Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness: The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Feast your eyes! Glut your soul on my accursed ugliness

I love this movie so much that words fail to express how I feel. This movie was the one that not only was my gateway into horror films, but also caused a life-long love affair with classic cinema.

It all started one day at the library. I was about six years old and complaining to my mother that I couldn’t find any books to read. Nothing just felt right. You know what I mean, when a book synopsis just connects to you, and you know you need to take it home to read?

So my mother eager to get home, pulls a book off the shelf and suggests that I read it. Instead of paying attention to whatever novel she had in her hand, I saw the one behind it. It was The Phantom of the Opera; a slender, abriged, children’s version.

It became my new favorite book and I would check it out all the time, completely annoying my mother.

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Later on I read the original, whole  version; which I also love. It is written so well, if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.

I just connected with this poor man. He was bullied and betrayed because he was disfigured. No one paid attention to his genius in building and composing. He was living a life alone in isolation. I wanted to go underground with him.

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I would have gone off with him and loved him unlike Christine Daaé, she’s a total jerk and loser.

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Anyways, not long after I was flipping the channels and stopped on TCM. I love TCM (Turner Classic Movies) with a passion. I wish I could watch it 24/7 as they show the most amazing films ever.

Anyways, so that day they were doing a biography on Lon Chaney, and mentioned that he played the Phantom. I was now sucked in and had to watch. The film was the biopic Man of a Thousand FacesLon Chaney quickly became my favorite actor as I just fell in love with what a genius he was. He used to wait outside the movie studio, using his make-up to change his apperance to better fit roles. His most famous one being of course, the Phantom.

Phantom of the Opera

Afterwards, they held a marathon of his films, but I stopped watching as they didn’t show the one I wanted to see. I now had to watch the 1925 film! I did more research and found out that it is one of the first films to use color, only being able to for the Masque of Red Death scene. It was supposesed to be one of the most dramatic scenes in the film.

I now absolutely HAD to see that film. I went and rented it, hoping that it would be as good as it sounded. It was better than that! The film was not only horrtastic, but simply, and honestly amazing! It also stayed very close to the book, making only a few changes, and doing a much better job than some other versions (the 1943 one, so bad 😦 ).

Phantom of the Opera

Now I know that silent film isn’t for everyone, but I suggest that you check it out.

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So we start off the film with someone lurking in the catacombs of the opera house. We don’t know who he is or what he is after. Then we switch to the opera house, and the creme de la creme of the elite milling about. Everyone is settling down as the show is about to start.

We see the ballerinas on stage dancing away.

Reminds me of Degas

Meanwhile in an office upstairs, the opera house is being turned over to new owners. Owners who know nothing of what lurks in the belly of the building.

For there lies the Phantom and a friend. A Persian man that had traveled with him since the Phantom has been abroad, but no one knows more than that.

So the new opera owners have gained a lot of problems with their purchase. Besides having to pay the phantom money, give him box 5, and a few other amenities; he is also demanding that they replace Carlotta with Christine, the girl he has been coaching. Needless to say, this is very upsetting for Carlotta.

I refuse to be treated in such a manner

In fact the Phantom has threatened Carlotta if she does not stay away. Carlotta is most unhappy; and leaves declaring she will not sing that night.

Instead Christine Daaé sings beautifully. She is also noticed by the stupid Vicomte de Chagny. I really dislike Raoul, Team Phantom all the way!

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In the book Raoul struck me as a real annoying guy. Like one who is always trying to do different things; but only does them halfheartedly, always expecting someone to bail them out of a jam. Then again I could be biased.

Anyways Stupid Raoul notices Christine and tries to get with her. But she is not as receptive, in fact telling him kindly to get lost as she has her career to think about.

Stupid Raoul goes to leave, but actually, is secretly waiting outside her door to spy on her.

Now for anyone out there; if you tell a person you want a relationship to end and they don’t listen and spy on you, you need to call the police and get rid of them. I can’t believe him. Raoul just went from stupid to stalker. I mean who listens outside their ex’s door like that? Who does that?

How rude

So Carlotta decides to sing anyway, even though she has been warned that bad things will happen. The Phantom makes sure that she will never want to sing again.

“Erik: Behold! She is singing to bring down the chandelier!”

