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Film: Frankenstein (1931)
" You have created a monster and it will destroy you!"

Henry Frankenstein: Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!
Victor Moritz: Henry, in the name of God!
Henry Frankenstein: Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror film produced by Universal Studios and directed by James Whale, based very loosely on Mary Shelley's classic novel of the same name. It immortalized Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein's Monster.

Along with Karloff, it stars Colin Clive as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, Mae Clarke as his fiancée Elizabeth, Dwight Frye as Fritz and Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Waldman.

Here's a quick summary:

Obsessed with creating life, Dr. Frankenstein robs bodies with the help of his hunchbacked assistant Fritz and sews the best pieces together. After the legendary creation scene, he finds out from Dr. Waldman that the brain he used on the creature is in fact a criminal brain and is convinced that it should be destroyed. However, it escapes and starts wreaking havoc in the countryside, prompting the local townsfolk to grab torches and pitchforks and chase it down.

Frankenstein was followed by a series of sequels, most notably Bride of Frankenstein in 1935 and Son of Frankenstein in 1939.

Frankenstein's Monster is also one of the 8 Major Universal Monsters.

This film is alive with the following:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval switch first names in the film.
  • Anachronism Stew: Intended by James Whale, who fostered for this and Bride of Frankenstein a sort of Alternate Universe which mixed deliberately and freely the aesthetics of the early 1800s (the time that Mary Shelley wrote the original novel) and the '30s.
  • And Call Him George: The childlike monster, while innocently playing with a little girl, gets too enthusiastic and throws her in the river, where she drowns. This was considered so disturbing in the 1930s that the scene was cut right as the Creature is reaching for the girl, skipping to her father carrying her dead body. This made the implications of the scene much worse.
  • Artistic License - Physics: Frankenstein claims that his big scientific breakthrough came when he discovered a form of radiation higher in the spectrum than "the ultraviolet ray", thus proving that ultraviolet was not "the highest color in the spectrum". "Ultraviolet" is neither a color nor a specific type of ray—it's an umbrella term for all forms of radiation that are of too high a frequency to be visible (i.e. "higher than violet", since violet is the highest visible frequency of light). A form of radiation "higher than ultraviolet" is a contradiction in terms.
    • Granted, people today still make that mistake.
  • Asshole Victim: Fritz.
    • Also, Dr. Waldman. Though he promised Henry he'd kill the Monster "painlessly", it's shown he's actually just keeping the Monster sedated so he can vivisect him. The Monster promptly wakes up and strangles Waldman.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Henry's "Now I know what it feels like to be God!", which drew so much ire in its time from Christians that it had to be cut.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Edward Van Sloan's "friendly warning" before the credits.
  • Character as Himself: Boris Karloff is credited as "?"
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: The reason for the existence of Victor in the film as, in the original cut, Henry had been killed.
  • Dead Unicorn Trope: Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant in the first movie was named Fritz, not Igor. And he had no assistant, hunchbacked or otherwise, in the book.
  • Death by Adaptation: Dr. Waldman.
  • Instant Sedation: An early example, where the (very large and very angry) Creature is brought down with a single (likewise very large) injection in the back.
  • It's Going Down: This trope probably started with the windmill.
  • Kill It with Fire: The movie ends with the Monster trapped in a burning windmill.
  • Oh Crap: The look on Henry's face after Dr. Waldman tells him he used a criminal's brain in his experiment.
  • Shout-Out: Henry Frankenstein isn't quite an Expy, but his theatrics definitely bring to mind Nikola Tesla's Large Ham tendencies.

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