MovieChat Forums > Terror of Frankenstein (1977) Discussion > most faithful Frankenstein adaptation ?

most faithful Frankenstein adaptation ?

I'm trying to find the most faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley's great novel, but one that also works cinematically.

The old Whale and Universal version, based on a Broadway adaption rather than on the novel, is too camp for me, and the I don't like the way the monster is depicted. The one thing that always fascinated me about the monster, is that in the original novel it was intelligent and capable of thought and emotions, but loneliness drove it to cruelty and violence. That element is gone here. And the fight near the northpole, which I also consider a highlight. I know the films from Universal are very affectionately regarded as the real ones, but they do nothing for me.

I haven't seen the Hammer version, starring Lee and Cushing, but given the way they handled Dracula, I don't think i'd like it much. Great actors, good atmosphere, but too rushed and without the depth the stories deserve.

I haven't seen the 1977 "Victor Frankenstein", with the swedish actor Per Oscarson as the monster, but I have read that it's quite loyal to the novel, but cheapish, dull and boring to watch. So loalty doesn't do it alone.

I really liked Clancy Brown as the monster, in "The Bride" opposite Sting's doctor. The film had little to do with Shelley's, but it had a soul. Brown was the heart of the film, and although his lovable, child-like freak was far away from the original creature, he was brilliant. He not only has the size, but I think he would have worked in a more straight version too.

A shame that Brannagh and Coppola failed in 1994, because I really like Coppola's Dracula. It's a shame because it does include the great elements of the creature driven to revenge, the framing of the young girl, and the final confrontation in the arctic. It even has some good supporting characters.
But the leads are so wrong. Robert De Niro is a great actor, but he couldn't have been more wrong for that rolle. Not only is he too "New York", but his physique is also the exact opposite of the tall, grotesque figure in the novel. But even if he had been right, it wouldn't have mattered much, because Brannagh's direction is so heavy handed. The scene where the creature stands in front of a burning cottage and screams: "FRANKENSTEEEEIINN" is downright embarrasing. there are other things, such as Brannagh's desire to show off his torso to such a degree in the laboratory, what's the point ? too self indulgent.
It could have been so good, but it's a wasted opportunity.

Can anyone recommend a good film adaptation of Frankenstein ? The novel desverves it.

I've just plowed myself through a truck load of movie and comic adaptations of Dracula, to find not only the one most loyal to stoker, but also the one representing the character. That means that after reading the comic book versions from Marvel and topps (which were both very good), I've bought or borrowed the Dracualu films that I could get my hands on.
My conclusion is this: 1) Todd Browning's from Universal is based on Broadway adaptation of the novel, and not the novel itself. It strays too much from the source, and, frankly, I find it too camp and pedestrian.It never seems convincing. I find it ironic that Lugosi was Hungarian, considering that the vampire tales about the Romanian nobleman is said to have originated in Hungary. It never seems convincing.
2) The Hammer series movies are fun, but too camp also, and again too far away from the source. Lee is physically impressive and a great actor, but the films are too light weight for me.
3) Lee also played the character for Jesus Franco, and here he must be the actor who so far have been physically closest to Stoker's description of Dracula. Unfortunately the film quickly turns into nonsense. And that's a pity. Lee is the only good element. Lom and Kinski never really convinces.The sequence where Dracula pretends to be his own coach is good though.
4) An even more nonsensical take on the legend by Franco, is his "Dracula, prisoner of Frankenstein". This film, if it can be called that, has no inner logic, and does no justice to either legendary monster.
5) Dan Curtis take suffers from lack of budget, but Jack Palance has a lot of weight and gusto in the part, even though the budget eliminates most supernatural elements, and instead shows a very physical, human Dracula. It could have been good, but has too cheap a feel. Palance is great though.
6) The BBC version, starring Louis Jourdan and Frank Finlay, has too much of a cheap TV-feel to it, but it is quite faithful, and does have it's moments. It includes Dracula's hairy palms, his head-first climbing down the wall, and his rapport with wolves, and his gypsy warriors.Jourdan seems more like a french elegantier (for obvious reasons) than a cruel eastern nobleman, but Finlay is very good Van Helsing. Probably the best Van helsing of all time.

7) Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula. Maybe the love story is too much, but there are many great elements in this film: Vojciech Kilar's score, Thomas sander's and Eiko Ishioka's designs, Coppola's visual effects,and the cinematography of Michael Balhaus are all visual delights. Dracula's bride's are
magnificent, Tom Waits is a wonderful Renfield, and Gary Oldman brilliant as the title character.If I should complain about anything, it would be that the young heroes, especially Reeves and Ryder, are too bland and boring, but so are they in the other versions too. My major problem, if I would have such a thing, is that Anthony Hopkin's Van Helsing are too manic and obsessed, and there is that weird hint that he might be a reincarnation of the romanian priest in the beginning of the film, the same way that Mina is of Elisabetha. And Reincarnation and christianity are not good friends, and it is not really well explained. I think they should have tuned Hopkins down a few notches. He is so good when he is restrained, and so annoying when he is too loud and broad in his acting.

Even after having watched all these different versions, I must say that this is my favorite Dracula film, which makes it all the more sad that Brannagh's companion piece is such a failure.

I would like too get some qualified recommendations for a good Frankenstein Film.

My favorite non-Dracula vampire film is the beautiful and melancholic swedish "Lät den retta komme inn". Being a scandinavian I love the swedish melancholia.

And my favorite Werewolf Film is Neil Jordan's different and dream like take and Little Red Hood "Company of Wolves".


I know it's a bit late for a response but I'll go ahead anyway:

If you are looking for an accurate version of the story and haven't already seen this, it's the one to go for. Though from all you've said you might not enjoy it as it is an independent film. Admittedly the acting isn't that great either. It's not bad, but it's just not anything really special. It's a bit slow too. But if you want something accurate, that's the one to go for.

Frankly I disagree with you on some of these. In terms of accuracy of the narrative, the Universal and Hammer films leave much to be desired. They do however capture the point and theme and in my opinion are just as entertaining in their own rights. Great atmosphere and some fine acting. I also hate those words "campy" or "dated". It's not the movie's fault, it's audiences for changing their tastes all the time and being so picky about things. Some people liek Anthony Hopkins when discussing The Wolfman for example forget that they too can be campy (in fact I found him much campier than the performances in the original even if it was better than in Bram Stoker's Dracula). It's just a different acting style.

It sounds like your a bit unaccepting of lower budgets, but for me personally I don't much care for big budget CGI sets and all that stuff. I like there to be something real there and frankly I find audiences demand way to much out of filmakers these days. There's such a thing as suspension of disbelief. It's okay if you don't care for them as much, but to just disregard a film because it's low budget seems kind of unfair. It's only when they aren't attempting to be creative with it at all like in a SyFy movie that it's really pathetic. Guys if you don't have the budget to make a good looking CGI creature, use practical means or play it as a creature in the dark. The Val Lewton films excelled at this and to this day are pretty darn eerie for showing so little yet conveying so much. Big budget modern films can look pretty bad at times too such as Van Helsing, The Last Airbender, Clash of the Titans, etc.

I watched a documentary about the 1931 English version of Dracula and they claimed that the original idea was to try to be a proper adaptation, but they lacked the budget for that and went for adapting the stage play instead. To be fair however the atmosphere is excellent and for my money Lugosi, Sloan, and Frye give the best performances of the characters (Lee and Cushing come as close seconds for Dracula and Van Helsing and Jack Shepard and Tom Waits are also great Renfields). However the Spanish production filmed at the same time is a much more lively production boasting more dramatic camera-work, more scenes like the heroes coming back from dealing with Lucy, and just shows more violence and sexier dresses than what the English version had. Check that out too if you haven't already. Another problem with the English one was that Tod Browning was supposedly distant from the project either because of dis-interest (after all Lon Chaney who was the original choice and had worked with Browning on many previous films had just died and perhaps he felt it was incomplete without him) or because he didn't know very much about sound equipment at the time. Karl Freund however did a darn good job with the things he did, and the good overwhelms the more negative things about this film. I still really like it.

