – who hopes Niemann will transplant his brain into a new body – succeed in reviving Dracula, whom they harness to Niemann's vengeful aims. Later, in the cellars of the Frankenstein castle, they discover the frozen bodies of the Wolf Man and the Monster, both of whom they revive. All ends in tears. [JG]
7. House of Dracula US movie (1945). Like 6, a Dracula-Frankenstein-Wolf Man team-up. See Dracula Movies.
8. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein US movie (1948). Universal. Pr Robert Arthur. Dir Charles T Barton. Spfx Jerome H Ash, David S Horsley. Mufx Bud Westmore. Screenplay John Grant, Robert Lees, Frederic I Rinaldo. Starring Bud Abbott (Chick Young), Lon Chaney Jr (Larry Talbot/Wolf Man), Lou Costello (Wilbur Grey), Bela Lugosi (Dracula), Glenn Strange (Monster). Voice actor Vincent Price (Invisible Man). 82 mins. B/w.
In fact, the comedians have to cope with not only the Monster but Dracula; aided by the Wolf Man, they thwart a plot by Dracula to have Costello's brain transplanted into the Monster's body. [JG]
9. The Curse of Frankenstein UK movie (1957). Hammer/Warner. Pr Anthony Hinds (1922-2013). Exec pr Michael Carreras. Dir Terence Fisher. Mufx Phil Leakey. Screenplay Jimmy Sangster. Starring Hazel Court (Elizabeth), Peter Cushing (Victor Frankenstein), Valerie Gaunt (Justine), Paul Hardtmuth (Bernstein), Melvyn Hayes (Young Victor), Noel Hood (Aunt Sophie), Christopher Lee (Monster), Robert Urquhart (Paul Krempe). 83 mins. Colour.
Victor Frankenstein, imprisoned, tells his tale to a priest. He and tutor Krempe probed the mysteries of life until Victor conceived the notion of creating it. As he gathered bodily pieces, the revolted Krempe stayed solely for the love of Victor's cousin Elizabeth – although she loved Victor, whose fancy was, in turn, Justine the housemaid. Victor murdered Professor Bernstein for his brain; Krempe, fighting with him, damaged it. The vivified Monster, accordingly homicidal, escaped, killed a blind man, and was shot dead by Krempe, who now left, satisfied Elizabeth was safe. But Victor exhumed and revived the Monster, and had it kill a pregnant and vengeful Justine. Krempe, returning, discovered all and ran for the police; the Monster escaped onto the roof; Elizabeth went to investigate; Victor set fire to the Monster, who fell into a bath of acid and was dissolved entirely. Believing all this the ravings of a madman, the authorities guillotine Victor for Justine's murder.
TCOF oozes B-movie, but its huge success spurred the long Hammer Frankenstein series. Added interest lies in its introducing a Baron who is murderous rather than merely unwise. [JG]
10. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (vt Teenage Frankenstein UK) US movie (1957). American International/James H Nicholson & Samuel Z Arkoff. Pr Herman Cohen. Dir Herbert L Strock. Mufx Philip Scheer. Screenplay Kenneth Langtry. Starring Whit Bissell (Frankenstein), Robert Burton (Karlton), Phyllis Coates (Margaret), Gary Conway (Monster). 72 mins. B/w, with short colour finale.
Orthodox science knows organ transplants impossible – but not according to Professor Bill Frankenstein. He and assistant Karlton assemble teenage body parts in the traditional way, feeding the leftovers to a tame alligator. The Monster escapes and kills a woman. Returning, he is persuaded by Frankenstein to kill the latter's fiancée Margaret, who has learnt too much, and a young man, so the Monster may have his face. Just before being dismembered for export to England, the Monster breaks loose, feeds Frankenstein to his own alligator and electrocutes himself.
This was the follow-up to I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). [JG]
11. Frankenstein '70 (vt Frankenstein 1970) US movie (1958). Allied Artists. Pr Aubrey Schenck. Dir Howard W Koch. Screenplay Richard Landau, G Worthing Yates. Starring Boris Karloff (Frankenstein), Mike Lane (Monster). 83 mins. Colour.
