Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who's The Best...Frankenstein Monster?



Karen: Cinematically speaking, which is your favorite version of the Frankenstein Monster? I've added some images to prompt you, but feel free to choose any movie (or even TV version) you like.































22 comments:

Kid said...

Karloff, followed by Strange.

david_b said...

Agreeing Karloff was the best, bringing the most tortured facial sensitivity to the role.

If you want 'depth' in your monsters, no one did it better.

Nowhere as subtle, but Peter Boyle did do a nice take on him in Brook's YF. Just a wonderful hommage to the classic horror genre, a surprise hit for 20th Century Fox.

And Brook's YF sits side-by-side the 1931 original in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. That speaks volumes for what's literally a '70's spoof.

(On a much lighter note, I suppose 'Frankenberry' commercial time doesn't count, eh..?)

Doug said...

David, if you're going to toss out Frankenberry, then I want to be the first to throw some love Fred Gwynne's way! I saw the Munsters long before I ever saw the original Karloff vehicle.

Doug

Anonymous said...

My vote goes to Michael Sazzarin in Frankenstein the true story. Not so much for his portrayal, but for the decision to make the creature beautiful to start with and then have him degrade. At no point in the book was Frankenstein trying to make a monster. It adds a whole new dimension to the story, and, indeed, to the horror, and means that the Baron and the Creature have a more, dare I say, fleshed out relationship.

Richard

Inkstained Wretch said...

What about Tom Noonan's creature from Monster Squad? Anyone?

dbutler16 said...

I liked the Kenneth Brannagh version, if only because it seemed pretty faithful to the book, at least as well as I remember it.

Anonymous said...

Karloff is still the definitive Frankenstein Monster. In all fairness, it should be noted that his successors (both at Universal and Hammer) did not have much to work with. In the later sequels and remakes, the Monster didn't really do much except shuffle around and wreck the laboratory. DeNiro in Kenneth Brannagh's version was the most faithful to the book, but lacked Karloff's pathos. As for parodies, Fred Gwynne and Peter Boyle were both very funny, in different ways.

Mike said...

I object! - I refuse to toss out Frakenberry from this discussion! As a child of the 70's he was my first exposure to regenerated life, and he was greatly influential in my breakfast cereal choices.

Also, another shout out to Peter Boyle. One of my all-time favs is Young Frankenstein.

I mean Franken"steen".

david_b said...

Soooooo, are we verging on a discussion regarding how the Breakfast Cereal Censors were apparently asleep at the wheel when 'the Undead' were bravely chosen as sugary spokesman for our vulnerable impressionable youth..

They were probably lulled over by the fruity marshmellows in every spoonful.

'Clever, devilishly clever', as Commissioner Gordon would have exclaimed.

J.A. Morris said...

Karloff was the best, probably always will be.

Fred W. Hill said...

Karloff's portrayal is definitive, naturally, and certainly the one a vast majority of people are familiar with even nearly 80 years after that classic film came out. And I love the comedic takes on Karloff's version by both Peter Doyle & Fred Gwynne. As for cartoon versions, I do recall watching the adventures of Frankenstein, Jr. on Saturday mornings when I was a little kid, although I don't remember much about them, but I have more distinct memories of Frankenberry and Count Chocula!
I'll have to check out Branaugh's more faithful adaptation of the story. DiNiro's portrayal may have indeed been more like what Mary Shelley had in mind when she wrote that story, nearly 200 years ago now. But most people will continue to think of Karloff in that suit and special make-up when the Frankenstein Monster comes to mind.

humanbelly said...

Say, was it also a universal experience (heh. . . "Universal". . .) for everyone here that they assumed for years and years that the monster himself was indeed the titular "Frankenstein"-? That that was in fact HIS name? I seem to remember getting into a heated argument with my buddy about that when we were kids. "No, it's not! It's the MONSTER'S name!!" "It isn't EITHER, you big doof-head! It's the mad SCIENTIST'S name!! It's HIS monster!!! DOCTOR Frankenstein?!?"

