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ExhibitionTransformation of a Monster

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  • Red, black, and yellow advertisement containing names and drawings of headlining actors in costume.
    Poster for Frankenstein, 1931

    Poster for Frankenstein, 1931

    Courtesy Universal Studios Licensing LLC

    The Universal film introduces a plot device of using a criminal brain rather than a normal brain to explain the monster’s urge to kill.

  • Person applies prosthetic monster makeup to an actor's head and neck.
    Jack Pierce applies make up to Boris Karloff for Son of Frankenstein, ca. 1939

    Jack Pierce applies make up to Boris Karloff for Son of Frankenstein, ca. 1939

    Courtesy Universal Studios Licensing LLC

    The enduring visual impact of the Frankenstein film monster of the 1930s owed much to the skill of make-up artist Jack Pierce, who transformed Boris Karloff into a creature who would be recognized around the world.

  • Head and claw-like hand of an actor in monster makeup, coming out of the shadows.
    Boris Karloff as the Monster in Frankenstein, 1931

    Boris Karloff as the Monster in Frankenstein, 1931

    Courtesy Universal Studios Licensing LLC

    Boris Karloff’s moving portrayal of the speechless creature, and the enduring image of the monster with his flattened head, surgical scars, and neck bolts, deeply affected audiences.

  • Actor in monster costume, standing in doorway of a room with stone walls and an open, barred door.
    Boris Karloff as the Monster in Frankenstein, 1931

    Boris Karloff as the Monster in Frankenstein, 1931

    Courtesy Universal Studios Licensing LLC

    Universal Pictures released a film version of Frankenstein featuring Boris Karloff, a little-known English actor, as the monster in 1931.