Showing posts with label frankenstein. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frankenstein. Show all posts

Sunday, October 29, 2023

HalloWatch: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)





Watched:  10/28/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

Some of my pals were over Saturday night, and I made them watch Bride of Frankenstein (1935).  It's no secret it's one of my favorite movies (easily top 10, perhaps top 5), and it was a delight to share it with folks who would otherwise likely never see it.  

Anyway, we kind of talked over the movie, so they missed some good lines and good moments, but it's a first viewing, and it was all excited chatter, so they were enjoying it, which is all that matters.  

Matt did wisely point out how the comedy worked within the movie much how Shakespeare inserts fun stuff into even his tragedies - Matt watched a bucket-ton of movies that I mostly do not ever see - and it was all a good talk.

Anyway, glad to get to this year's screening of the movie.




Wednesday, October 25, 2023

HalloWatch: Frankenstein (1931)




Watched:  10/24/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

Every year during the spooky season I try to give Frankenstein (1931) a watch.  The past several years, I've double-billed Frankenstein with Bride of Frankenstein, usually the night before - or night of - Halloween.  

But this year I wanted to give the movie a bit more time to percolate and watch it as its own thing.  

It's a movie I've seen *a lot* and so I can spot the places where the dolly shot bounces on the tracks, and I can see the literal creasing in the backdrops used in the forest scenes.  I laugh with anticipation at the jokes and know which bits work best as scares.

I make a lot of notes about how Dracula movies don't match the novel, because there's usually some adherence to the book and seeing where and why they diverged is a curiosity.  But by the time you get from the publication of Mary Shelley's novel in 1818 to the play and the movie, this story was well over 100 years old, and folks were going to do their own thing.*  There's barely any of the novel left in this film.  Themes.  Some names.  Some settings.  A wedding.

So I tend to separate them and consider them their own thing, and it's usually in subsequent adaptations that I look for whether they're borrowing from this film or from the novel or doing something entirely new.  

Even if the film is nearing the century mark, it still plays.  The creatures' pathos is as real as the novel, if reduced to a child-like state of confusion rather than a sort of existential crisis of existence.  The performances are of their time but would absolutely put fire in a modern adaptation.  You simply won't beat Colin Clive going mad in the moments of success after the monster is lowered from the tower.  

The look is borrowed from German Expressionism, and between the Gothic horror of Dracula's settings and this film, we get a language for how the best sets and scenes should look in horror that will be endlessly copied, parodied, stolen from and refracted for the next 90 years.  That's not to say this was the final word, but the starting line and the thing to which everything else can draw comparison.

Further, the themes of "who is the real monster?" would echo throughout horror and science fiction, and are often the best part to chew on in a film (and something zombie movies picked up and ran with).  But I think this movie does the best job of bringing a Dr. Frankenstein to life who really thinks he shut the door behind himself and his experiments, only to have it come roaring back.

I'm now curious to read the play upon which the movie is based.  Curiously, next year sees the publication of the script for what I believe to be the first time.  

Some time I will write a much longer bit on this movie, it's sequel and the novel and why I keep coming back to them, but not today, kids!

But for the best Halloween spookiness for the whole family, I humbly submit this classic.



*worth noting, this film will be 100 in just 8 years



Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Halloween Double Feature: "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1931), (1935)




Watched:  10/30 and 31/ 2022
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  James Whale

This is now my movie Halloween tradition.  If I haven't already watched them elsewhere, watch Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein to wrap up the spooky season and before my thoughts turn to sweet potatoes and turkey.  

I don't necessarily always watch with zero distractions - these are movies I've seen over a dozen times each.  I can put them on and do other things and look up for key scenes.  

Anyway, here's a podcast Simon and I did on the films.  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloween Watch Party Watch: House of Dracula (1945)



Watched:  10/28/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Erle C. Kenton

I'd seen this before and couldn't really remember it.  But when I saw "Hunchback" on the poster, I was like "oh, yeah.  This one."  

Dracula (John Carradine) goes to a Dr. Edelman trying to figure out if he can be "cured".  Edelman being a movie scientist/ doctor is like "why not?"  The same day, frikkin' Larry Talbot shows up *also* looking to be cured of being the Wolfman.  And in the cave below the house?  Frankenstein's monster.  Because why not?  

Whether Drac was serious or not about his cure and whether he was overwhelmed by his own innate evil or not is never explained as he throws the plan out the window to get un-vamped in exchange for trying to turn one of the two nurses into a new bride.  Along the way, Dracula turns the doctor into a sort of quasi-vampire.  Shenanigans ensue.

We have to talk about Nina.