For me the best Dracula film in terms of accuracy with the narrative is the BBC one and it's also very well acted (I thought Jourdan was one of the weaker ones but he wasn't bad) with possibly the greatest performances of Mina and Jonathan, a delightfully creepy and surreal look, and it's even filmed on location in Whitby! In terms of the best incarnation of The Count however that's probably Franco's version. I personally liked that too. A bit slow and Klaus Kinski is given nothing to do as Renfield (though he made up for it in Werner Herzog remake of Nosferatu when he played Dracula/Orlock himself) and it makes changes as well, but the Gothic atmosphere, music, and Lee are top notch. I've yet to see that other film you mentioned, but I'm a bit iffy about exploitation films and having heard James Rolfe talk about it in his Dracula vs Frankenstein review, I highly doubt I'd enjoy it. Franco is a guy who seems to do an okay job at some points, and a terrible job in others. I've only seen Count Dracula and Oasis of the Zombies and the latter almost turned ME into a zombie. Both have pretty lousy camera-work and had silly moments, but Count Dracula deserves a pat on the back for being the first attempt to tell the novel more accurately if nothing else.

As for Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I consider both mixed bags. BSD certainly looked great and had an excellent soundtrack, some lavish costumes (though Dracula's armadillo-like coach driver outfit and wig and Lucy's wedding/burial dress look very silly and out of place), and featuring great performances by Oldman and Waits (the latter however is the only great performance who's still in character), but it's a massive disappointment as an adaptation. It starts off great, but as soon as that first "romantic" scene with Mina and Dracula comes up, the film never recovers and once Hopkins comes in it comes to a screeching halt. Liam Neeson was the original choice and wanted to do it, but because Hopkins was still cruising off the success of The Silence of The Lambs, it went to him. Hopkins your a great actor, but you've been playing that crazy, quirky, smart-mouthed guy a bit too much since then and it really doesn't work here. Please Hollywood, consider hiring Neeson in the role if you make another adaptation, because I think he'd do a much better job. As for the rest of the cast, we're either getting forgettable or bad performances from them. I do like that we've finally gotten Seward, Holmwood, and Morris all in one film though.

Dracula films often change the narrative, but most at least keep the point and theme. BSD however couldn't even do that and the love story is positively insulting especially since they had the audacity to still call it Stoker. It might not be so bad if it was played like the Dan Curtis one where Dracula's not whining and crying purple tears and instead is only remembering things here and there and keeping them bottled up and remaining a complete villain, and his love is being hypnotized rather than willingly going to him re-incarnated or not, but having it a willing romance in this with a laughable take on the title character and a Mina who's basically a pre-Bella Swan, it makes it very hard to stomach. There's some good stuff in this movie, but I often skip the bad parts like that. It's passable, but it promised so much more than what it delivered.

It's been a while since I last watched Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but I remember being more satisfied with that one. Granted the main actors are hardly the ones I'd have picked for the roles they play (especially DeNiro as The Monster), and changes are made, but the story's point and theme aren't completely butchered like in BSD. They still tell the story rather well and like BSD it's still great to look at and has a good soundtrack. It's far from perfect and if you look at the two together BSD is still a bit more impressive to look at, but given how it and Terror of Frankenstein are the only ones I've come across that were more accurate and given how it doesn't just spit in the face of the author, I did think it was better as an adaptation.

