We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation – life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even – horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now’s your chance to – uh, well, we warned you.”
Growing up as a child of the 70s, my generation was the last to grow up without cable television. We didn’t get it until I was eleven years old nor did I have access to any UHF channels. There was only one TV station that would play movies on a regular basis and I was lucky enough that they would air some of the Universal Horror classics. I have fond memories of staying up late to watch Frankenstein and Dracula. I also remember seeing Revenge of the Creature in 3D about a year before I was lucky enough to see Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D on the big screen. Years later, I collected them on VHS, seeing many for the first time. I’ve also bought them on DVD, some twice, so when I heard they were being released on Blu-ray, I initially decided against it. However, as the reviews came in and the restoration sounded amazing, I was tempted. Finally, I saw the special coffin box set in the UK and when I heard it was not only region-free but half the price as the US version, I was sold. The restoration on Dracula was amazing and Frankenstein continued what I anticipate to be a trend with this set.
What can be said of Frankenstein that hasn’t already said? Bela Lugosi made the mistake of his career by turning down the role. However, it made a star of Boris Karloff. Karloff is fantastic as the monster and his portrayal here is mostly horrific. It really isn’t until The Bride of Frankenstein that we truly begin to sympathize with him. Colin Clive plays Dr. Frankenstein in the first of two appearances. He’s a man on the edge, obsessed with solving the mysteries of life and death. In 1931, you see a young actor with a promising career ahead of him. Compare how he looked in ’31 to ’35 and you’ll see a man who ages quite a bit in just four years. Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing from 1931s Dracula) portrays Dr. Waldman, who discovers what Frankenstein is doing and reluctantly agrees to help. Dwight Frye rounds out the primary cast as Fritz, the prototype for the evil hunchback man-servant. Everything we’ve come to expect from a mad scientist movie is present: a crazy laboratory, stormy nights, the unsuspecting wife/girlfriend, the friend who will go against the evil scientist to save the woman he loves. Frankenstein is just as enjoyable now as it was the first twenty or thirty times I’ve seen it. It’s amazing that I still see things for the first time. Like I’ve never noticed this was based on a novel by “Mrs. P.B. Shelley” or the large lump on the neck of Baron Frankenstein. I’ve watched Frankenstein about every other year and never grow tired of it. The fact that people are still going to a theater to watch it some 81 years later is amazing. And the Blu-ray? Well, it’s very impressive. It didn’t have the restoration Dracula received but it’s never looked better. Highly recommended.