- Actors: Boris Karloff, Mae Clarke, Colin Clive, John Boles, Edward van Sloan
- Directors: James Whale
- Producers: Carl Laemmle Jr
- Format: PAL
- Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 2
- Classification: 15
- Studio: Universal Pictures UK
- DVD Release Date: 31 May 2010
- Run Time: 145 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B003JSRSX2
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,728 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Frankenstein/The Bride Of Frankenstein [DVD]
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A double bill of classic James Whale horror. 'Frankenstein' is Whale's 1931 version of Mary Shelley's ghost story which 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. Whilst his 1935 sequel 'The Bride of Frankenstein' begins with the work's author, Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester), revealing to Lords Byron and Shelley that there is still more of the tale to be told... Scientist Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is recuperating from the events of the first film, believing his creation (Boris Karloff) to have been destroyed in a fire, when he receives a visit from his former mentor Dr Praetorius. Praetorius wishes Frankenstein to resume his experiments, but the latter refuses. When Praetorius discovers the monster, alive and now able to communicate, he uses it to kidnap Frankenstein's wife, thus blackmailing him into creating a mate. Followed by 'Son of Frankenstein' (1939).
"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 Blu-ray edition.See all Product description
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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.
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.
Bride is also regarded as a classic, and it is a great film though first timers may be taken back with the comedic tone of it all.