Perhaps it's impossible to do a perfect version of these books, but that's no reason not to try. There's far too many that have nothing to do with either book's original story, and whether still good in their own right or not, it's kind of annnoying they don't try. I'm okay with making changes here and there as I like seeing someone else's perspective on them and appreciate originality, but it is pretty annoying when they just do whatever they want with no attempt to tell the story accurately. But as a whole Terror of Frankenstein is the best one to go with for the story and the same goes for the BBC Dracula and the Franco one for the most accurate version of the character. This is all personal opinion however and it's fine if you disagree with anything.

Sorry for the response being so late and long.


It's been a while since I last watched Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but I remember being more satisfied with that one.

Which is probably why you should NOT be advising anyone on which version is most accurate to the book because despite the title there was very little in that one that was true to the novel.

The creature was not bald in the novel, did not talk like a stroke Victim. Elizabeth was never brought back Frankenstein style after her heart was torn out and Victor never used a dead professor for the brain (that was taken from Hammer films).

Go watch the 2004 mini-series version from Hallmark starring Luke Goss as the creature.

As for Louis Jordan's Dracula, I felt he was dispassionate and dry while they made Mina and Lucy siblings, marged Arthur and Quincey, left out the de-aging, and the three female vampires.

The 1992 version of Dracula with Gary Oldman is faithful if you ignore the love story otherwise it's more like a film adaptation of Fred Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape more than Dracula itself by Bram Stoker.


This is the most faithful Frankenstein film adaptation made thus far and one of the best despite it's low budget. Fine acting and a very organic, low-key, naturalistic vibe throughout.

Per Osacarsson, the actor who plays the monster is outstanding; a monumental acting performance and on par with Boris Karloff, perhaps slightly better.


I am told that this is one of the two most faithful adaptations. The other being the 2004 miniseries. The 2004 miniseries is very long and moves rather slowly.


I am told that this is one of the two most faithful adaptations. The other being the 2004 miniseries. The 2004 miniseries is very long and moves rather slowly.

Yes, it's longer but I feel it's paced better than this one and left important aspects in tact like Justine being framed for William's death.


This is the most faithful Frankenstein film adaptation made thus far and one of the best despite it's low budget. Fine acting and a very organic, low-key, naturalistic vibe throughout.

Not quite. The 2004 version from Hallmark is the most Faithful. This version is not bad but the Hallmark version has Justine, leaves victor being arrested for Clerval's death. And the creature quotes Paradise Lost and has the long black hair described in the book. It's also better paced.


It's very late to reply to this but I strongly, strongly recommend the 2004 Hallmark mini-series of Frankenstein.

I was seeking a version that actually followed the book just last October and someone recommended to me. You will not be disappointed.

Here. This is the version of Frankenstein that actually follows the book. This is a mini-series from 2004 and unlike the 1994 film that claimed to follow the novel... This one actually did.


Clip from the end where the creature quotes Paradise Lost (just as he often did in the novel)

More clips:

Notice how the creature actually looks like and speaks like what Mary Shelley described.

In regard to the version from 1994 that claims to follow the book. No. Just no.

1. The creature did not look like that.
2. He did not talk like a stroke victim.
3. He never ripped out Elizabeth's heart.
4. He was never made with parts of Walton.
5. He should not have been bald from the start, the creature never had the brain inserted that way. Read the book, people! Each layer of his body was added one at a time, skin and hair last. He's not a robot.
6. He did not kill Alphonse Frankenstein.
7. Elizabeth was never brought back Frankenstein style.
8. The monster never set himself on fire.

I LOATHE the 1994 version because people see the title and assume it follows the book and never know that there is one out there that actually does follow the novel.

The Robert de Niro film is not bad but they need to stop assuming it follows the book.


I havent seen the 2004 version but I understand the creature goes on a rampage at the end and isnt as ugly as the book depicts (a difficult task-he is described as so ugly you want to lash out at him).

This version is sketchy but pretty close--but I agree that the characters are cold. They also make the creature more violent--they suggest he harmed a family near the place where Victor is going to make the second creature (and this prompts Victor to stop making it).