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Frankenstein - part of the Universal Classics Monsters Boxset [Blu-ray]
(James Whale, 1931)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures Corp
Video: Universal Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 31,804,465,237 bytes
Feature Size: 19,545,427,968 bytes
Video Bitrate: 32.32 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 2nd, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1847 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1847 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
/ DN -4dB
English (SDH), Spanish, none
• Commentary byRudy Behlmer
•Commentary by Christopher Frayling
•The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster (44:53)
•Karloff: The Gentle Monster (37:58)
• Universal Horror documentary (1:35:26)
• Frankenstein Archives (9:24)
• Boo! - short film (9:30)
• Trailer Gallery
• 100 Years Universal
Description: From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these original films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience.
Still regarded as the definitive film version of Mary Shelley's classic tale of tragedy and horror, Frankenstein made... unknown character actor Boris Karloff a star and created a new icon of terror. Along with the highly successful Dracula, released earlier the same year, it launched Universal Studio's golden age of 1930s horror movies. The film's greatness stems less from its script than from the stark but moody atmosphere created by director James Whale; Herman Rosse's memorable set designs, particularly the fantastic watchtower laboratory, featuring electrical equipment designed by Kenneth Strickfaden; the creature's trademark look from makeup artist Jack Pierce, who required Karloff to don pounds of makeup and heavy asphalt shoes to create the monster's unique lurching gait; and Karloff's nuanced performance as the tormented and bewildered creature. Frankenstein was greeted with screams, moans, and fainting spells upon its initial release, obliging Universal to add a disclaimer in which Edward Van Sloan advises the faint of heart to leave the theater immediately. If they don't: "Well...we've warned you." Director James Whale was memorably embodied by Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
A stark, solid, impressively stylish film, overshadowed (a little unfairly) by the later explosion of Whale's wit in the delirious Bride of Frankenstein. Karloff gives one of the great performances of all time as the monster whose mutation from candour to chill savagery is mirrored only through his limpid eyes. The film's great imaginative coup is to show the monster 'growing up' in all too human terms. First he is the innocent baby, reaching up to grasp the sunlight that filters through the skylight. Then the joyous child, playing at throwing flowers into the lake with a little girl whom he delightedly imagines to be another flower. And finally, as he finds himself progressively misjudged by the society that created him, the savage killer as whom he has been typecast. The film is unique in Whale's work in that the horror is played absolutely straight, and it has a weird fairytale beauty not matched until Cocteau made La Belle et la BÍte.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Frankenstein looks marvelous on Blu-ray from the Universal Monsters Boxset. The image quality showcases the rich grain with solid contrast and even occasional depth. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate for the hour-10-minute classic. The visuals are dark which is probably accurate and detail rises nicely above past SD renderings. The high resolution identifies the wrinkled backdrops but I recall this was also present on the DVD as I'm sure it was in the original theatrical. Daylight scenes (the girl and the flower) seem the most impressive but overall this is without serious flaw. There may be a speckle or two but this Blu-ray has done a great job in processing the 1931 film to 1080P. It provides a stupendous presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
No fake surround boost going on here - the audio is rendered in a competent DTS-HD Master 2.0 track at 1847 kbps. Bernhard Kaun's score is well supported and there is notable depth. There are optional subtitles in English and Spanish and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Supplements mirror most of the Legacy DVD edition with the excellent twin commentaries - the first by Rudy Behlmer and the second by Christopher Frayling. You couldn't ask for a more through education of the film, production, performers etc. The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster is the David J. Skal 2004 documentary that runs 45-minutes and has input from Behlmer, Bill Condon, Boris Karloff's daughter Sara, Gregory W. Mank and others. Karloff: The Gentle Monster was made in 2006 by Constantine Nasr it has film historians, and producer Richard Gordon, talking about the horror movie career of cult star. It runs about 40-minutes. Monster Tracks has the optional trivia pop onto the screen as the film runs - a nice addition. The 'Universal Horror' is the 1998 documentary by Kevin Brownlow narrated by Kenneth Branagh. It runs over 1.5 hours and gives a full overview of the early years of the Universal horror films. Frankenstein Archives are a 10-minute slide show of the posters and stills. Boo! - is a 1932 Universal comedy short (9:30) centering on a wisecracking narrator who mocks footage featuring Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula. There is a trailer gallery and one of the 100 Years Universal pieces. The disc is My Scenes capable.
September 25th, 2012
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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