Of all the classic creatures of horror movies, Frankenstein is one of the oldest ones. He was created by the writer Mary Shelley back in the 19th century, predating even his famous cousin Dracula. Frankenstein is considered by many a tragic figure. The Frankenstein monster was abandoned by its creator, the scientist Victor Frankenstein.
As it roamed the world, people feared the monster and shunned it. Since the release of the novel, the story has been adapted multiple times. Some adaptations took creative liberty with the source material while others followed it closely. Whatever the case, the best Frankenstein movies stand out among the rest.
Updated November 14, 2022, by Kath Leroy: When it comes to the number of movie adaptations, Frankenstein has yet to reach the most famous monster of all time, Dracula. Despite the fact that Dracula reigns supreme, Frankenstein’s fans don’t have to despair as filmmakers like to return to Mary Shelley’s novel all over again. As such, the viewers can choose a movie according to their liking, regardless of whether they’re in the mood for something scary or more light-hearted. And even when Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t have the leading role in the movie and is a part of an ensemble, he still draws attention to himself thanks to the uniqueness of his character.
9/9 Frankenstein (1994)
Director Kenneth Branagh has built a reputation for himself as a talented Shakespearean director but not everyone might realize he also directed an adaptation of Frankenstein and played one of the leading roles in the movie as well. Branagh portrayed the monster’s creator and Robert De Niro played the Frankenstein monster. The movie takes the time to establish the characters well, and thanks to the excellent actors, the viewers soon become invested in their destinies.
De Niro’s Frankenstein monster is both frightening at times and sympathetic at other times. The movie has a strong cast overall, also starring names such as Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, or Ian Holm, and it’s visually beautiful. If the role Elizabeth didn’t go to Helena Bonham Carter, Kate Winslet could have played it, and the role of the Frankenstein monster could have gone to Andy Garcia or Gérard Depardieu. The movie was nominated for an Oscar but even though it didn’t win, to this day it remains one of the best Frankenstein movies.
8/9 Frankenweenie (2012)
If the viewers have already watched all the classical versions of Frankenstein and are in the mood for something unusual, Frankenweenie is a good choice. The movie draws inspiration heavily from the novel, but the overall story is different as it’s not a monster that’s created in the movie. Rather, the main hero, a young boy Victor, decides to bring back his beloved dog Sparky after the dog dies. And when he succeeds, it’s clear that interesting things lie ahead for both Victor and Sparky.
Frankenweenie is the most accessible adaptation of Frankenstein that even children can watch and not have to be afraid of the movie. Sparky the dog will enchant many viewers and the movie is both funny and touching at times. It’s not the first time Tim Burton has adapted this story, as he’s done a short live-action version in 1984, but the 2012 movie is better known, and not just because the animation is beautiful to look at.
7/9 Hotel Transylvania (2012)
If the audience is in the mood of watching a more humorous version of Frankenstein’s monster, the first Hotel Transylvania movies as well as the sequels, especially the second movie from 2015, are a good option. In both cases, the focus lies on Dracula, his daughter Mavis and the human Jonathan, but Frankenstein’s monster plays a significant part in it as well. Frankenstein’s monster is portrayed as one of Dracula’s closest friends, Frank, as they call him.
Frank visits the hotel in the first movie and is helping Dracula on his quest to make Dracula’s grandson Dennis into a vampire in the second film. In both cases, Frank is a lovable creature with a sense of humor who’s initially terrified of humans and doesn’t hurt them. He’s one of the highlights of the movie, alongside other supernatural creatures, such as the Invisible Man.
6/9 The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)
Hammer Films were responsible for some of the best horror movies of the 1950s. The British studios made their own versions of literature classics, such as Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and Frankenstein as well, with Peter Cushing starring as Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee playing Frankenstein’s monster. Cushing and Lee create an unforgettable duo, and if for nothing else, viewers shouldn’t miss out on watching the movie thanks to them.