So Christine goes to her room and Raoul being the creep he is  follows her. Erik, the Phantom, calls to her and tells her to go through her mirror; which is really a trapdoor. The Phantom built the Opera House, so built himself a home underneath the Opera House along with tons of secret passage ways and hideouts.

The Phantom takes her to his subterranean home, across a hidden lake.

Christine is amazed and kind of freaked out being there with him. All she can focus on is the fact that he is wearing a mask. Erik starts telling Christine his life story, and the sadness it has brought him. She ends up fainting, and he carries her to his guest room; beautiful and full of things she will love. It has a whole wall of shoes!

The next day everyone is in an uproar as Christine is missing! She wakes up to hearing the organ being played by the Phantom. He has been working on an opera for a long time.

Erik: Since I first saw your face, this music has been singing to me  of you and of –love triumphant!”

While he is romantically sharing his feelings, Christine is determined to rip off his mask.

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Lon Chaney is truly amazing! I mean look at him! He is so awesome looking! So creepy! He is such a genius, devising his own make-up. The Phantom’s makeup was designed to resemble a skull. Lon Chaney attached a strip of fish skin (a thin, translucent material) to his nostrils with spirit gum, pulled it back until he got the tilt he wanted, then attached the other end of the fish skin under his bald cap. For some shots, a wire-and-rubber device was used, and it cut into Chaney’s nose and caused a good deal of bleeding. Cheeks were built up using a combination of cotton and collodion. Ears were glued back and the rest was greasepaint shaded in the proper areas of the face. The sight was said to have caused some patrons at the premiere to faint.

Christine is completely shocked at his apperance. Mary Philbin, the actress who played Christine, reaction to the unmasked Phantom was real – she had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.

Phantom of the Opera

So the Phantom is upset, but Christine has to stay with him. He is not about to let her go. Now I know that is not appropriate behavior, but I feel so bad for him. She loved him until she saw his face, Now he has nobody. 😦

Then they have the most amazing scene ever! This was one of the first films to have color! They do this huge masquerade scene in color and he comes as the Red Death! It is too fantastic for words. I cannot describe it, you will have to watch it. His entrance, his outfit, etc.

Erik: Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men! Thus does The Red Death rebuke your merriment!

Christine escapes from the Phantom and sneaks off with Raoul. They make plans to run away together, but little do they know that the Phantom has overheard everything.

Christine prepares to do her last performance, and as she is doing so, the Phantom comes and spirits her away. His only friend, a Persian courtier who has been with him through everything, goes to Raoul to lead him to Christine.

They go through the secret passage, but end up accidentally in the Phantom’s torture chamber.

The Phantom gives Christine two choices; she can choose to hit this ceramic scorpion,which means that she has chosen to marry the Phantom and be his forever, or the grasshopper which means death to Raoul and the opera house. The grasshopper if pressed will light a fuse of the gunpowder that is packed throughout the opera house and interconnected. Everything will blow! The scorpion is connected to a switch that will pump water into the bottom of the opera house and soak all the gunpowder and keep the opera house from blowing up.

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She chooses the scorpion, but as the water starts to come up and drown Raoul. Christine asks the Phantom to save his life, that she will do anything for him if he does. He pulls Raoul out and then takes off with Christine, as the Parisians are hunting him down.

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

The villagers follow in pursuit. As they are running, Christine throws herself out of the carriage. The Phantom goes to her, but the villagers are too close and he takes off. Raoul goes to Christine, and the Phantom is “killed” by the people.

I’ve never been a fan of that idea, you can’t kill the phantom, he’s unbeatable!

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I love him! Is that sad and pathetic?

That’s the post for today. More to come! 4 days ’till Halloween!

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to They’re Coming to Get You Barbara 

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For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to My Favorite Movie Lines

For more on classic horror films, go to I Want Friend Like Me

For more films based on books, go to Quite a Horror Story

For more films that spanned countless remakes, go to I Bid You Welcome

For more of my favorite quotes, go to I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeper

I Bid You Welcome: Dracula (1931)

 I am Dracula…I bid you welcome

So Dracula is one of the best horror films ever made. I know you all were wondering when he would be popping up. This version with Bela Lugosi is my favorite; as I feel the other version either have subpar acting, a distortion of the story, or just fall flat in their presentation.

Bela Lugosi was never intended for the part of Dracula. Originally Lon Chaney was going to play him, but he died the year before. As much as I love Lon Chaney, I can’t see Dracula as anyone but Bela Lugosi.

