Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (Documentary Review)

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (Documentary Review)

Long before the popularity of today’s iconic Horror character actors such as Tony Todd (Candyman 1992), Nick Castle (Halloween 1978), or Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984) was another name who paved the way. Who you might ask? It was an unassuming English man named William Henry Pratt (1887-1969) who became the much loved Actor Boris Karloff; the master of monster disguise whom relished scaring the pants off the world. 

A very interesting person, being the youngest of nine children helped give Karloff the competitiveness, drive and courage he needed to break into acting. Then, he deliberately failed a consular service exam as the final step in taking the ultimate plunge. Already eighty plus films into his career, Karloff’s passion eventually paid off at the ripe age of 43 when his life would forever be altered. Taking on the role as Frankenstein’s monster in 1931’s classic Frankenstein, Karloff conveyed an unexpected amount of depth and emotion, thus becoming a star of epic proportion.  

A gem in cinema history which should never be forgotten, Writer-Director Thomas Hamilton (Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn 2016) and Ron MacCloskey team up to celebrate Karloff’s impressive career in their new documentary film Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster.

Initially released in select US theaters back in September, it then arrived to Digital and On Demand everywhere October 26, 2021 thanks to Shout! Studios. Over one and a half hours in-length, the film features an impressive list of interviews including Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy 2004, Pan’s Labyrinth 2006), John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House 1978, Trading Places 1983), Joe Dante (The Howling 1981, Gremlins 1984), Ron Perlman (Hellboy 2004, Sons of Anarchy series), as well as Boris’ daughter, Sara Karloff. All offering something different to the film, they each give personal insight into Karloff and the influence he had on them. All enough information to strike any fan’s interest, adding to it all, the original song “Frankenstein’s Lament” by famous Bassist Jay Leonhart really sets the tone for the documentary’s entirety.

Overall, Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster is extremely informative look into the career of a legend. You really get a detailed look into how prolific and talented an actor he really was. Too many times someone like Boris Karloff is remembers for just one or two roles, but there is really so much more to discover. That is why this is a documentary that is a must watch for fans of classic Horror cinema or just anyone who wants to become a more well-rounded student of cinema.

While Boris Karloff’s versatility took a bit of time to flourish, when it did, it extended way beyond just the living dead, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster 5 out of 5 stars.

Shout! Studios

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Robyn Andrew
[email protected]

R.L Andrew is a chronically ill Australian writer. When she isn't posting movie reviews for a leading New York Website (, RL is reading both fiction and non fiction or alternatively doing what she loves most; writing. From the time she was young, RL has been an avid reader, and was introduced at a young age to the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King. This was the beginning of a life long love of horror. RL takes inspiration for her work from her love of all things strange, weird, and the funny situations in everyday life. RL continues to read and write crossing a number of genres, but still loves watching a good scary movie. After raising three daughters, RL lives in rural Victoria with her husband and furry son, chocolate labrador, Max. She is currently editing her first novel, which she deems ‘soft’ science fiction; A Lunatics Guide to Interplanetary Relationships, and hopes to traditionally publish. Social Media links: Amazon Author Page Facebook Page: Blog: Twitter:

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