The besties review
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I mean, this is just a straight up classic. As is the case with all the movies I watch for my 5 Film Film Festival project, I had never seen Frankenstein before. And yet, I felt like I had already seen it a million times. Is it predicable? Yes, but it is predictable in a really satisfying, almost nostalgic way. And I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but Boris Karloff gives a truly iconic performance as Frankenstein’s Monster. There are many things that make this movie a horror classic, but it starts and ends with Karloff.
The best things about The Mummy are its atmospheric qualities— the music, Egyptian imagery, and even the idea of the curse itself set the audience up for a spooky adventure that never comes to fruition. The opening scene (which I realized I had seen somewhere before, perhaps in my Gothic Lit class) was probably my favorite part of the whole film, but everything after that ten year time jump just sort of fell flat. I know this isn’t considered one of the better entries in the Universal Classic Monsters franchise, but I was still hoping it would turn out to be a misunderstood gem. Alas, it was not!
The Invisible Man
So happy to finally see this! It’s a bit weird how Jack Griffin just goes from wanting to find a cure to wanting to use his invisibility to become a murderer, but it was campy as hell and really fun! Obviously the crowning achievement of this movie is the visual effects. I was a bit disappointed when he was first seen without his face mask on (in the scene when he was eating), but every effect after that just got better and better! By the time he escaped The Lion’s Head Inn, I had fully bought into the idea that he was invisible under those robes. Though I don’t think this will end up being my favorite Universal Classic Monster movie, I do feel that it has the potential to grow on me with more rewatches. Definitely try and catch this one if you can!
The Bride of Frankenstein
I LOVE that they begin the movie with Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron. It’s such a little detail and a short scene, but it ties back to the true origins of Shelley’s Frankenstein novel in a really cool way.
But beyond that, I think it goes without saying that The Bride of Frankenstein might be the crown jewel of the Universal Classic Monster franchise. Despite the fact that the film barely features its titular Bride, the added time we get with Karloff’s iconic monster is extremely rewarding. Karloff’s character has always been portrayed as a misunderstood beast thanks to the little girl scene from the first film, but the sequel successfully furthers his character’s emotional journey.
Compared to its predecessor, The Bride of Frankenstein is the more lighthearted, emotionally developed, and humorous take on Shelley’s classic character, and it may even be the reason why Frankenstein has remained one of the most memorable characters in cinema history. Though I would’ve loved to see more of the Bride (especially since her arrival in the final scene is as electric as any horror movie introduction), there is something undeniably satisfying about James Whale’s continuation of the Frankenstein story.
The Wolf Man
Though The Wolf Man was just as boring as The Mummy, it really didn’t have anything interesting about its concept, performances, or atmosphere. I know some people may like Lon Chaney’s performance, but for me he was just a bit dull and kinda creepy. There’s nothing straight-up bad about this movie (other than the gypsies maybe), but there’s nothing particularly great about it either. If I had to point to a few high points, I think the special effects makeup and score were both pretty good, especially for the time it was made— but that’s true of nearly every one of these Universal Classic Monster flicks, so the point is moot!
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!