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Product Details

  • Actors: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan
  • Directors: James Whale
  • Writers: Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, John L. Balderston, John Russell, Mary Shelley
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Mca (Universal)
  • VHS Release Date: Aug. 28 2001
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000JPHF
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,077 in Video (See Top 100 in Video)

Product Description


"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 stylized 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

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on Oct. 13 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Frankenstein is the kind of horror movie that I remember watching on late Saturday nights growing up. These old-time horror movies relied on psychological terror and strong acting performances rather than blood and guts to captivate an audience. Frankenstein succeeds on both of these counts.
Colin Clive stars as Dr. Henry Frankenstein and Dwight Frye stars as his hunch-backed assistant Fritz. Dr. Frankenstein has taken to robbing graves in his effort to create his own human being. In his search for a human brain, Fritz inadvertantly steals a brain from an evil person. Frankenstein is unaware of this as he transplants the brain into his human. What results is Boris Karloff's monster. However, Frankenstein's monster isn't the "killing machine" that we see in today's horror movies. Rather, the monster seems to be searching for his own identity (witness the scene with the little girl near the river). The people of the town perceive him to be evil when perhaps he is merely searching for acceptance.
The acting in the movie is excellent. Colin Clive does a masterful job as Dr. Frankenstein, while Dwight Frye is excellent as Fritz. The scenework, such as the shots of Dr. Frankenstein's castle and the final scene at the windmill are captivating as well. I highly recommend this movie along with other classic horror movies of this time period. They will bring back memories of sitting around the TV on dark Saturday nights and jumping up from your seat at each scary scene.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 28 2002
Format: DVD
The film is based on the first half of Mary Shelley's gothic novel Frankenstein where Dr. Frankenstein reanimates life. The being that he creates becomes a product of its' environment while continuing to learn through trial and error. Unfortunately, its' errors become magnified by its' physical attributions, which causes unrest among those it comes in contact with through simple attempts at communication. Whale's horror creation was made over 70 years ago; however, one catch phrase, "It's alive!", that terrified audiences in the 30s, still produces chills in audiences today. Therefore, regardless of age, the film still provides a tremendous cinematic experience.
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Format: DVD
After repeated attempts of securing a Frankenstein, director James Whale hired a middle-aged character actor named William Henry Pratt (stage name: Boris Karloff) who had previously been limited to cameos, stand-ins, and predominantly small eccentric parts to play Frankenstein's monster. Karloff's restrictive age, massive obscurity, and absence of experience may have emerged as hindrances for this newly discovered personality. However, time and popular opinion has obliterated these fears into long lost paranoid hallucinations.
It is Boris Karloff's indisputably iconic and singularly haunting performance as the child-like brute, misunderstood and despised by all, who's only longing and desire is to be loved and cared for by others that continues to be one of cinema's timeless jewels of acting perfection, dramatic magnitude, and note-fully seamless pathos. Karloff's monster, like Anthony Perkins's Norman Bates or Robert De Nero's Travis Bickle, is one of cinema's fortunate accidents of how the exact casting of just the right perfect someone can unbelievably bolster the film. Karloff's casting as the inevitably sympathetic artificial concoction of a mad scientist with a deity complex turned out to be one of many grandiose happy accidents that has allowed this 70 year-old Gothic horror film to continue to be copiously admired, internationally beloved, and enthusiastically cherished up to contemporary times.
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By A Customer on May 8 2003
Format: VHS Tape
*** Contains mild/vague spoilers ***
Mary Shelley's Gothic novel, Frankenstein, was transformed into a black and white motion picture in 1931, but the book still provides us with a better "cautionary tale against overweening presumption" (Shelley iii). Although James Whale's adaptation of Shelley's masterpiece is, as 1930's movies go, a wonderful specimen it could never eclipse the brilliance and talent of the author's original story.
The first of the many inconsistancies begins almost immediately. The picture's introduction, by the renowned "Dracula" actor, Bela Lugosi, was mysterious and ominous. The book's introduction, written by Mary Shelley, is calm and realistic. Shelley's tale of a "hideous phantasm of a man" (viii) is written in a way that can almost be believed, where as the movie is quite the opposite. To be led by the hand into a world that Lugosi openly admits to being fictional, and as he implies, impossible is one thing. To have the door thrown wide open to a horrible premonition of what might be, what very well could be... Ah, blissful terror.
Whale's "Frankenstein" includes minute changes that are often bemusing. The change of names for example, Shelley's Victor Frankenstein becomes Henry Frankenstein and Victor's best friend Henry, now called Victor, recieves its own share of blinks and blank stares but does not altogether ruin the experience. However, adding tedious and unnecessary details where once there were only obscure hints dims the allure and quiets the terror one feels when confronted with the mystery of the novel and the creature's unknown origins. Whale unvieled the secrets that the audience did not want to hear and spoiled the delicious bite of fear, the tingle that comes when something goes, "Bump!" in the dark of night.
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