Ever since I was very little, I have been completely obsessed with the Frankenstein mythos. Every year as a kid, I would wait for October, when all of the scary movies were on TV ( We didn't have Internet or Netflix back then), and I would watch every Frankenstein movie that was aired that year. I read Mary Shelly's novel when I was only ten, and just earlier this week, I finally read Max Landis' script for Victor Frankenstein, which will be released next year and will star Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. This film is going to be great, folks. The script was awesome, the story telling was amazing, I honestly think it's going to be a big blockbuster.
Today, as a celebration of the upcoming film, I'll be giving an extensive look at every version of the Frankenstein Monster in film from 1910 to 2014. If I leave anything out that you would like to have seen in this article, please let me know in the comments. If I get enough positive feedback, I will write a follow-up article. Let's begin, shall we?
I have not seen the three of the movies on this list, so I'll just put out pictures for now.
In Thomas Edison's silent film version of Frankenstein, the monster is played by Charles Ogle. Instead of being made from corpses, this monster is chemically made in a cauldron and has hair that would make Marge Simpson jealous. This is my least favorite portrayal of the monster in any adaptation.
The Universal films (1931-1948)
Undoubtedly the most well known version of the character, The Universal films' version of the monster appeared in eight films; Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of frankenstein, Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein. These films introduced the concept of the monster being animated by electricity, and gave him a square head and electrical bolts in the sides of his neck. He was portrayed in this series by Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr, Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange.
The Hammer Series (1957-1973)
The British Hammer series of Frankenstein series took a very different approach; Each film featured a new monster. In the first film, Curse of Frankenstein, the monster was played by Christopher Lee ( pictured above). Much like the first Universal film, the monster was portrayed as a mindless killing machine. Lee's rendition of the character really does look like a decaying corpse, and is without a doubt one of my favorite versions of the monster.
In the first sequel, Revenge of Frankenstein, the monster isn't initially a monster at all. Doctor Frankenstein Transplants the mind of a hunchback into a normal looking body made from amputated hospital patient parts. The operation is a success but, the creation's brain is damaged in a bar fight and for some odd reason, this causes him to mutate into a cannibalistic madman.
In the third film, Evil of Frankenstein, the monster is supposed to be the same monster that was played by Christopher Lee in the first film. However, Hammer made this film with Universal Studios, so they had the right to " replicate" the Universal Boris Karloff makeup. They didn't exactly do a good job though. The monster looks like an ape fell into a vat of plaster. That being said, it's still a pretty good film.
The fourth Hammer film, Frankenstein Created Woman, had the creature as a female, resurrected by implanting her former lover's soul into her body. This film is the best in the series in my opinion.
The next film, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, also featured one man's brain transplanted into another man's body. This film doesn't really bring anything new to the table, other than making Doctor Frankenstein an evil prick for no reason at all.
Horror of Frankenstein was a remake of Curse, and stayed true to the original pretty well. The monster is played by David Prowse, aka DARTH FREAKING VADER. Plus he uses an axe, so that's pretty cool I guess.
The final film in this series, Frankenstein and the Monster from hell, featured a standard Frankenstein Monster sewn together from corpses. He looks like an ape, and this is completely unexplained. The creature is once again played by David Vader Prowse.
Hammer also made a TV pilot for a Frankenstein series, called Tales of Frankenstein. It can be found directly below.
Another TV adaption was made around the same time for the show Tales of Tommorow, and starred a very drunk Lon Chaney.
Lady Frankenstein (1973)
I remember as a kid, thinking that this version of the monster was the most badass thing I had ever seen. the top of his head is held on with screws, and his right eyeball is disfigured when the lightning strikes his face. Corny film, but it did a good job of making the monster into a unstoppable killing machine.
Frankenstein: The True Story ( 1973)
This movie took heavy inspiration from the Hammer films, particularly Revenge of Frankenstein. The monster does start off as a normal looking man, but due to flaw in the process of his creation, his body begins to disintegrate. It's actually pretty freaky to watch.
Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)
okay... so this is a softcore Frankenstein porno film made by Andy Warhol. I won't spoil to much about it but I will say this; In order to know life, you must first F@&! death in the gallbladder. Enough said. By the way, in case you're getting bored at this point, we still have twelve more films to go on this list! :D
Terror of Frankenstein (1977)
Fairly faithful to the source material, Perr Oscarson answers the age old question for us, "What if Frankenstein was Swedish?"
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Design and the creation of the creature here are based on the original universal film, but those aren't the elements that make this monster good- Peter Boyle is what made the monster here so good! he's funny, he's horny, he's a tap dancing, cigarette smoking man about talent! This is not only one of the best Frankenstein movies, but also one of the best comedy films ever made. Definitely worth a watch or fifty.
The Monster Squad (1987)
Frankenstein's monster as a prostitute. All you need and want to know about this movie. Trust me. Oh yeah, and it's got exploding crack addicts.
