Top 10 Frankenstein Flicks!
So, who's pumped for I, FRANKENSTEIN coming out this week? To be honest, as much as I dig the sick Doctor's age old creation of the patchwork zombie with moral shadings - I kind of think this new Aaron Eckhart joint looks pretty silly. I mean, a PG-13 January release? Not very promising in my opinion. Unfortunate, again, mainly for the rich tradition of such a venerated character born onscreen in 1931. And just as fascinating as the character itself is how the monster has evolved and been treated over the decades...just as Hollywood has...through the production code on up. By the time the 70s hit, my man was doing all kinds of dirt. Ah hell, let's just go ahead and celebrate the big-green-blockheaded-monster the way this new movie ought to. Click above to peep our Top 10 Frankenstein flicks!
Perhaps our most unheralded of the bunch, has anyone seen Roger Corman's 1990 film FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND? Pretty f*cking solid flick! I mean, it's not often Corman gets the A-list likes of John Hurt and Raul Julia, not to mention Bridget Fonda and Jason Patric. Sure, maybe back in the 60s and 70s, when dude was making careers out of Scorsese, Demme, Nicholson, Dern and Hopper. But 1990? Credit goes to the script by Corman and F.X. Feeny, adapting the story from Brian Aldiss' novel of the same name. True talk, that's a hell of way for Corman to cap a 35 year directorial career!
After penning the script for THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1958 (which I almost included here, but thought it was Terrence Fisher overkill), Jimmy Sangster got a chance to direct his very own tale of the undead with THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN a dozen years later in 1970. More of a cheekily dark comedy than an out-and-out horror-show, many panned the film because it no longer starred Peter Cushing as the titular lead. Instead Ralph Bates got the call, starring in an R-rated romp with the familiar storyline we all know and love. Simple, the crazy doc starts assembling a corpse made of spare body parts, and when it reanimates with a low IQ, the sucker shreds the town red. Decent flick, too notable for being outside the 6 other Hammer films on Frankie.
Damn, I almost forgot De Niro played the hideous creation in MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN, directed by and also starring Kenneth Branagh in 1994. Certainly not the best of the bunch as far as overall FRANKENSTEIN flicks go - as it may be a tad too serious for its own good - but you can't front on the stellar cast that also includes Ian Holm, John Cleese, Aidan Quinn, Tom Hulce and Helena Bonham Carter. Make no mistake, it's an A-list production all around, except for the actual execution of the material done in a consistently entertaining manner. Too much drama and romance and not enough exploitative sleaze and horror, but it's still a pretty watchable flick.
Marking the first of five FRANKENSTEIN flicks the great English director Terrence Fisher would helm over his career - THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN also distinguishes a nice transition from the old Universal monster movies to the new Hammer Films formula. So instead of Karloff, Chaney and Lugosi...we're now rocking shite with famed English actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as Victor Frankenstein and his odious monstrosity. For those who haven't seen it, it's definitely a worthy entry on its own, never-mind the historical precedent of shipping the character overseas for a new crop of actors to play with. A new era is born!
No monster-mash is complete without Mel Brooks! Come on now, you already knew we'd be including the irreverent 1974 satire YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN on the attendance list. You bet your balls we would! Props to the great Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Peter Boyle for giving hilarious, subversive riffs on characters we know so well. No to mention Igor, played so funnily by Marty Feldman as one of the major comic foils not just this one, but in any film. Hell, you know you're doing something right when Gene Wilder, a longtime Brooks disciple, considers YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN as is favorite of his own films!
Okay, so I'm cheating a bit, but what the hell. A decade after having a blast on THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, director Terrence Fisher picked up the mantle and made an additional FRANKENSTEIN trilogy from '67-'73. And every flick in the bunch is worthy of seeing! Starting with FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN - where the baron is resurrected himself before doing the same for his suicidal daughter, moving on to FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED - where Frank performs the first brain transplant , and ending with FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL - the craziest of the bunch, in which Frank is hiding out in an insane asylum in order to keep on with his experiments of reanimation. Gnarly flicks, all!
Call it the FREDDY VS. JASON of its day...when Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. squared off in 1943...it was a must see event! Or really, Karloff and Bela Lugosi (who actually played the monster, as opposed to Chaney the Dr. Frank). On their own, both were epic hits for Universal a decade apart, but in 1943 the powers that be thought, what the hell, let's get these two in the ring and let them duke it out for good. We can thank the great screenwriter Curt Siodmak for scripting the monumental showdown between formidable foes. Sure it's a silly 1940s b-grade horror-action flick, but come on, there's nothing more entertaining than seeing two heavyweight legends collide!
Wow, has anyone seen the gloriously sleazy Andy Worhol's presents FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN? If not, do so ASAP. I clocked this sucker late one night with my pops a number of years ago, and we're laughing our asses off at the sheer perverse absurdity. The great Udo Kier stars in the flick as Baron Frankenstein, giving one of his slimiest turns I can ever recall. The flick is jointly directed by Paul Morrissey and Antonio Margheriti to outrageous delight, in a story that finds Frankenstein in search for the perfect mate for his erotic female creation. Of course, all kinds of wrongness ensues, in the most foul, heinous, violent and maddening ways possible. See it!
Well every good man needs a wife to stick his bolt into! Cue BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, made by James Whale only two years after he introduced the iconic monster to the world. Here though, the story omits what we believe to be inevitable in the original, that the monster was burned alive. Nope. And not only is he alive and well, my man's hornier than a drunk Fallon gallivanting through the French countryside. So, at the behest of a bat-shit accomplice, Dr. Frank sets out to create the perfect mate for his baby boy. But you think things go well? Not a chance in a hell. Props to Karloff and Whale for reprising their roles in what could have been a tacky throwaway sequel!
Can't have the others without the original, can you? As it happens though, for a movie made way the hell back in 1931, it's quite arguably still the best all time iteration of the maniacal Franken-monster to date. Seriously, James Whale's movie holds up extremely well! Of course, the great Boris Karloff deftly plays the sympathetic reanimated corpse, no scene better crystallized than the one where he briefly connects with the little girl before snapping into madness and chucking the chick in the drink. Such a beautiful scene. Sad, touching, tragic...brilliant! No doubt about it, the OG FRANKENSTEIN is as responsible for the wave of subsequent mash-ups as the doctor is for creating it!