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  • Son of Frankenstein [DVD] [1939]
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Son of Frankenstein [DVD] [1939]

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  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi
  • Directors: Rowland V. Lee
  • Writers: Mary Shelley, Wyllis Cooper
  • Producers: Rowland V. Lee
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Jan. 2013
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016586UY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,333 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Basil Rathbone comes to Transylvania to inherit his father's estate in this second sequel to Frankenstein. The townspeople are suspicious, but young Frankenstein has no interest in reviving his father's work--until he discovers the monster hidden away in the castle, inert but very much intact and watched over by Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a sinister, snaggletoothed peasant with a broken neck. Convinced to revive the creature and vindicate his father's name, Frankenstein toils away in the lab not realising that Ygor plans to use the monster to revenge himself on the jury that sentenced him to hang. Boris Karloff makes his final appearance as the Monster, now little more than a mute, lumbering robot under the hypnotic control of Ygor. Rathbone is a dignified, suave scientist and a marvelous match to Lugosi's mad Ygor, a richly malevolent performance that dominates the film.

Lionel Atwill makes a marvelous addition to the Frankenstein gallery as the wooden-armed constable, a legacy of the monster's rampage 25 years before. (Mel Brooks's loving lampoon Young Frankenstein, a veritable remake of this film, features the constable and his lumber limb in a major role.) Universal abandoned horror films in 1936, but the success of this sequel single-handedly revived the genre. Though lacking the gothic splendor and macabre humor of James Whale's originals, Rowland V. Lee's handsome production remains an intelligent, well-made classic of the genre and Universal's last great horror film. Lugosi returns as Ygor in The Ghost of Frankenstein.--Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Mercy on 4 Jun. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My personal favourite of all the Universal horror movies, 1939's Son of Frankenstein was the last of the classic trio starring Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster, and marked the high point of the Universal horror cycle; with an all-star cast and a satisfying, fast-moving storyline, this lavish A-picture still stands up well today.
After fleshing out the character in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Karloff now returns the Monster to the status of a mute brute and a more obviously straightforward villain, though his friendship with Bela Lugosi's broken-necked Ygor is still quite touching; and speaking of Lugosi, he gives the performance of his life here, losing the oily hair and hammy gestures of his melodramatic Count Dracula to play a toothy, grotesque grave-robber with real relish. Basil Rathbone's wired paranoia makes him a worthy successor to Colin Clive as the scientist, and Lionel Atwill enjoys his greatest role (famously spoofed in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein) as the one-armed Inspector Krogh.
With its grand, expressionistic sets and doom-laden atmosphere, Son of Frankenstein is for me the definitive horror film of the period, using the era's most famous stars to great effect in a production worthy of their talents. Unlike James Whale's two Frankenstein films, there are no duff notes in the performances, with the one possible exception of Donnie Dunagan, the small boy who plays Frankenstein's son. He drops a couple of lines and his comic timing is terrible, however, as he is visibly about four years old this is easily forgiven.
After this movie Karloff decided that he had done all he could with the Monster, and it was time to leave the part behind; however, Universal had no intention of giving up on such a profitable formula and continued to churn out more ever-more contrived sequels with a variety of lesser actors replacing him in the role.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By PJC on 2 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While this film never received the critical acclaim of "Bride of" I have always rated it better. It may not have the imagery, symbolism or black humour of the former but as a horror film it succeeds far better.
Rathbone gives gravitas to the role of Wolf the titular son striking a subtle balance of mania and scientific knowledge. Lugosi is brilliant as Ygor, yes it is his finest role surpassing the vampire count. Atwill's police inspector may represent law and order but the underlying menace of his performance reminds us constantly of the many villians which Lionel played.
Karloff is superb despite his lack of script. Once again he evokes fear and also sympathy by a wonderfully balanced performance.
This is universal horror at its' best, chilling, believable performances. Gloomy, foggy and futuristic sets, and a rattling plot which never loses pace.
All in all wonderfully represenative of the genre as a whole but a film capable of standing on its' own merits as you don't need to have seen the prequels to enjoy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lazydrake on 23 Oct. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The opening scene when Wolf (Rathbone) arrives in Frankenstein, the village named after his infamous father, is quite atmospheric, as the train negotioates a petrified, gnarled landscape. And Lugosi's performance as Ygor is inspired though predictably hammy. Lionel Atwill delivers a memorable and believable performance as Inpector Krogh (lampooned affectionately in Young Frankenstein). But that's about all to commend this film. I love Rathbone in his Sherlock Holmes role, but I'm afraid I think his performance here is well over the top. Some scenes make me cringe in fact.He later castigated this film as a 'penny dreadful' but I'm afraid he's more than a few quid dreadful here.
Karloff's monster is now reduced to a speechless dummy wearing a grubby fleece, denuded of any emotional expression. He does, however give the film its only moment of pathos, in the scene where he discovers Ygor's body. My last complaint is 'little' Donnie Dunagan, who sounds like Arnold out of Diffr'ent Strokes, talking infant jive in a crummy, shrill American accent. Talk about anachronism or miscasting.
The 'expressionist' set is certainly striking but scarcely believable. My final point is to speculate- how much better would this film have been if Peter Lorre, the original choice to play Wolf, had played the part instead of Rathbone?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 May 2011
Format: DVD
Son Of Frankenstein, directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Basil Rathbone as Baron Frankenstein, Boris Karloff as The Monster {his last turn as the creature}, Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh and Bela Lugosi as Ygor. That's quite a cast list, add in a sharp script from Willis Cooper and the stunning sets from Russell Gausman, and you got a sequel that's well worth its salt. Following on from Bride Of Frankenstein {25 years later}, the film sees son of Frankenstein Baron Wolf von Frankenstein {Rathbone} return to the family home and scene of his fathers monstrosities. Receiving a less than Luke warm reception on arrival, Wolf is presented with a box containing his fathers papers. After being told in no uncertain terms that continuing his fathers work will not be tolerable, Wolf laughs off the notion. However the next day he's out wandering in the ruins and comes across Ygor, his dead fathers assistant. Where it's revealed that "The Monster" is still alive but very much comatose. Wolf then becomes obsessed with bringing the monster back to full life, thus to prove his father had the right intention but not the execution of his ideas.

It's a ripper of a sequel is this, perhaps lacking in the humour that James Whale brought to the first two films, it is however a well constructed feature boasting great performances from Rathbone {the part was originally planned for Peter Lorre}, Lionel Atwill {having a riot with his false arm} and Lugosi {possibly a career high in terms of substance}. Lee stamps his own marker on the piece and I think the nicest thing one can say is that his film sits well with Whale's classics. The only let down is actually Karloff's monster, stripped of voice at Karloff's insistence, the monster is now reduced to being a lumbering robot. It's not a fitting farewell to the great work that Karloff did with this brilliant creation. 8/10
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