Halloween isn’t complete without classic Universal Monster movies.
Which is why the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein make our 31 Days of Halloween list. Both films feature Boris Karloff portraying the iconic Frankenstein’s monster.
The 1931 classic begins with a brief caution:
How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a friendly word of warning: We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation; life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So, if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now’s your chance to uh, well, ––we warned you!!
Frankenstein’s monster is just misunderstood.
Trying to figure out the whole be alive thing isn’t easy and being given a criminal, murderous brain doesn’t help. As a friend recently told me, “You usually seem mellow. But then sometimes you want to murder everyone.” I think the monster and I can relate. One moment you’re playing with flowers with a little girl, the next moment you’re throwing her into the lake. It happens.
Frankenstein was followed up by many sequels, but most famously with its first sequel The Bride of Frankenstein, starring Elsa Lanchester as the monster’s bride. The sequel picks up where Frankenstein left off, and the monster is on the run from the villagers who want him dead… again. Befriending a hermit, the monster becomes more humane and learns what a ‘friend’ is. Meanwhile, Dr. Frankenstein’s former mentor, Dr. Pretorius, contrived a plan to create a mate for the monster. Once the bride is resurrected, the monster tries to encounter her as a friend, but scares her away. It happens.
Mary Shelley was 18 when she wrote Frankenstein in 1816, towards the end of the Enlightenment Period. Associated with the scientific revolution, this time period had so many influences on Shelley’s writing and the moral lesson she intended: the destruction of society through misused power. Just because life can be created, doesn’t mean it should, and when it does, there’s no controlling what will happen.
The Bride of Frankenstein is a rare horror sequel that is better than its original and also changes tones effortlessly. It’s a humorous and campy satire that still adheres to the macabre universe of its predecessor and the rest of the Universal Monsters.
Never go through a Halloween season without watching at least one of these classics.