Two Good Audio Commentary Tracks
The Frankenstein 75th Anniversary Edition DVD provides two commentaries. Both are good, but I prefer the one by Sir Christopher Frayling, which was not on previous editions. Frayling is a historian specializing in pop culture, and he is very lively. He notes the influence of the film Metropolis (1927) on Frankenstein, and he claims that director James Whale introduced the element of camp into his horror movies. He points out that the Monster wears a suit too small for him—presumably a castoff of Henry Frankenstein's—and that the creature looks something like the American working man in the Great Depression. He observes that the shot of Henry's fiancée lying on a bed is similar to Fuseli's painting The Nightmare.
The other commentary is by veteran commentator Rudy Behlmer, and it's carried over from previous DVD editions. Behlmer identifies differences between the film and Shelley's novel, and he is strong on production details and résumés of cast and crew. It's interesting that director James Whale was highly successful in the 1930s, then fell into obscurity and eventually committed suicide. (The 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters is about Whale's last days.)
Pop-Up Text Info and a Hilarious Short
The Frankenstein 75th Anniversary Edition has an option called "Monster Tracks" that can be turned on while watching the feature film. This causes a steady stream of factoids about the movie to appear as text superimposed on the screen. For example, here's the text on the filmmakers' idea of giving the Monster a criminal's brain to account for his behavior: "Literary purists feel that this idea is not only medically unsound but blunts the theme of the Monster's bitterness being caused by his rejection by mankind and his own creator."
I got some big laughs out of the nine-and-a-half-minute 1932 short "Boo," which is carried over from previous DVD editions. The short consists mostly of a comic delivering running voice-over commentary while clips are shown from horror movies, notably Frankenstein (1931) and Nosferatu (1922). For example, when a man is shown nearing a box containing a vampire, the narrator quips, "He'd better keep away from the casket or he'll be coughin'." Or when a woman is alarmed by the approach of a scary creature, the narrator wisecracks, "Helen is beside herself, and now something else is beside her."
Below I have given the details for the Frankenstein 75th Anniversary Edition DVD set.
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Number of Discs: 2
Feature Run Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Full-Screen (1.33:1), Black-and-White
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
English Captions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Audio Commentary by Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
Audio Commentary by Historian Christopher Frayling
Pop-Up Text Info
Making-Of Documentary (45 min.)
Documentary on Karloff's Career (38 min.)
Documentary: "Universal Horror" (1 hr. 56 min.)
Poster and Stills Montage
Comedy Short: "Boo" (9 1/2 min.)
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