A tv company descends on Castle Frankenstein, eager to make a movie; the current Baron accepts their money because he wishes to buy an atomic reactor in order to create a new Monster – to whose body, in due course, the slaughtered tv crew "contribute". This was a US response to the success of the UK-produced 9, but flopped. [JG]
12. The Revenge of Frankenstein UK movie (1958). Columbia/Hammer. Pr Anthony Hinds (1922-2013). Exec pr Michael Carreras. Assoc pr Anthony Nelson Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Mufx Phil Leakey. Screenplay Hurford Janes, Jimmy Sangster. Starring Peter Cushing (Baron Victor Frankenstein), Eunice Gayson (Margaret Conrad), Michael Gwynn (New Karl), Francis Matthews (Dr Hans Kleve), Oscar Quitack (Hunchback Karl). 89 mins. Colour.
The direct sequel to 9. Frankenstein, aided by hunchbacked Karl – to whom he has promised a new body – has the attendant priest guillotined instead. The two flee to Carlsbrück, where Frankenstein practises as Dr Victor Stein, doing much work at the Poor Hospital, from whose patients he collects organs and limbs. Local Dr Kleve, recognizing him, demands to be taken on as assistant. The operation is a success, but trauma to the new Karl's transplanted brain transforms him into a psychopathic cannibal; also, it leads to the return of his deformity and, soon, death. As he dies he divulges Frankenstein's true identity, and soon all Carlsbrück knows. Frankenstein is beaten to death by his own hospital patients; before he dies, his brain is rescued by Kleve and transplanted into a new cobbled-together body. [JG]
13. The Evil of Frankenstein UK movie (1964). Hammer/Universal. Pr Anthony Hinds (1922-2013). Dir Freddie Francis. Spfx Les Bowie. Mufx Roy Ashton. Screenplay John Elder (Hinds). Starring Peter Cushing (Frankenstein), Sandor Elès (Hans), David Hutcheson (Burgomaster), Kiwi Kingston (Monster), Duncan Lamont (Police Chief), Peter Woodthorpe (Zoltan), Katy Wild (Mute). 84 mins. Colour.
A decade ago in Karlstaad, Frankenstein created a living Monster, but it was shot by the authorities and he was exiled. Now, expelled from another town, he returns with assistant Hans, but finds his château has been looted by the Burgomaster. He and Hans run to the hills, where in the cave of a mute beggar girl they find the Monster perfectly preserved in glacier ice. Aided by drunken hypnotist Zoltan, they revive the Monster. But Zoltan sends the Monster out to terrorize the town – à la The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919) – then orders it to kill Frankenstein. The Monster kills Zoltan instead and drunkenly destroys the laboratory.
This was the first Hammer movie to use a semblance of Pierce's makeup for the Monster (see 1), which Universal had copyrighted. There is an excellent performance from Wild as the mute. [JG]
14. Furankenshutain Tai Baragon (vt Frankenstein Conquers the World; vt Frankenstein and the Giant Lizard; vt Frankenstein Versus the Giant Devil Fish) Japanese/US movie (1965). Toho/American International. Pr Reuben Bercovitch, Henry Saperstein, Tomoyuki Tanaka. Dir Inoshiro Honda. Spfx Eiji Tsuburaya. Screenplay Kaoru Mabuchi. Starring Tadao Takashima (Frankenstein). 95 mins. Colour.
The first of two Japanese assays at the legend (the other was 16). In 1945 the Nazis bring the heart of the Monster to Hiroshima, where it is exposed to the nuclear flash. A boy finds the heart and eats it, and is transformed into a 10m-tall nipponized replica – Furankenshutain – of the Monster. Although effectively created from the twin evils of Nazism and nuclear warfare, the creature is good; he saves Japan from the depredations of the giant lizard Baragon. This is less a Frankenstein movie than one in the tradition of the Godzilla Movies. [JG]
15. Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (vt Duel of the Space Monsters) US movie (1965). Vernon-Seneca. Pr Robert McCarty. Dir Robert Gaffney. Screenplay George Garret. 78 mins. B/w.
A bad sf movie involving neither Frankenstein nor his monster. [JG]
16. Furankenshutain No Kaija – Sanda Tai Gailah (vt Duel of the Gargantuas; vt The War of the Gargantuas) Japanese/US movie (1966). Toho/American International. Pr Henry Saperstein, Tomoyuki Tanaka. Dir Inoshiro Honda. Spfx Eiji Tsuburaya. Screenplay Honda, Kaoru Mabuchi. Starring Russ Tamblyn (Dr Stewart), Kenji Sahara (Sanda), Jun Tazaki (Gailah). 88 mins. Colour.
The sequel to 14. The original Furankenshutain, here called Sanda, lost a hand during the fighting; he has regenerated his hand, but the separated hand has generated a new body, Gailah, a green and nasty duplicate of Sanda. The two Monsters fight it out, incidentally destroying Tokyo. [JG]
17. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter US movie (1966). Circle/Embassy. Pr Carroll Case. Dir William Beaudine. Spfx Cinema Research Corp. Screenplay Carl Hittleman. Starring Rayford Barnes, Cal Bolder, Jim Davis, Estelita, William Fawcett, Steven Geray, John Lupton, Narda Onyx, Nestor Paiva (movie lacks proper credits). 82 mins. Colour.
Frankenstein's granddaughter (not daughter) Maria has with her brother Rudolf set up a laboratory in New Mexico. After a bungled stagecoach raid, James and wounded sidekick Hank Tracy are led by local girl Juanita to the Frankensteins; Maria transplants an artificial brain into the ailing Hank. At last the Monster kills its maker. This is an impressively bad movie; in the same year Beaudine directed the equally excruciating Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1965) (see Dracula Movies). [JG]
18. Frankenstein Created Woman UK movie (1967). Hammer/Seven Arts/Associated British Pathé/20th Century-Fox. Pr Anthony Nelson-Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Spfx Les Bowie. Mufx George Partleton. Screenplay John Elder (Anthony Hinds 1922-2013). Starring Peter Blythe (Anton), Peter Cushing (Frankenstein), Susan Denberg (Christina), Derek Fowlds (Johann), Alan MacNaughton (Kleve), Robert Morris (Hans), Thorley Walters (Dr Hertz), Barry Warren (Karl). 92 mins. Colour.
A rather good low-budget movie with a modified Identity-Exchange theme. Frankenstein experiments with the transmigration of Souls. Junior assistant Hans loves disabled, facially scarred Christina. Three young aristocrats (Anton, Johann, Carl), whose sport is humiliating her, murder her father and let Hans be guillotined for the crime. Christina suicides in grief. Frankenstein and senior assistant Hertz isolate Hans's soul and transfer it into Christina's body, which they also repair and beautify. The amalgam has no specific memories, but enough survives that s/he gorily enacts Vengeance on the killers. The title is a somewhat blasphemous pun on that of the hugely successful Bardot vehicle And God Created Woman (1957). [JG]
19. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed UK movie (1969). Warner-7 Arts/Hammer. Pr Anthony Nelson-Keys. Dir Terence Fisher. Spfx Studio Locations Ltd. Mufx Eddie Knight. Screenplay Bert Batt, Nelson-Keys. Starring Veronica Carlson (Anna Spengler), Peter Cushing (Victor Frankenstein), Freddie Jones (Professor Richter), George Pravda (Dr Frederick Brandt), Simon Ward (Dr Karl Holst). 96 mins. Colour.
