Thursday, October 1, 2015

Young Fears 1: Son of Frankenstein

Each October I like to run a series of Halloween-themed posts on this blog. All this month, I'll be telling anecdotes about things which frightened me while growing up.

It seems appropriate to begin this series with the Universal Monsters; after all, so much of the horror genre which has come since those beloved 30s & 40s creatures has been either an homage to or a reaction against the Universal versions. At some point while I was growing up, one of my family's cable channels aired Universal monster films late at night. For some reason, my parents thought it would be okay for me to watch them (I may have been 5 or 6).

Of course, I saw those films under their supervision and was quite glad for it. And certainly, looking back on the series, there's very little in any of the pictures which is too explicit for a child; when it's time for someone to die, the camera is discreet enough to pull away and what carnage is seen tends to be bloodless. For a child, it's often enough that a monster is lumbering around regardless of what he does.

And such is my childhood memory of Son of Frankenstein, third of Universal's Frankenstein series. I don't believe many of the plot details made an impact on me as a child, but I do vividly recall Boris Karloff as the monster. I especially recall the climactic set-piece held over a giant smouldering crater with Frankenstein's son menaced by the monster; ultimately, Frankenstein swings from a rope and knocks the monster from his perch into the pit.

Perhaps the scene felt intense to me because a child was in peril; all I know is that my first viewing of the film had a gripping momentum which no later viewing replicated (indeed, when I saw the film next as a teenager I was surprised to discover how deliberately funny it was). So while I found the moment intense, I don't think it bothered me so much that my parents felt I shouldn't see any more of those late night pictures.

More on that tomorrow...

No comments: