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Old 02-27-2010, 12:00 AM
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roshiq roshiq is offline
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The Golden Age of Universal & Hammer

[Frankenstein in 30's & 40's: Universal's Frankenstein Series]

And the later part of the history is very well known...Universal's revolutionary take on this monster is the longest-lasting and most memorable image of Frankenstein and his Monster that created in 1931, now often praised as the definitive horror film: Frankenstein. Its sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), was also directed by Whale and is probably the most critically-acclaimed of all the Universal horror films. The image of Boris Karloff in the flat-head monster mask with bolts in his neck and in undersized clothes has become part of popular culture; even the people of all ages across the globe are so familiar with it that Mary Shelley's this classic novel in translation at different parts of the world has already published with Franken-Karloff's image on the cover art. So by today it's not a bit exaggerating to saying that Boris Karloff's iconic impersonation of the Monster has become synonymous with the word "Frankenstein".

Hammer's take on late 50's to early 70's

Almost a decade after Universal Studios' last Frankenstein movie and after several years without any significant Frankenstein films, new life was injected into Mary Shelley's story and the Frankenstein myth was re-animated again when in 1957 British production company Hammer started their own series of adaptations with The Curse of Frankenstein. But this time everything was different: While the continuing element in Universal's series was the Monster, Hammer chose the person of Victor Frankenstein as their focal point and continuing element throughout the series.

This drastic deviation from the concept established earlier by Universal Studios probably resulted from concerns by producers Hinds and Carreras. Although their Frankenstein film was supposed to be based on Shelley's novel, which in 1957 was already in the public domain, they feared that Universal Studios might sue them for copyright infringement, when early drafts of the screenplay by Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky contained too many similarities to the Karloff films. Consequently, they commissioned several rewrites and finally hired Jimmy Sangster for the final draft. When The Curse of Frankenstein was released in 1957 it was an instant box office hit. The film had a strong effect on subsequent horror movies and changed the genre forever. Not only was it the first Frankenstein film in color, it was also the first horror film to show all the frightening details. Audiences could see eyeballs, brains in glass jars, the Monster's awfully disfigured face, and Peter Cushing unwrapping a pair of disembodied hands. This was a complete contradiction to the traditional American horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, where no horrific and gory details were shown and the real horror always happened off-screen. Curse of Frankenstein and its sequels created a new sensibility for the horror film, one far more open in dealing with sexuality and graphic violence. In regard to that Hammer's Curse of Frankenstein can be seen as the first predecessor of a horror film genre that became most popular in the late 70s, the so-called splatter film.
Stylistically, The Curse of Frankenstein is Gothic horror at its finest, with gloomy castles, eerie graveyards, and dark vaults galore. Director Terence Fisher masterfully uses costumes and stage props that recreate the period of the second half of the 19th century. The film is colorful and atmospheric, but never looks unreal or fantastic. The result is a very materialistic and realistic setting. Fisher's directing style is free of complicated camera movements, relying on precise and balanced compositions.
After the success of The Curse of Frankenstein Peter Cushing instantly became a star. From that moment on in the public opinion he was Baron Frankenstein. He played this role several times in almost all of Hammer's Frankenstein sequels. But Christopher Lee, who had played the Monster, had to wait one more year until stardom. Although he never again returned to the role of Mary Shelley's monster, he became famous as another monster from literature: Lee played Count Dracula in 1958's Horror of Dracula (along with Cushing as Van Helsing) and in its numerous sequels.


Last edited by roshiq; 02-27-2010 at 10:52 AM.
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