I have to say that this film probably has the most remakes of all time. There’s House of Dracula, Dracula (1958), The Return of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, Count Dracula, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Count Dracula’s Great Love, Dracula AD 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Dracula (1979), Love at First Bite, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Dracula 2000, Dracula II: Ascension, Dracula III: Legacy, Dracula’s Curse, Dracula 3000, The Batman vs. Dracula, Dracula (2006), Dracula 3D, Hotel Transylvania, Scooby-Doo & the Ghoul School, and Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf . Not to mention all sequels or films that Drac has a part in; this guy sure gets around.

Of course even with all of these, Lugosi’s version still stands the test of time. It is the one we quote, the one that we mimic Lugosi’s voice from, and the one that we copy the cape movements from; pretending that we too are a vampire.

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It’s funny that in this film Dracula doesn’t display fangs or show vampire bite marks on the neck.

So the film starts out with Renfield, a lawyer, going to Dracula’s castle. All the villagers warn him that there are vampires there, but Renfield doesn’t listen.

“Innkeeper: Castle Dracula?
Renfield: Yes. That’s where I’m going.
Innkeeper: To the castle?
Renfield: Yes.
Innkeeper: No. You musn’t go there. We people of the mountains believe in the castle there are vampires. Dracula and his wives – they take the form of wolves and bats. They leave their coffins at night and they feed on the blood of the living.”

When Renfield enters the castle he is greeted by Dracula and those famous lines! My favorite.

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“Count Dracula: I am Dracula.
Renfield: Oh, it’s really good to see you. I don’t know what happened to the driver and my luggage and… Well, and with all this, I thought I was in the wrong place.
Count Dracula: I bid you welcome. [Dracula goes up the stairs. Renfield starts to follow him. Suddenly, Dracula hears wolves howling] Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.
[Dracula goes up the steps and waits for Renfield, who, without difficulty, cuts open a hole in a huge spider’s web using his walking stick]
Count Dracula: The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly. The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield.
Renfield: Why, er… yes.”

Renfield doesn’t make it out alive as Dracula ends up attacking him and turning him into a vampire. Renfield becomes crazed as the slave of Dracula. The two travel to England, and when the ship docks only Renfield is left on the boat. Everyone else is dead with the blood sucked out of them. Renfield is a looney, so he is taking to Dr. Seward’s sanitorium.

Martin: Aren’t you ashamed now? Aren’t you? Spiders now, is it? Flies ain’t good enough!
Renfield: Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies?
Martin: You do, you loony!
Renfield: Not when I can get nice fat spiders!
Martin: All right, have it your own way

Later Dracula runs into Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, Mina’s fiancé John Harker, and family friend Lucy Weston. Lucy becomes enamored of Dracula. Later that night Dracula visits her in her sleep and drinks out all her blood.

Blood!

The next day Lucy is dead as no transfusion is able to save her.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Renfield is acting crazier, and crazier and Professor Van Helsing starts speaking to him to try and help him work through his problems. He believes there is a vampire involved in this.

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!”
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly] “

Renfield doesn’t like it when Van Helsing shows him wolfsbane; something he declares is able to stop vampires.

Later that evening Dracula attacks Mina; he doesn’t fully drain all her blood, but chooses to do it a little at a time.

Van Helsing also notices that Count Dracula doesn’t have a reflection and concludes he must be a vampire.

Van Helsing puts a wreath of wolfsbane around her neck and tells her nurse not to remove it. He also gives Harker a cross and tells him to hold onto it; that it will protect him from harm of the vampires and not to give it away.

Immediately Harker tries to give it to Mina and it doesn’t work.

DID YOU JUST NOT HEAR THE MAN? HE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! YOU KEEP IT!

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I mean this is such a classic mistake made by these men in these horror films. In The Mummy, he just has to give the girl the charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Wolf Man, he gives the girl the charm to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead he manifests into being a werewolf and almost kills her. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!!

Van Helsing confronts Dracula and tells him to leave Mina alone. Dracula tells him that it is too late, he has given Mina some of his blood and he belongs to her. Van Helsing tells Dracula that he will hunt down his coffin and drive a stake through his heart no matter what.

