“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!” And with that famous Henry Frankenstein line, from the late 1931 Universal horror classic, Frankenstein, there entered Boris Karloff in the tragic role that made him a star overnight, in what many consider one of the greatest horror movies ever made.
Ironically, the part of the Monster in James Whale’s iconic horror movie was originally offered to Bela Lugosi, after his success earlier that same year in Universal’s Dracula. But Lugosi famously turned it down, saying that there was no dialogue in it for him. A few days after Lugosi rejected the defining horror role, Whale discovered Karloff at the Universal canteen and was immediately taken by his gaunt, jaundiced-like facial features and somber eyes. The rest, as they say, is history.
The English director paired the unknown English actor with the legendary Jack Pierce from the Universal make-up department, and his artistry combined with a rare pathos in Karloff’s stand-out performance meant more to horror than anything else that had gone before, including Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula – and indeed, it also defined the starting point of the intense rivalry that developed between those two legendary masters of the macabre.
I described in an earlier blog how STV’s early 1970s Friday Night Horror feature, ‘Don’t Watch Alone’, influenced me as a kid – and the first movie they showed in that series was also Frankenstein, and I was so taken by the movie and Karloff’s performance that I was immediately hooked (and still even today) on all those old wonderful Universal and RKO horror classics.
Today’s iconic Frankenstein image from that first 1931 Universal movie comes from the Strathclyde University ‘Wonderwall’ series, located on George Street, that covers more than 1000 square meters and several stories, making it the UK’s largest outdoor mural. It’s part of the City Center Mural Trail and was commissioned in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Charter that conferred the university’s status, and created by street artists Rogue One and Ejek.
Leica M3 & 1.4/50mm Summilux pre-asph v2
Ilford FP4+ (250)
Xtol 1+1 (12min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan