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Along with the Hammer productions of HORROR OF DRACULA and THE MUMMY, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN ($20) ranks as one of the most influential horror movies of the 1950s. Although it was intended as a remake of the classic Universal Monster movie, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is actually far closer to Mary Shelley's novel than its famous cinematic predecessor. Of course, Jimmy Sangster's screenplay does take a great deal of liberties with Shelley's story to make the film efficient, stylish and frightening. Terence Fisher's direction plays up the gothic horror, shocks and the gore that are inherent to the material, while keeping the pacing snappy. The most startling aspects of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN stem from the film's use of color, which must have unnerved 1950's audiences, who had probably never seen dismembered body parts or gushing blood on screen before.

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN stars Peter Cushing as Baron Victor Frankenstein, whose obsession with pushing the boundaries of medical science are only equaled by his arrogance and indifference to the people around him. Having become orphaned as a teenager, Baron Frankenstein forms a lasting relationship with his tutor Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart), with whom he has channeled his intellectual curiosity into a series of medical experiments to restore life to the dead. After finding success with animals subjects, Frankenstein wants to experiment on human beings. However, Frankenstein is not content with just bringing a person back from the dead, he wants to bestow life on his own synthetic human being- created from the best bits and pieces that he can assemble. The cast of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN also features Christopher Lee as The Creature Frankenstein brings to life and Hazel Court as the Baron's fiancée Elizabeth.

Warner Home Video has made THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is the absolute best THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN has ever looked in any home edition and the presentation comes as a very nice surprise. Owing to the fact that THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was produced in an early Eastmancolor process, the colors don't have the vibrancy of Technicolor, but appear more fully saturated here than in any previous edition of the film. Certain hues are wonderfully vibrant, although others do appear dull and the flesh tones come across as a little flat. The image itself is fairly sharp and well defined, although there are individual shots that appear a bit soft. Blacks are accurately rendered and contrast is good. Shadow detail is more than adequate for the material. Digital compression artifacts are never bothersome.

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN comes with a Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Considering age and the movie's modest production budget, the soundtrack sounds pretty darn good. Fidelity is limited, which renders the sound effects and James Bernard's musical score a bit thinly. However, the track seems to have been digitally cleaned to remove those other signs of age- namely, excessive background hiss and surface noise. Dialogue is generally clear and understandable, although there are brief moments when voices aren't as distinct as they sound during the rest of the film. A French language track is also included on the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer and some production notes.

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a classic horror movie that has been given a solid presentation by Warner Home Video. While it isn't a collector's edition with a Christopher Lee commentary, Hammer fans will definitely want to add this DVD to their collections.



The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 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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