The movie tells us about Dr. Victor Frankenstein - the quintessential “mad scientist” - who is tormented by his obsession of bringing life to the deceased. Unfortunately the “why?” of Dr. Frankenstein's irrepressive desire to create life from dead tissue is never really explored and as he has a beautiful fiancée, with his wedding imminent, I found this fact alone a little distracting. “OK”, I thought, “let's just accept that Dr. Frankenstein is motivated by forces unknown”. But then we have this “monster” that simply seems “child like” and not fearsome at all - no feats of great strength, no foreboding character... merely a tormented being who is hounded by his creators until he eventually snaps, killing one of his obviously insane captors. In fact it wasn't until the lake scene that I had even the tiniest dislike for Mr. Karloff's alter ego.
Another glaring flaw in the storyline is when the monster somehow finds his way to Baron Frankenstein's mansion (with no apparent motivation and no explanation as to how, either). He then climbs through the window of the very room where Mrs Frankenstein-to-be happens to be getting ready for her wedding. Now that was lucky! I could go on, but I think I should stop there... I feel a brain blister coming on.
Suffice to say, despite what the “film historians” would have us believe in the supplemental features, this movie is simply not very good - characterization is handled lightly; the monster is completely girl-like and about as frightening as my left sock; and Mary Shelley's deeply philosophical storyline has been mugged by 1930's Hollywood and replaced with the façade of fear. I appreciate that times they were a different back then, but I simply do not believe that anyone ever found this movie frightening - even back in the '30s - and without the fear, or even a solidly constructed story, the film merely serves as a reminder of how dreary life must have been all those years ago.
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