Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween. In this week’s Serial Thriller, we focus on the classic Universal Frankenstein series.
Hex cast: 1943
The charm: Arguably the best of the monster mash-ups. It begins with the awakening of presumed-dead wolf man, Larry Talbot, and follows him to a London asylum, from whence he then travels across Europe to the fictional town of Vasalia (which has inexplicably become Frankenstein’s home) to find a cure for his lycanthropy. The Frankenstein monster doesn’t get a lot of screen time here, with the narrative focusing almost solely on Talbot’s quest to be free of his curse. However, the buildup to their showdown is nicely drawn out, with the addition of devilishly handsome and eager-to-help Dr. Mannering as the prototype mad doctor that would follow in House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.
The usual iconic horror elements are here: a deserted graveyard in the dead of night; the dilapidated Castle Frankenstein; and we get a peek into the icy(?) catacombs of the fortress, where Larry Talbot first encounters the monster.
Focal point: The final showdown, of course. Especially the wolf man’s leap from the laboratory equipment as the room is suddenly flooded with water from a nearby damn.
Entrancing trivia: The famous Frankenstein walk, with arms outstretched, originated in this film. In Ghost of Frankenstein, Igor’s (Bela Lugosi) brain is transferred into the monster but it renders him blind. As a result, he walks throughout the film with his arms forward. This was explained in the monster’s dialogue, all of which was ultimately cut from the film.
Speak the words: “He is not insane. He simply wants to die.”
Companion spell: House of Frankenstein (1944). What better way to follow-up the first Universal monster mash-up than with its successor, which attempted to cram every monster save The Mummy and The Invisible Man into one film.
Cursed by: It takes a while for this one to get going.