Frankenstein movies have been immensely popular since the mid 20th century with Britain’s Hammer Film Productions pioneering the Gothic horror with Terence Fisher’s ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ in 1957. Prior to that there were many great Frankesntein movies made in the 30s and 40s, the most famous one being Mary Shelley’s adaption of the novel in 1931 but it was Fisher’s masterpiece that was game changing on every level.
Gothic horror remains quite an obscure zone and haven’t really been explored even by the most ardent horror fans which is what makes this article pretty exciting. So with all that said now, let’s take a look at the list top Frankenstein films ever made. On this list you won’t find the 2015 release Victor Frankenstein movie, but the fans of Young Frankenstein movie won’t be disappointed. By the way, if you wanted to know how many Frankenstein movies have been there.. the answer is more than 40.
12. The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
Freddie Francis directed this Hammer Films Produced Frankenstein flick that’s cut straight out from the same cloth as the Universal Picture’s original Frankenstein series of the 1930s and 40s. This one is probably my favorite guilty pleasure Frankenstein movie. The funniest and most entertaining part of the film is Peter Cushing’s performance as Baron Victor Frankestein. While critics at the time were pretty harsh on this film, in retrospect, it certainly does come off as a more than enjoyable flick.
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11. The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
Jimmy Sangster’s remake of the iconic 1957 Frankenstein movie follows Frankenstein’s wicked son, Victor Frankenstein who murders his father and takes hold of his castle and builds his own monster. The film almost plays out like a parody of the original Terence Fisher flick which also features on the list. Jimmy Sangster’s direction is faultless but his handling of humor is pretty clumsy and it hampers the narrative badly at places. However, the performances are top notch and Ralph Bates pretty much holds the film together.
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10. The House of Frankenstein (1944)
This monster crossover flick might not be among the best of Frankenstein movies but possesses an endearing goofiness that makes it endlessly watchable and wildly entertaining. It follows a rather simple plot about Frankenstein and his assistant who seek revenge on people who jailed and they bring in The Wolf Man and the Dracula to join their mission. The film does not break any new grounds but pretty much does what it set out to do and that makes for an immensely satisfying experience. It’s so goofy at places that even the intended scary parts come off as laughable but it’s a lot of fun if you take them as part of the appeal.
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9. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Terence Fisher was among the greatest horror movie directors of the 20th century. The man pioneered Gothic horror and his acclaimed Frankenstein movie, ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ revolutionized the genre being the first color horror film produced by Hammer Film productions. While his fourth installment, ‘Frankenstein Created Woman’ may not be on the same level of his earlier masterwork, it’s far from being a mediocre attempt. In fact, it’s a really good film. There’s a visible tonal and thematic shift here as Fisher’s film focuses more on the emotional, psychological and metaphysical aspects of it instead of the physicality of Baron’s work which is what most of the earlier Frankenstein movies were all about. Its vision isn’t fully realized but is ambitious enough to craft an immensely satisfying experience as a whole.
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8. Frankenweenie (2012)
Most people hate Tim Burton as a filmmaker and for good reasons. I mean the man is responsible for some utterly cinematic tortures like ‘The Planet of the Apes’ but I have to admit that at his best he’s pretty darn terrific. ‘Frankenweenie’ is certainly not among his best works but definitely one of his better endeavors. As a parody of the 1931 film, ‘Frankenstein’ this one does a pretty good job getting the right mixture of drama and humor. There’s a certain quirkiness to the story that gives it a beautifully endearing quality. It doesn’t try to go overboard with ambitions and instead tries to get the basics right and crafts a deeply heartfelt piece of drama.
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7. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Arguably one of the best Frankenstein movies ever made, ‘Son of Frankenstein’ was the last installment in the Universal Studios’ iconic Frankenstein series. Following up as a sequel to ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, the film focuses on one of the sons of Frankenstein who revives his father monster from a coma but things take a bizarre turn as he responds only to Igor but Igor desperate for revenge which further complicates things. The film is now widely considered to be the quintessential Frankenstein movie and has a special place in the hearts of staunch monster movie fans.
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6. Gothic (1986)
This classic British horror directed by Ken Russell depicts the Shelleys’ visit to Lord Byron and tries to finish a horror novel. Gabriel Byrne is fantastic in the lead role and steals the show with his performance as Lord Byron. THe film’s overall striking atmosphere pulls you into the narrative and albeit heavily flawed in parts, the film very nearly transcends its genre. You may end up feeling slightly underwhelmed but there are moments and images that stay with you for quite sometime and eventually tend to grow more on you.
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5. The Monster Squad (1987)
‘The Monster Squad’ belongs to the shut-your-brain-off-before-you-watch kind of horror comedy. It’s a film that has an absolute blast with a fun script and never, for once, tends to take itself seriously which is what makes it such a fun ride. The film depicts the battle between a group of people who fight it out against Count Dracula and his monsters in order to protect their world. The performances are hilarious throughout, especially Tom Noonan who is wildly funny and creepy as Frankenstein’s monster.
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4. Mad Monster Party (1967)
This animated musical comedy flick focuses on Dr. Frankenstein who decides to retire from his job as the head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters but things take a turn when his nephew joins in to succeed him. It’s an endearing, lighthearted drama replete with many memorable moments. While the effects obviously feel a lot dated, the content surprisingly still manages to hit. It’s funny, naive, silly and charming and that’s just all part of the appeal.
3. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
It was the great Robert De Niro’s turn to don the role of Frankenstein and he does so with astounding control and remarkable panache. Written by Frank Darbont and Steph Lady, the film was noted for being a highly faithful adaptation of the original Mary Shelly novel but writer Darabont was disappointed with Kenneth Branagh’s approach to the script, criticizing him for choosing a more brash tone for the film. However, it’s an incredibly well made film with raw ambition and whilst it falters on numerous occasions, the end result is still an immensely satisfying experience.
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2. Young Frankesntein (1974)
Directed by Mel Brooks, this horror comedy tells the story of the grandson of an infamous mad scientist as he inherits his castle and starts reworking on many of his grandfather’s experiments. Adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, the film was noted for its refreshing humor and is a parody of the classic horror genre. Gene Wilder is absolutely amazing in the lead role and is the soul of the film, delivering a performance of remarkable charm and comic strength. It is today regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of all time.
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1. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
So we’ve finally got the iconic Christopher Lee playing the creature here. ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ is possibly the greatest Frankenstein movie ever made and possibly one of the greatest horror movies ever made. The film became immensely popular and spawned a series of sequels, two of them which already made the list, but none could ever come close to matching the sheer brilliance of Terence Fisher’s masterwork. Surprisingly, the film was never received well among critics at the time but over the years its stylistic elements and visual aesthetics have gone on to influence numerous directors with greats including Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton admitting the film’s influence on their work.
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