Brandt and Frankenstein have corresponded about their researches into brain transplantation. Frankenstein takes lodgings at the boarding-house run by Spengler. Soon he discovers both that Spengler's fiancé Holst is dealing in drugs and that Brandt is in the local madhouse, one of his doctors being Holst. Frankenstein blackmails Holst and Spengler into helping him abduct Brandt, murder the madhouse's surgeon Richter, and transfer Brandt's brain (rendered newly sane by use of a bradawl) into Richter's body. Richter/Brandt awakes after the operation, is almost murdered by Spengler, who is wilfully murdered by Frankenstein. Richter/Brandt destroys Frankenstein (but only until 20), after the Baron has been grievously battered by a vengeful Holst.
Fisher said that he was particularly proud of this movie, but it is hard to understand why. An exceptionally crude rape scene is wisely omitted from most prints. [JG]
20. The Horror of Frankenstein UK movie (1970). EMI/Hammer. Pr Jimmy Sangster. Dir Sangster. Mufx Tom Smith. Screenplay Jeremy Burnham, Sangster. Starring Bernard Archard (Professor Heiss), Ralph Bates (Victor Frankenstein), Veronica Carlson (Elisabeth Heiss), Jon Finch (Henry Becker), Graham James (Wilhelm), Kate O'Mara (Alys), Dave Prowse (Monster). 95 mins. Colour.
Psychopathic Victor murders his father so that he can go to university in Vienna. There he impregnates the dean's daughter, and flees for home with friend Wilhelm; en route they save Elisabeth and her father, the Professor, from highwaymen, one of whom Victor kills and beheads, taking the head for experimentation. Their first successful revivification is of the Professor's pet tortoise Gustave. Victor has a graverobber steal human parts; when Wilhelm threatens exposure, Victor murders him. Professor Heiss is murdered for his brain, but his death bankrupts Elisabeth; she comes to Schloss Frankenstein – which maddens housekeeper/bedmate Alys, who knows much of the truth. Victor next murders the graverobber, but not before the latter has accidentally damaged the professor's brain; the animated Monster, immensely strong, is thus psychopathic. The body-count rises until at last the Monster is inadvertently destroyed by a meddlesome child.
This seems intended as black comedy, but lacks wit. Prowse, who plays the Monster here and in 25, later played Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. [JG]
21. Dracula versus Frankenstein (1971). See Dracula Movies.
22. Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972). See Dracula Movies.
23. Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (vt Carne per Frankenstein; vt The Devil and Dr Frankenstein; vt Flesh for Frankenstein; vt The Frankenstein Experiment; vt Up Frankenstein; vt Warhol's Frankenstein) Italian/French movie (1973). CC Champion & 1/Bryanston. Pr Andrew Braunsberg, Carlo Ponti, Jean-Pierre Rassam, Jean Yanne. Dir Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti. Screenplay Morrissey. Starring Joe Dallesandro, Arno Jürging, Udo Kier (Frankenstein), Monique Van Vooren. 100 mins. Colour.
A sick-joke version, the companion to Blood for Dracula (see Dracula Movies). Incestuously married Frankenstein tries to create the progenitors of a new super-race, but fails amid a bloodbath. The movie was filmed and initially released in 3D, but the gore level was such that distributors preferred a 2D format. [JG]
24. Blackenstein (vt Black Frankenstein) US movie (1973). Dir William A Levey. Starring John Hart, Andrea King, Liz Renay, Ivory Stone. 92 mins. Colour.
Like Blacula (1972) (see Dracula Movies), this was an attempt to cobble together a horror motif with the "black-movie" subgenre created by the popular Shaft (1971); it flopped. A disabled Vietnam veteran is reconstructed by the doctor who loves his girlfriend. The result is a murderous Monster. [JG]
25. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell UK movie (1973). Hammer. Pr Roy Skeggs. Dir Terence Fisher. Mufx Eddie Knight. Screenplay John Elder (Anthony Hinds 1922-2013). Starring Shane Briant (Dr Simon Helder), Peter Cushing (Dr Victor Frankenstein), Dave Prowse (Monster), Madeline Smith (Sarah Klauss), John Stratton (Director Adolf Klauss). 99 mins. Colour.
