Box art for Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

drama, horror, sci-fi & fantasy

Boris Karloff is the screen's most memorable creature in the story of Dr. Frankenstein, who tampers with life and death when he pieces together salvaged body parts to create a human monster.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 10
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
0 out of 5
1 out of 5

Classic monster movie still electrifies.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this horror movie is tame by today's standards, it does deal with issues of life and death and scientific ethics. Also, there are some killings, including a child who is drowned when a monster throws her into a lake. Younger children might be frightened by the monster, themes of grave-robbing, and the laboratory scenes. Still, older kids accustomed to modern-day horror's fast pace and stylized violence may find the film too "old-school" for their tastes.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how horror movies have evolved since this movie was released in 1931. What makes a movie scary?
  • Do contemporary horror films rely too much on gratuitous violence and gore?
  • How does this movie still manage to be scary without resorting to over-the-top content?
  • What does the Frankenstein's monster make you feel? Do you feel bad for him?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: 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.

- Alfred Rushford Greason, Variety, Monday, September 24, 2007

Fresh: Absolutely essential.

- Cole Smithey,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: One of the most deservedly famous and chilling horror films of all time.

- Don Druker, Chicago Reader, Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Audience Reviews

4 stars

A satisfying and entertaining monster movie with a good moral message. It doesn't do justice to the novel, and it's influence is greater than the film itself, but still, it's worth a watch. I could go on and on writing about this film, but it's been praise enough, so very little of what I could say would be original. All people who call themselves movie lovers need to see this.

- cosmo313, Thursday, April 1, 2010

4 stars

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.

- FrizzDrop, Monday, October 14, 2013

4 stars

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.

- blacksheepboy, Saturday, January 25, 2014