Monday, October 4, 2021

31 Days of Scary Movies, Nights 2 and 3

  This weekend, my two scary movies for Saturday and Sunday nights happened because Mary Shelley wrote a novel in 1818. While I wish I could fit every one of my beloved Universal Monster Movies into my October schedule, if I did, they would take up most of the month. And so I found myself watching James Whale’s “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein.”

 I likely have watched both of the original Universal Frankenstein films every October for the last 5 years. I’m always struck by how distinctive the two films are; and yet, how well they flow into each other, and often make me forget where one begins and he other ends. Boris Karloff is masterful in both films, noticeably making his performance in the sequel mature along with his monster. As is Elsa Lancaster, who with precious few minutes of screen time, grabs the viewer by the throat and secures her place of immortality in film history. This viewing, however, I was also struck by Colin Clive’s performance as Frankenstein; how layered and tortured his performance is, and how much his work supporting the creatures sell the films as a whole. I love both of these films deeply; the more bleak, stylized and lush sets of the more restrained first film, and the beautifully weird excess of the sequel. 

  None of the history, importance and success of these films would be possible, however, without the leadership of James Whale’s direction. Whale knows how to build this creepy, dream like world that has lived in hearts and minds for so long, and he knows how to film his actors, and get nuanced performances out of everyone in his cast. 

 On Saturday night, when I watched “Frankenstein”, it was raining; last night, during “Bride of Frankenstein,” it was storming, the thunder and lightning of the dark violent world outside playing a mirror to the lightening crashing above Frankenstein’s laboratory, filmed back on those sets in the 1930s. So beautifully October.  

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