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DVD Brief: Frankenstein

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Universal Studios Home Video
71 minutes
Full screen 1.33:1
Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Interactive menus
Subtitles: English, French
Languages: English, French
Extras: "Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster," audio commentary, "Frankenstein Archives," "Boo!: A Universal Brevity," production notes, cast and filmmakers credits, theatrical trailer, CD-ROM Web links
Suggested retail price: $29.98
Director:James Whale
Cast:Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clark, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye

Description: Universal has given the royal treatment to the film that is the bedrock of its Classic Monster Collection. Not only have they tacked on a host of bells and whistles to this horror classic, they've done an admirable job of transferring the film to DVD (keeping the B&W film's contrast just right) and even restoring a here-to-fore blasphemous bit of dialogue uttered by Dr. Henry Frankenstein ("In the name of God now I know what it's like to be God!"). The story of one man's obsession with life and death -- his desire to circumvent man's immortality -- is loosely based on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's dark meditation on the horrors of technology and the responsibility of man for his creations. The film made Karloff a star overnight and jump-started director Whale's bright but all too-brief career. If all you've ever seen are cut-up late-night TV or grainy VHS versions of this beauty, you owe it to yourself -- and your children -- to get this beautiful version.

Universal's extra's are bountiful. "Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster" is a 45-minute documentary hosted and written by David J. Skal that traces the evolution of "Frankenstein" from novel to play to film. It looks at Karloff's role in the film (hours getting into make-up) as well as his subsequent career; profiles Whale and the film's other stars, then takes a look at subsequent "Frankenstein" films. Unlike the pre-fab "making of ..." featurettes tacked on to most releases these days, this one is intelligent and illuminating.

The "Frankenstein Archives" includes film posters, one-sheets and film highlights, set to music. "Boo!: A Universal Brevity!" is a 1932 short poking fun at horror tales, spiced up with scenes from "Frankenstein," "Dracula" and "Nosferatu." The bios and credits are extensive. An optional audio commentary track is supplied by film historian Rudy Behimer.

Image:Gorgeous black and white transfer, with very little fuzziness.

Sound:Clear mono soundtrack.

All DVDs are screened on a reference Onkyo DV- S717 third-generation DVD player.

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(ISSN 1094-3676).