A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film has some frightening moments; just the concept of men playing God may frighten some children. A persecuted monster inspires pity. The very young may find the monsters, crypts, and a laboratory crackling with electricity unnerving. Grave robbing, murder, tinkering with nature are the film's main themes. This film might scare grade-school kids out of their jammies, but that's why they'll want to watch it. But it's best for older kids and preteens, who will probably get fewer scares and more laughs out of it than younger kids will. Still, parents may want to remain close by. There's enough suspense, pathos, and intentional humor here to make this great fun for everybody. Seeing Frankenstein and Pretorius at work in the laboratory might spur children to invent something of their own.
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What's the story?
Believing the monster he created to be dead at last, believing himself "cursed for delving into the mysteries of life," Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) swears to never again dabble in the reanimation of dead tissue. But fellow mad scientist Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) has other plans, and twists Frankenstein's arm quite forcibly to gain his cooperation in a most unwholesome experiment. The monster (Boris Karloff) is very much alive, as it turns out. Hunted, lonely, fearing for his life, he has taken to the woods to escape humanity, and yet his own human heart yearns for companionship. And therein lies Pretorius's unnatural plan -- to build the monster a mate.
Is it any good?
Stylish direction, a well-paced script, and a story that doesn't take itself too seriously make this classic as enjoyable now as it was in 1935. James Whale directed his last horror movie, with wit, style, and a grand sense of graveyard humor that elevates it high above most of the other Universal monster pictures of the era. Karloff makes the monster a pitiable creature, one children and adults will have no trouble empathizing with.
Yet, the movie's most touching scene, in which a blind hermit befriends him, is almost as funny as Mel Brooks' parody of it in Young Frankenstein. The stormy laboratory scene in which the bride creature (played by Elsa Lanchester) comes to life is thrilling. Even though she lives for but a few brief minutes of screen time, her electrified hairdo, staring eyes, and mechanical jerks won her an honored and well-deserved place in Hollywood's classic monster showcase. For all but the most timid viewers, there's much more to enjoy here than there is to be frightened of.
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