Universal's "Frankenstein" series
Universal wasn't a studio with the same kind of clout or aspiration as Warner
or MGM had in the early days of Hollywood sound film. There was a raw "give the
people what they want" or, at least "give the people something startling" ethos
behind its embrace of the horror picture. "Frankenstein," the James Whale-directed 1931
monster classic, took considerable liberties with its literary source and
created a sensation by initially hiding the identity of the actor who played the
monster; Boris Karloff had been an idiosyncratic character
player prior to this break. The movie had audiences fainting with fright, and by
the time the literate, witty sequel, "Bride of Frankenstein," hit screens in
1935, Karloff was a one-name star. 1939's "Son of Frankenstein," affectionately
parodied by Mel Brooks in the great "Young Frankenstein," was the last to feature
Karloff as the monster. The less physically prepossessing Lon Chaney Jr. took
over monster duties for 1942's "Ghost of Frankenstein," a decent B-picture.
Obviously Chaney couldn't do that for 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,"
as Lon had originated the role of Larry Talbot, the unfortunate lycanthrope.
This led to one of the oddest bits of casting in all of horror, making short
Bela Lugosi into the monster. The first monster-mashup movie still worked,
though. 1944's "House of Frankenstein," while not particularly distinguished,
remains a fun showcase for a over a half-dozen classic horror actors.
Bing: More about 'Frankenstein' | More about Boris Karloff
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