Boris Karloff is the screen's most tragic and memorable monster in the Frankenstein 75th Anniversary Edition. Tampering with life and death, Dr. Frankenstein pieces together salvaged body parts to create a human monster. Director James Whale's 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley's masterpiece novel remains a timeless classic, and this 2-disc 75th Anniversary Edition offers an all-new digitally remastered picture of the greatest horror movie of all time. Frankenstein: It's alive!
A 75th Anniversary Edition of Frankenstein
is a fine gesture toward a film classic, although fans who have already bought Universal's previous Frankenstein
DVDs might want to weigh how much they need to upgrade an already acceptable package. The picture quality of Frankenstein
in the "Classic Monsters Collection" and "Legacy Collection" was already pretty good (unlike Dracula
, which was significantly improved for its 75th-anniversary issue
). A few new features are added here, joining a roster of previously available extras.
Returning from prior DVDs: The Frankenstein Files, an in-depth history of both literary and cinematic incarnations of Mary Shelley's monster; a feature commentary with Rudy Behlmer; various archival items; and Boo!, a comedy short with horror clips and spoofy narration. Added for this anniversary edition is a new commentary with Sir Christopher Frayling, who brings a spirited and learned attack to talking about the film. Also new is Universal Horror, a 95-minute documentary by Kevin Brownlow. As good as Brownlow's work generally is, this 1998 doc, narrated by Kenneth Branagh, is choppy, and ranges far afield from Universal's great run of horror movies. It's worth seeing for clips from very rare films and for interviews with the likes of Fay Wray, Gloria Stuart, Ray Bradbury, and Curt Siodmak. (It's also included in the Dracula anniversary set.) And there's "monster Tracks," a pop-up feature that gives onscreen info-bites about the film while you're watching it.
The best of the new features is Karloff: The Gentle Monster, a 38-minute documentary on the subject of the film's iconic star, whose career was made by the success of Frankenstein. It pays fond tribute to Karloff's beloved status as a horror giant, and makes the case that his career had real variety. Frayling and director Joe Dante are among the talking heads paying homage. --Robert Horton