"It's alive! Alive!" shouts Colin Clive's triumphant Dr. Frankenstein as electricity buzzes over the hulking body of a revived corpse. "In the name of God now I know what it's like to be God!" For years unheard, this line has been restored, along with the legendary scene of the childlike monster tossing a little girl into a lake, in James Whale's Frankenstein
, one of the most famous and influential horror movies ever made. Coming off the tremendous success of Dracula
, Universal assigned sophomore director Whale to helm an adaptation of Mary Shelley's famous novel with Bela Lugosi as the monster. When Lugosi declined the role, Whale cast the largely unknown character actor Boris Karloff and together with makeup designer Jack Pierce they created the most memorable monster in movie history: a towering, lumbering creature with sunken eyes, a flat head, and a jagged scar running down his forehead. Whale and Karloff made this mute, misunderstood brute, who has the brain of a madman (the most obvious of the many liberties taken with Shelley's story), the most pitiable freak of nature to stumble across the screen. Clive's Dr. Frankenstein is intense and twitchy and Dwight Frye set the standard for mad-scientist sidekicks as the wild-eyed hunchback assistant. Whale's later films, notably the spooky spoof The Old Dark House and the deliriously stylised sequel The Bride of Frankenstein
, display a surer cinematic hand than seen here and add a subversive twist of black comedy, but given the restraints of early sound films, Whale breaks the film free from static stillness and adorns it with striking design and expressionist flourishes. --Sean Axmaker
Boris Karloff stars as the screen’s most tragic and iconic monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made.
Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with the essential nature of life and death by creating a monster (Karloff) out of lifeless human body parts.
Director James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel and Karloff’s compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity make Frankenstein
a timeless masterpiece. Bonus Features:
Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster
Karloff: The Gentle Monster
Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About The Making of Frankenstein
: A Short Film
Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
Feature Commentary with Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
100 Years Of Universal: Restoring the Classics