The last of Hammer's Frankenstein outings sees young Dr Helder arrested for trying to repeat the Baron's experiments and sent to the lunatic asylum where Frankenstein was committed years ago. Although officially dead, Frankenstein has become the asylum's physician, and is also – aided by the beautiful Sarah (nicknamed The Angel), mute since her father, the asylum's Director, years ago tried to rape her – building a new creature from deceased inmates. Discovering that Frankenstein's hands are wounded so that he can no longer perform surgery himself, Helder pitches in. The resultant Monster in due course goes berserk and is ripped to gobbets by the other inmates. Cushing seems bored. [JG]
26. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (vt Dr Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks; vt House of Freaks; vt Monsters of Dr Frankenstein; vt Terror Castle) Italian movie (1973). Dir Robert H Oliver. Starring Rossano Brazzi, Sylvia Koscina, Edmund Purdom, Christiane Royce. 81 mins. Colour.
A cheaply produced rehash of the basic theme. [JG]
27. Frankenstein: The True Story UK tv miniseries/movie (1973). Universal/NBC. Pr Hunt Stromberg Jr. Dir Jack Smight. Spfx Roy Whybrow. Screenplay Don Bachardy, Christopher Isherwood, published as Frankenstein: The True Story * (1973). Starring Tom Baker (Sea Captain), John Gielgud (Chief Constable), Clarissa Kaye (Lady Fanschawe), Margaret Leighton (Françoise DuVal), David McCallum (Dr Henri Clerval), James Mason (Dr Polidori), Agnes Moorehead (Mrs Blair), Nicola Pagett (Elizabeth Fanschawe), Ralph Richardson (Mr Lacey), Michael Sarrazin (The Creature), Jane Seymour (Agatha/Prima), Leonard Whiting (Dr Victor Frankenstein), Michael Wilding (Lord Fanschawe). circa 200 mins (cut for cinematic release to 123 mins). Colour.
A substantive revision. Young Victor comes to London from his adoptive home with the Fanschawes near York. Returning to his medical studies he encounters the eccentric surgeon Clerval, who has resurrected dead animals and plans the creation of a man from dead parts, using solar energy. Victor assists and, when Clerval dies on the eve of the experiment, not only completes it but incorporates Clerval's brain into the Creature. That Creature is at first beautiful, but soon degenerates. Victor, initially a fond friend, emotionally rejects him, and he tries to suicide by throwing himself from a cliff. Surviving, he is befriended by the blind Lacey, with whose granddaughter Agatha the Creature becomes besotted. But she is horrified and, fleeing, is run over by a coach. The Creature takes her corpse to Victor's laboratory, there finding instead the handless hypnotist Polidori. Polidori blackmails Victor, on the night of his wedding to Elizabeth, into sewing Agatha's head onto an unmutilated body, which Polidori reanimates (by chemical means) as the beautiful Prima. On returning from honeymoon, the Frankensteins discover Prima installed in the Fanschawe household; she is a far more perfect creation than Frankenstein's Creature, yet is Evil. Polidori, it emerges, has Fu Manchu-like ideas of world domination (and Asiatic attendants to match) through manipulation of Prima ... The plot thickens until all the principals die, Creature and Victor entering what is almost a suicide pact.
F:TTS is largely black comedy (see Humour), with McCallum especially revealing a brilliant comedic streak. There is intriguing ambiguity as to the identity of the Creature: is he Victor's alter ego, his physique decaying like the Picture of Dorian Gray while his creator's moral integrity does likewise; or is he a manifestation of Clerval? This reworking is thoughtful, handsome and often, amid the humour or horror, moving. [JG]
28. Young Frankenstein US movie (1974). Gruskoff/Venture/Crossbow/Jouer/20th Century-Fox. Pr Michael Gruskoff. Dir Mel Brooks. Screenplay Brooks, Gene Wilder. Novelization Young Frankenstein * (1974) by Gilbert Pearlman. Starring Peter Boyle (Monster), Marty Feldman (Igor), Teri Garr (Inga), Gene Hackman (Blind Man), Madeline Kahn (Elizabeth), Cloris Leachman (Frau Blücher), Kenneth Mars (Inspector Kemp), Wilder (Dr Frederick Frankenstein). 108 mins. B/w.
