Did you ever consider the consequences of your actions? You made me, and you left me to die. Who am I?
So I really don’t like this movie. I know Kenneth Branagh did a better job following the text of Frankenstein but I really didn’t care for a lot of his decisions.
This also is the film that Kenneth Branagh cheated on his wife Emma Thompson on. He originally wanted her to play opposite of him, but she was already lead in Carrington (1995). So Helena Bonham Carter played the role instead (and more).
But enough about that, let’s get into the reasons I don’t like the actual film.
First Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth Lavenza as if she isn’t really there, just a part of the scenery and her costume and wig choices are circumspect.
Then Robert De Niro as the Monster was another really odd choice. De Niro isn’t a bad actor but as the monster? And why does the monster have an American accent when this takes place in Switzerland? Originally they wanted Gérard Depardieu but the studio felt he wasn’t a strong enough box-office appeal. I think Depardieu would have been better.
I also hated the scene when the monster is “born”, it is really gross and I felt too disturbing. All the fluids…ew. I know he was trying to have it be a birth/come out of the womb but I was not enjoying it.
I was really bored throughout the whole film and I checked out halfway through. I only continued watching because I was doing so with family.
For me I really enjoy the 1930’s version even though it is not accurate, I find it much more entertaining.
This is fate we’re talking about, and if fate works at all, it works because people think that THIS TIME, it isn’t going to happen!
Some of you might be wondering where the Jane Austen is in Horrorfest? Isn’t the name of the blog, JaneAustenRunsMyLife? Well, we have had a few Jane Austen-esque things this year. First we had Death by Persuasion and Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans TV show High Seas/Alta Mar. But I thought I would throw in another film with a Jane Austen connection. Because, you know:
A while back I reviewed the book Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, and in the beginning Lindsay Doran wrote about how she was thinking about turning Sense and Sensibility into a film, but needed to find the “right” writer. While filming Dead Again, producer Lindsay Doran discovered that Emma Thompson loved Jane Austen. They spent a lot of time talking about Austen and her books:
“I got to know Emma very well over the course of the twelve-week shoot, and it wasn’t long before we discovered our mutual passion for Jane Austen. It was clear that she knew the books by heart, and that her appreciation of them was not of the dry, academic sort she enjoyed them, and she loved their wit as much as she admired their intelligence.” Lindsay Doran, from The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film
Doran then watched Emma’s show Thompson, and after seeing the writing and acting there-asked her to write Sense and Sensibility (1995). Yes, without Dead Again, Sense and Sensibility (1995) never would have been born-or a less wonderful version would probably have been created.
So let’s review Dead Again
This film struck my interest when a patron checked it out at the library. So, of course, when it came back I had to check it out and watch it. It is a film-noir, murder mystery romance.
So the film starts off in black and white in the 1940s-with and amazing into that involves newspaper stories and headlines about the Musical Murder of Margaret Strauss by her Conductor Killer, Roman Strauss. Margaret (Emma Thompson) was stabbed to death by scissors, by her conductor husband Roman, (Kenneth Branagh). He was found guilty and put on death row for the murder. As he approached the electric chair, journalist, Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), goes to hear the killer’s last words-Roman saying that this is far from over.
Now we fast forward to present time, 50 years later-a woman (Emma Thompson) with no memory and can’t talk is in an orphanage.
The nuns and priest have been taking care of her-but it appears the help she needs is much more than what they can offer. They hire Michael Church, (Kenneth Branagh) a private detective (who had been raised at the same orphanage), to take her to the asylum and discover who she is.
Michael Church (Kenneth Branagh) is known for being able to find “anything” and “anybody”. He has just found Dr. Cozy Carlisle (Robin Williams), psychologist turned store owner who’s been extremely hard to track down. He gets the call and heads to the orphanage.
Ready for any case
Michael inspects all that they know about the unknown woman and discovers she has a Claddagh ring-an Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship-but only one band, the other is missing. He takes her to his friend at the newspaper who shoots her picture and they plan on it being printed in tomorrow’s edition. Church then goes to take the woman to the asylum, but after seeing how horrible it is-takes her to his home. Sure “just because it looks bad”-like it has nothing to do with the fact she is a pretty woman?
The woman experiences nightmares, a fear of scissors, and screams out Dysher. The next day, Church gets all kinds of calls about the woman-but all are just cranks. But then, Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi), comes calling. He is an antique dealer and hypnotist who wants to help. He regresses the woman and we shift to black and white-to the Strausses.
Los Angelas Late 1940s
Margaret was beautiful, English, and beloved by all. She performed in an orchestra and saw conductor Roman Strauss and was struck by him. Roman was a recent arrival in California, having left Europe when he escaped the Nazis during WWII, his wife dying in the escape.
Roman is just as struck a with Margaret and the two date, fall in love, and marry. Roman gifts her the Claddagh ring, with a matching one, and a very expensive anklet.
“Roman Strauss: The man I bought it from explained to me that, when a husband gives it to his wife, they become two halves of the same person. Nothing can separate them… not even death.”
They marry and at the wedding, a Mr. Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), writer, comes as the date of someone. He is enamored of Margaret and actually tries to flirt and charm her at HER wedding-ugh this dude.
Understandably, Roman is very upset and does not like him. Margaret, however, “doesn’t” understand his feelings as she loves Roman.
