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While FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL ($20) doesnít have a particularly great reputation and the film marked the cinematic swan song for Hammerís Frankenstein series, one can still gleam some greatness in this outing from the celebrated horror studio. With Terence Fisher behind the camera and Peter Cushing back in the role of Baron Victor Frankenstein, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL recaptures some of the magic of their previous outings together. Certainly, the script isnít the strongest of the series and it does bear some marked similarities to REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN; however, the end product does manage to overcome the screenplayís shortcomings.

The plot of FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL finds Baron Frankenstein working his experiments from within the confines of an insane asylum, where he has assumed the duties of the facilityís chief physician, Dr. Carl Victor. Simon Helder (Shane Briant) is the latest arrival at the asylum; a young doctor who has been following in Baron Frankensteinís footsteps, thus committed to the facility for the practice of sorcery. Needing an assistant to continue his experiments, Dr. Victor immediately takes advantage of his eager new charge; to perform the intricate surgical work that the elder Frankenstein is no longer capable of doing himself. Unfortunately for all concerned, the Baronís latest experiment involves transplanting the brain of a genius into a body best described as that of an evolutionary throwback. The cast of FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL also includes Madeline Smith, Bernard Lee, David Prowse, John Stratton, Philip Voss, Clifford Mollison and Patrick Troughton.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is rather nice looking transfer of the American theatrical cut of the film. The image on the DVD proves to be pretty crisp and provides really nice definition. Colors are fairly strong, offering good saturation, without noise or smearing. Blacks appear accurate and the whites are stable. Shadow detail is also good for a low budget film approaching the three-decade mark. The film element used for the transfer displays some minor blemishes and occasional grain, but is otherwise very attractive. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL comes with a fine sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Background hiss and surface noise have been minimized in the mastering process, while maintaining the clarity of dialogue and music. Speaking of music, James Bernardís fine score has some limitations in its fidelity, but holds up rather well with a bit of amplification. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, although English subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as an interesting running audio commentary with actors Dave Prowse and Madeline Smith, in addition to the insight of genre movie historian Jonathan Sothcott.

FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL is a lot better than its detractors claim, with this final Hammer/Frankenstein movie delivering much of what fans expect from the combination of actor Peter Cushing and director Terence Fisher. Paramountís DVD release looks and sound pretty darn good, which will please Hammer fans. With the addition of a solid audio commentary, the DVD is a must have for any diehard Hammer fan.



Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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