Though eager to forget his family history, young Frankenstein travels to Transylvania on inheriting grandfather Victor's estate. Discovering his grandfather's laboratory and equipment, he succumbs to the family obsession and constructs a Monster. After a merry melange of parodied clichés, he saves the Monster from the mob by transferring part of his own genius into it. The Monster marries Frankenstein's frightful fiancée Elizabeth (who comes more and more to resemble Elsa Lanchester's portrayal of the Bride in 2), while Frankenstein finds joy with lovely assistant Inga. The various set-pieces – notably the scenes with the little girl and the blind man – represent highpoints of movie Parody. The parody of 3's Krogh (here called Kemp) is blissfully cruel. [JG]
29. Victor Frankenstein Irish/Swedish movie (1975). Dir Calvin Floyd. Starring Per Oscarsson (Creature), Leon Vitali (Frankenstein). 92 mins. Colour.
A painstakingly careful recreation of Shelley's original. Although beautifully made, this tends to plod because of its fidelity – in particular, the original's concern with the miseries of the Creature. [JG]
30. Frankenstein's Island US movie (1982). Dir Jerry Warren. Starring Tain Bodkin, Steve Brodie, John Carradine, Robert Clarke, Andrew Duggan, Laurel Johnson, Cameron Mitchell. 91 mins. Colour.
A balloon party is blown adrift and arrives on an island ruled by a bikini-clad descendant of the Baron. As bad as it sounds. [JG]
31. The Bride US/UK movie (1985). Columbia/Victor Drai. Pr Victor Drai. Exec pr Keith Addis. Dir Franc Roddam. Spfx Peter Hutchinson. Screenplay Lloyd Fonvielle. Novelization The Bride * (1985) by Vonda N McIntyre. Starring Jennifer Beals (Bride [Eva]), Clancy Brown (Monster [Victor]), Quentin Crisp (Zahlus), Phil Daniels (Béla), Cary Elwes (Josef), Geraldine Page (Mrs Baumann), David Rappaport (Rinaldo), Alexei Sayle (Magar), Sting (Charles Frankenstein). 118 mins. Colour.
This sequels 2, starting from the laboratory scene as Frankenstein (here Charles rather than Henry) and Dr Zahlus (rather than Pretorius, although Crisp almost perfectly mimics Thesiger) awaken their female creation. After her rejection of him, the Monster destroys the tower; he, she and Frankenstein escape. Fleeing, the Monster befriends dwarf Rinaldo; while the Baron names (Eva) and educates the Bride – with a view to the making of a New Woman, as intelligent as any man – Rinaldo names (Victor) and educates the Monster on the road (see also True Names). About here the movies loses its way. Sporadically linked telepathically to Eva, Victor goes with Rinaldo to Budapest to join a Circus. Returning, he finds both Frankenstein and cavalry officer Josef wooing Eva; in face of such competition he despairs, and is imprisoned for a murder. Meanwhile Frankenstein tells Eva the truth of her origin and attempts rape. Her distress, communicated telepathically to Victor, makes him break his chains and rush to her rescue. Monster and creator battle over Eva, Victor winning and claiming his Bride.
Although a mess, and enfeebled by Sting's woodenness, TB has some merits beyond its visual opulence, notably the identification of Eva not only with Mary Shelley but also, less obviously, with the Monster – in that, to the intellectually emasculated Frankenstein, she becomes another Monster of his own creation. TB's most effective sequences, aside from its spectacular opening, come in the long (but irrelevant) subplot involving Rinaldo and Victor. [JG]
32. Gothic UK movie (1986). Virgin. Pr Penny Corke. Exec pr Al Clark, Robert Devereux. Dir Ken Russell. Screenplay Stephen Volk. Novelization Gothic (1987) by Stephen Volk. Starring Gabriel Byrne (Byron), Myriam Cyr (Claire Clairmont), Natasha Richardson (Mary Shelley), Julian Sands (Percy Bysshe Shelley), Timothy Spall (Dr John Polidori). 90 mins. Colour.
