Sadly, there are some films that I will probably never get to see and this is one of them.
There’s a lot of reasons that films become lost. Some films have been purposefully destroyed. Some have been merely forgotten. Unfortunately, it took several decades for people to understand that films could also be art. Back during the silent era, I imagine people would have laughed at the idea that someone in 2018 would have any interest in watching a film that was made in 1920.
1920 was the year that a German-Italian production company produced Il mostro di Frankenstein. It was one of the first film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s classic monster. (It wasn’t the first, of course. Thomas Edison produced his version of Frankenstein in 1910 and there may have even been earlier versions.) It was a silent film. It reportedly starred the hulking Umberto Guarracino as Frankenstein’s Monster while the Baron was played by a former circus performer name Luciano Albertini. (Albertini also produced the film.) The completed film reportedly ran afoul Italy’s then-stringent censorship laws and so much footage was cut that the final version only ran 39 minutes.
Il mostro di Frankenstein is considered to be a lost film, one that is now remembered for being one of the few Italian horror films released before the 1950s. (As a genre, horror was frowned upon by both the Vatican and Mussolini, which meant the while the genre thrived across the world, Italian horror spent several decades moribund.) In fact, I’ve read that Il mostro di Frankenstein was the last horror film to be produced in Italy until Riccardo Freda’s I Vampiri was released in 1957. I can’t say for sure whether that’s true or not but it makes for a good story.
Sadly, I’ll probably never see Il mostro di Frankenstein. But, hey — if anyone in your family ever worked in the Italian film industry, why don’t you go up to your attic and take a look? If it’s in your basement, get it out. And if you find it in a storage locker, don’t throw it away because you’ve got a piece of history that many of us would like to see.
Until that happens, we only have this one screenshot to let us know that there was once a silent Italian film about Frankenstein and his monster.