However, The Curse of Frankenstein has even more things to offer, such as a strong atmosphere and a captivating story that moves forward swiftly. The movie spawned multiple sequels, but it remains the best part of the series. An interesting bit of trivia about the movie is that The Curse of Frankenstein was the first Frankenstein movie ever filmed in color.
5/9 Son Of Frankenstein (1939)
The original Frankenstein series from the 1930s remains one of the best portrayals of Frankenstein in feature films. This time, the movie focuses on Wolf, the son of Dr. Frankenstein, who returns to his father’s laboratory and discovers Frankenstein’s monster there. When Wolf makes the mistake of reviving the monster, trouble begins.
Besides the movie’s story and horror atmosphere, Son of Frankenstein offers a talented cast featuring some of the most notable actors of the 20th century. More specifically, it stars Basil Rathbone as Wolf, Bela Lugosi as the servant Ygor, and, of course, Boris Karloff repeated his role as Frankenstein’s monster. The movie isn’t as known as the previous two parts, but it deserves more attention from the audience as oen of the best Frankenstein movies thanks to its quality.
4/9 Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
One of the more unusual adaptations of Frankenstein features more than one notable monster, such as the Wolf Man or Dracula. It’s also a horror comedy, making it an ideal watch for families or those who just want to laugh with their favorite monsters. The movie focuses on two post office workers, Abbott and Costello, who have to fight Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.
The movie keeps a fast pace and offers more than one excellent joke, coming across as a feel-good piece thanks to it. It marked the end of the classic Universal horror movies, so it’s only appropriate it was the last time Bela Lugosi also portrayed his iconic role of Dracula. The role of the monster went to Glenn Strange, and he made it his own as well.
3/9 The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
In many ways, the sequel to the successful horror movie Frankenstein that came four years earlier was even more progressive. Instead of painting Frankenstein’s monster as a horror creature, it showed him as a being that longs for love, although it chooses to go about it in the wrong way. As the movie’s title suggests, it revolves around Dr. Frankenstein’s effort to create a partner for his monster, a bride.
Those who would expect a romance story are in for a surprise, though, and that’s not the only strength of the movie, thanks to its cast and atmosphere. The only potential downside is that the movie isn’t a horror, more along the lines of a fantasy drama. Just like its predecessor, The Bride of Frankenstein became one of the classics and a must-watch for all fans of the genre.
2/9 Frankenstein (1931)
The 1931 movie is the first prominent adaptation of Frankenstein that’s now considered one of the must-watch horror classics. Considering the movie was filmed 91 years ago, it has excellent special effects, especially when comes to the Frankenstein monster’s look. Boris Karloff became a horror icon when he portrayed the monster and set a precedent for future Frankenstein movies as well. The pace isn’t as fast as today’s viewers might be accustomed to, but the movie still contains many tension-filled scenes that make it worth watching.
An interesting fact about the movie is didn’t draw its inspiration directly from Mary Shelley’s novel but from a theater adaptation that ran in theaters during World War One. Each day, it took four hours to transform Boris Karloff into the Frankenstein monster. The movie’s box office gross was 13 million dollars which were considered an enormous success, especially since it premiered during the Great Depression.
1/9 Young Frankenstein (1974)
Frankenstein belongs to the science fiction and horror genre and is usually a serious, dark story. Not so much in this comedy version that presents the iconic story in a light-hearted way. Mel Brooks directed the parody movie and offers a view of Frankenstein’s monster that even those who read the book will be unfamiliar with.
That makes the movie all that more surprising and fun to watch. It helps that the movie has talented actors in the leading roles, starring Gene Wilder in the role of Dr. Frankenstein and Peter Boyle as the Frankenstein monster. The movie has the power to make the audience laugh more than once and is the best Frankenstein comedy ever made. It was nominated for two Oscars and Mel Brooks stated that Young Frankenstein is his favorite movie of all the ones he’d directed.