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Of Hammerís Frankenstein series, I have to rate THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN ($20) as my personal favorite. THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN brings the story of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) full circle, with a stunning climax that gives the good doctor a taste of his own medicine. Jimmy Sangsterís screenplay contains more than a touch of irony, while Terence Fisherís solid direction strikes the perfect balance between atmosphere and gruesome horror. Of course, it is Peter Cushingís fine performance as the driven scientist that makes THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and all the other films in Hammerís Frankenstein series, the genre classics that they have become.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN picks up the story shortly after the events depicted in CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with Frankenstein on his way to the guillotine for the murderous crimes of his monster. Of course, Frankenstein manages to escape his execution and flees to a new community, where he sets up a medical practice on the assumed name of Dr. Stein. After three years in practice, "Dr. Stein" has become a successful physician, who has managed to lure away half of the patients of every doctor in the community.

Thanks to his lucrative practice, "Dr. Stein" has the funding needed to set up a charity ward, which has its own benefits- namely the spare parts required for his medical experimentation. With the aid of his new pupil, Dr. Kleve (Francis Matthews), "Dr. Stein" transfers the brain of his crippled lab assistant into a "perfect" body that he has created. The "procedure" goes perfectly and it would appear that Baron Frankensteinís work will finally be vindicated, however fate steps in to destroy what the good doctor has created. The cast of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN also includes Eunice Gayson, Michael Gwynn, John Welsh, Lionel Jeffries, Oscar Quitak, Richard Wordsworth, Charles Lloyd Pack, John Stuart, Arnold Diamond, Margery Cresley, Anna Walmsley, George Woodbridge and Michael Ripper.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN available in a 1.66:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Columbiaís transfer does look nice, but it isnít going to win any awards. The biggest problem with the presentation stems from the fact that Columbia Pictures released THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN in Eastmancolor in 1958, while British prints were in IB Technicolor. Iíve been fortunate enough to see a Technicolor print of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN and can say that the differences between the two are like night and day. In Technicolor, THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN had colors that were dripping off the screen, especially the reds. Eastmancolor mutes all of the hues and makes a marked change in the overall atmosphere of the film- rendering it more somber than it appears in Technicolor.

The image on the DVD is reasonably sharp, although there are a good number of shots that appear mildly soft. Film grain is noticeable throughout much of the presentation and the print used for the transfer does display minor age related blemishes. Blacks are accurately rendered, while whites appear clean and completely stable. Additionally, contrast is generally smooth. Darker scenes can appear a bit murky, although the depth of the image remains pretty good. The cleanly authored DVD doesnít display any signs of digital compression artifacts.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN is offered on DVD with a Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Most traces of background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned form the track, making it sound more than satisfactory with a modest amount of amplification. Fidelity is rather limited, giving the sound effects and music something of a hollow sound. The dialogue is crisply reproduced and intelligibility is limited only by performance. There are no additional language tracks on the DVD, although English and French subtitles have been provided. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer and photo gallery.

THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN is a Hammer classic and one of the best entries in their Frankenstein series. Columbiaís presentation is nice, but could have been better if the studio could have secured an original Technicolor print from Hammer. Still, I think Hammer fans and horror fans are going to want to own this DVD, just so they can have this marvelous genre entry in their collection. Hopefully Columbia will follow the release of THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN with THE GORGON- another great Hammer film that stars both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.


Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)


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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