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Frankenstein [DVD] [1931]

  • SKU: 3720227
  • Release Date: 08/17/1999
  • Rating: NR
This DVD is actually superior to the film it contains, and considering that the movie in question is one of the greatest horror movies ever made, that's saying something. James Whale's Frankenstein never looked better than it does here, running circles around even the best laserdisc editions. A few scenes show more wear than one would like, but the image and the details are so sharp that it looks as though one could step inside of it. In this edition of the movie, viewers can truly appreciate the sheer eeriness and the full details of Boris Karloff's monster, right down to the texture of the skin, and get a good idea of what made the movie so extraordinary in its time. Additionally, it's fascinating to compare the assembly of the "restored" material here with the laserdisc version of the late-'80s; the laser looks like a crude and sloppy editing job, where the DVD is seamless in those previously "lost scenes" (the uncut creation sequence and the incident with the little girl). The audio is a little more problematic; while clean and very crisp, the dialogue is mastered too low in relation to the sound effects, making listening a choice between the dialogue too low or the sound effects too loud. The film by itself might well justify the high list price of this DVD, but the latter offers a lot more. The accompanying secondary audio narration by Rudy Behlmer is one of the best ever done for a classic film. Behlmer walks viewers through virtually every shot of the movie and the story as it unfolds, not just through the pre-production and production history but the entire tale of the Frankenstein story and its various theatrical and cinematic incarnations prior to the Universal film, right down to the details of the various screen tests (including that of Bela Lugosi). This principal part of the supplement is a great performance in and of itself -- vastly entertaining and as valuable as a detailed book about the film, the novel, and Universal. The film is also accompanied by a selection of stills and lobby cards, a re-release trailer, and a frame-by-frame look at the movie's production history and the background of its players. The menu is easy to access and maneuver, though the film starts up automatically, so one must punch it up out of the modern MCA-Universal logo.
$9.99

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    Overview

    Ratings & Reviews


    Overall Customer Rating:
    98% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (91 out of 93)

    Special Features


    • "The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster" (original documentary)
    • Feature commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
    • The Frankenstein Archives
    • Short film "Boo!"
    • Production notes
    • Cast and filmmakers' bios and film highlights
    • Original theatrical trailer
    • Universal web links

    Synopsis


    Frankenstein
    Still regarded as the definitive film version of Mary Shelley's classic tale of tragedy and horror, Frankenstein made unknown character actor Boris Karloff a star and created a new icon of terror. Along with the highly successful Dracula, released earlier the same year, it launched Universal Studio's golden age of 1930s horror movies. The film's greatness stems less from its script than from the stark but moody atmosphere created by director James Whale; Herman Rosse's memorable set designs, particularly the fantastic watchtower laboratory, featuring electrical equipment designed by Kenneth Strickfaden; the creature's trademark look from makeup artist Jack Pierce, who required Karloff to don pounds of makeup and heavy asphalt shoes to create the monster's unique lurching gait; and Karloff's nuanced performance as the tormented and bewildered creature. Frankenstein was greeted with screams, moans, and fainting spells upon its initial release, obliging Universal to add a disclaimer in which Edward Van Sloan advises the faint of heart to leave the theater immediately. If they don't: "Well...we've warned you." Director James Whale was memorably embodied by Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew


    • Colin Clive
      Colin Clive - Henry Frankenstein
    • Boris Karloff
      Boris Karloff - The Monster
    • Image coming soon
      Mae Clarke - Elizabeth
    • John Boles
      John Boles - Victor Moritz
    • Dwight Frye
      Dwight Frye - Fritz, the Dwarf



    Customer rating

    Rating 4.8 out of 5 stars with 93 reviews

    98%
    would recommend to a friend

    Most relevant reviews

    See all customer reviews
    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Beautiful Creature

      Posted
      WileyGo
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      The story of "Frankenstein" has always been, at least to this reviewer, one that has transcended the often unfortunate fate of being pigeonholed as a mere horror film. Yes, there are horrific elements to the story, not the least of which are the maniacal doctor's grave-robbing and his ghoulish patchwork approach to "fatherhood." Yes, there are the gothic castle, the fantastical lab with all its equally fantastical scientific equipment, and the dark, foreboding shadows paired with ominous camera angles meant to heighten and sustain the eerie mood. However, it's the haunting condition of the man-child Creature who is thrust (or perhaps dragged?) into a world it doesn't understand and that doesn't understand him which is the heart and soul of the original novel and, of course, this film. As well, it's the Creature's utterly heartbreaking yearning to be accepted by its creator, a yearning that is met only with revulsion and rejection, that could not have been better conveyed by any other actor besides Boris Karloff. His wordless performance is an all-time marvel. It's essentially a masterful pantomime of pain, confusion, and loneliness that is almost unbearable to watch. And yet, we do watch, and watch, and watch, time and time again...maybe because we are all the Creature, and it is us.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Brilliant horror classic

