Boris Karloff stars as the screen's most memorable monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster (K... more »arloff) out of lifeless body parts. It's director James Whale's adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel blended with Karloff's compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity that makes Frankenstein a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time.« less
J. A. Stankunas | Jupiter, FL United States | 10/01/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After disappointingly releasing James Whale's 1931 classic Frankenstein in two previous DVD editions, I had my doubts as to whether or not this edition would be any better. Would Universal give this classic horror film the treatment it deserved? To be honest, the previous DVD's special features were always great, like documentaries, audio commentary, ect.; but the one real issue that bothered me about the other editions was picture and audio quality. I can honestly say that, even after going as far as making a side by side comparison between the first release and this new edition, this new anniversary edition is the one to own. Much has been improved over the old versions, and I could not see any blemishes that exist here that did not exist before. The film now looks sharper, with significantly less dirt and dust, and the contrast of the expressionist photography has also been improved, with truer blacks and more subtle grays giving the film's cinematography the dark starkness it was intended to have, I dare say the film probably hasn't looked this good in years. And as a plus, they let the end credits fade to black like they were intended to, unlike in previous DVD editions when they strangely paused the end credits. As far as audio is concerned, it is good and loud, somewhat hissy, but not distractingly so. Extra special features also worth while. This new edition finally fives this classic the digital treatment it deserves and proves that even after 75 years, Frankenstein is still a fascinating landmark in early American horror cinema."
A Memorable Monster; A Magnificient DVD
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 11/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have seen better prints of the film, this DVD issue of Universal Studio's famous FRANKENSTEIN is a magnificient package that is sure to delight any fan of classic horror. The film itself has been restored for content, and the Skal-hosted documentary--which traces the story from Mary Shelly's famous novel through its numerous film incarnations--is a delight, including numerous interviews with various historians, critics, and Karloff's daughter. The bonus audio track by Rudy Behlmer is also quite interesting, as are the various biographies and notes, and although the short film BOO is a spurious mix of footage from NOSFERATU, DRACULA, THE CAT AND THE CANARY, and FRANKENSTEIN, it is an enjoyable little throw-away. All in all, it doesn't get much better than this.As for the film itself, the production of FRANKENSTEIN was prompted by the incredible success of the earlier DRACULA--but where DRACULA is a rather problematic and significantly dated film, FRANKENSTEIN was and remains one of the most original horror films to ever emerge from Hollywood. Much of the credit for this goes to director James Whale, who by all accounts was deeply influenced by silent German film and his own traumatic experiences during World War I--and who mixed those elements with occasional flourishes of macabre humor to create a remarkably consistent vision of Mary Shelly's original novel.Whale was extremely, extremely fortunate in his cast. Colin Clive was a difficult actor, but Whale not only managed to get him through the film but to draw from him his finest screen performance; Mae Clarke is a memorable Elizabeth; and Dwight Frye, so memorable in DRACULA, tops himself as Fritz. But all eyes here are on Boris Karloff as the monster. Karloff had been kicking around Hollywood for a decade, and although he appeared in quite a few films before FRANKENSTEIN he never really registered with the public. But in this role, acting under heavy make-up, weighed down by lead weights in his shoes and struts around his legs, and without a line of intelligible dialogue he offered a performance that transcended the word "monster." This is a suffering being, dangerous mainly through innocence of his own power and the way of the world, goaded from disaster to disaster to disaster. Even some seventy-plus years later, it is difficult to imagine any other actor in the part.Karloff would play the monster again in two later films, one of them directed by Whale, but although THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a remarkable film in its own right, this is the original combination of talents and the original vision. Truly a national treasure, to be enjoyed over and over again. Strongly recommended."
It's Alive! It's Alive!
Gary F. Taylor | 09/26/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At last! Isn't this what we all investment into DVD for? (or at least it is for me) Digging deep into their vaults (sic) Universal Studios have packaged the first in a promised series of Classic Monster flicks with suitable aplomb and style. This is the real classic of silver screen horror films and spawned a series of sequels which still reverberates today. Not only do we get the best possible print of the movie, uncut - yes the complete print including the full lakeside scene - but it is crowned with a host of extras which make full use of DVD. Not only is there an excellent audio commentary, but we are also given a tremendous behind the scenes look at the treatment of Mary Shelley's monster by Universal (crammed full of tantalising trailer snips from all the Universal canon). If you have a DVD player with Region 1 capabilities then you owe it to yourself to invest in this beauty.Classic monster tales don't rate any higher than Frankenstein. It really is the grand-daddy of all subsequent monster movies and Universal's classic is arguably the first real sound horror film. The film kicks off with an historic pre-credit sequence by Edward van Sloan, who warns the cinema audience of the 30's about the terror to come. The script, as adapted by John Balderston, bears little real resemblance to Mary Shelley's book (taken really from Peggy Webling's stage adaptation) and is really responsible for beginning the confusion over the identity of Frankenstein. (As we all now know the creator of the monster was named Frankenstein and not the creature he manufactured.) In putting together the story line, Whale drew on previous European cinematic monster incarnations (Der Golem/Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) for a visual style which became a classic to be imitated for decades. In establishing his players, he drew up the blueprint for all subsequent horror films (the crazed scientist/the hunchback assistant/the fire brandishing peasants/etc.) and cast wisely for his star players. It is common knowledge that the first studio choice for the role of the monster was to have been Bela Lugosi (hot on the heels from starring in Dracula), but through a quirk of fate, the role was offered to Boris Karloff (who was then a veteran of nearly 80 films!). The performance by Karloff must rank as one of the greatest cinematic creations (of any movie). It is both frightening and sympathetic at the same time (in my estimation his nearest rival would be King Kong). In the incredible Jack Pierce make-up the image of Karloff as the monster is indelibly etched into 20th century cinema as a true icon.On DVD the film looks its best yet for home cinema consumption. Inevitably the wrinkles of age are all too apparent. The film has not received the full restoration treatment that others have been honoured to from the video archives, but warts and all can do little to hold back to power of some of these images. The black and white photography is for the most part pure and the scratches, tears and dust specs don't detract too much from your viewing enjoyment. The audio quality is surprisingly clean and has thankfully been left in its original mono. For DVD and horror fans alike it is the extras which push this disc up into the "must have at all costs" category. First off, Rudy Behlmer's audio commentary is great. Highly informative and interesting. This is a model of how audio commentary should work - an enthusiast passing over his love of a film to other fans. David J. Skal's original documentary "The Frankenstein Files" is a 45 minute featurette covering the lead up to Whale's movie and the subsequent development by Universal is keeping the monster alive and kicking. There is a real find from the archives in the Universal short, "Boo!" - a parody of the genre using footage from Nosferatu as well as Frankenstein. The "Frankenstein Archives" represent the best I have seen on any disc. Not only does it offer posters from across the world, but there is a plethora of movie stills presented in sequence with accompanying dialogue lifted from the soundtrack. It is a great way to trawl through these scenes and should be taken up by other distributors. Even the bog standard menu screens are given the full works with music and it is all rounded off with the re-release trailer and Web Links. This is now my top DVD. All in all this DVD must rank as my own personal top release of 1999. The film is a true classic. The presentation is all DVD should be with great back-up archival material. If you love the movies and cinema there can be no better way to show that appreciation than by getting your hands on this real gem right away. There are more promised (Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, etc.) - I, for one, can hardly wait."
