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Eric’s Guide Through the Universal Frankenstein Series

Eric’s Guide Through the Universal Frankenstein Series

3.) Ghost of Frankenstein


Here’s where the films start to radically dip in quality. Boris Karloff left the role of the monster, but the series had to continue as it made too much money for Universal. This film picks up shortly after the last film. Despite that film ending so happily and the towns people enjoying the new dawn, this film opens with a town meeting of all the townspeople complaining. It gets pretty ridiculous. I half expect someone to yell “I stubbed my toe last night, IT’S THE MONSTER’S FAULT!!!” They then march right up to the castle and destroy what’s left of it inadvertently freeing the Monster from the sulfur pit. Somehow (they never explain) Ygor (again played by Bela Lugosi) is alive despite the gunshot wounds. Lighting strikes the Monster restoring him to full power and they go to find the OTHER son of Frankenstein, Ludwig. The Monster gets into trouble and is captured by the police. Ludwig learns that the Monster is in his town and must decide what to do about it.

The film is just very by the numbers and you can tell this is written by someone who was just assigned this project and had no real idea of where to go from here. The ending is where it gets more interesting. The ghost of the original Henry Frankenstein (sadly not played by Colin Clive) appears and convinces him to go through with the experiment. Ygor gets one of the lab assistants to cut out his brain and switch with the Monster’s. And in the only moment that is a LITTLE creepy and effective the Monster gets up and speaks and its Ygor’s evil voice. It ALMOST makes up for the rest of the film being as basic as it could possibly be. However, a cool ending isn’t quite enough to save this film.

2.) Frankenstein (1931)


I’ll bet you’re surprised to see this so low on the list. Much like “Dracula” (which was also made and released the same year) despite loving many parts of it and how important it is for film history this film just doesn’t work for me. It’s a loose adaptation of the novel which I don’t hold it against it as accurate adaptations were quite rare back then. Plus you had to contend with the budgets that were small even then. Universal did not view these movies as their A-products. Like “Dracula” I find the film to just be dull mostly. Unlike “Dracula” where I still find some charm in it there is none in here for me other than Boris Karloff’s performance which is amazing. We also has Colin Clive as Dr Henry Frankenstein. Yes that is weird that they changed him name to Henry, but its even weirder in that his friend is renamed Victor for some reason. Its like they’re teasing us. We also have Edward Van Sloan who is good, but I much prefer him as Van Helsing. There are many memorable scenes and lines like the “It’s Alive!” and “In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God!” or the little girl scene with the flowers, it’s all good stuff. It’s just in-between each of those good elements the film just drags. I know when this and “Dracula” came out sound was still new and the idea of have a persistent score throughout wasn’t immediately apparent. However, I find the lack of score to just be so detrimental to the effectiveness of the film.

1.) Bride of Frankenstein


This is stuff like “King Kong” (1976) being my favorite version that probably would make other fans of the franchise want to revoke my membership card. However, I have never and will never just go along with popular opinion just because it’s popular opinion. Nor will I hate a film for that reason either for that matter. A quick summary after the events of the last film the Monster survived and has some more episodes from the novel happen to him. At the same time, Dr Pretorius (an old mentor) comes to Henry and tries to enlist his help in his own experiments. Later he meets up with the Monster and they kidnap Henry’s fiancé and will only return her if Henry help build a female Monster so he’s no longer alone. The Bride comes alive, takes one look at the Monster and rejects him. Having a change of heart he destroys himself, the Bride and Pretorius in an explosion but let’s Henry and his fiancé escape. So I’m sorry to say I just simply think this film sucks.

OK to be fair there are some things that I do like about it. Boris Karloff is great as always. Colin Clive is again so over-the-top it’s great. The actor that plays Dr Pretorius is so camp it’s impossible to take your eyes off of him. The blind man scene is wonderful and later would be brilliantly parodied in “Young Frankenstein.” Basically everything about the Bride herself is great. She’s only onscreen for a few minutes yet somehow she’s as iconic as the monster. I’d even venture to say that she’s more famous to casual fans than Colin Clive. It makes you wish she could have been in more of the film itself which brings me to the problems. Overall the film is just too wacky for my tastes. You have Pretorius who can somehow create little people that he keeps in jars which feels like it comes from a whole other genre. The fact that now practically EVERY cast member besides a few are camp or very over-the-top makes this world hard to feel engaged with. It’s strange because in a certain way I could describe other classic 30s films I enjoy like this, but for whatever here it not only doesn’t work for me it annoys me while watching.


What do you think? Which “Frankenstein” film makes you alive?!

About The Author


Eric grew up with a simple childhood. At age 11 a six fingered man murdered his father in front of his eyes, while his mother died defending him from an attack from a sharptooth, then an evil toon dropped a piano from 15 stories onto his brother's head and then on top of all of that while on the job he was brutally shot up and left for dead but was rebuilt as a robotic cop to get his revenge. ...Oooorr maybe he just watched a lot of movies growing up and got really into them. From a young age Eric realized learning things like science, math, people's names etc. took some real effort but could easily remember practically all the dialog/plot details from a random movie he watched on tv years ago. He knew from a young age that he wanted to make movies and never strayed from that. Going to college to get an education in film production and working on movie sets whenever it can be fit into his schedule. Get him into a room full of people he doesn't know and over time you may eventually get him to open up but just mention some movies and he'll talk for hours, never afraid to (respectfully) argue with fellow movie nerds. Now he puts that love and energy toward writing for

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