Look, this whole movie is not about Nina, but she's in, like, 1/3rd to 1/2 of the shots the movie.  And I do not know why.  She's set up as a major character, but is not.  She's just... there.

Nina (Jane Adams), the dutiful nurse to Dr. Edelmann, is the poster-specified a hunchback, which is mentioned like once, but otherwise goes unremarked upon.  So she's, visually, always there in bright white nurse-gear and trying to be helpful and has an obvious difference.  

Actress Jane Adams was not a hunchback, and whatever prosthetic they put on her seemed to really bend her over and make her arms hang a certain way.  The character has not a negative bone in her body.  She's sweet and helpful and literally everything points to things working out well for Nina.  Like, they introduce a potential cure for Nina's bone difference - which she gives up to help the frikkin' Wolfman instead.  That's Nina!  Always helpful.  

But at the movie's climax, Nina is just thrown in a pit to her death as a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Which...  weird flex to suddenly go dark in a movie that feels very much aimed at kids.  

I have no ideas or no theories as to what happened here.  Was there supposed to be another fate for Nina?  Was Nina always doomed?  Was she accidentally in more of the movie than they intended thus drawing focus?  Why take a super cute actress and suggest she needs work and then bump her off with her storyline unresolved?  

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in secret sauce.  But what reading I did do tells me that this movie was on a conveyor belt through pre-production to post-production and while Adams had a swell time working on it, the veteran actors were less than impressed with the industrial approach to movie making that they compared to how TV would be made in a few short years.

Anyway - Nina going down into the pit will now haunt me forever.  

Adams' career in film and TV was not terribly long.  She showed up in 1942 and sort of petered out in the 1950's, finishing with an appearance on The Adventures of Superman in 1953.  It looks like she did a lot of B's, monster and cowboy movies.  She was kind of short for Hollywood, I guess, at 5'3" (which doesn't seem that short), but she attributed that to how she wound up in less than glam-girl roles.

We think she's peachy.

So here's Jane Adams without her prosthetic.  Lovely girl.  Not exactly in the Dwight Fry in weird make-up mode.








Saturday, October 23, 2021

PODCAST: "Son of Frankenstein" (1939) and "Son of Dracula" (1943) - Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  09/06/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  a whole lot
Decade:  1930's and 1940's
Director:  Rowland V. Lee and Robert Siodmak (I KNOW)



We check in on the boys and see what the kids are up to! One back in the old family villa and the other heading to Louisiana for some jambalaya, we assume. Two franchises rise yet again, stitched together from ideas new and old as we look at the third in the series for each, and sink their teeth into familiar tropes as well as all new stories and characters!




Music:
Son of Dracula Theme - Hans J. Salter Orchestra
Son of Frankenstein Theme - Frank Skinner


Halloween 2021



Saturday, October 16, 2021

Halloween Watch Party: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)




Watched:  10/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friends, I have watched this movie so many times and talked about it so much, I am sure you are sick of it.  But we had a grand old time watching it together for a Watch Party!

So, annual viewing of Bride of Frankenstein, complete!




Saturday, October 9, 2021

Halloween Interaction Watch: Frankenstein (1932)




Watched:  10/08/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1930's
Director:  James Whale

My friend, I am not writing up Frankenstein again.  Here's all the stuff about Frankenstein on this blog.

Here's SimonUK and me talking about the film during last year's Halloween podcast.


Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday Oct. 8th - Hallow-Scream Watch Party: Frankenstein (1932)



I'm going to be honest with y'all:  Frankenstein (1932) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) are two of my favorite films of all time.  If you can, join us for both showings (schedule below) so you can get the complete package of the journey of Henry Frankenstein.  

This movie has thrills, chills, laughs and some amazing sets.  And try to imagine what this looked like in 1932 to people who had probably not seen anything like it.  


Day:  Friday, October 8
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Format:  Amazon Watch Party 
Cost:  $4.00



8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific for all shows!

October 1 -   Dracula (1931)
October  8 -  Frankenstein (1932)
October 15 - Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
October 22 - The Wolfman (1941)
October 29 - Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)




The Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party series is meant to be a casual good-time as we check out the run of horror movies that started with Dracula and have become staples of culture the world over!  Everyone knows what these monsters look and act like, but it's probable most people haven't ever actually seen the movies they're in!  So, come watch!  

Starting just two years after the silent era, these movies quickly became the blockbusters of their day, bringing strange ideas most people hadn't considered, wild visuals, and complicated creatures to the screen.  And, ever since, studios have been looking to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle.

