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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to see why it's a classic
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...
Published on 28 Jan 2005 by Elise

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great films but 3 less than Region 1
Not a quibble about the quality of the films but the region one release of this also has Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein on it. Region two short changed again.
Published on 7 Jun 2004


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to see why it's a classic, 28 Jan 2005
By 
Elise (Southend on Sea, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frankenstein [DVD] [1931] (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
5.0 out of 5 stars So Much of It Is Timeless, 24 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Frankenstein (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
5.0 out of 5 stars seventy years on and still solid gold, 23 April 2003
By 
This review is from: Frankenstein [DVD] [1931] (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein / The Bride Of Frankenstein, 2004 collector's edition - The original and best!, 14 Nov 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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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.

The prints of the films are pretty good considering they are 80 years old. They have been remastered and it shows. They are presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with mono soundtrack. The two discs include a wealth of extras, including documentaries, a look at the other Frankenstein movies made by Universal, and theatrical trailers. For the price being asked well worth it.

For real fans Universal also have a Frankenstein Legacy collection, on Region 1 discs, which presents all the Universal Frankenstein films. Also check out the Dracula, Mummy and Werewolf discs, all have been given the same impressive and loving treatment as Frankenstein.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 75th anniversary edition, 15 July 2009
By 
As usual amazon has lumped reviews for everything but the edition shown in the graphics,the 75th anniversary edition(region 1),so i will tell you about the extras.This edition has 2 commentaries,a trivia track,frankenstein files doc.(44mins),a karloff doc.(38mins),archives(9mins),a short film"boo"(9mins)and the universal horror doc.(95mins).A fairly comprehensive collection at a good price.Fans may also like the book -like case the two discs come in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It might even horrify you..., 4 Jun 2008
By 
Matthew Mercy (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frankenstein [DVD] [1931] (DVD)
James Whale's 1931 film of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of those `museum piece' movies that are still regarded as all-time greats, especially by more senior critics, but which can prove to be a bit of a slog for today's audiences. Of course, the movie was a trend-setter in more ways than one, and features one of cinema's all-time finest performances from Boris Karloff as the tragic Frankenstein Monster, whilst Whale's inventive direction, the splendid sets, the awesome make-up, and Colin Clive's hysterical turn as Henry also contribute to the movie's overall effect.
Unfortunately, the effect of the film is lessened by the generally mediocre scripting and several below-average supporting performances. Mae Clarke is weak as Henry's bride Elizabeth (looking nothing like as gorgeous as Valerie Hobson in the later Bride of Frankenstein), whilst the forgotten Clark Gable look-alike John Boles is almost invisible in the tedious role of Henry's best friend. Edward Van Sloan and Dwight Frye are nowhere near as effective here as they were in Tod Browning's Dracula (released the same year), whilst Frederick Kerr's camera-hogging Music Hall turn as Henry's father is one of the most excruciating acting performances I've seen in any 1930s' film, and totally out of place in what is supposed to be a straight-faced horror movie (`Are ye, by jove').
Whilst both the blackly comic Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the action-packed Son of Frankenstein (1939) are superior to this movie, from a historical perspective this first film with Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster is one of talking cinema's great early achievements, and a monument to his status as the horror genre's first real star.
Also included here is a good documentary, `The Frankenstein Files', previously featured on Universal's 1999 VHS release of the movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still a classic after all this time., 10 Mar 2007
By 
Mr. A. E. Ward Davies (Canterbury , England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frankenstein [DVD] [1931] (DVD)
what better film for boris karloff to become a star than to be cast as the creature for "frankenstein."

to think this production could have been vastly different originally, with frenchman robert florey directing and bela lugosi appearing as the creature. considering lugosi's eventual attempt at the character years later, i'm glad he wasn't cast for this film.

the brilliant direction of englishman james whale can be seen and felt throughout the entire film. plus the incredible sets built for the film are almost expressionistic. whale was certainly a man of vision and ideas.

the cast are first class; my personal favourite will always be boris karloff. he brings such depth to a character from the first time he appears and what an entrance. walking backwards through a big door and then slowly turning round for everyone to see. more effective than lugosi's entrance as dracula. colin clive epitomized the role of the mad scientist as frankenstein. dwight frye is great in his limited screentime as the assistant fritz. edward van solan is passable but rather dull.

this version of the film has been restored slightly with the full scene of the creature playing with the girl by the lake.

the documentary on the making of the film is very good and detailed.

as far as i'm concerned, "frankenstein" will always stand as a groundbreaking classic of the horror film.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great films but 3 less than Region 1, 7 Jun 2004
By A Customer
Not a quibble about the quality of the films but the region one release of this also has Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein on it. Region two short changed again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STILL FRIGHTENING.... and amusing hehehe, 17 Jan 2006
By 
Henning Sebastian Jahre "Judy-Viv" (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I saw these films in the early 80s on television. And now after many runs on the vcr, finally own èm on dvd.... FRANKENSTEIN 1931 is still a fright to me. Because of Boris Karloff and a wonderful supporting cast headed by Dwight Frye, the gothic atmosphere and the absence of music - you can SMELL death and fear.... Compared to later films you might say that the production values are small, but the stylistic rich black and white photography and ingredients mentioned above make this an all-time-classic which STILL WORKS....
THE BRIDE OF FEANKENSTEIN 1935 is pure James Whale. It is a glittering celebration of drama, suspense, trick work and black humour.... After reading about and seeing GODS AND MONSTERS(about Mr Whale with Ian McKellen in a great performance) - this is indeed an auteur film....
These two films should always be seen together after a small interval....
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The monster is loose, 17 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This is the original film version of the Mary Shelly book "Frankenstein", and in spite of it somewhat simplistic dramaturgy, it should be a must for all fans of monster movies or classical cinematography. The effects and make up are, for their time, excellent. There are some plot changes, shifting the moral of the story somewhat, compared to the original story. Where Shelly's moral was very contemporary, even today, namely that man should not temper with the natural order of things, emphasizing the dangers of ability without humility, the movie's moral is more along the lines of "if you're going to play God, make sure you get a qualified assistant"...
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Frankenstein [DVD] [1931]
Frankenstein [DVD] [1931] by James Whale (DVD - 2000)
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