141 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein 75th Anniversary is an upgrade.
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...
Published on October 1, 2006 by J. A. Stankunas
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good version but get the collection instead.
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...
Published on February 16, 2007 by Steven Haskins
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141 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein 75th Anniversary is an upgrade.,
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.
59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Monster; A Magnificient DVD,
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.
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Alive! It's Alive!,
By A Customer
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.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Well, we've warned you!",
All movies are dated. Some are more dated than others, of course. A film's dated quality can be its strength as well as its weakness. Much film criticism has surrounded the primitive techniques used in 1931's "Dracula" and "Frankenstein". Lack of musical score, obvious use of studio sets, theatrical acting, pedestrian use of the camera, etc. Yet I would argue that these qualities are what make these films unique and give them a dream-like, nightmarish quality, which the later, slicker and more polished sequels lacked. The sound of the Frankenstein monster's footsteps coming down the hall before his entrance, the thumping of the dirt being thrown atop the coffin in the opening sequence, all would be lost had they been interpolated in a musical score. The same goes for "Dracula"'s scattering rats, bats and night creatures among the clacking bones in the coffins. Granted, the later "Bride of Frankenstein" brilliantly used music and a far more sophisticated film technique to unfold its story, yet it was a completely different piece of art. It was much more operatic and complex and full of irony and satire as well as horror. Whereas "Bride" gave us thrills, "Frankenstein" gave us chills.
There is something magical about pre-code films. These are films made before 1935 or so, before the Hollywood moral police enforced their censorship rules on the studio system. Pre-code films have a raw quality, an edge, a wisecracking, bristling aura that code movies don't. Code movies tend to be slicker, polished, glamorous and more cautious in the their content. Just compare "King Kong" (1933), "42nd St." of the same year, "Public Enemy" (1931), as well as the aformentioned "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" to any film of the code era and you'll see what I mean.
"Frankenstein" is a raw frightfest that still has some scary moments: just watch Karloff's face as he tries to come through the door after killing Fritz, with Frankenstein and Waldman trying to keep it closed. His growls are enough to still send shivers up your spine.
And yet look at the desperation in his face after he throws Frankenstein off the windmill and the villagers decide his fate. It is a look of panic and helplessness.
You can't help feel sorry for him, despite all the terror he has caused. This is genius movie-making and still scary stuff after 3/4 of a century!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good version but get the collection instead.,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 75th ANNIVERSARY TRIPLE DIP VS. THE OTHER TWO RELEASES,
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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 75th anniversary is worthwhile,
Universal has released so many versions of Frankenstein on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD claiming to be "the Restored Edition" you may wonder why you need yet another release of this superb film. First off, you will not see any footage in this version you have not seen since the true restoration VHS in 1991. As many know, the footage showing the monster tossing the little girl into the lake was finally located (although in 16mm instead of 35mm) and cut back in for the 1991 VHS and Laserdisc releases. This new edition is a beautiful transfer for such old filmstock, so if you don't have any of the previous DVD releases, you should get this.
But there are two big reasons to get this version:
The Stills section.
The short film called "Boo"
I viewed the stills section with a veteran Hollywood special effects guy today. He has been to Forry Ackerman's home and looked at all his stills of Frankenstein (Anyone over age 40 will instantly realize the impact of this) and has never seen some of the stills on this disc. The stills are beautifully rendered in full grayscale as well. It is presented with audio from the film as a sort of Photoplay, and is a loving tribute to the genius that made the 1931 Frankenstein untouchable by sequels or remakes. These stills are the reason your DVD player has a pause, zoom and Slow-Mo button.
Please note: during the Golden Age, studio stills were made with 8x10 cameras. That's right, an 8x10 inch negative! There is a near overwhelming abundance of detail in these stills that those raised on digital, or even 35mm images will not comprehend until they are viewed.
The short film "Boo" is at first glance a horrendous send-up of the monster films done by it's creators at Universal. In an ironic twist the creators of these films are turning their back on them almost as soon as they are created. But mute the sound, and you'll see some uber-rare vintage footage from Nosferatu and the long lost film The Cat Creeps. Golden Age Monster fans take note here; evidently when Universal made this one reeler in 1932, they were working with a contemoporary print of Murnau's Nosferatu which looks gorgeous and has a full range of contrasts! NONE of the more recent (since 1960!) transfers of Nosferatu look anywhere near this good. Whatever source material Universal had of Nosferatu in 1932 was near pristine. This alone justifies the purchase of this disk for Golden Age Horror fans.