“Count Dracula: Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula]
Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country.
Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy.
Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived.
Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina’s soul if not her life.
Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night.
Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart.
Count Dracula: Come here.
[Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing]
Count Dracula: Come here.
[Van Helsing takes three hypnotised steps towards Dracula but soon steps back, resisting Dracula’s hypnotic power over him]
Count Dracula: Your will is strong, Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him]
Count Dracula: More wolfsbane?
Van Helsing: More effective than wolfsbane, Count.
Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]”

Harker still hasn’t realized what is happening to Mina. He takes her out in the night, where she attacks him. He is saved by Van Helsing who puts Mina in her room with wolfsbane. He tells the nurse to make sure that she does not remove it.

He and Harker leave to look for the coffin. They know it must be in the area as Dracula would never travel too far from it.

While they are gone, Dracula hypnotizes the nurse and has her remove the wolfsbane.

Dracula takes off with Mina, bringing her to his lair.

 Harker and Van Helsing see him and follow him; Harker wanting to save Mina while Van Helsing wants to destroy Dracula. Renfield manages to escape from his cell and follows them as well. Dracula kills Renfield; thinking that he lead everyone to his lair. Eventually Dracula is forced to return to his coffin as the sun is rising. When he does Van Helsing drives a stake through his heart and Harker goes to get Mina.

This film is truly amazing and I think you should check it out. It has influenced countless generations and really became the face and substance of who Dracula is.

This was one of Bela Lugosi’s favorite films and when he died he was buried wearing the black silk cape he wore for this film.

So that’s today’s  fearsome tale. More on the way.

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

To go to the previous post, go to It’s Alive, It’s ALIVE!

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For more on Dracula, go to A Monster Race

For more on vampires, go to Grimwood Ghouls’ Gyn Teacher

For more on Bela Lugosi, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more films based on books, go to The Only Thing That Matters is the Ending

For more on Lon Chaney, go to Feast Your Eyes On My Accursed Ugliness

For more films that spanned countless sequels and remakes, go to Camp Blood

It’s Alive, it’s ALIVE!: Frankenstein (1931)

Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

What horror movie countdown would be complete without the film Frankenstein

Frankenstein is an amazing film that tells the story of when one man tries to be more than he is; he tries to be God. It is based on the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (FYI: A much better writer than her husband)

Edward Van Sloan: How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you. 

I have always loved this film, but I think The Bride of Frankenstein is much better. I will get more into why that is later.

This movie is terrifying as we see a Frankenstein becomes consumed with creating this being. He won’t listen to anyone else and his behavior frightening his friends, family, and fiancé.

Henry Frankenstein: Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

Let me just clarify for everyone out there that the name Frankenstein alludes to Victor Frankenstein, the mad doctor who creates the Monster. For some reason they changed his name to Henry in this film. In the film his best friend’s name is Victor, while in the book it is Henry. Go figure. The Monster is never called by a name other than Monster, Creature, or something similar. It’s like  The Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Thing from Another World, no proper names are given.

Anyways, he is helped out by a hunchback named Fritz

Not Igor, FRITZ!

The hunchback named Igor who helps mad scientists isn’t from the original Frankenstein, but comes from one of the sequels, Son of Frankenstein, where his name was Ygor; later translated to Igor.

Anyways, Fritz is the one who makes the mistake of stealing the criminal brain.

My Bad

 

So Frankenstein starts getting ready to bring his monster to life. In the novel, Shelley never tells us how it is done; Frankenstein never wanted to share the details of the experiment for fear that someone would create their own living dead. With nothing to go off of, the writers and directors decided to use lightening, and therefore changeing film culture and film history as this is referenced and parodied in so many films and TV shows.

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“Henry Frankenstein: Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!
Victor Moritz: Henry – In the name of God!
Henry Frankenstein: Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!”

Frankenstein is so intent on proving everyone wrong, so focused on completing everything that he never stops to think whether he should do this. This is an interesting question posed; how far is too far?

So Frankenstein is able to create his monster:

Played by the very amazing Boris Karloff; extraordinary actor. He almost didn’t play this part as they originally offered it to Bela Lugosi who turned it down. I’m glad it was Karloff, because as much as I love Lugosi, no one could have done this better.

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The green makeup that is such a part of the Frankenstein figure was used because it gave Karloff a deadlike pallor of skin. Now it has become such a strong part of culture, we see the green-skinned, bolted monster every October.