Universal Studios themselves punted on the issue, of course, by ultimately giving us FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE WOLFMAN. . . and I certainly don't remember Lon Chaney's shaggy behind duking it out with the good doctor's son. . . or grandson. . . or whatever it finally was. Nope, just a poorly-edited, embarrassed, and unenthusiastic Bela Lugosi as the Monster. (Probably among the weakest of the main portrayals, IMO.)

Karloff's still my favorite, but there've been lots and lots of good ones done in many styles. I've never seen the Christopher Lee's take in the early Hammer film. And I really, really did like the take they had with Shuler Hensley in VAN HELSING (a movie that I think no one but me liked very much. . . ).

HB

Anonymous said...

HB - I loved Van Helsing. Great fun and it looked superb. Somewhat non-canonical, to say the least. Must watch that again, actually.

Richard

Karen said...

Although I think Lugosi (and for that matter, Chaney Jr too) had the wrong facial structure for the Monster, Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman could have been a very different movie if Universal had not chopped out all of Lugosi's lines. Apparently they felt his accent made them comical. But the picture would have made a heck of a lot more sense.

humanbelly said...

Yep, totally agree, Karen. Along with chopping out all his lines (and why WOULDN'T he have an accent, for that matter? All of his body parts were native to Austria or Transylvania or Bavaria or whatever the heck quaint Easern European little backwater it was initially. . . ), am I remembering that they also edited out the explanation that the monster was now blind? So his inept lumbering (with little justification) just furthered the cliche' of this creaky, clumsy destruct-o-bot, as it were. When this film was featured on the cover of Famous Monsters of Filmland, that painting (really, a minor masterpiece) was far more riveting and dynamic than any moment in the film itself. The two monsters grappling, with Frank's arm cocked back, about to deliver a WHALE of a blow to Wolfie's kisser. . .

HB

humanbelly said...

Oh! And your comment on facial structure is exactly right, also. The built-up head structure wants to have a bit of a lantern jaw (or at least a prominent one) to balance it out-- otherwise it looks even more artificial-- even slightly comical. Karloff-- big jaw. Strange-- big jaw (well, back then-- put on a few pounds in later years & lost the jaw, heh.). Fred Gwynn-- jaw you could use as a hitching post. Ted Cassidy (as Lerch the Butler)-- a jaw you could crack walnuts against. Lugosi? Very weak chin and a smallish mouth. Chaney Jr.? Big, big face with a very round, round jawline.

Y'know, John Wayne, of all folks, probably could have pulled the look off very well. (If only he'd done that instead of "Ghengis Khan". . . )

HB again-

Anonymous said...

YoungFrankenstein's Peter Boyle---when he breaks the fourth wall, his expressions are priceless.

starfoxxx

Garett said...

Anyone here seen Hilarious House of Frightenstein? It was a kids' show in the '70s, made in Canada starring Billy Van and Vincent Price. Fantastic show! The main character was Count Frightenstein, "the thirteenth son of Count Dracula who was exiled to Castle Frightenstein in Frankenstone, Canada for failing to revive Brucie J. Monster, a Frankenstein-like monster."

Wacky, crazy fun with Van becoming all sorts of characters, from Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet to the Wolfman spinning records, to an ape getting knocked out by ping pong balls. I don't think he ever succeeded in animating the monster. Is this show known outside of Canada? It's a gem.

My other memory of Frankenstein was the Bill Cosby album with his story Buck Buck:
http://vimeo.com/23617933
Not quite on topic with movies, but funny!

Anonymous said...

I watched Hilarious House of Frightenstein every saturday morning when I was a kid; I liked Griselda the best, with all the weird ingredients she always threw in her potions.

We had a black & white TV then, so it was years before I realized Igor was actually green!

Mike W.

Kid said...

As Frankenstein was the 'father' of the monster (or 'creature', if you prefer), the appellation can rightfully be applied to both of them. I think that's the way Universal Pictures viewed matters.

Mike said...

Garett - In the days before cable tv I used to tune in Hilarious House of Frightenstein every Saturday coming out of London, Ontario across Lake Erie. Great stuff! ... although at the time I was pretty young so a lot of it went over my head. I just checked out some clips on YouTube and I remembered more than I thought. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Anonymous said...

Boris Karloff in the two James Whale movies. Everything else becomes diminishing returns.

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