The two are in love and happy-except for one thing. Margaret hates Roman’s servants -Inga and her son Franky. She thinks they don’t like her and they keep usurping her authority. She wants to be rid of them, but as they saved Roman’s life he refuses to let them go. He never would have made it out of Germany without them.
After the regression, the woman can speak. They look over the Strauss story in Life magazine, located in the antique shop. They see a resemblance between the Strausses and them and that the orphanage where they both spent time in, was once the Strauss mansion.
Church gives the woman the name Grace, and then goes to see Dr. Carlisle to talk about what happened. Dr. Carlisle tells him some cases where he worked with patients and regression helped solve the issues. He thinks they should continue to see the hypnotist and see what comes of the Margaret and Roman story.
Meanwhile, Grace and Church spend a lot of time together and fall in love.
They day after they sleep together a man shows up claiming that Grace, real name Katherine Sharpe, is his fiance. He has all the answers to Church’s questions, until Chruch catches him in a lie about gloves. The man takes off and Church tries to catch him-but the man gets away.
Why would they want Grace? WHO would want her?
Church and Grace go back to the hypnotist where Grace regresses more…
Los Angeles Late 1940s
The Strausses are having more cracks in their relationship. As Roman is not involved in Hollywood, he is seen as a “nobody” and is trying to write an opera but suffering from writer’s block. They are at a party and no one wants to talk to “nobody Roman”.
Margaret gets approached by Gray and the two go outside to talk. Gray is so in love with Margaret it is super obvious-and Margaret should not be feeding into it. Gray asks to “look” at her anklet, and she obliges-he holding her leg up to take a “closer look”. Really…really now?
Margaret, can’t you see how this is something you as a married woman should bot be doing with a man who is not your husband? Hmmm….?
Roman sees them and becomes understandably furious, punching Gray in the face (not understandable) which knocks him in the pool. They try to make it sound as if Roman is a jealous brute, making a big deal out of nothing-but I have to disagree. This guy started trying to get with Margaret at her wedding-and he’s still trying. Even though Roman shouldn’t have punched him-he totally deserved it.
Margaret and Roman get into a huge fight over it, it ending as Roman confesses his insecurities.
Later Margaret catches Frankie in her jewelry and tries to get Roman to fire them, but again he refuses. Gray calls Margaret, which Roman accidentally overhears. He questions her abut the call but she lies to him.
Later, Margaret was lying in bed when she is stabbed-by Michael Church!
Grace wakes up from her trance angry, confused, and scared. Michael takes her home but she flips out convinced that he will kill her.
In order to calm her, Church decides to regress as well. What he discovers changes everything. Will they figure out this mystery and solve it before another murder? Or will history repeat itself?
I liked how the movie was in color for the present and then reverted to black and white with the past. I thought it was pretty intriguing with a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming were thrown in very well. And now that I have seen the film, that poster is so perfect and obvious. It is well worth a view for fans of Spellbound and film-noir
The end is a little cheesy, but Im not sure how else they could have had an ending that satisfied the viewer. I didn’t want to give away the end, so if you’d like to watch it, click here.
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; messing with things beyond what he understands, and is full of gothic-y goodness. It is based on the novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley (FYI: A much better writer than her boring 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.
This movie is terrifying as we see Frankenstein becomes consumed with creating his being/his creation. 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 in the film to Henry, while making his best friend Victor (while in the book his friend’s name is Henry. Why? 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. People call it Frankenstein and while that isn’t technically correct, Frankenstein did create him so I will accept Frankenstein Jr.
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. So there’s a fun bit of trivia for you, Fritz is the first Frankenstein minion/employee not Igor.
Anyways, Fritz is the one who makes the mistake of stealing the criminal brain.
So while in the novel, Shelley never tells us how it the creature is brought to life done, as 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 changed film culture and film history as this is referenced and parodied in so many films and TV shows.
“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?
Frankenstein does in fact create his monster:
The monster is played by the very amazing Boris Karloff; an 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.
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 involved 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 he tries to attack them too. Frankenstein prepares a shot of something to kill him, and Victor gives it him as Frankenstein can’t. With all his problems solved, Frankenstein leaves to prepare for his wedding, and Victor begins to dissect the Creature. Unfortunately, the chemical didn’t kill the Monster, but only knocked him 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.
She shows him how flowers float in the river, which Frankenstein, bit understanding, mimics using the little girl. Thinking that if he tosses the girl in the water she will float; he ends up drowning her.
“Little Maria: See how mine floats. [the Monster picks her up] 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, meanwhile, is happily preparing for his wedding and is not even thinking about what he has done and destroyed. His happiness (and denial) ends when he 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 had watched this film a gazillion times, it is an October staple (although really anytime I am in the mood), 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 not able to understand everything; 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.
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 Frankenstein does not 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. (What do they made undead children?) He realizes his mistakes at creating such a thing far too late, and when the monster’s plan is rejected, he kills all Frankenstein holds dear. 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 and movie. I suggest both reading it and watching the film.
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 in recent times (the last one was Kenneth Branagh’s production in 1994 (you know the film he made and cheated on his wife Emma Thompson with Helena Bonham Carter. That’s okay, she traded up with the faithful Greg Wise). 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.