Tag: James Whale

October 25, 2016 / / Main Slate Archive

Our film opens in a spacious and decadent turn of the century study, the looming windows holding the horrors of a storm at bay. Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) stands looking out, noting how it is “the crudest savage exhibition of nature”, a commentary nonetheless on Mary Shelley’s noteworthy success of Frankenstein. Or perhaps it’s both a meta-statement that also works to scrutinize the societal place women must adhere to, one that still resonates to this day.

Our Lord, who proclaims himself England’s greatest sinner amongst an angel, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester), regards the frightful storm as nature’s applause for both a sinner and a poet, Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton). It’s Mary, sitting quietly underneath the presence of men, who finds the thunder alarming. Her gown’s aura, angelic in quality, contrasts the dark nature of Mary’s mind, which pieced together the monster that terrorized a village in James Whale’s 1931 precursor, Frankenstein.

October 1, 2015 / / Main Slate Archive

Clad in a wool coat, dark glasses, and a mask of tattered bandages, a man trudges down a blizzard stricken road towards a rowdy country inn. The revelers inside fall silent as the man enters, and after he retires to a bedroom they can still speak only of him and the mystery of his hidden features. Soon enough, the man’s private and hateful demeanor compels the others to throw him out, and that is when he reveals his true self. “I’ll show you who I am and what I am,” he shouts, plucking off his glasses and prosthetic nose to reveal gaping holes in his head, like the cavities of a skull. With a mad cackle, he unravels his bandages to expose the frightened onlookers to his missing visage, to the invisible face of THE INVISIBLE MAN.

April 4, 2007 / / Film Notes

Though we often forget it, the Universal horror films of the 1930s are among the most enduringly iconic in the history of cinema. Look around next Halloween and consider it. A great majority of the representations of Dracula, from costumes to dolls, will be in the likeness of Bela Lugosi, and the ubiquitous green-skinned, square-headed images of Frankenstein’s monster will be derived from Boris Karloff in his makeup. Universal’s classic monster movies have long since made the rare and momentous leap from the screen to the collective subconscious. You needn’t have seen the films to recognize the characters and or even quote them offhand, imitating the accent of Lugosi’s vampire count or the exultant “It’s alive!” spouted by Colin Clive’s Dr. Frankenstein. The films have been imitated and lovingly parodied through the years, and, in the realm of pop culture, their representations of the famous monsters have largely superseded even the novels from which the creatures originated. Perhaps it is appropriate then that The Bride of Frankenstein, the 1935 sequel that ranks as perhaps the most highly-regarded of all the classic Universal horror films, introduces another truly iconic – and this timely wholly original – monster in Elsa Lanchester’s characterization of the eponymous Bride.