For all you fans of Mary Shelley's immortal monster, this should prove a welcome addition to your collection. It's comprised of a plethora of Frankenstein trailers, outtakes, and television broadcasts. Here is a run-down of what you'll get:
First, trailers for: FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER, MUNSTER GO HOME, FRANKENSTEIN 1970, JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN'S DAUGHTER, LADY FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.
Next up are brief but essential interview segments with Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing and Michael Carreras. These are actual video commentaries.
In addition to the visual interview clips, there are two lengthy audio conversations on this disc. One is with the last actor to play the monster in the Universal series, Glenn Strange. I was looking forward to hearing this interview in full for quite some time, as it was conducted in 1965 by Bob Burns, Don Glut, and friends. Unfortunately, I must confess that at 62 minutes long it's quite an endurance test, with Strange chatting aimlessly mostly about his career as a stuntman in countless obscure westerns. Rarely do his horror films come up, and even when he speaks about THE MAD MONSTER, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF DRACULA, and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, it's more like an enticing morsel awaiting a main course. Make no mistake -- his recounts are quite interesting. We've read most of these comments over the years, and it's truly great to hear Strange tell them himself this time -- but many other stories I was waiting for were not on the tape. Was this the full day's conversation with Glenn? Or perhaps the other anecdotes I expected actually come from another source? Maybe someone can clear this up for me (please).
For me, the highlight of this release is a 38-minute radio interview from the 60s with thriller movie King, Boris Karloff. He is fascinating and courteous as he covers many areas in his long career, giving full voice to old print quotes we've read before, and offering some we never read as well. When asked to name his favorite movie director, Boris instantly goes to the Val Lewton classics of the 40s. Robert Wise (who helmed one of Karloff's greatest performances in THE BODY SNATCHER) is the first name to come from his lips. When discussing MASK OF FU MANCHU it's also interesting to hear Boris point out how utterly stupid it would be for minorities to get into a tither over innocent movie interpretations. Ah, those great old non-PC days...
There is a FRANKENSTEIN (1931) reissue trailer included, which is incredible in that it actually features a few brief outtakes from the finished film, including a short but orgasmic moment of the monster walking away from the lab table after he'd just strangled Dr. Waldman. It also treats us to different shots of the creature struggling with his maker, Colin Clive, out on the mountain tops.
There are (only) two of the several bloopers for ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN here, as well as a choppy television bit where the monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon menace Costello.
Then we come to the television broadcasts, presumably the main attraction of the DVD. We get to see selected moments from the infamous TALES OF TOMORROW program when Lon Chaney played the monster in a drunken stupor and ruined the show by thinking that the live broadcast was only a dress rehearsal. Too bad the entire show wasn't included here; now we'll have to pick up the complete version somewhere else...
Then there's the Hammer TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN pilot, with Anton Diffring as the scientist who creates a Japanese-looking Karloffian monster played by Don Megowan. When the creation turns out to be a savage brute, the doctor looks for a civilized brain to implant. It's an attractive looking thirty minute show, high on atmosphere but low on substance. No doubt opinions may vary.
This is a nice package that we're lucky to have. The picture and audio quality vary from item to item, so it's pointless to single out each one of them. The overall quality is good. I mean, you can quibble forever -- for some reason, when I hit PLAY ALL on my machine, the trailers each freeze up after each one is played, and there is a pause between each preview while the chapters adjust themselves. My machine always skips over BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN for some reason, too. Why aren't ALL the Hammer trailers included? Why not the ENTIRE broadcast for TALES OF TOMORROW? Though I have to mention these things in a review, to do so is actually pretty unfair. This is an essential and fun release that diehards should thank their makers for. They've meddled in things that collectors should NEVER leave alone. (Joe Lozowsky)
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