But you'll also see equally pristine footage of the arcane film called "The Cat Creeps" a remake of "Cat and the Canary". This film has been obliterated by time, and these tanatalizing fragments reveal a lost early Golden age gem. I believe there are also some out-takes from Frankenstein which do not exist in the final version. I do not recall ever seeing the trees moving outside the windows when the Monster menaces a pre-nuptial Mae Clarke.
Although fragmentary, these clips and stills give Golden Age Monster fans enough material to fuel our imaginations on cold Novemeber nights; a faculty which has sadly been absent from American horror movies in the past 2 decades.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic early talkie,
Frankenstein had life before this the second filmed version of Mary Shelley's novel (the first was a lost silent film). Originally Robert Florey was slated to direct and a young screenwriter by the name of John Huston had a hand in the early screenplay. Bela Lugosi was offered the role and it was announced as his follow up to Dracula. All of this, of course, never happened. Lugosi chose not to do the film and Florey moved along with him to his next project.
Stage director James Whale had just made his first feature film and chose Boris Karloff to play the monster. He cast Karloff after making a number of sketches of the actor's face in the role. Two careers were born along with the Monster. John Balderston's adaption plays fast and loose with the source material but it works. Jack Pierce's make up for Karloff was astounding for its time rivaling the best work of Lon Chaney.
The film is a bit stiff and static but then so were many early talkies. The sound cameras were too cumbersome to move around a lot. Still, the photography and Whale's direction are both strong. It's clear, though, that Whale is still a little unsure of himself as a director as the film is packed with dialog (much of it unnecessary). Performances are uniformly excellent with Dwight Frye notable for his scenery chewing as the hunchbacked assistant to Dr. Frankenstein. Colin Clive plays Frankenstein as a jittery, nervous high strung individual (much like Clive himself no doubt).
The extras are great on the DVD. The commentary is always interesting and provides much insight into the era (including the difficulties when the film was reissued. The Hays Commission dictated that the film be edited prior to re-release eliminating the sequence between the Monster and the little girl at the well). Frankenstein isn't Whale or Karloff's best film but clearly one of their most important.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AFI top 100 film, Universal's Frankenstein is#1, now on DVD!,
Universal Studios made its indelible mark in Hollywood due to its famous mastering of the Horror movie. In 1931 Universals "Frankenstein" changed the film world forever. Even today it remains a very basic classic horror movie. The American Film Institute (AFI) voted it into the top 100 films in the first 100 years of film (1998).
Universal gathered the movie genius' and embarked on adapting Mary Shelly's novel to the screen. James Whale was chosen as the director and the make-up master Jack Pierce to create the giant Frankenstein Monster (played by Boris Karloff).
NOTE: The movie actually had a opening caution film introduction because of its 1931 unspeakable subject matter. People were genuinely scared, horrified but curious to see this film.
Summary: The mad Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) & his hunchback Assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) are robbing graves for bodys to construct a man to bring back to life. The Dr. still needs a brain to fullfill his inventory. Fritz steals a brain from the local medical school. Unfortunately the only one available is an abnormal one. The Dr. creates his monster being with the abnormal brain unknowingly. Through lightning storms, electrical shocks and unbelievable special effects brings the Monster to life! Now the horror is unleashed.
This is the first in Universal Studio's "Classic Monster Collection" DVD Series. This collection is the very best of their horror movies completely digitally remastered and uncensored. With lots of special features, photos and narratives. A must have DVD collection of classic Hollywood horror films.
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's alive for the third time,
The 2 DVD set will include a commentary with historian Christopher Frayling, a second commentary with Rudy Behlmer, a Karloff: The Gentle Monster documentary, 'Monster Tracks', a short film entitled 'Boo!', a Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster documentary, a 'Frankenstein Archives' feature, and the theatrical trailer
I bought the solo release when it came out in 1999. I even bought the Legacy collection 2 years ago so I could have all the follow up films and the mini-monster head. But now here's a third dip. Why couldn't they at least wait until they could put out an HD version? Guess they had to do something for the 75th anniversary.
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Frankenstein [Blu-ray] by James Whale (Blu-ray - 2013)
In stock but may require an extra 1-2 days to process.