75th ANNIVERSARY TRIPLE DIP VS. THE OTHER TWO RELEASES
2littlemoney | Oakland, CA USA | 09/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
OK...........well....I am exactly the sucker....err....I mean FAN...yea, FAN that Universal goes after with these multi-dip releases. I have just finished comparing the 90's release, Legacy box set, & this, the 75th Anniversary FRANKENSTEIN DVD's. BTW: If anyone reads my DRACULA comments, you'll see they are similar in my final opinions. So, overall, YES.....I'd say there is a better picture quality to this transfer. But look.....when someone tells me a film has been restored, especially a film of the calibre of FRANKENSTEIN, then I expect to have my bolts knocked off with the transfer....ESPECIALLY AFTER BUYING TWO PREVIOUS RELEASES. I don't need to be told how old these films are and what to expect. Technology allows for many things these days and IF a company is going to toot their horn and say something is restored....especially a high roller like Universal....then RESTORE IT.
Now, if you have either of the previous releases, you'll know that the transfers weren't all that bad...not great, but definitely liveable (remember when it was just cool to get this on a disc?lol:-). In this one, the print STILL has a noticeable amount of speckles and murkiness as the other two. So to say this was the bling- bling-anniversary-looked-like-we-gave-a-poop-release, well, it STILL comes up short as far as the cleanup. If this was the first time I'd ever seen this movie released on DVD, then I'd say OMIGAWD, this is amazing.....but compared to the last releases, this doesn't show me all that much difference in picture quality. Maybe if Universal spent the time and energy to do it right.....i.e. the definitive HD transfer and stopped this rerelease crap, I'd be more impressed. As it is, it seems to be more money gaining effort than an actual 'Anniversary' effort.
I did notice that on the LEGACY BOX SET (the green packaging), the sound had more of the fuzziness. I noticed this with DRACULA as well, that the 90's releases (poster art covers) SEEMED to have better sound than the LEGACY versions. But then this is at the same time picking the lesser of two evils in sound quality as none sound all that spectacular to begin with.
So let's see.....let's recap shall we:
PICTURE QUALITY: Better than the LEGACY BOX SET, though -that can be argued- in various parts of the film. If you NEVER picked up a DVD copy of this film, then this is the one to get. If you have the other two versions, I'd decide how much you like this film before dropping the cash for it. I mean really....only hardcore collectors are going to feel compelled to upgrade to get three or four less speckles per scene (well, that's an exaggeration, but you get the picure).
VALUE: If you are only marginally interested in the classics monster stuff, get the LEGACY SET. It at least has more films included as well as the same special features (minus the one new one added here) and definitely decent film quality. The first releases from the 90's might be cheaper to find used at this point though...and surprise! they have the same d@mn features...only back then, they really WERE special unlike now, when other than the new Karloff piece, they are recycled.
PACKAGING: So.....with this new release, we get cooler sepia toned box art. A nice touch. The packaging is nearly identical in construction as the LEGACY sets, i.e. it opens like a hardback book. Only here, it seems kinda skimpy. Whereas the LEGACY was this slicked cover housed in a window sleeve to protect the case. Well, here is a simulated 'leather'-ish cover with no gloss, and no case. I know this is minor to some, but hey, this will get scuffed & jacked up. And depending on where you buy this, for the price (in some places nearly 30 bucks) well, Universal could have at least given us a sleeve to put this in.
OVERALL PART 2: This releases is cool....but still gets a 50/50 for what we get packaged up."
Good version but get the collection instead.
Steven Haskins | Iwakuni, Japan | 02/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I notice most of the reviews posted here are for a different DVD, the Legacy Collection of Frankenstein movies. But this 75th anniversary edition is only ONE movie, the original Frankenstein, along with some "making of" and interviews on the second disc. While this is a good version of the film it only costs a few dollars more to get the Legacy collection which includes Bride of ..., Son of ..., Ghost of ..., House of ..., Frankenstein's Second Cousin, etc.. Don't make the mistake of buying this version based upon these wrong reviews, especially when you buy it new paying full price."