Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

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Released 3-Dec-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 91:25 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter H. Hunt
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Patrick Day
Anne Shropshire
Sada Thompson
Eugene Oakes
Samm-Art Williams
Frederic Forrest
Lillian Gish
Richard Kiley
Jim Dale
Barnard Hughes
Butterfly McQueen
Geraldine Page
Jason Hankins
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music William P. Perry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Horror Of Frankenstein is in effect a remake of Hammer's 1957 film The Curse of Frankenstein. Baron Victor Frankenstein (Ralph Bates) is a student interested in biology and anatomy, and after graduating from university he undertakes to research the reanimation of the dead and the creation of life.

    This is the standard Frankenstein story, with the usual mad scientist / grave robbing / insane monster terrorising the countryside goings-on. What sets this version apart is that (a) it is not nearly as good and (b) there has been an attempt to make this into a black comedy. Baron Frankenstein is, shall we say, a ladies man. He is also ruthless and has no conscience. In fact, he is somewhat psychopathic. Unfortunately, apart from few sight gags, there is little in the way of real comedy. Thus the film is neither one thing nor the other; neither a comedy nor a horror film.

    The actors play the material straight as if it was a serious attempt at a horror film. This approach works best when their actions or dialogue tend towards the absurd, but in this case the script is pretty much a rehash of the first film. There are a couple of funny scenes, such as the opening credits, with a disembodied hand drawing dotted lines - where to cut - on a picture of a woman. This is repeated with a live subject later in the film.

    Dennis Price has a nice comic turn as the enthusiastic and usually soused grave robber, and the scenes between he and his wife (nicely played by Joan Rice), digging up corpses, are among the best in the film. I suspect that Price was really soused during the shoot, as he slurs his dialogue throughout and looks a little the worse for wear.

    The direction by Jimmy Sangster is not as bad as in Lust For A Vampire, and there are some nicely framed shots. The problem is that the pacing of the film is too static, so that scenes which should be suspenseful are anything but. The performances of the actors are variable. Ralph Bates is too one-dimensional as the Baron, showing no character development over the film. He starts the film as a cold, amoral young man, and is still cold and amoral at the end. Kate O'Mara is fine as Alys, but Veronica Carlson as Elizabeth seems out of her depth.

    That being said, this film has a better than usual supporting cast, with appearances by a dour Jon Finch, plus James Hayter, James Cossins and Bernard Archard, all of whom are familiar faces, though Cossins and Hayter have very little to do. For Star Wars fans, the monster is played by Dave Prowse, the man inside the Darth Vader costume.

    While most of the above sounds negative, my reaction to the film was more favourable than most critics, who have described it as boring and interminable. I first saw this film about 25 years ago, and thought it was reasonable if nothing special. This time around I had the same impression, though I do not plan to watch it again soon.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16x9 displays.

    The video transfer is quite good. Little of the action occurs at night or in darkness, and all the action can readily be seen. The colour is also quite good, though there are no bright colours on display. Flesh tones are realistic. There are, however, some overly bright edges to the screen image at times.

    The usual small white spots make their appearance here, but are fewer in number than in other Hammer films I have reviewed. Grain is kept to a sensible level, though there is some pixelization at times, such as at 7:45.

    Unfortunately, no subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is the original mono soundtrack, and thus there is no surround or subwoofer activity.

    Dialogue is clear but the sound is quite constricted, with the top being thin and the treble lacking in body. It sounds slightly distorted, but the ear soon adjusts. On the whole, this soundtrack sounds not much better than an AM radio broadcast.

    The music score is by the respected Australian composer Malcolm Williamson and is pretty good. He manages to avoid the usual horror movie clichés, and there are some quite effective moments.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    This original trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and pretty much sums up the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has been released in Region 1 on DVD by Anchor Bay. In comparison to the Region 1 release, the Region 4 misses out on:

    The extras tip the balance in favour of the Region 1 release.

Summary

    Not a very good Frankenstein film, The Horror of Frankenstein is just passable as entertainment. It might be worth a rental, though for a few dollars more you can own it.

    The video quality is pretty good.

    The audio quality is pretty average.

    The single extra is short measure.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, February 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Master Bates was not just playing with himself... - REPLY POSTED