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Frankenstein (1931) [VHS]

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Product details

  • Actors: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan
  • Directors: James Whale
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal
  • VHS Release Date: 17 Jan 2000
  • Run Time: 69 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RNIT
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,747 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

James Whale's classic version of Mary Shelley's ghost story made a star of Boris Karloff as the tragic monster. Scientist Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has become alienated from his friends and bride-to-be through his obsessive determination to create life. Frankenstein has created a monster out of body parts acquired by his dwarfish assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye), and succeeds in giving it life during an electrical storm. However, due to a mistake by Fritz, the creature possesses the brain of a killer, and after the dwarf torments it to breaking point Frankenstein's creation escapes and goes on the rampage, terrorising the local community. Followed by 'The Bride of Frankenstein'.

From Amazon.co.uk

"It's alive! Alive!" shouts Colin Clive's triumphant Dr. Frankenstein as electricity buzzes over the hulking body of a revived corpse. "In the name of God now I know what it's like to be God!" For years unheard, this line has been restored, along with the legendary scene of the childlike monster tossing a little girl into a lake, in James Whale's Frankenstein, one of the most famous and influential horror movies ever made. Coming off the tremendous success of Dracula, Universal assigned sophomore director Whale to helm an adaptation of Mary Shelley's famous novel with Bela Lugosi as the monster. When Lugosi declined the role, Whale cast the largely unknown character actor Boris Karloff and together with makeup designer Jack Pierce they created the most memorable monster in movie history: a towering, lumbering creature with sunken eyes, a flat head, and a jagged scar running down his forehead. Whale and Karloff made this mute, misunderstood brute, who has the brain of a madman (the most obvious of the many liberties taken with Shelley's story), the most pitiable freak of nature to stumble across the screen. Clive's Dr. Frankenstein is intense and twitchy and Dwight Frye set the standard for mad-scientist sidekicks as the wild-eyed hunchback assistant. Whale's later films, notably the spooky spoof The Old Dark House and the deliriously stylised sequel The Bride of Frankenstein, display a surer cinematic hand than seen here and add a subversive twist of black comedy, but given the restraints of early sound films, Whale breaks the film free from static stillness and adorns it with striking design and expressionist flourishes. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elise on 28 Jan 2005
Format: DVD
Frankenstein is so well known that even if you haven't seen the film, you will know the cadaverous image of Boris Karloff as the monster. Karloff as an icon of cinema history is probably why there have been relatively few remakes of the film - you cannot think of anyone who could actually BE the monster.
Basically we all know the outline of the story, it has become ingrained in our culture. Henry Frankenstein in convinced that he can create a living being from dead bodies, and does so with the help of an assistant (who surprisingly, for me at least, is called Fritz not Igor in the film - though he is an ugly hunchbacked dwarf). Then, the story goes, the monster goes on a rampage. This, like Igor, is also not fully true, Frankenstein's monster kills Fritz only after being tormented by him, and then inadvertently kills a little girl, who he has been playing with by trying to float her on the lake, the way the two of them have been doing with flowers. We are led to what Mary Shelley wanted us to see, that the monster is an innocent who did not ask Frankenstein to create him, rather than a "real" monster. Generally the creature invites compassion rather than fear, and it is his treatment by others that is the real horror of the film.
Karloff's is the really memorable performance of the film. It was made only a few years after the advent of sound and in this film many of the actors are either ex-silent film actors or ex-stage actors. Whatever their background there is a slight tendency to ham things up a little. This is never a big drawback in a horror film, but it is Karloff's understated, silent performance which makes this film a true classic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Jan 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Karloff's performance has gone down as one of the greatest of all time. The scene where he first sees the light is dazzling as he feebly clutches the rays. Dwight Frye is one of the most underrated actors of all time. I am shocked why no one appreciates this genius who is utterly terrifying. Colin Clive is, apart from Claude Rains, the definitive madman. Only Rains' Invisible Man and Rotwang from Metropolis can equal him. The mob at the end of the film is a bit uneven and lets the film drag slightly, but the final scene of the monster pulls it back up. A great film and a great bargain, buy it!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By tony mac on 23 April 2003
Format: DVD
Though inevitably dated and primitive by modern standards, Frankenstein remains a tremendously impressive film and a tribute to its still somewhat under-rated director, the eccentric Englishman James Whale.
Where so many early talkies were static and wordy, Frankenstein skips unnecessary dialogue and exposition and drives through its plot at a speed that seems almost indecent nowadays. Compared to overblown remakes like Kenneth Branagh's 1994 version, Whale's work now seems like a masterpiece of brevity and minimalism. His constantly moving camera, incisive editing and dramatic use of close-ups are a mile ahead of anything far more prestigious directors were doing at the time. Expressionist photography and eccentric set designs lend atmosphere, menace and help augment some rather ripe performances; a foretaste of the paths Whale would tread in the sequel Bride of Frankenstein four years later.
And then of course there's Karloff. With comparatively few scenes and no dialogue he nonetheless manages to create a complex, intimidating, yet sympathetic creature - one of the great mimes in talking cinema and thanks in no small degree to the freedom given to him under Jack Pierce's iconic make-up.
A historic piece of cinema, and one that still stands the test of time as both art and entertainment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Victor HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 14 Nov 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A castle on a lonely Easter European hilltop. A storm in the dead of night. A bolt of lightning, in a laboratory in the castle an insane experiment is taking place. Sounds like a cliché? Used over and over again in horror films? Well, these are the films that started the cliché. The films that set the standard for all horror films that followed.

The films stand out for several reasons. The intelligent script, the great direction that masterfully keeps you in suspense. The use of light and shadow. The great acting, even from the supporting cast. And of course, the legend that is Boris Karloff in THAT make-up.

James Whale directs with an eye for detail, and a taste for the macabre. And manages to bring the monster to life superbly. Colin Clive shines as Frankenstein, the deranged scientist trying to conquer death, playing it with just the right level of mania. The `It's alive!' scene has rightly become a Hollywood legend, oft imitated and never equalled. And Elsa Lanchester as the `Bride' has to have one of the most memorable hair-do's ever seen on the silver screen!

It is Karloff who dominates though, mute for most of the films, and face hidden by layers of make-up, he still manages to convey volumes of expression. It is said he didn't want the monster to speak at the end of `Bride', but those three words are so devastating they add the perfect finishing touch to the films. This is the film that made his name, and it easy to see why. The word `Iconic' comes to mind.

Compared to today's horror films these might seems a little anaemic and slow paced, but personally I think they compare well. There are some truly shocking scenes, some great plot and narrative devices and well drawn characters.
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