Certainly not the only, but perhaps the single greatest, exception to the rule about sequels never surpassing their forerunners. A lively and densely packed hour and a quarter, overrun by an unsuppressed sense of humor, it begins with a one-stormy-night prologue in which the story is resumed by Mary Shelley herself (Elsa Lanchester, who will reappear in the climax as the Bride), and it moves on to a frozen, thawed, and reheated Monster; to a madder scientist than young Dr. Frankenstein, an old buzzardly Dr. Praetorius (the incomparable Ernest Thesiger), with his miniaturized humans and all the best lines; to the violin-playing and cigar-smoking hospitable hermit whom Mel Brooks made such fun of in his less funny Young Frankenstein; and finally to that disastrous bit of laboratory matchmaking and the finger-in-the-electrical-socket hairdo. Music, sets, photography, all pitch in and do their share. With Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Una O'Connor; directed by James Whale. (1935) — Duncan Shepherd
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