October 13, 2016

Frankenstein (1931)

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(A Note from Derek: It should be noted that we refer to Dr. Frrankenstein as Henry throughout the show despite the IMDb cast list showing Colin Clive as playing Victor Frankenstein. This is all Jake's fault. When I first said the name Victor, Jake corrected me, telling me that the character was, for some reason, called Henry. He sounded so sure of himself that Larry and I took him at his word without going back to make sure he was right. I now know that we should have. Henry is not the name of any major character in this movie. So, as you listen, every time you hear one of us--usually me--refer to "Henry", what I really mean is "Victor". And when we refer to "Victor", we also mean "Victor". It's really confusing. Jake would be made to sit on his punishment stool for this transgretion, were it not for the fact that he enjoys it too much.)

Once again, we return to the source of what are purported to be the classics of horror, and this week the guys have a winner!

They sat down and watched the 1931 Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein, which is the story of a not-particularly-sane scientist named Victor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his spunky assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) as they attempt to undermine Nature and whatever god it is that they feel the need to believe in. How do they do this, you ask? By collecting dead dudes and stitching bits of them together to make a whole new person!

Ish...It's alive-ish...
Victor's fiancee, Elizabeth (Mae Clarke) is a little worried about him based on some disturbing letters she has received from him. So she recruits Victor's friend (John Boles), who is also named Victor, and Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), to speak to Victor's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr) about their concerns.

Baron Frankenstein is busy getting their little village ready for Victor and Elizabeth's wedding, with the help of the Burgomeister (Lionel Belmore), and he doesn't have time for all of this silliness, so Elizabeth, Victor, and Dr. Waldman decide to go to the abandoned windmill where Dr. Frankenstein has set up shop. When they arrive, he is not interested in seeing them, being as he's going to be trying to bring a piecemeal corpse to back to life. However, they complain and bitch and while until he lets them in to watch him mocking the universe.

Fritz, you're limber...Skitter
up there and get that, will you?
Things seem to be going well with the experiment, and before long, Victor's Creation (Boris Karloff) is up and moving around, being fascinated by the little things, such as sunlight. And it appears that Victor's experiment worked...

...at least until that idiot Fritz comes running in with a torch and basically sticks it in the Creation's face, freaking it out--a quite reasonable reaction, really. But everybody treats it like the Creation just suddenly went off for no good reason, and Dr. Waldman immediately wants to kill it. What a dickweed.

Instead, Victor locks the Creation in its cell and goes about his business. But it seems the door wasn't locked that well, because the Creation breaks out almost immediately, and it goes for a stroll in the woods, where it comes across a little girl whose father left her home alone so he could go get hammered at the wedding and then come home, throw up in his daughter's bed, and then pass out with his pants off in front of the fire.

Nothing to worry about here!
The little girl doesn't feel threatened by the Creation and tries to befriend it. She shows it how she throws flowers in the nearby river (this is pre-television, so kids had to make up their own fun), and all seems to be going well until the Creation runs out of flowers and chucks the little girl into the river, where she drowns.

Over at Victor and Elizabeth's wedding celebration, things are getting pretty crazy; the Baron is getting the help hammered, Victor is nervously anticipating his wedding night, and the guy who left his daughter alone is now carrying her lifeless corpse through the streets on his way to the Burgomeister's home, where the townsfolk (the village people?) divide into three groups to find whoever or whatever it is that killed the girl.

(It shoulds be noted that Victor was put in charge of one of the groups and could easily have admitted that he had a pretty good idea what caused this, but he is suspiciously silent on the matter.)

Theirs was a forbidden love...
While traipsing through the woods, the Creation (now referred to by the rest of the cast as "The Monster") hears Victor coming and attacks him, delivering a savage beating and dragging his unconscious body to yet another abandoned windmill so it can finish administering Victor's beatdown in quiet privacy, at least until the villagers show up.

And when they do show up, all hell breaks loose. Victor and the Creation struggle against each other, ending up outside on the upper deck of the windmill, where the Creation picks Victor up and throws him over the railing and down to the ground. The villagers drag him away to safety, stopping only to set the windmill on fire with the Creation inside.

This is all Fritz's fault.
Will the Creation escape, once again able to terrorize on the vaguely European hillbillies of the village until it is able to exact its revenge on Victor himself? Will Victor and Elizabeth be married, even though the Creation that Victor built kinda sorta tried to murder Elizabeth? Will the Baron finally get the help drunk enough to give up the good stuff, despite the horrible symbiotic goyter on the side of his neck, thus allowing him to avoid several costly sexual harrassment suits? Will Fritz ever find a Posture Pal? You'll have to listen to find out!

Jake liked the movie, but he was concerned about the force with which Victor was thrown from the top of the windmill. Or, more specifically, the dummy that was a stand-in for Victor. He also is impressed with the way the film was shot, citing several particular scenes that were especially effective. He also thinks Fritz is kind of a dick.

Larry also enjoyed the movie. He did, however, have to drop some serious science on the scene in which Fritz cuts a corpse down from a gallows in the beginning of the movie. By his calculations, the corpse reached terminal velocity in about six feet, and hit the ground so hard that it should have left a hole in the ground that reached about halfway down to the core of the planet.

Derek also liked the way the film looked, and he felt that this was the movie that Dracula should have been. He felt that the Creature was played so well by Karloff that you have no choice but to feel sympathy for it. If he had to choose one thing that bothered him about the movie, it has to be that the sky was too wrinkly.

So tighten those bolts, fire up the lab equipment, and give life to this week's episode!