Monday, 21 July 2014


Having looked at KEN REID's FRANKIE STEIN,
let's now turn our attention to the original inspiration for the
strip - FRANKENSTEIN.  What we have above is a CGI clip
that someone made a while back.  I'd love to see a full-colour
remake of the 1931 movie, with a CGI BORIS KARLOFF
MONSTER.  Anyone feel the same?


Colin Jones said...

I'm reading the blog on my tablet at the moment and instead of your YouTube links I just get a Grey box - when I'm on my laptop next I'll have a look at that CGI version but yes,a remake would be interesting. Although the Universal monster is the iconic one I feel that Frankenstein would never have created a monster like that - he'd want him to look normal wouldn't he ? Instead he makes him seven feet tall with green skin, a flat head and bolts through his neck.

Kid said...

In the book, Victor Frankenstein (renamed Henry in the movie) intended to create a handsome human - something obviously (and unintentionally) went wrong. Movies, being a visual medium, often go for a 'shorthand' visual symbolism. The creature was supposed to be a monster - so the film makers simply made him LOOK like a monster. However, something stitched together from different corpses would be bound to look a bit patchwork, which no doubt also accounts for Karloff's scarred appearance.

Interestingly, CJ, if you look at Karloff's monster, it had a high forehead that sloped ever so slightly downwards from the front to the back. This was revised for Chaney, Lugosi and Strange, whose heads were made to look flatter and less high - even slightly sloping downwards from the back to the front. This was because the monster's flat head was supposed to be as a result of Victor sawing off the top of the skull when inserting the brain.

Incidentally, they're not bolts - they're electrodes for conducting an electrical charge to give the monster life.

Gey Blabby said...

Judged purely on the conception of the character in the first film, and Karloff's performance in it, all of those other actors seem lesser in comparison. Even though the make-up was probably applied by equally talented people, it was never as effective on them as it was on Karloff. Something about his face and profile - long and gaunt - helped sell the idea of a reanimated corpse, while the others had rounder, fuller faces that just seemed too damn healthy. On Karloff the make-up sat perfectly, while on the others it gave them a slightly comical look: Lugosi in the role just makes me laugh when I see him, and even Lon Chaney's version looks vaguely humourous. The outrageousness and perfection of Karloff's 'creation' meant that any variation on it ended up looking like a bad copy.
And it's because the original film walks such a fine line between what's to be taken seriously and what's to be laughed at that I don't think I'd like to see them remake it with all their newfangled techniques that reveal everything: I don't know if it could take it.

Kid said...

I'd readily agree that most remakes are usually pointless, GB, but, classic as it undoubtedly is, it did have its faults. Boris appearing at the door with his back to it was extremely clumsy - the same effect should have been accomplished with edited camera angles. It could also have done with an orchestral soundtrack, like Bride had. What I'd like to see is a lavish movie production, true to the 1931 version, but in colour and with a ringer for Karloff - either CGI or human actor - as the monster.

When it comes to the monster, Karloff is obviously king - the definitive version, but I feel sorry for Lugosi. He was clearly too old and puffy for the role, and wasn't helped by being blind and mute. (Apparently, his dialogue - in the voice of Ygor - was cur from the final print.) I think Chaney gave a good performance, especially when he remembered to jut his chin forward to lenghten his face. My main gripe is that his arms appeared far too short. Strange was huge - far bigger than Karloff - and there are some shots of his face (when it's lit right) where he resembles Karloff. By the time Big Glenn took on the role, the monster was nothing more than a juggernaut of destruction at the end of the movie, and in that capacity he was well-suited.

But Karloff is king!

Gey Blabby said...

Absolutely, Kid, that first entrance appears very clumsy, and yet ... it's magic: the stiff, child-like movements followed by the slow turn of the head to reveal the monster's face with the blank, slitted eyes staring out at us. It's one of those wonderful introductory moments that cinema throws up on a regular basis, like Rhett Butler at the bottom of the stairs or Bond in the casino.
You're also right in saying that it isn't perfect, and Bride is the superior film. I was really meaning that for that particular conception of the character - bolts through the neck and far removed from the author's original intention - then they pretty much got it right from the start with Karloff's version.

Talking of a new version, have you seen the new TV show Penny Dreadful, featuring Rory Kinnear as a version of the creature that hews much closer to Shelley's original. It's done with such style and it's so different that it's hard to imagine this and Karloff's version springing from the same source material.

Kid said...

Yes, the scene is not without power - yet the same effect could've been achieved by the camera being behind Karloff and then slowly revolving around him and then jump-cutting to his face. The problem, I believe, comes from it being adapted from a play, where, on the stage, it would have to be the way it was. James Whale made the mistake of forgetting that his film was for a different medium and not adapting the scene accordingly.

Haven't seen Penny Dreadful, but Karloff's interpretation is so ingrained in my mind that I can't accept any look that deviates from his. Even an articulate monster should look like Boris, in my view. I thought that even De Niro was visually underwhelming in the part.

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