We think you'll enjoy watching along and checking out the creepfest that is Universal Horror!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Lady Frankenstein (1971)




Watched:  04/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Directors:   Mel WellesAureliano Luppi


Weirdly, this European produced take on Frankenstein co-stars film great Joseph Cotten.  I have no explanation other than Cotten wanted to have a stay in Europe for a while and this work was easy and probably wouldn't be seen by Americans, especially fifty years later on personal computers.  But here we are!  

The basic set-up for the story is that the good doctor (Cotten) is getting set for his grand experiment to bring a human to life when his daughter (Rosalba Neri) returns from med school, a fully licensed surgeon with amazing hair.  He has a sort of side-kick who helps him out in the lab, as well as the usual grave-robber types hanging about.  

But when the monster springs to life, he is super into murder, and starts with Baron Frankenstein.  Well, funny story, because his daughter Tania is way more of a freak than he.  So, as the monster runs around murdering pretty much exclusively copulating couples (viva Italia), the NEW good doctor gets to work on a plan for creating her own monster who will kill the first monster.  WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

She first seduces and marries her father's invalid sidekick, then convinces him to undergo a brain transplant into the local handsome moron.  

You guys, I'm not gonna lie.  This movie has a ton of nudity and sex, and then you remember "oh yeah, this is an Italian horror movie.  They think Americans movies are way too tame."  And so.  But it also creates a certain very dark take on the proceedings as Lady Frankenstein herself manipulates the men around her and seems to thrill in the more sadistic elements of what's going on - leading to an ending that had our watch party basically saying "well, huh" as the film wrapped.

It IS a horror movie.  Horrible things happen!  Some of it was some weirdly dark content I did not expect from what seemed initially like a goofy Hammer knock-off.  Because, man, there are some sharp turns there in the second half.  

I'll at least say: it was never boring!  But it is absolutely not for everybody.  Did I like it?  I mean, I was entertained.  I'm not sure it was a good movie, but it at least surprised me and wasn't entirely camp.  So.  I dunno.  

Monday, November 23, 2020

Happy Birthday, Boris!


 Boris Karloff, born this day, 1887.  

He would have been 44-45 when he played the Monster for the first time.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween Watch: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)




Watched:  10/31/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  2nd?  3rd?  4th?  It's been decades
Decade: 1990's
Director:  Kenneth Branagh

We already watched the classic Universal Frankenstein and the Hammer Frankenstein for the podcast, but I always watch Frankenstein and Bride as my final movie or so of Halloween.  So, I swapped in this version, which I hadn't seen in forever.  And I know I hadn't seen it in forever, because Jamie had never seen it.  

My memory was "that sure felt like it thought it was much better than it was".  It was directed by already-respected Shakespearean actor/director Kenneth Branagh, borrowed indie cred by casting Helena Bonham Carter (who was the indie-fan's sex symbol of the time), borrowed established cred with Robert DeNiro as the Monster, Tom Hulce of Amadeus fame, Ian Holm, John Cleese and others.  The sets are lavish, the score: sweeping.  

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween Doc Watch: Wolfman's Got Nards (2018)




Watched:  10/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Andre Gower

I saw The Monster Squad at Showplace 6 on a weekday in late summer when I was a kid.  I must have said something about the movie and thinking I'd miss it (it wasn't released until mid-August of 1987, which would have been just as school was starting), so I'm guessing I thought the clock was ticking.  My dad loved movies, too, when we were kids.  Not like some of your dads who showed you Carrie or whatever, he just liked going to the movies or making a bucket of popcorn at home and watching a movie with us.  

All I know is that on a weekday in the few weeks Monster Squad was out, my dad took the afternoon off work - came home and got me, we watched the movie - and then he dropped me off and went back to work.  I don't think he remembers this at all, but it meant a lot to me when I was 12.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

PODCAST: "Van Helsing" (2004) - our Halloween 2020 Finale! w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  10/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stephen Sommers



Well, what better way to wrap up our review of classic monsters and monster movies than to discuss 2004's mish-mash of Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, hats, hair, bodices and swing around on ropes? Universal threw money at the guy who gave them the 1999 Mummy franchise and he promptly went bananas, abusing SFX teams and creating the worst kind of fan-fic. Join us as we make our way through Van Helsing.
 


Music
:
The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers



Halloween and Horror (everything)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hammer Watch: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1968)




Watched:  10/22/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher

I've watched the few Frankenstein movies from Hammer that I've seen completely out of order.  And this is no exception.  I think this is the second to last movie, but, really, do not know.

