Late October marks not only the advent of Halloween, but also National Frankenstein Friday on October 28, celebrating the birth of Frankenstein and his creator Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. To honor this most iconic of monsters consider watching one of the following films.
Frankenstein (1931) The original that spawned it all. Directed by the late great James Whale (Hell’s Angels, The Invisible Man) and starring the legendary Boris Karloff in the title role, it was spectacularly successful at the box office as was its sequel Bride of Frankenstein. It was ranked 27 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments, and the Chicago Films Critics Association has called it the 14th Scariest Movie Ever Made. The American Film Institute would also name it the #87 greatest movie of all time. Not just greatest scary movie but greatest movie period.
Young Frankenstein (1974) Directed by Mel Brooks and starring the recently deceased, and much mourned Gene Wilder as the title character; a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, and Cloris Leachman all helped round out the cast as well. To help evoke the atmosphere of the early 30’s films, Brooks made the bold move of shooting the movie entirely in black and white. It generally heads the lists of all-time great comedies and on its 40th anniversary, Brooks named it his finest (though not funniest) film.
Monster Squad (1987) In this 80’s horror comedy written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker a group of kids seek to thwart the plans of the evil Count Dracula who leads a troupe of legendary monsters including the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and of course “Frankie.” The twist here is that Frankie becomes BFF’s with a little girl, before joining the good guys in the battle against Dracula. While not especially successful when it first opened, Monster Squad has since become an acknowledged cult classic among horror buffs of all ages.
May (2002) This psychological horror film, inspired by Mary Shelley’s concept, concerns a troubled young woman named May (Angela Bettis of Girl Interrupted) whose sole ‘friend’ is a doll named Suzy. Struggling to connect with people around her, May remembers her mother’s advice – “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” Of course to do that she’ll need parts. Lots and LOTS of parts. Bettis won the Award for Best Actress at the Catalonian International Film Festival and the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. Moreover Bloody Disgusting ranked May #17 in their list of “The Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade.”
Frankenweenie (2012) This Black and White, 3-D stop motion, animated fantasy horror comedy film directed by Tim Burton was a remake of Burton’s 1984 short by the same name. Both a parody and homage to Mary Shelley’s classic, it’s voiced by Burton veterans Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, and Martin Landau. It was critically acclaimed as a welcome return to form for Burton with an 87% fresh rating on the Tomatometer, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
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