Friday, October 12, 2012

Franken-fest (Part 2)

And now, the Universal Frankensteins...

Frankenstein (1931)

The film-

The Karloff one.
Hell, it barely needs saying.

Like the Lugosi Dracula, this is the one everyone thinks of even if they haven't seen it.
But, unlike Dracula, no one seems to have another favorite Frankenstein that supersedes this, they go right to this one.

And, like the Lugosi portrayal, this is the Frankenstein Monster everyone goes right back to.
The green skin, the square head.

But, that's all makeup artist Jack Pierce's idea.
Wasn't in the novel.

He also wasn't green in the films, the films are black and white, the posters made him green, and then, later color interpretations went with that.

Anyway, this one resembles the novel...only in that a doctor makes a monster.

The whole deal with the villagers with torches?
That's so famously associated with Frankenstein lore?
Not in the book.

"It's ALIVE!"?
Not in the book.
Yeah, that's become a Mad Scientist meme that's gone way beyond even Frankenstein, and, not in the book.

Almost everything everyone thinks of comes from this, and its immediate sequel.
And, it got the book almost all wrong.

People don't read.
There it is.

Good flick though, despite it all.

The history-

Pretty much everything I said about Lugosi Dracula.

And, here's the monster action figures again. :)

The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

The film-

Okay, I think this right here, is where the whole name confusion thing starts to creep in.

The main plot is about making a bride for The Monster, and the title is "The Bride Of Frankenstein", so, one assumes Frankenstein is The Monster.

When, really, it's the bride made by Frankenstein.

The Monster of Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein.
Get it?

Well, people didn't.
As history proves.

Anyway, this one sort of steers it back on track with the novel.

Frankenstein did make a bride for The Monster in the book.
Also, The Monster met the blind old man, and learned to speak in the book, as he does in this film.

Although "bread good, fire bad", is about as eloquent as he ever got in the Univeral universe, while the novel Monster delivered gloomy misanthropic accusatory soliloquies by the end.

We also get an introduction with Mary Shelly hanging out with Percy Shelly, and Lord Byron, and reading the story as a bookend into the main story.
Shelly, and the Bride, are both played by Elsa Lanchester.

And, the Bride hairdo has become an icon as well.

This one is actually better than the first, IMHO.

The history-

See "Frankenstein", above.

Hey, why no Bride figure?

The Son Of Frankenstein (1939)

The film-

Lesser known, lesser regarded, but, it was a big hit in its day, AND culture wise, it introduces Igor (here, spelled Ygor).'d think it would stick out in people's minds.

Lugosi is Ygor, and, he's great, he's a creepy evil motherfucker.

This is also the last one to have Karloff as The Monster.

And no, they don't make a monster kid, Dr. Frankenstein's son picks up where he left off.
(Played by Basil Rathbone, so, you had all 3 big horror guys together for this one)

This one introduces the guy with the prosthetic arm that they goof on in "Young Frankenstein".
He claims The Monster ripped it off him when he was a boy.
That incident happens in the book, but the kid dies.
And, it was an accident, The Monster didn't know his own strength.

Also, Rathbone's Frankenstein has a son with blonde curly hair that you could very easily imagine growing up into Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein".

This one has yet another "the villagers think they killed The Monster, but they're wrong", ending.

Why, The Monster was the first Jason!

The history-

TCM marathon-ed all of 'em a couple years ago.
I conked out before "Ghost of...",  though"

The Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942)

The film-

Lon Chaney Jr. plays the monster, and Lugosi is back as Ygor.

Hmm, "Son Of Dracula", "Wolf Man", "The Mummy's Tomb", and this, yeah, Lon Chaney Jr was all of the monsters.

Anyway, this one ends with Ygor's brain ending up In The Monster, but he's the wrong blood type, and it makes him go blind, and THAT'S why the monster walks with his hands out in front of him, he's finding his way!
That became The Monster walk to people, and they don't even know why they're doing it!
He's blind!
Notice, he doesn't do it in the first three flicks.
So, that's another piece of Frankenstein history introduced in a forgotten sequel.

The history-

I could swear I saw this one...
I remember the creature saying "!", in Lugosi's voice.
Had to have been when I was a kid, on old basic cable, maybe even at my grandparent's house.
Guess I remember it better than I thought.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

The film-

See? I told ya I'd get to this one (see "House of Frankenstein").

Lon Chaney Jr. is Wolfman, and Bela Lugosi is The Monster.

Yeah, see? "Ed Wood", got that all wrong, Lugosi in that mocked The Monster like the role wasn't good enough for him to touch, but, he played him!

