Vito Skywalker | Hawaii United States | 12/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have owned these films on video for years and occasionally pop them in the VCR to revisit my childhood. I grew up watching these movies and consider them a staple of my childhood. It is nice to own them on DVD because, as we all know, videos can get worn over the years. The picture clarity on the double-feature DVD is a giant step above the video renditions. A lot of the junk on the screen in the video version of Son is cleaned up, but the picture is darker. Overall, the transitions are very good, with the exception of a slight cut in Son. In the part when Basil Rathbone learns from his young son that he was visited by a "giant," the good doctor runs to his laboratory looking for evidence of the monster or Ygor. He goes to the tomb where his father and grandfather are buried during his search and finds nothing. The slight cut occurs when Rathbone climbs up a ladder from the tomb back into the lab. There's not much missing, we just don't see him crawlng through the floor. In the video version, we do see Rathbone climbing onto the floor. I know this is a minor concern, but it doesn't make sense why this is missing when it exists on the video version. Asfor Ghost, it has never looked better.There's something special about the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s that I believe will endure throughout the 21st century. Regarding these two gems, Bela Lugosi's role as Ygor is unquestionably his finest performance, even more so than Dracula. He dominates both films. I'm certain that if Universal would have kept his dialogue in Frankensten Meets the Wolfman, his performance would have dominated that film, as well. I plan on getting that film on DVD - which is coupled with House of Frankenstein - but I understand it doesn't contain any new scenes where the monster speaks. For those who don't understand what I'm talking about, at the end of The Ghost of Frankenstein, Ygor's brain is placed inside the skull of the monster, played by Lon Chaney Jr., where it continues to function - dangerously. In fact, the monster speaks with Ygor's voice. In the sequel to that film, Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Lugosi plays the monster, but comes off as a moronic goon. The reason for this is because Universal heads found the monster's lines unacceptable and had them removed from the film before it was released. During a sneak preview of the film, it is said audience members laughed so much when the monster began relating his story to Lon Chaney it forced the studio's upper brass to cut the dialogue all together. The deleted dialogue and some scenes were never restored to the film. I wonder if the scenes still exist? If they do, it's curious why Universal has never presented a restored version of the film. I bet it would be spectacular. Universal has restored the original Frankenstein film with some deleted dialogue and the controversial scene where the monster throws the little girl into the lake, so I don't think it's outside the realm of possibilities to restore Lugosi's lost footage to Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman."
Great films, great prints, annoying authoring
Surfink | Racine, WI | 09/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Little need be said here to convince you to buy this disc if you grew up watching these on TV horror shows like I did (and assembling the model kits, buying the mags, they were called mags then, etc.) If you're new to the Universal classics all I can say is what are you waiting for? Universal is thankfully giving us the lesser titles as two-fors, so it really makes buying them just about irresistable. OK, so Son and Ghost are on the downhill slide after the peak of Bride, but still far more entertaining and well-made (particularly Son) than what typically passes for a movie now. And if you're a fan of Young Frankenstein, Son is an absolute must-see. You can find out all about the movies a million other places so I'm talking about the DVD.
First, the good news. The prints look spectacular, even better than those used on the previous VHS editions. I don't know if it's just the increased resolution of DVD or if they did some additional work on the prints, but they are so much richer and detailed than the pre-records it's just stunning. Not to mention that my VHS copy of Son in particular is riddled with dropouts.
The extras are minimal, including chapter stops, talent bios, and a trailer for Ghost (Son's trailer is mysteriously missing). What annoys me about this DVD though, and keeps it from a five star review, is the irritating and self-serving way Universal has structured the disc. What I mean is that, besides the obligatory WARNING screen that we're now all forced to sit through when we pop in a DVD, on this disc when you press the onscreen "Play the Movie" button, you're also forced to sit through over a minute of Universal's marketing twaddle before the actual movie starts. OK, you can click through it to the opening titles or you can go straight into the movie from the chapter stops screen (an easy enough workaround once you figure it out) but it's still mildly annoying how they constantly try to shove this marketing crap in your face. Don't let this minor gripe stop you from buying, it's just a drag 'cause this disc would be near-perfect otherwise. I am waiting expectantly for all the rest of them. Monolith Monsters on DVD! I can dream can't I?"
Great Universal Classics
Ned | Eldersburg, Maryland United States | 09/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a fan of the Universal monsters for as long as I can remember. These movies give us a chance to see some of the greatest actors of the Universal horror era (e.g., Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Lionel Atwill, Sir Cedwick Harwicke to mention a few.)In the Son of Frankenstein (sequel to Bride of Frankenstein), we see Karloff's last performance as the Frankenstein monster but as in Frankenstein and Bride of, he gives a great performance. I wonder how the series may have been if Karloff had continued in the monster's role. Basil Rathbone is the son trying to vindicate his father's name, but Ygor, played by Bela Lugosi, has other plans.In the Ghost of Frankenstein (sequel to Son of Frankenstein), Lon Chaney Jr. plays the Frankenstein monster and Bela Lugosi again plays Ygor and both are superb in their roles. It picks up where the Frankenstein monster is discovered in the sulphur pits. Sir Cedric Harwicke wants to dissect the monster but is convince by his father's ghost to continue with his work. The sequel is Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.It is fanatic to have these movies on DVD.Try watching these movies on a late stormy night."
