Frankenstein (1931) - Rotten Tomatoes

Frankenstein (1931)



Critic Consensus: Still unnerving to this day, Frankenstein adroitly explores the fine line between genius and madness, and features Boris Karloff's legendary, frightening performance as the monster.

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"Frankenstein" is a film about a mad, obsessed scientist, Dr. Henry Frankenstein", who creates a monster, by taking body parts from dead people. Upon placing a brain inside the head of the monster, Henry and his assistant Fritz are amazed that the experiment is alive. When the monster mistakenly kills Maria, a young girl he meets down by the river, the town is up in arms and aims to bring the monster to justice. They find the monster and his creator in an old windmill, where the monster is attempting to kill his maker.

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Colin Clive
as Henry Frankenstein
Boris Karloff
as The Monster
Mae Clarke
as Elizabeth
John Boles
as Victor Moritz
Edward Van Sloan
as Dr. Waldman
Frederick Kerr
as Baron Frankenstein
Lionel Belmore
as Herr Vogel, Burgomaster
Michael Mark
as Ludwig, Peasant Father
Marilyn Harris
as Maria, the Child
Arletta Duncan
as Bridesmaid
Pauline Moore
as Bridesmaid
Francis Ford
as Villager
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Critic Reviews for Frankenstein

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (12)

James Whale, director of the picture, may congratulate himself on making a talkie that wont be forgotten, even in those dark midnight moments when one awakes from a sound sleep to feel a prickling of the scalp and a cold sweat.

December 8, 2020 | Full Review…

The most influential horror film ever made, this stark and stylish work has a weird fairytale beauty.

October 20, 2016 | Full Review…

James Whale has done a great job in his direction. This is not an easy thing to direct -- just how far to go in playing upon an audience's credulity, it's sympathy, it's nerves. Whale seems to have gone far enough, but not too far.

November 16, 2014 | Full Review…

Frankenstein is a horror film that turns (miraculously) into an existential tale of man's fear of abandonment

August 10, 2010 | Rating: 87/100 | Full Review…

[Whale] did it in the Grand Guignol manner, with as many queer sounds, dark corners, false faces and cellar stairs as could possibly be inserted.

October 7, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Maximum of stimulating shock is there, but the thing is handled with subtle change of pace and shift of tempo that keeps attention absorbed to a high voltage climax.

September 24, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Frankenstein


This is one of the best horror classics! As a non-horror fan, I can honestly say that this film blew me away, from the great tone, to the great acting, to the fantastic camerawork, it just adds to the perfection of the story. Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster that has lived on from generation to generation and even with an age of 90 years, the monster is quite terrifying. Although it is not without it's slow moments, I was so invested in the story that the funny practical effects that don't really hold up, didn't even phase me. I was drawn into this story until the very last moment, which is extremely intense by the way. Over time, films like these can degrade themselves, and to some, it definitely will, but "Frankenstein" is still fantastic!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

A timeless classic, perhaps the most notable and influential of the Universal monsters, and even if more amusing than terrifying for today's standards, it remains a striking experience, with stunning visuals that owe their inspiration to German Expressionism.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


The very original monster movie, based upon the book by Mary Shelley, James Whale's cinematic masterpiece remains one of the best horror movies of all time. It remains a highly adapted piece of fiction, and this was the first film adaptation. It was also the birth of the Universal monster movie canon, which would later include the films "The Wolfman" and "The Mummy". This is the epitome of good creature feature while retaining intelligence and posterity for the world of the unknown. It's a film that still remains creepy even eighty years later, and though its subject matter has been twisted and changed for many different mediums, it still stands alone as an immense achievement. Veering from the original subject matter consistently, this version has Dr. Frankenstein locked away in an old tower with an assistant, trying to reanimate dead tissue on a laboratory table, and digging up dead bodies to get what he needs. He reanimates the creature using an abnormal brain stolen from a medical college, but the beast gets loose. He goes about terrorizing the countryside, but is felled and the doctor marries his darling Elizabeth. Even with the changes in script the film retains its poignancy for the gothic, and the transparency of human life rebuilt to accommodate the lunacy of a madman. Every player in this story is significant, every moment of horror at the grotesque appearance of the monster is appreciated, and the entire cast gives enlightening performances. Boris Karloff as the monster has to be the greatest of a Universal monsters besides Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Colin Clive is the seminal Dr. Frankenstein, unmatched in any adaptation as he is both ruthless for the power of God and mad with his own crazed psychosis. The sets look amazing, the mood and tone remain classic, and it gives a lot of insight into the world of monsters, which became apropos in the thirties. Simply a must see for anyone.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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