Anyway, this is the original "Freddy vs Jason". don't get the fight until the very, very, VERY end, and it's less than a minute, and then a dam breaks, and washes the whole Frankenstein castle away, taking The Monster, and The Wolfman with it.

The end.

The history-

Rewatched this recently to jog my memory, but, I saw this as a kid.

Anyway,"Freddy vs Jason", comparisons kept jumping out at me as this played, and, it was unavoidable, especially since Robert Englund himself compared them.

The Wine Festival could be updated to the rave, all kinds of things line up.

When the end credits rolled, I even hummed some of Il Nino's "how can I live".

...all the drugs in meee, all the bugs in meee, how caaan I liiive without youu...bada-dada, badda, bum-bum, ba-dada!

See? There I go again.

House Of Frankenstein (1944)

The film/history-

See here.

Um, I've seen these again now, one is weak-sauce.

All right, first of all, Lon Cheny Jr's Lawrence Talbot/Wolfman is the star from "...meets the Wolfman", onward.
He's really the center of all the plots.
Think of him as the Robert Downey Jr. of the monster-verse.

Also, from here on out, Glenn Strange is The Monster.

Okay, the plot is, Talbot/Wolfman wants to be cured, Karloff wants to revive The Monster (both were frozen in arctic ice under the castle after the last one, and thawed), so, Karloff is going to give Wolfman a new brain (wouldn't that kill his personhood?) his hunchback assistant wants Talbot's body, and...The Monster just sort of hangs out on the slab until  the very, very end.

Killed by sunlight a few minutes into the flick, and never seen again.
He has no interaction with the other monsters at all.

Wolfman gets gut-shot by a silver bullet, and never fights The Monster, and The Monster is chased into quicksand, and drags Karloff down with him.

Another "ppt!", ending.

House Of Dracula (1945)

The film/history-

See here.

Even schlockier than the last one.

You get more Dracula this time, but...okay, this is when continuity really goes to shit.

There's no explanation for how Dracula came back from being skeleton-ized by sunlight, and no explanation for why Talbot/Wolfman survived the silver bullet.
They're just back.

So, you can almost go "okay, we're just going to pretend a whole other missing movie's worth of shit happened, and let it go".

Except, they find The Monster underground out the other end of the quicksand pit, still clutching the skeleton of Karloff's character.

Well...dammit, they acknowledge continuity there, that just even MORE fucks up the continuity with Dracula, and Wolfman!

Anyway, a bunch of stupid shit happens, Wolfman is cured with pseudo-science that'll make you howl, Dracula is skeleton-ized again, and The Monster is revived again, at the very, very, end, and then, the house burns down, and collapses on him, rapid cut to credits, the end, pppt!!

And, once again, the monsters never share screentime interacting.


Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The film/history-

See here.

Well...better than the two goddamned "house of...", flicks....

So, Lugosi is back as we get explained how he un-skeletonized?
Hell no.

Do we find out what happened to The Monster after the house fell on him?
Hell no.

Do we find out why the pseudo-science cure for Wolfman has apparently failed?
Hell no.
Well, that one, we can chalk up to it being stupid bullshit quackery.

Anyway, cute flick.
It's the first of the "Abbott and Costello meet...", series.

I kept thinking all through it "Ghostbusters".

It's the same thing!
The mixing of the comedians with the monsters, the whole deal!
Except "Ghostbusters", they made up their own guys.

So...I guess that style of hybrid was revived, just not so directly.

And..dig this...the monsters interact!!

Dracula revives The Monster, Dracula fights The Wolfman!
There we go!
Was that so hard??

Oh, and at the very end, The Monster walks out on a dock, and the dock is burned with gasoline, and he crumbles through into the lake.
That really evokes the ending of "Freddy vs. Jason".
Yup, someone did their homework.

Aaand, that's it, that was the end of the Frankenstein series.

We never saw him get up out of that lake.

...unless you count "Monster Squad".

Then, he ends up in limbo.

Tsk...poor bastid, never catches a break....

Up next, Hammer again.

1 comment:

Diacanu said...

Forgot to continue the thread of the title confusion all the way through, but it boils down to this.

Abbott and Costello fucked it up.

"Bride", started it though.

"Son", it's the son of Dr. Frankenstein.

"Ghost", there's an obligatory ghost of Dr. Frankenstein, but, it could be a hallucination, and, it's more a metaphor of his legacy.

"...meets Wolfman", there's a Lady Frankenstein who meets Larry Talbot.

"House of...", it's a Frankenstein house.

"House Of Dracula", you don't even gotta worry.

But..."Abbott and Costello meet..", there's no Frankenstein family member, or anything.
The creature flat out becomes Frankenstein.

So, those guys, they did it.
Blame them.

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