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Did Anyone Else Watch SON OF FRANKENSTEIN? Anyone else unimpressed?


misswonderly3
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Did I hear Robert Osborne correctly last night, that *Son of Frankenstein* was his favourite of the three original Frankenstein films featuring Boris Karloff? Shirley not.

 

Let's face it, it stunk. Or, to be more diplomatic, it was much less riveting than its two predecessors. Yes, I like Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, and of course, Mr. Karloff. But it looked cheesey, there was little character development, and even less plot.

The best scene was the one in which the monster is staring at himself in the mirror in anguish, and gets Rathbone ( the son of the original Dr. Frankenstein) to look at the same time, and compare. It would be kind of comical, if it weren't so sad. But the filmmakers do not take advantage of this emotionally telling scene, and the rest of the film feels hobbled together.

 

 

Any thoughts?

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Nov 1, 2012 7:52 PM

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Yes....you're being overly-critical. ;)

 

I like all three of the Karloffstein films. Keep in mind that each one is decidedly different from the others...each one is unique. The only problem I have is when Atwill tells Rathbone "If you need me, you have only to ring the alarm bell in the tower and I shall hear it, wherever I may be"...and they NEVER do anything with that! It would have been great during the climax if one of the characters had gone up there and rung the bell, which would have been the reason for Atwill to show up at the castle near the end....but again, they never go anywhere with that idea.

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But SonofUniversalHorror, baby ( hmm, that doesn't sound quite right), ok, all three films are very different, but the first two have much more interesting stories.

 

 

 

 

For one thing, *Son of Frankenstein* set up expectations at its beginning that this time the monster would be more sentient, maybe even more articulate. But these expectations were never delivered.

As I said, the "mirror" scene says a lot. But they don't do anything with this, they don't build on it. It could have been so much more interesting if they'd let the monster be more "human" in his emotions, more intelligent even.

 

I think this has something to do with the fact that James Whale directed the first two, whereas *Son* was directed by someone else.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Nov 1, 2012 3:47 PM

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>Let's face it, it stunk.

 

I am in agreement. I found many scenes tedious...especially the scenes with the little boy crawling up on Rathbone's lap. This 99 minute film could've been trimmed to 75 minutes easily and still told the same story.

 

_My verdict:_ overrated and only for Universal horror enthusiasts who are willing to overlook a decline in quality.

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Well, you can look at Val Lewton's RKO horror films (much more superior in my opinion) and see that he also uses children to contrast the horror with innocence. It is a standard convention of the genre, but some productions do it better.

 

I thought THE MUMMY'S HAND was vastly inferior to Karl Freund's THE MUMMY.

 

In both cases, Universal was trying to extend a franchise, but the stories in the later installments are weak.

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I liked it! Rathbone and Lugosi were excellent and Atwill was good. The house was awesome, all those long halls and enormous rooms. It was to be filmed in color, but they changed their minds after a few test shots of the monster. Not as good as the first two but better than the following 5 if you include Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.

 

 

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:

> }{quote}This 99 minute film could've been trimmed to 75 minutes easily and still told the same story.

>

 

As I mentioned in another thread, there are prints that are actually almost two minutes longer! I guess if you think it's too long at 99 minutes, be thankful they didn't run the full-length version.

 

But, on that subject, with all the concern for restoration and the nice jobs they've done on so many others of the Universal horrors, one has to wonder why they've not restored and released the full-length SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.

 

 

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>But, on that subject, with all the concern for restoration and the nice jobs they've done on so many others of the Universal horrors, one has to wonder why they've not restored and released the full-length SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.

 

Universal has restored and released a DVD of the 101 minute full-length version. It is available for sale with THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN at Amazon and other outlets (see link below).

 

That means TCM was airing a cheaper, low-quality version last night.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Frankenstein-Universal-Studios-Double-Feature/dp/B00005LC4L/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1351802111&sr=1-1&keywords=thesonof+frankenstein

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I found some comments by a viewer at the IMDB who felt the movie fell flat. From Robert J. Maxwell:

 

Universal decided to take another crack at the horror film, which had faded during the 30s after the success of FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. The latter was so bad it was high camp.

 

What's different about this cheap movie is the production design and the set dressing. It borrows heavily from -- dare I say it? -- THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. I watched carefully and could find a scant handful of vertical lines in the movie. Houses lean drunkenly. Stark shadows appear at improbable angles.

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The two James Whale films were a tough act to follow. While I admire this film from a production design perspective, one can see why Karloff chose it to be his last.

 

The monster is now a prop, a mere killing machine for a crazed Ygor who steals the film from the higher-billed Rathbone and Karloff (in that order). Atwill also helps divert attention away from the top-billed pair even though Rathbone is on high octane fuel here, showing up as even more neurotic than Colin Clive. The prop-syndrome would continue for the rest of the series to the point where he spends most of the time on a slab, only to be revived for the final reel.

 

Yes, the film runs much too long, the next one would be about 30 minutes shorter with more monster footage by percentage but it gets silly with all of the planned brain-swapping mentioned in Siodmak's script. When the monster comes in with the little girl, seeking to have her brain put in his head, you wish that Siodmak would have found a new plot or maybe a new brain.

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> {quote:title=TopBilled wrote:}{quote}I found some comments by a viewer at the IMDB who felt the movie fell flat. From Robert J. Maxwell:

>

> Universal decided to take another crack at the horror film, which had faded during the 30s after the success of FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. The latter was so bad it was high camp.