"Son"--4 stars; "Ghost"--2 stars
David Bonesteel | Fresno, CA United States | 09/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Son of Frankenstein" is the better of these two sequels by far. Although the level of storytelling has begun a definite descent from the heights of "Bride," the production is still buoyed by excellent performances by distinguished Universal stalwarts of the period. Karloff, in his last appearance as the Monster, is given shamefully little to do. Bela Lugosi, however, excels as the cheerfully wicked Ygor. Basil Rathbone adds a touch of class as Wolf von Frankenstein, and Lionel Atwill steals scenes as Inspector Krogh, whose encounter with the Monster as a child left him with an artificial arm.
"Ghost of Frankenstein" totally coasts on the strength of the Frankenstein magic. If you're like me, you'll be entertained just because it's an old Universal Frankenstein movie, but it really does very little on its own to deliver that entertainment value. Lugosi is still great as Ygor, but Lon Chaney, Jr. projects none of the personality and pathos of Karloff--although, admittedly, the screenplay gives him little opportunity to do so. The plot is too busy, full of dull characters running in and out of secret passages with torches and ending with the obligatory explosion while the obligatory boring young lovers sigh in each others arms."
The Tail End of a Cinematic Legacy
shaxper | Lakewood, OH | 07/21/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"While "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" defined and redefined the American horror genre for all time to come, "Son of Frankenstein" and "The Ghost of Frankenstein" fall far shorter, at best merely keeping the franchise going and, at worst, driving a stake through it's heart and bringing the series to a screeching halt.
"SON OF FRANKENSTEIN" was clearly the recipient of a surprising amount of effort on the part of the studio, but that effort didn't get it very far. In addition to the legendary Boris Karloff, Universal brought screen legend Basal Rathbone and Universal's own legend, Bela Lugosi (Dracula) to the project. Additionally, the director seemed to have a clear artistic vision for the film, utilizing a mixture of Modernism and Expressionism in his sets, lighting, and over-all shot composition, apparently attempting to depict the three disconnected worlds of the new Baron Frankenstein (modern, scientific, detached), the villagers (medieval, worn, cramped), and the old Laboratory (chaotic, asymmetrical, unnatural). Unfortunately, the script fails to deliver, giving us characters with fantastically intriguing potential, but ultimately no internal conflict nor character development. Nothing is ever truly at stake in this film beyond the lives of a few villagers and the freedom of Dr. Frankenstein. Whereas the first two Frankenstein films were intense character studies (one could even argue that, like the Incredible Hulk, Dr. Frankenstein and the monster represented conflicting aspects of the same person), there is absolutely no depth of character to be found in this film. Even Karloff, who gets thrown a bone with two short, emotional scenes that are almost entirely irrelevant to the plot, does not get to act until almost an hour into the film, and spends most of the remaining time as a thoughtless henchman serving another villain. Karloff, in his final appearance as the Frankenstein monster, is relegated to supporting cast in a franchise that should have been centered entirely upon his character. This is a decent film for a lazy Sunday viewing, but I would hesitate to call it memorable or even a worthwhile inclusion in this franchise. Side note: Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" is based almost entirely upon this installment in the Frankenstein series.
"GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN" is, undoubtedly, the weakest installment in the Frankenstein series. By this point, the premise has completely lost its way, borrowing heavily from the previous film and practically ignoring the heavy themes, astonishing artistic value and, above all else, humanity contained in the first two films. In this uninspired tale, the Frankenstein monster, still befriended by Ygor (from the last film) has become far more casual about killing and terrorizing than in previous installments. Whereas the creature once sought understanding and only met violence with violence, he now kills whenever someone puts a hand on his shoulder or happens to be in his way. Perhaps this is a logical progression after so many disastrous encounters with people over the years, but director Eric Kenton fails to lend any sense of tragedy to this fact, treating the monster as a cold, viscous killer whose only redemptive quality is that he befriends children. Gone is any sense of the overwhelmingly earthy protagonist from the first two films. He truly has become little more than a monster. Perhaps I could have forgiven the film if that had been all the damage it dealt to such a beloved character, but it goes much further. By the end of the film (no spoilers here), the Frankenstein monster has been utterly ruined beyond salvation, surgically changed into a far more generic, dramatically void antagonist that was never going to earn another sequel. An otherwise brilliant franchise was stopped dead by one truly tasteless installment.
There's something to be said for the appeal of B horror films, but these are not B films. They were backed with decent Hollywood budgets and featured talented A list stars. That, as well as the fact that they follow two of the greatest horror films ever made, makes this volume an honest tragedy, entirely lacking the enjoyable recklessness of silly B films that never had a chance to begin with."