S P Oldham
Continuing my viewing of the films listed in a ScreenRant article ‘15 Black and White Horror Films That Are Still Scary as Hell’ – By Wednesday Lee Friday https://screenrant.com/scariest-black-and-white-horror-movies-ever-all-time/ this time I chose number 14, Frankenstein.
It goes without saying that this is a horror classic, a tale that endures, delights and horrifies even now. The concept of building a man out of the parts of others is no longer an original idea, but it is still a gruesome one. Given that the ‘monster’ was just that, it was rather easy on the eye, but of course, as with all of the films on this list, we have to remember the time in which the film was made.
The towering, leering figure of Frankenstein’s monster was sinister and shambling, however I found the grunting/growling it made somewhat out of kilter. I can’t explain this beyond personal feeling – it seemed to me that it would have been more appropriate to make it silent – perhaps his mouth stitched closed too, to add to the air of tragedy. There are one or two good lines in this too, including the now famous and well used "It's alive!"
I also think more could have been made of the monster’s unworldly innocence – his genuine investigation into the properties of the water when he throws the child in, and his bemusement when she does not resurface. All of this was somewhat glossed over, the focus instead being on Frankenstein himself and his wife-to-be. As I have said over and over since I started this little undertaking, it is of its time…
One scene I did find striking and rather well done, was when the bereft father carries his dead child through the streets, stopping the celebrating villagers in their tracks as he goes. This was very effective I thought, and had a weight and depth to it that the whole film deserved, in my opinion. Talking of which, I imagine that the scene when they cut down a hanged man to use his body parts, and the opening scene in which they dig up a fresh grave in order to steal the body, was quite shocking in its day. It has also to be said, that this film knows how to do ‘angry mob’ too! I enjoyed the rampaging people, complete with barking hounds – it must have set the bar for every angry mob to come! Although the amount of talking and shouting they did once out in the countryside would have been enough to alert the most brain dead(in a literal sense in this instance) to their activities and sent them into hiding.
I had always thought Frankenstein was set in a castle, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it was actually a windmill.
I enjoyed the film. I can see why it is still revered and held up as a benchmark today, and it is easy to see the enormous potential it had for future adaptations. Scary as hell? Well, it is dark, the concept is grim and the story really quite tragic. By today’s standards, not really scary at all, but if you watch it with a fresh mindset, mindful of the time in which it was made, then yes. If you haven’t seen it then give it a go- just to say you have!