      Posted
      XAvenger
      • Top 100 ContributorTop 100 Contributor

      This is the movie that set the standard for all Frankenstein movies to follow. It is also one of the true pioneers of the horror genre. This version tells the familiar tale of a scientist (Dr. Frankenstein) who dared to conquer life and death. Colin Clive's portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein is what set the groundwork for all 'Mad Scientist' characters. He gives an electrifying performance as a driven, but not entirely crazed man. Dr. Frankenstein had much greater depth and complexity than a cliched 'Mad Scientist'. We get to see his family life and learn a few details about his past and what led him to conduct such an extreme experiment. We see him more as a misguided person than a lunatic. As for Boris Karloff's performance as the monster, this was a briliant performance. The moster looks grotesque and frightening, but Karloff makes the moster sympathetic. He plays the monster not as a villain but as a victim and we really come to feel for the unfortunate creature. The special effects were state of the art by 1930's standards and some still hold up, particularly the make-up on Karloff. This is the mosty famous monster make-up in movies and he still looks ghastly today. The DVD extras are all informative and tell the history of not just this movie but of Universal's classic horror movies as a whole. The only problems stem from the age of the source material. Universal did a great job with the restoration, but this is still a nearly 80 year old movie. There is background noise, some problems with the film stock and a missing frame or two in one scene. Despite this, the DVD is still highly enjoyable to watch. This is the perfect Halloween movie. Scary and suspenseful but not gory and violent. If you are interested in classic movies, you need this in your collection.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      All-Time Horror Classic

      Posted
      kingmob
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      What more can be said about James Whale's classic 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein that hasn't already been said? If you've seen it, you probably love it. If you haven't seen it... well, what are you waiting for? The only thing you really need to know is whether or not the technical specs of the Blu-ray edition are worthy, and I must say, they definitely are. The audio is about what you'd expect from a film from 1931, that is to say there are no fancy surround-sound effects - in fact, the sound design here is rather sparse, but the presentation on the disc is solid but not mind-blowing. The video presentation however is exquisite - I never imagined that a film that is almost 85 years old could look this stunning. The disc also contains a nice selection of bonus features, including making-of featurettes, trailers, a restoration featurette and a pair of audio commentaries. The bottom line is, Frankenstein is an essential piece of horror cinema history... BUY IT! I recommend you also pick up the even-better sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, while you're at it.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      the definitive version of Frankenstein

      Posted
      prlwctd

      Like Dracula, released earlier in 1931, this version of Mary Shelley's book is the one that enters the minds of most people when they think of Frankenstein. Although, like Dracula, its lack of a musical score makes the film seem slow in places, its virtues more than make up for it. First and foremost is Karloff's great work as the monster, aided immensely by the monster makeup by Jack Pierce. Colin Clive is also memorable as the title character, who creates new life without a thought given to the possible consequences. Dracula alumni Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan are also memorable as Fritz (Frankenstein's sadistic assistant) and Dr. Waldman (the doctor's former tutor), respectively. But it's Karloff who dominates this film, playing one of the most frightening and pitiable of all movie characters.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      #1 Horror movie of its time.

      Posted
      moviereviewer1949
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

      I watched this movie on blu ray and it was like seeing the movie for the first time. Universal did a great job of cleaning up this movie and the quality of the picture and sound was wonderful for an 85 year old film. I first saw this movie on TV when I was a young boy and it scared me to death. I had nightmares about the Frankenstein Monster being trapped in the burning mill and I never forgot his screams of terror. If you have never seen the original I highly recommend you watch it on blu ray. Boris Karloff played the Frankenstein Monster and it made his career in horror films. Watch it for American Film History by Universal Studios.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Amazing Steelbook for an All Time Classic

      Posted
      Jl730
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      I love the artwork on this steelbook, its such a beautiful image. You can never go wrong with Alex Ross artwork and that paired with a steelbook is a perfect combination. Plus it comes with a nice clear slipcover which is something I wish more steenboks came with. It's just a great edition for an all time horror classic

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Eat your heart out, Frankenweenie!

      Posted
      TheMovieFan16
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite Plus MemberElite Plus Member

      Once again, Universal kills it (pun intended) with their steelbook movie releases. This one has a digital copy which should be redeemed right away or gifted to a friend/close one. As the title to this review suggests, I think this is the definitive Frankenstein movie. Pre-teens and up can see it.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Beautiful Steelbook of Legendary Film

      Posted
      aabeene
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite Plus MemberElite Plus Member

      “Frankenstein” remains one of the greatest horror films of early sound cinema, and this gorgeous Steelbook is a great way to celebrate it for first-time viewers or many-time fans, alike. The Steelbook is beautifully illustrated and has a nice interior. Highly recommend.

      I would recommend this to a friend



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