Critics Consensus

Still unnerving to this day, Frankenstein adroitly explores the fine line between genius and madness, and features Boris Karloff's legendary, frightening performance as the monster.



Total Count: 46


Audience Score

User Ratings: 41,527
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Movie Info

"Frankenstein" is a film about a mad, obsessed scientist, Dr. Henry Frankenstein", who creates a monster, by taking body parts from dead people. Upon placing a brain inside the head of the monster, Henry and his assistant Fritz are amazed that the experiment is alive. When the monster mistakenly kills Maria, a young girl he meets down by the river, the town is up in arms and aims to bring the monster to justice. They find the monster and his creator in an old windmill, where the monster is attempting to kill his maker.

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Colin Clive
as Henry Frankenstein
Boris Karloff
as The Monster
Mae Clarke
as Elizabeth
John Boles
as Victor Moritz
Edward Van Sloan
as Dr. Waldman
Frederick Kerr
as Baron Frankenstein
Lionel Belmore
as Herr Vogel, Burgomaster
Michael Mark
as Ludwig, Peasant Father
Marilyn Harris
as Maria, the Child
Arletta Duncan
as Bridesmaid
Pauline Moore
as Bridesmaid
Francis Ford
as Villager
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News & Interviews for Frankenstein

Critic Reviews for Frankenstein

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (8)

Audience Reviews for Frankenstein

  • Oct 23, 2016
    This classic has its place in film history, but both times I've watched it (separated by many years), I've struggled to stay interested. There are a couple of iconic moments, including the fast cut to tight shots on Boris Karloff as we first see Frankenstein's monster. However, after some great initial scenes in the graveyard, the direction by James Whale often takes us away from scenes of interest or tension, and doesn't delve deeply enough into the darkness of 'playing god'. Instead we get silliness, such as the assistant getting the jar marked 'Abnormal Brain'. This one hasn't aged well, and I would 1932's 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' instead.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 22, 2014
    Still unnervingly scary after more than 80 years, James Whale's atmospheric macabre masterpiece maintains its vaulted place as the definitive Gothic horror film. As sloppy as Tod Browning's production of Dracula sometimes feels, this creature feature shows off a meticulousness in design and preciseness in tone and awareness in feeling. Every choice - from Franz Waxman's hypnotic score to Jack Pierce's iconic make-up design to Boris Karloff's sympathetic performance - helps to build the perfect beast. Also, whereas the ultimate vampire story (which was filmed the same year) didn't play with the author's underlying themes much, Frankenstein consistently dances with the theological and scientific concerns inherent in the source material, all with a sometimes gentle nuanced touch. Dirt literally gets tossed in the face of death. The maker compares himself to God. The 'son' of the creator gets crucified. This last measure, of course, wasn't taken directly from Mary Shelly's tome, but provided an appropriate coda to this brisk thriller. As the superior sequel makes clear, however, he wouldn't stay dead for long because Whale wasn't finished spinning his remarkable monster tale. In this unrated horror classic, obsessed scientist Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) inadvertently creates a monster (Boris Karloff) when he plays God by animating body parts from dead people. Expressionistic without being a piece of Expressionism, Whale's shadowy stony world defies period and place but becomes an unforgettable setting all of its own. A manic tour-de-force, Colin Clive falls seamlessly into this dark tapestry, as does the gleefully oddball Dwight Frye as Fritz the hunchback. Without Boris Karloffs instantly iconic turn, however, the project would have sunk faster than little ill-fated Maria in the lake. Bottom line: Hails from the Crypt
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2014
    A timeless classic, perhaps the most notable and influential of the Universal monsters, and even if more amusing than terrifying for today's standards, it remains a striking experience, with stunning visuals that owe their inspiration to German Expressionism.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 12, 2012
    Universal's "Frankenstein" is a treat to watch even today. Karloff's monster is brooding, at times scary - but we never lose sight of his heart, creating a tragic story for the ages.
    Joshua H Super Reviewer

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