Together with his assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye), Henry Frankenstein (Colin
Clive) is collecting fresh corpses, & he isn't even too peculiar where he
gets them from - be it a freshly digged grave or the gallows aside the road.
why is he doing it (as if you wouldn't know) ?
He wants to create life on his
own, play god, of course.
His fiancée Elisabth (Mae Clarke) & his best
friend Victor (John Boles) are worried sick in the meantime, so they decide to
go after him, visit him in his lab located in a clocktower in Goldstadt &
persuade him to come back to his ancestral home - & to put some emphasis on
their claim, they take his old professor Waldmann (Edward Van Sloan) with them:
arrive however at the worst possible moment, when the thunderstorm Henry needs
to generate enough energy to put the spark of life into his stitched up body is
already in full swing ...
At first Henry refuses to even grant them access to
his lab, & when he finally lets them in, they see before them someone
resembling a raving madman ... his experiment, however, to bring a lifeless
body to life, proves to be a success, even if Henry's creation proves to be a
monster (Boris Karloff).
Weeks later, back at castle Frankenstein, Henry's
father, the Baron (Frederick Kerr), gets rather impatient for his son still
hasn't returned from Goldstadt when he already wants to prepare the boy's
wedding to Elisabeth. So he decides to pay a visit to his son himself ...
Henry's lab in the meantime, Henry tires to educate his creature, but all he
does manage is to find out the creature is terribly afraid of fire & tends
to get violent when confronted with it - because of which, Henry soon changes
his creature up, much to the pleasure of Fritz, who takes the opportunity to
torture it with a whiplash and fire ... until Fritz gets to close & the
creature kills him. Only with the greatest of efforts can Henry, Victor &
Waldmann wrestle the creature down, sedate it with some infusion & get it
our of sight before the Baron arrives at the lab ... to see his son have a
Again, weeks later: While at the Frankensteins' castle the
preparations for Henry's wedding to Elisabeth are in full swing, professor
Waldmann back in goldstadt runs some last tests on the creature, then plans to
destroy it ... but the creature has some ideas of his own & kills waldmann
instead, then escapes the clocktower & wanders the countryside. At an
idyllic river, he spots little Maria (Marilyn Harris), who invites him to play
with her. Visibly touched by the cute girl the monster sits down beside her
& together they throw flowers into the water to watch them float. When they
are out of flowers, the monster innocently throws Maria into the water to watch
her float ...
Henry's & Elisabeth's wedding is about to begin, when
Elisabeth's father carries her drowned body into town, demanding vengeance.
& as if that wasn't enough, the monster even gains access to the
Frankensteins' castle & threatens Elisabeth before he is chased off by
Henry, Victor & company.
The mayor (Lionel Belmore) of the village soon
deicdes to form a posse of torch-carrying villagers & has them swarm out to
find whoever killed poor little Maria, but during the search, Henry gets
seperated from the others & suddenly has to face the monster on his own,
who promptly knocks him out & carries him to an old mill, where they are
finally cornered by the angry mob of villagers, who waste no time using the
torches they have brought & set the mill on fire.
The monster dies, Henry
is saved though when the monster throws him out of the mill in order to kill
him, but one of the mills wings stops his fall ...
genuine classic of both the horror genre & early talking pictures in
general, that was initially produced merely to cash in on the unexpected
success of Dracula from a few months earlier - & Bela Lugosi was
even supposed to play the monster but declined -, but it soon overshadowed that
movie in both popularity and quality.
Contrary to Dracula, that,
despite its moments of ingeniuity, often looked exactly like the stageplay
brought to film it was, Frankenstein had a very cinematic feel to it
from beginning to end, with breathtaking sets that always reflected the
on-screen goings-on perfectly (even if they are a bit cheesy at times), a
wonderful Kenneth Strickfaden-lab, revolutionary make-up affects and one of the
best casts ever assembled in a horror pic.