- And You Thought It Would Fail: Both inverted and straight. On one hand, the film was expected to get at least some good critics given its casting, respected source material and reportedly good visuals and soundtracks, but it ended up becoming a fest of goofiness instead. On the other hand, De Niro was thought to be awfully miscast as The Creature, but he ended up giving the best performance in the entire film.
- Broken Base: The decision to have Victor revive Elizabeth as the Bride. Those who wanted this to be a Truer to the Text adaptation call foul on something that does not appear in the book at all - and there are fan edits removing that sequence. However, others think this is a great added touch, acting as an even better Face Heel Door Slam for Victor - not to mention Elizabeth choosing to die gives the character a bit more agency.
- Ham and Cheese: Everyone is really over-doing it. Even De Niro's performance, as appropriately subdued in a world where everybody else, including the movie's soundtrack itself, hams it up gives us the line: "I will have REVEENGE! Frankensteiin!!". But averted by John Cleese of all people.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Though Igor never appears, as he was a Canon Foreigner for the Universal movies, Tom Hulce plays Henry, who takes the role of Victor's friend and partner. Two years later, he actually would play a famous fictional hunchback.
- Helena Bonham-Carter spends the movie as an upper class period female and then ends it as essentially the Bride of Frankenstein. Oddly symbolic of how her typecasting would change - from English Roses in period dramas to dark nutcases.
- Jerkass Woobie: Mrs Moritz is a horrible nag, treating Justine horribly throughout the whole film. Her Heel Realization comes however when an angry mob hangs her daughter in the street. She's crying hysterically and trying to pull her down, all while the mob is still throwing things at the body.
- Narm: Most of the acting, especially given the tonal mismatch in regards to the the source material that the film's adapting.
- Narm Charm: From the abrupt tonal shifts to the campy dialogue, the movie invites a lot more laughs than the creator probably intended. That said, it does have genuinely unsettling moments both in spite and because the hystrionism of the medium.
- The Creature's "birth" — a shirtless Kenneth Branagh and a nude Robert de Niro... rolling around on the floor... in embryonic fluid. Speaking of which, there's the manner in which Victor got said fluid, which involved paying midwifes to give him the amniotic fluids of women who have just gone into labor...
- Victor's waltz with dead and revived Elizabeth who not only has grotesque stitches, but also parts of skin from her head burned off, showing parts of her bloody skull.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many complaints were directed at The Creature now having the ability to talk. Said complainers were unaware that The Creature did in fact learn how to talk in the book, and would monologue for chapters pondering its existence.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously:
- Robert De Niro of course, despite people being shocked at him of all people playing The Creature. He studied stroke victims so he could get a sense of The Creature's developing speech patterns.
- Helena Bonham Carter is a close second, turning in a very layered performance as Elizabeth. Unshaved Mouse felt she improved the character from the source material.
- WTH, Casting Agency?:
- Robert de Niro, who is typically typecast in gangster/cop flicks, plays The Creature, which raised a lot of eyebrows at the time. However, a great chunk of movie-goers consider him to be the best thing about this film, if not even the only good thing.
- John Cleese in a completely serious role as Professor Waldman was a touch jarring too. Though he too is considered surprisingly brilliant in such a part.
- Ugly Cute:
- The revived Elizabeth, played by a young Helena Bonham-Carter. Short fluffy hair, one very sad eye, and a trembling lower lip. Aww, sweetie.
- The Creature, who's given enough sympathetic human qualities to be endearing, and Robert De Niro's features are still quite pleasing underneath the make-up.
- The Woobie: This version really amps up how horribly Justine is treated by her mother, and yet she's one of the kindest characters in the movie. Just look at the scene where she's out searching for Willy. And even worse than the book - where she falsely confesses to the murder and gets executed - the townspeople break into the jail before the trial can even happen and hang her in the street!
YMMV / Mary Shelley's Frankenstein