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September 26, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #13 - Frankenstein

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night
(1931, Dir. by James Whale.)
Why It's Here:
There are few things in this world that actually give me goosebumps and make me crazy jealous.  One of them is when I hear those stories about how people of 1931 freaked out and passed out and rioted when they saw Frankenstein on screen.  Like, if there was one place in history I had a chance to time travel to, I'd be there to see it happen. I'd be chomping on popcorn and laughing from the back row.  I might even join in for fun. It'd be a blast. 

The Moment That Changes Everything:
There are two moments that stand out completely in Frankenstein - one when "It's alive!" gets shouted, and one when the big ol' monster meets a little girl.  The former is perhaps the greatest announcement in horror history, while the latter is still one of the most shocking moments on film more than 80 years later.  But for me, the most interesting exchange in the film is the brief encounter between creator and created while a mob is on the prowl in the final act. There's more that I wish was said - especially after I read Mary Shelley's beautiful novel - but the simple showdown gives the film's conflict that little extra push over the edge that it needs in its final moments.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Easiest choice on the list.  Follow this up with the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein. A lot of people - maybe even a majority of horror fans - will tell you that Bride surpasses the original.  I am not of that mindset (some of the comedy bugs me a little, and I think it misses on a few attempts to link to the book), but I won't deny that Bride of Frankenstein is still a fascinating piece of horror history and a must see for any lover of this film.

What It Means To Me:
I generally moan about any adaptation of Frankenstein - one of my favorite books - and I'll even go so far as to throw Whale's film in with other adaptations that missed some of my favorite parts of the book.  But this vision of Frankenstein has become something truly iconic, creating a visage of horror that is still recognizable to most any person on the planet.  With Karloff's performance and scenes that still have great power, this film deserves its own place among horror's most fantastic achievements.

1 comment:

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