So at this point, I've been writing for over an hour and I'm sure you're starting to lose some interest, so before I finish the list, I'm going to take a minute to give some details about the upcoming Victor Frankenstein movie. First off we know that the monster is in fact going to be based off of the Karloff makeup. In the script, a device called the Lazurus fork is used to ressurect the dead. This is done by attaching the ends of the fork to bolts that are hooked into the sides of the neck. Also, I believe the creature will be done with CGI, because this monster is going to be HUGE. How huge you ask? Well, his skull came from an ELEPHANT. he runs through the side of a stone castle, and is "manufactured" to be used as a supersoldier by the film's villains. The film will be told from the perspective of Radcliffe's Igor, a "hunchback" who Doc Frankenstein cures early on in the story by draining the fluid off of his spine. The whole film is based off of the American public's general idea of what frankenstein is about, and not the actual book.
Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
This Bizarre time travel version of the Frankenstein tale features Nick Brimble as the Monster. The film attempts to be somewhat relevant to the book, but the monster is way off. He is shown with large metal discs protruding from his skull, and even his eyeballs are stitched together, giving them a 1950's style War of the Worlds-esque martian look. This is an interesting film to watch, but the monster is played in a way we've seen countless times before.
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (1994)
Robert De Niro's version of the monster is definately in my top ten. He's Horrifying and gruesome, but also smart, and has a deep emotional background. I think as a character, this film really captured the character in a way that would make Mary Shelly happy.
The Bride (1985)
Rockstar Sting might have been given top billing for this film, but Clancy Brown's monster steals the show like you wouldn't believe. A sort of loose sequel to Bride of Frankenstein, this movie chronicles the adventures of Viktor the Monster after he is shunned by his creator. This film is one I could watch over and over again and never get bored of it. It doesn't have the certain vibe that most other Franken-Films have, but it dares to be different, and I love it.
This film is without a doubt the closest adaptation of the original book. With that being said, this film's version of the monster was pretty disappointing, mainly because he looks way,way too human. He looks how he is described in the book, but has no gruesome features whatsoever except for a scar on his forehead. His skin looks somewhat green in the picture above, but trust me, he doesn't look the hue at any point during this film. I give a ten out of ten for Luke Goss's acting, but a two out of ten for the makeup.
Dean Koontz's Frankenstein (2004)
This TV movie is a modern day sequel to the original novel, and has Vincent Perez as Deucalion, Frankenstein's original creation. He is seen with just one, less than disfiguring scar and has the ability to flow electricity through his body. That's about all that can be said for this unwatchable TV pilot.
Van Helsing (2004)
Shuler Hensley plays the monster in the 2004 film Van Helsing. His appearance is an update of the original Karloff make up, and includes electric brain and heart tanks attached to his body. An interesting fact- Mr Hensley went on to play the monster in the stage musical version of Young Frankenstein just a few years later.
Frankenstein Reborn (2005)
This 2005 Asylum Pictures film is by no means, a good movie. However, it is worth the watch for the sole purpose of seeing it's version of the monster. This film's creature is made by injecting nanobots into a corpse. This film's version also shares a psychic bond with Doctor Frankenstein, who previously used the same nanobots to access his own memories. Horrible film, but actor Joel Hebner does a great job playing the creature.
Well folks, it's been excruciating, so I really hope you enjoy this! Please let me know what you thought of this article in the comments below- Thanks for reading!
The Frankenstein Syndrome (2011)
In this modern day adaption, the monster is man who is ressurected with a new chemical compound that grants him access to the entire 100 percent of his brain. He can read people's minds and get this- he turns WATER INTO FREAKIN' WINE. This film is like Re-Animator crossed with Jurassic Park and the Bible. all I can say is give it a watch. It's worth it.
Frankenstein's Army (2013)
The reason this entry has no picture, is because there is literally an entire army of creations in this film. Here they are called "zombots", and I'll admit, they are scary as hell. Picture a Nazi zombie with giant metal mosquito legs and a giant power drill for a face. That's just one example of the many zombots.
Penny Dreadful (2014)
In the new series, Penny Dreadful, the monster's name is Caliban and he is played by Rory Kinnear. His Story is different, but is in my opinion, the perfect version of Mary Shelly's description. Look at those yellow eyes- they give me the chills every time I see him on screen.
Frankenstein: Day of the Beast (2011)
So this film is a combination of the original novel and the hammer horror films. It's a cheap film, but it's descent. This film's monster is a minion of the devil who can pull himself back together when dismembered. Cool, right?
The Frankenstein Theory (2013)
Not a lot can really be said about this movie's version of the creature, because we don't even see him until the last 20 seconds of the film, and even then, it's very fast and out of focus. It is hinted at one point in the film that he was made by the illuminati using turtle DNA. Kinda lame but it's a good watch for when you're hanging out with friends late at night.
So this rare TV movie ( the only place I've ever been able to find it is divided into six parts on youtube) has the monster as a mutated genetic clone of Doctor Frankenstein's son. about three quarters of the way through the film, the monster is given neck bolts giving him a more traditional appearance.
I, Frankenstein is a direct sequel to Shelly's original book. In modern day, The Monster, now having taken the name Adam, teams up with a clan of angelic gargoyles to fight an army of demons. most people didn't like this movie but personally, I loved it. It was good in an Evil Dead II sort of way.