1910: Frankenstein

Frankenstein is a 1910 film made by Edison Studios that was written and directed by J. Searle Dowley. It was the first motion picture adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The unbilled cast included Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as the Monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor’s fiancée.

Shot in three days, it was filmed at the Edison Studios in the Bronx, New York City. Although some sources credit Thomas Edison as the producer, he in fact played no direct part in the activities of the motion picture company that bore his name.

Dr Frankenstein creates his monster by putting some sort of an elixir into a vat. The monster emerges from said vat and terrifies his creator, who then runs off back home to his fiancée. The monster follows him, and they fight over her on the wedding night. The monster sees himself reflected in a mirror, and then disappears into the mirror.

The grainy out of focus camera work adds character to this movie, but also makes it a bit more difficult to follow the plot. However, the industrial looking sets, costumes, and make-up are more eerie and effective than a lot of what Hollywood churned out.

The very deepest roots of horror can be found in this gem. From the terrified look on Dr Frankenstein’s face when the first monster in US cinema history comes to life, to the last moments of footage, the film leaves one captivated.

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