Wednesday, March 15, 2006


by Jackrabbit Slim
I recently purchased the Frankenstein Universal Legacy collection, which consists of five Frankenstein films from Universal's Golden Age of horror. It is impressively packaged, and contains lots of good extras (although there is a feature with hack director Stephen Sommer, who made the god-awful Van Helsing). Film historian Rudy Behlmer provides excellent commentary, and there's also a commentary (which I haven't listened to yet) for Bride of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, now a cultural icon, is an interesting to film to watch these days. At the time of its release, it was a sensation, and scared the bejeesus out of people, particulary the first appearance of the creature. The film wouldn't spook a six-year old today, I expect. It's difficult to not think of scenes from Young Frankenstein. There is also an incredible gap of logic when the monster, on the loose, manages to find Frankenstein's home to menace his fiancee. Apparently, Frankie can read a phone book.

Still, though, the direction by James Whale is fascinating to watch (note how he uses several close-ups to introduce characters in an early scene, rather than using an establishing long-shot). The makeup and sets, which we automatically associate with the character and story, were original to the film, and still hold up as terrific innovations. And the performance by Boris Karloff is quite moving.

Bride of Frankenstein is considered by many to be the better of the two Whale Frankenstein films, while the other three trail off in quality. Karloff, after Bride of, only made one more film as the creature, Son of Frankenstein. Bela Lagosi, who initially turned down the role because he didn't want a non-speaking role, finally played the monster in the last film.

This collection is a worthy purchase for those who are interested in old horror films.


Blogger jaydro said...

I still need to see Bride of Frankenstein again. The first time I saw it several years ago it just struck me as bizarrely goofy in spots, which I wasn't expecting.

3/18/2006 05:04:00 PM  

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