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> What's different about this cheap movie is the production design and the set dressing. It borrows heavily from -- dare I say it? -- THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. I watched carefully and could find a scant handful of vertical lines in the movie. Houses lean drunkenly. Stark shadows appear at improbable angles.

>

Well, nothing wrong with that in itself -eg, expressionist lighting and sets. In fact, I love that, if it's done right.

Problem with *SOF* is, it just doesn't feel authentic somehow.

 

The thing about the whole Frankenstein story, if we are bearing in mind even a remnant of the original Mary Shelley novel, is the tragic nature of a creature brought into being by an all too human inventor playing "God". Even in *Son of Frankenstein*, this idea is explored a little. There is that scene in which Rathbone analyses the creature's biology, its cells, heartbeat, etc. And at one point he deduces that the monster was originally animated by "cosmic rays", whose existence apparently his father ( the original scientist) was unaware of.

So, we have this creature, brought to life by "cosmic rays", with a physiology quite different from humans', who clearly demonstrates some consciousness of its own aberrant nature. Right there is a lot of potential for plot and character development, not to mention a little philosophical musing. Yet this director (Rowland Lee) lets all this thematic richness lie fallow, and simply plays around with the huge empty castle setting, Lugosi's bitter characterization, and the angry townspeople cliche.

 

I can't help but wonder how this material would have turned out if James Whale had been its director.

 

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Nov 1, 2012 5:22 PM

 

 

I cheated and went back and corrected the spelling of "existence" ( which I'd had as "existance") after a fellow-poster (discreetly) alerted me to the error. I hate making spelling mistakes in public !

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Nov 2, 2012 3:46 PM

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> {quote:title=MovieMadness wrote:}{quote}If you go just be the title then it sounds like Frankenstein messed around out of wedlock.

You mean Dr. Frankenstein or the Monster? ;

 

Anyway, Wiki article on "Son of Frankenstein" refers to "British embargo on American horror films in 1936"? Wonder what that was all about?

 

Wiki article on film here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Frankenstein

 

 

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> {quote:title=RMeingast wrote:}{quote}

> Anyway, Wiki article on "Son of Frankenstein" refers to "British embargo on American horror films in 1936"? Wonder what that was all about?

Answering my own question here... But apparently there never was a "British embargo on American horror films in 1936."

 

 

Interesting article ("A horror picture at this time is a very hazardous undertaking:

Did British or American censorship end the 1930s horror cycle?" by Alex Naylor, PhD, from "The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies") debunks that myth here:

http://irishgothichorrorjournal.homestead.com/1930shorroban.html

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I read the article up to the point where he cited the wrong director for THE INVISIBLE RAY - it was Lambert Hillyer. Edmund Grainger was the producer.

 

Call me the ultimate cynic, but having had to write and present promotional and analytical material for several decades, I'm too aware of the contamination factor that even one error can create. I start to doubt other "facts" presented as anyone could have doubted my work.

 

 

 

 

 

I'll likely come back to it, at a point where my negativity wears off.

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> {quote:title=clore wrote:}{quote}I read the article up to the point where he cited the wrong director for THE INVISIBLE RAY - it was Lambert Hillyer. Edmund Grainger was the producer.

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> Call me the ultimate cynic, but having had to write and present promotional and analytical material for several decades, I'm too aware of the contamination factor that even one error can create. I start to doubt other "facts" presented as anyone could have doubted my work.

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> I'll likely come back to it, at a point where my negativity wears off.

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I didn't notice that error. But good that you did. You should email the author, Alex Naylor, at the University of Greenwich, where she's a faculty member. I'm sure she'd be happy to correct it.

 

If you don't email her, I will...

 

Webpage for Naylor here: http://gre.academia.edu/AlexNaylor

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}Right, I'm sorry to say, that kid is one of the worst child actors I've ever seen.

Donnie Dunnigan. He was also in All This and Heaven Too ("Golly gee, Maimselle, youses the bestest Maimselle we've ever had") and he comes damn close to ruining the whole film; and he's in A Woman's Face, in which Joan Crawford tries to kill him. Sadly, a last act change of heart prevents her from this and docks two stars from the film's overall rating in my book.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Nov 1, 2012 7:26 PM

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I didn't notice that error. But good that you did. You should email the author, Alex Naylor, at the University of Greenwich, where she's a faculty member. I'm sure she'd be happy to correct it.

 

 

If you don't email her, I will...

 

You can do it, I don't mind. And now I'll point out my own error in presuming that the article was written by a male. The name "Alex" threw me off.

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Smitty1931: It was to be filmed in color, but they changed their minds after a few test shots of the monster.

 

I'd read many moons ago that the reason it wasn't filmed in color was because the brand new owners of Universal didn't want to put that kind of money into a horror picture.

 

I think it works well just as it is. It's my fave Frankenstein film, regardless of Rathbone's over the top acting.

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Hmmm, interesting, I kind of like Bambi. Maybe the annoying quality the kid has in "live action" films doesn't come across in animated ones. Awkward sentence, that. But you know what I mean.

 

By the way, I'm going to try and change this thread title. I just realized that it's probably really unacceptable and politically incorrect and insensitive to use the word "lame" to mean "rubbish", or "mediocre", or anything negative.

And this after a whole month of films on disabilities ! That programmer must be discouraged !

 

Sorry folks...thread title change in the works, out with "lame", in with...something less insensitive.

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