Completely spinning the opposite direction from Universal, Hammer decided the selling point for their Frankenstein films was not the monster, but the good doctor himself.  Building on the arrogant sonuvabitch from the novel, this version of Frankenstein is NOT humbled by his first creation, but emboldened by his success, and so the subsequent films are him doing what all good scientists would do - keep working on it.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)




Watched:  10/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's (and how!)
Director:   Robert Gaffney

Jenifer picked this particular gem for our Tuesday screening, and it was a g-d delight.  

For reasons that are never explained, NASA creates a sort of synthetic man they want to launch into space in place of an astronaut (we are all fine with automation in our space probes, and I'm not sure why the ruse is necessary).  He doesn't actually work very well, but they go ahead with the plan.

Meanwhile, aliens from a distant world that has experienced a wave of self-destruction via nuclear exchange have come to Earth in a space ship roughly the size of a small house, with plans to steal our women - because they have none.  Except for their leader, a sort of imperious-but-fun Space Queen (Marilyn Hanold) in a heck of a pant-suit and head dress.  


Sunday, October 4, 2020

PODCAST: "Frankenstein" (1931) "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) and "Curse of Frankenstein" (1957) - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  09/18 (Curse), 09/19 (Frank), 09/20 (Bride of)
Format:  Amazon Streaming, BluRay
Viewing:  Third, Unknown, Unknown
Decade:  1950's, 1930's
Director:  Terence Fisher, James Whale


It's the story of a scientist with a dream and the friends he made along the way! We stitch together three films for one monstrously excellent discussion about one of pop culture's favorite go-to's, the mad scientist and his shambling pal(s). From the shocking arrival of the 1931 film by Universal to the mid-50's experiments by Hammer to bring the story to life, we chat what makes the story work from any angle, and why we're still watching 90 years later.




Music
Frankenstein Main Theme (1931) - Giuseppe Becce
Bride of Frankenstein Suite (1935) - Franz Waxman


Halloween 2020
Halloween and Horror

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Tweetalong Watch: Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)



Watched:  06/12/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Richard E. Cunha

Oh.  Oh my.

Well.  So.  I dunno, you guys.

I mean, "Oliver" Frankenstein just doesn't sound right. And I don't know why he was turning the pretty young lady he was living with into a monster in the evening with a potion he kept passing off as fruit punch.  I was never clear what was going on with the girl's uncle and what he was science-ing upon.  But we do run over a kind of catty young lady and she gets turned into a shambling monster.

Anyway.  There's a backyard cookout with a band and a very long musical interlude.



Saturday, November 2, 2019

Hallow-Watch: "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)


Watched:  F - 10/30/2019, BoF - 10/31/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Ha ha ha...
Decade:  1930's

Every Halloween I now watch both of these films.  They're literally two of my favorite movies - the sort of which I'd include if there was a Signal Watch Five Film Marathon in which to partake. 

Next year we're scheduled to talk about them during Halloween, so I want to hold off til then to say much more - and I have plenty of prior posts on these two films. 

Here's to James Whale and Gods and Monsters.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Halloween Watch: Frankenstein (1931)


Watched:  10/28/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown.  well into double digits
Decade:  1930's

I'm a Frankenstein fan.  Maybe not as much as other people, and I got a late start.  I didn't watch the movie until 1997 when I rented it during a blitz into Universal's horror offerings that, if you know me a little, you know had a deep impact that resonates to this day.

Growing up in the wake of the 70's monster-craze, the Frankenstein monster's image was everywhere, from kid's cartoons (including the Flintstones for some reason), but I don't remember ever seeing Frankenstein offered on TV, nor do I remember tapes available at the local video store.  Austin and Houston didn't have latenight monster movie hosts, so...  the availability was pretty low.

So, yeah, I rented it from the I Love Video near my apartment and gave the 1930's movie a spin, genuinely concerned that after all the hype, I might not like it (I'd seen Dracula in high school at a local cinema, but that's a different story).  While the movie only borrowed from the book, the movie was so much it's own thing, and so weird and creepy and heart breaking, what wouldn't I like about it?

I've written plenty on this movie, and every time I watch it, I'm stunned by the storytelling, the design of sets, creature and sound.  It "transports" me, and I genuinely find the movie electric, so to speak.  There's so much to love in Whale's picture.

I won't belabor it all here - this is a checkmark on my 2018 Halloween movie watching, and I'm on to The Bride of

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Travelogue: I was in Indiana - Plus, Frankenstein and whatnot in the special collections



The project I'm on at work is a joint partnership between Northwestern and Indiana Universities, and while I've been to Chicago plenty to get to NU (it's my institutional "home"), I'd not been to Bloomington, Indiana where a good chunk of my team lives and Indiana University resides.