After the Monster is created, we see this innocentlike creature. He is afraid of fire and tries to attack Fritz who brings a torch by him. All bystanders fear for their lives and chain the Creature up in the dungeon. Frankenstein and his friend Victor leave and discuss the best way to euthanize him. Unbeknownst to them Fritz is stupidly taunting the creature with a torch; causing the Monster to reach out and kill him.

When Victor and Frankenstein return; they see Fritz’s dead body on the floor, and have to run away from the Monster as it tries to attack them too. Frankenstein prepares a shot to kill him, and Victor gives it him. With all his problems solved, Frankenstein leaves to prepare for his wedding, and Victor begins to dissect the Creature. Unfortunately, the Monster didn’t die; but was only knocked out. He kills Victor and then escapes, running amuck in the countryside.

He runs into a little girl, who is nice and shows him the flowers she is picking up.

She shows him how flowers float in the river, which Frankenstein ultimately does to the little girl. Thinking that if he tosses the girl in the water she will float; he ends up ultimately drowning her.

Little Maria: See how mine floats.
[the Monster picks her up]
Little Maria: No, you’re hurting me! No!”

The farmer finds his daughter’s floating corpse and goes to pieces. He starts hunting down the monster; searching everywhere to find the fiend.

Frankenstein, happily preapering for his wedding is brought news of Victor’s death. He goes out searching for the monster along with the peasants who have their torches and pitchforks at the ready.

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Eventually Frankenstein tracks the monster down and is prepared to destroy him.

However the Monster knocks him out and carries him off to the windmill where he throws him off. Luckily, Frankenstein is caught by a vane and saved from death. There some peasants carry him home while others destroy the mill and kill the monster. Or do they?

Frankenstein gets home, where we see that he is safe and sound and in the arms of his Elizabeth dear.

After I watched the film a gazillion times, I read the novel and found it to be much more horrifying than the movie. In the book Frankenstein isn’t this bumbling creature, completely innocent and doesn’t understand things; but a criminal mastermind. Having learned to read and talk before he died; he is able to after some time remember how to do this and begins becoming more “human”. The one thing that he never regains is compassion, kindness, etc; all the caring emotions that make us who we are. He has no empathy or sympathy, believing that he was shown nothing but hatred and cruelty so he must show this to all.

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What they take from this and use in the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, is his want of a mate; his desire to have one like him to spend his life with. He threatens to destroy everyone that Frankenstein holds dear if he does give in to his demands. Frankenstein goes through a constant struggle with himself; knowing that he cannot risk creating another creature being made and mating along with the first. He realizes his mistakes at creating such a thing far too late. The monster doesn’t like hearing no and kills all Frankenstein loves. There is no sweet guy, accidentally killing someone like Lenny in Of Mice and Men, but this is a true psychopath fully aware of the crimes he is committing. Not only is the creature a serial killer, but he has become so intelligent that he is able to plant evidence so that people think someone else is the murderer. He kills Frankenstein’s brother William, and plants a locket on William’s nanny so that she is also killed. Then he kills Henry, Frankenstein’s friend, planting evidence so Frankenstein is arrested. He also kills Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s wife, making it seem once again that Frankenstein is the killer. With all those that he loves dead, Baron Frankenstein dies as well.   After everything is gone from him; Frankenstein devotes his life to hunting down what he created and destroying it.

It’s a great book, I suggest reading it and watching the film.

There’s a classic terror for your Tuesday! More to come!

I almost forgot to mention this. Unlike The Mummy, Dracula, or The Wolfman; Frankenstein has never had a major motion, globally shown, sent to all theaters, remake. However that is all about to change as Guillermo del Toro is planning one, and hoping that it will be coming out soon. To read more up on it go here. We shall have to wait and see what happens and how it turns out.

Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

For the previous post, go to When Potatoes Go Bad

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For more on Frankenstein, go to A Monster Race

For more on Boris Karloff, go to Eternal Punishment for Anyone Who Opens This Casket

For more films based on books, go to The Only Thing That Matters is the Ending

For more on Jurassic Park, go to Life Finds a Way

For more on the living dead, go to A Tale So Strange It Must Be True

For more on mad scientists, go to A Very Scary Story

For more universal films, go to Universal’s Classic Monster Movies

For more of my fav quotes, go to Insults