#3: FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER
Frankenstein's Monster...the original reanimated creature! A nearly unstoppable freak of nature that should have never been made! A 19 year old Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, with little foresight that her prototype monster novel would influence generations to come. Every savage creature since owes a huge debt of gratitude to this monster.
Shelly's novel's really not all that good. It contains some neat timeline writing style, but it's basically about as good of a book as you'd expect a 19 year old girl to write. But the idea and actual story underneath that writing is magnificent. Though the Jewish legend of The Golem is likely the first man made monster tale, Frankenstein brought a morality twist that made it truly unique.
If man can reanimate the dead, should he? What does it say about a human soul, if you can make it walk the earth again? And what is the price, when man plays God? In Frankenstein, the results are particularly tragic.
The original monster, was a creepy hodge podge of dead parts sewn together and brought to life with chemicals and alchemy. But when the 1931 film version was made, with the crazy electrical equipment, and Dr. Frankenstein screaming, "It's Alive!" unleashing a chilling bolt-necked creature as played by Boris Karloff...they got it! It was better than the book!
Though the first Frankenstein film is clearly a thing of beauty, I've thought The Bride of Frankenstein (one of the first and best sequels in film history), to be far superior. Several scenes from Mary Shelly's novel like the befriending by the Blind Man, and of course the creation of his mate are all here. Boris Karloff's performance adds new layers to the monster, making him both sad and scary all at once. When you consider that he broke his legs during the production, but continued one with metal braces on his legs, it's an even more amazing performance. Elsa Lanchester is equally remarkable as The Monster's bride, with her freaky hairdo, and frightening scream. The monster even gets philosophical at the end, pulling a big switch on the wall to collapse the castle after saying, "We...Belong...Dead!" (Of course, as Roger Ebert pointed out on a TV show a long time ago, why anyone would have a switch that would collapse the building on top of you is a pretty weird thing).
Another damn good Frankenstein film that's worth checking out if you can find it is the made for TV Frankenstein: The True Story, which is about the most faithful version of Shelly's tale out there. But ignore the crap remake starring DeNiro, and the horrible Sting/Jennifer Beals The Bride at all costs.