September 20, 2010

Scarier than Frankenstein's Monster

This may come as a shock to some, but I just watched Frankenstein (1931) for the very first time only a few days ago. I have never been a big fan of the Universal Horror monsters, except for the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I guess this is because I have always associated them with the now-cliche, homogenized, cartoon versions of the creatures. The ones where Dracula goes "bleh bleh" and Frankenstein walks like a robot, slowly stomping his feet up and down. I was very surprised by what I saw in the original 1931 version. When Boris Karloff showed up as the monster, it was totally unlike the slow, goofy giant that has now become synonymous with the name. Karloff's monster was fast and quite emotive. He even ran! His screams while being burned alive at the climax were absolutely chilling.

However, there is one particular character that stuck out to me throughout the entire film.

Baron Frankenstein: The Meanest Old Man Ever?

This character, played by Frederick Kerr, has got to be the most curmudgeonly, bitter and nasty old man I have ever seen in a film. Almost every single line of dialogue he spits out is a gruff, irritated question...and never mind him waiting for the answer, he just asks another. I'll let this crusty, salty dog of a guy speak for himself.