As seen on (…with thanks to Sara Karloff…)

“My dear old monster. I owe everything to him. He’s my best friend.” — Boris Karloff

In yet another tribute to Boris Karloff, I wanted to piece together all of the vintage production photos and screen grabs in my collection in order to pay homage to Karloff’s unforgettable portrayal of the Frankenstein monster.

“Frankenstein” (1931)
Directed by James Whale

“Bride Of Frankenstein” (1935)
Directed by James Whale

“Son Of Frankenstein” (1939)
Directed by Rowland V. Lee

Though Boris always felt quite reverential towards this landmark role, his attitude is perhaps best demonstrated by his insistence on referring to it instead as “the creature”, rather than the term all too often employed — “the monster”. He was also known to dislike the genre term of “horror”, and favored “terror tales” or “dark fantasies”. All of that being said, with all due respect to Mr. Karloff, the monster (as played by him in these three classic films) had an enormous impact upon me as a child, and it goes without saying that these movies remain nostalgic favorites of mine all these years later.

This photo gallery also chronicles the various differences in appearance which overtook the monster character throughout time, from one film to the next… He started out as a tall, powerful, frighteningly gaunt, wordless “walking dead” figure, covered with hap-hazard stitches and surgical clamps… then took on a soiled, tattered, singed-haired, horribly burned social outcast, struggling to develop speech… then resurfaced one last time as a hulking dynamo of a thing, once again rendered mute, his bitter yearnings for vengeance at odds with the better angels of his nature.

The release of each movie was separated by a span of four years throughout the decade of the 1930s (Horror’s Golden Age in Hollywood), and each was approached with the clear intention of producing an “A” picture — as opposed to the lower grade “B” productions offered by Universal during the 1940s. I also had lots of fun infusing all of the stray behind-the-scenes pictures throughout, and I believe it helps to shed a new dimension on the films themselves.


11 thoughts on “BORIS KARLOFF: Hollywood's Sympathetic Monster

  1. Just stumbled upon this…wonderfully done.  Karloff is one of the most underated actors and I've always treasured many of his performances.  Where did you get some of those rare production shots?  Love your music renderings and now this!

  2. Thank you, Bill. While it was a massive undertaking to gather and sequence all of those vintage photos, it was also a real labor of love. I appreciate your watching and commenting.

  3. This was Excellent, Boris Karloff is my all time favorite in the world of Horror Movies, i love his natural speaking voice. He really was one of the greats in entertainment. I have all his movies.

  4. That's quite spectacular! How on earth you find all these wonderful photos is beyond me. I especially love the seamless way you manage to expland the rather brief Tchaikovsky piece to accomodate all these fine stills. Makes one thing Peter Ilych may have been one of the first minimalists! And that last image…priceless!

  5. Kim!!! It's wonderful to hear from you. We've missed you, too. Pat has kept me updated on what's been going on, and we've both kept you in our hearts and our fondest thoughts… HUGS!… Yeah, being the vintage horror geek that I am, I'm fascinated by the discovery of all these ancient production stills — I was quite enthusiastic about putting them into a context where they could be shared. You're so sweet for watching, and I'm thrilled that you enjoyed doing so. I just LOVE these old flicks!

  6. Thanks! I appreciate your giving this slideshow a look… Yeah, isn't that interesting? The photo in question that I ended up using is a bit overly cropped, but I've always been fond of this one pic from "Bride Of Frankenstein" where Karloff (in full monster makeup, standing amid the lab set, at the 6:45 mark) tries to obscure his cigarette from being seen — but there it is anyhow, if you're looking closely enough. There were also a couple pics where he's smoking a pipe which didn't get used.

  7. Awesome photos of this. Hope you are well I have missed you and your lovely wife.

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