The quintet at the Villa Diodati, after consuming much laudanum and scaring themselves with Ghost Stories, hold a Séance; in truth the visitors are allowing themselves to be pawns in Byron's psychological games. The night becomes a nightmare, as Hallucinations take on physical status. The five convince themselves that, through their impertinence to the God in whom they claim not to believe, and their arrogant attempt to annex his prerogatives, they have created a supernatural Monster that cannot now be nullified. With the morning there is a banishment of fears, yet Mary retains the germ of her novel. [JG]
33. Doctor Hackenstein US movie (1989). Dir Richard Clark. Starring David Muir, Anne Ramsey, Logan Ramsey. 90 mins. Colour.
Weak black comedy, set in the present day. The doctor's wife is dead but he has kept her head alive; he rebuilds her body using bits of passing hitch-hikers. [JG]
34. Frankenhooker US movie (1990). Shapiro/Glickenhaus. Pr Edgar Levens. Dir Frank Henenlotter. Screenplay Henenlotter, Robert Martin. Starring James Lorintz, Patty Mullen. 90 mins. Colour.
The girlfriend of a mad scientist has a dismembering encounter with a lawnmower, so he picks up prostitutes, kills them, and recreates her body. Derivative comedy. [JG]
35. Frankenstein Unbound (vt Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound) US movie (1990). Warner/Mount. Pr Roger Corman, Kobi Jaeger, Thom Mount. Dir Corman. Vfx Syd Dutton, Bill Taylor. Mufx Nick Dudman. Spfx Renato Agostini. Screenplay Corman, F X Feeney. Based on Frankenstein Unbound (1973) by Brian W Aldiss. Starring Nick Brimble (Monster), Catherine Corman (Justine Moritz), Bridget Fonda (Mary Shelley), John Hurt (Joseph Buchanan), Michael Hutchence (Percy Bysshe Shelley), Raul Julia (Victor Frankenstein), Jason Patric (Byron), Catherine Rabett (Elizabeth). 85 mins. Colour.
Buchanan, working in AD2031 on a particle-beam weapon, falls with his robotic Car through Time and finds himself in 1817 near Geneva, where almost the first person he meets is Frankenstein. Soon he discovers the Monster is alive and causing mayhem. Rather futilely, Buchanan attempts to enlist the aid of the occupants of the Villa Diodati to stop a young girl, Justine, being hanged as a Witch guilty of one of the Monster's crimes; however, he succeeds in bedding Mary. The Monster insists that Frankenstein create a bride for it; denied, it butchers its maker's mistress Elizabeth. Frankenstein resurrects her; as he does so, Buchanan gimmicks his car to jerk them all into a glacial far future. Carnage starts when the Monster realizes that the revived Elizabeth is intended for Frankenstein, not itself; the climax is a duel between it and Buchanan inside the electronic brain of a ruined city.
By taking Aldiss's jeu d'esprit Recursive Fantasy at face value, FU transforms a Technofantasy into schlock. This undermines the movie's moralizing: the analogy between Frankenstein's creation and the "monster" Buchanan was creating is hammered home mercilessly, as is the presumed belief of scientists that they are outside all ethics. [JG]
36. Frankenstein: The College Years US movie (1991 tvm) 20th Century-Fox/Spirit/FNM. Pr Bob Engelman. Exec pr Richard E Johnson, Scott D Goldstein. Dir Tom Shadyac. Spfx Charlie Belardinelli, Tom Bellissimo. Screenplay Bryant Christ, John Trevor Wolff. Starring Christopher Daniel Barnes (Jay Butterman), Andrea Elson (Andi Richmond), Vincent Hammond (Monster), Larry Miller (Albert Loman), William Ragsdale (Mark Chrisman), Patrick Richwood (Blaine Muller). circa 90 mins. Colour.
Medical professor Lippzigger leaves his effects, including Frankenstein's logbook and frozen Monster, to star student Mark. Mark and buddy Jay reanimate the Monster, Frank. The rest of the movie concentrates on their efforts, helped by their girlfriends, to conceal Frank's identity in the face of ambitious Professor Loman's eagerness, aided by moronic Muller, to steal the fruits of Lippzigger's research. After a poor start, this becomes enjoyable. [JG]
37. Frankenstein: The Real Story US movie (1992 tvm). Turner. Exec pr David Wickes. Dir Wickes. Spfx Graham Longhurst. Mufx Mark Coulier. Screenplay Wickes. Starring Patrick Bergin (Victor Frankenstein), Fiona Gillies (Elizabeth), Ronald Leigh Hunt (Alphonse, Baron Frankenstein), John Mills (De Lacey), Jacinta Mulcahy (Justine), Randy Quaid (Monster), Timothy Stark (William Frankenstein), Lambert Wilson (Clerval). 112 mins. Colour.
A reasonably faithful adaptation, told appropriately in flashback from the Arctic, where the Monster and Frankenstein have their final confrontation. One significant change from convention is that, rather than build the Monster from fragments of corpses, Frankenstein "grows" him in a nutrient soup – in effect cloning his creation from himself, and thereafter being always empathically linked with him (there is a Jekyll and Hyde subtext). This is a classy production enhanced by some good performances, notably Quaid's. [JG]
38. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein US movie (1994). Columbia TriStar/American Zoetrope/Japan Satellite Broadcasting/IndieProd. Pr Francis Ford Coppola, James V Hart, John Veitch. Exec pr Fred Fuchs. Dir Kenneth Branagh. Spfx Lulu Morgan. Vfx Richard Conway. Mufx Mark Coulier, Daniel Parker, David White. Screenplay Frank Darabont, Stephen Lady. Novelization Mary Shelley's Frankenstein * (1994) by Leonore Fleischer. Starring Helena Bonham Carter (Elizabeth), Branagh (Victor), John Cleese (Professor Waldman), Robert De Niro (Monster), Robert Hardy (Professor Krempe), Ian Holm (Victor's Father), Tom Hulce (Henry Clerval), Cherie Lunghi (Victor's Mother), Trevyn McDowell (Justine), Aidan Quinn (Walton), Ryan Smith (William). 123 mins. Colour.
A fairly faithful translation. The structure of the movie is roughly as in 37, with the tale told as flashback after Walton's encounter in the Arctic with Frankenstein. The concentration is largely on spectacle, and certainly some of the images are memorable: the monstrous Elizabeth, cobbled together by Frankenstein from her own corpse and Justine's, rushing in flames through the castle's corridors; the lynching of Justine, which contrasts cinematic beauty with the sordidness of the act; the final set-piece of the Monster igniting Frankenstein's pyre on a broken ice-floe. There are some excellent performances, especially that by De Niro. Somehow, nevertheless, the overall effect is flat. Branagh's portrayal of Frankenstein as a sort of Last Action Hero cum brilliant scientist is untenable. Bonham Carter, hair coiffed in a style reminiscent of Lanchester's in 2, makes a rather tedious Elizabeth – although an excellent female Monster. About Quinn's performance the less said the better. The inability to suspend our disbelief is compounded by a compulsive staginess: even the best of the sets are sets. The omnipresent music has a rich soupiness that cloys. This is a good Frankenstein movie, but no landmark. [JG]
further reading: The Annotated Frankenstein (1977) by Leonard Wolf; It's Alive!: The Classic Cinema Saga of Frankenstein (1981) by Gregory William Mank covers the eight Universal features in considerable detail and summarizes much of the remainder of the Monster's career; Hideous Progenies: Dramatizations of Frankenstein from Mary Shelley to the Present (1990) by Steven Earl Forry; The Illustrated Frankenstein Movie Guide (1994) by Stephen Jones.