When discussing the field of horror icons no name looms larger than Boris Karloff. A giant of the Golden Age of Hollywood who stood tall and terrifying as some of Hollywood’s greatest ever horror creations and who changed the very nature of cinema forever with his varied performances. Now in Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster, audiences can come to learn of the man who was behind the make-up and this is a documentary packed together with intimate film history that long time horror fans will just adore.
Beginning just before his debut as Frankenstein’s creation, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster compellingly explores the life and legacy of a cinema legend, presenting a perceptive history of the genre he personified. His films were long derided as hokum and attacked by censors. But his phenomenal popularity and pervasive influence endures, inspiring some of our greatest actors and directors into the 21st Century – among them Guillermo Del Toro, Ron Perlman, Roger Corman & John Landis all of whom and many more contribute their personal insights and anecdotes.
To be a fan of filmmaking is to be a keen and eager historian, looking back on the past to see how history informs the present and when it comes to the horror genre one man stood taller above all else. Boris Karloff. A legendary Hollywood figure who forever changed the Hollywood landscape with his performance as Frankenstein’s Monster in James Whale’s seminal 1931 horror film Frankenstein, and it still holds true today as one of the greatest ever performances in cinema history. In Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster, director Thomas Hamilton takes audiences into the incredible history and life of Boris Karloff’s career and his is a fascinating story of a true original who changed motion pictures forever.
For one thing, Boris Karloff was never his real name, but a name adapted for the stage and screen and it fits perfectly for this giant performer of a man who stood above all else. Born William Henry Pratt in Surrey, England in 1887, Pratt was of mixed-race heritage and would start off as a stage performer before becoming a presence in early silent era movies before walking into the talkie era and transitioning to become one of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. A man of towering height and presence, he found skill at portraying ruthless villains and monsters, but in everyday life was a gentleman of the utmost degree and who was respected and loved by all who knew him. His is a fascinating story and it is all revealed in Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster.
As a documentarian, Hamilton gathers together an amazing list of film experts including the likes of directors Guillermo del Toro, Joe Fante, Jon Landis, actor Ron Perlman and noted historian Sir Christopher Frayling to dive into Karloff’s life and career and for film enthusiasts, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster is a fascinating watch. Here you see these noted artists and directors discussing in awe the presence and performance that Karloff gave to the silver screen and his audience. You learn of his work on seminal classics such as Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein, along with other works such as the incredibly terrifying and satanic The Black Cat, revivalist horror work Black Sabbath and his work on the comedic and classic Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
For film fans, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster is a must-watch documentary and it offers a complete and full portrait of an incredible actor who changed how monsters were seen on screen and whose legacy continues to today.
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind The Monster is available to stream now on Shudder.