The Horror of Frankenstein Blu-ray Review
Less horror and more horrible
Hammer Studios' 1970 feature, The Horror of Frankenstein limply retreads familiar horror beats with a camp, unearned attitude and little direction.Both a remake and, unfortunately, a parody of the 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein, Jimmy Sanger's lame retread casts Hammer regular Ralph Bates (who was more engaging as one half of Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, perhaps because the other half was played by Bond girl Martine Beswick) in the lead role, rather ludicrously playing young Victor Frankenstein from the age of being at school until his University days where he turns from reanimating turtles to more devious works bringing (parts of) the dead back to life, whilst thirtysomething Kate O'Mara plays his sixteen year old maid with a breastplate that would make Khan's Ricardo Montalban jealous.Better served as either an outright comedy or a more respectful straight remake, this near-parody posits a genius kid Frankenstein who is more irritating than Cumberbatch's Sherlock, only without the evident skills to compensate for such annoying arrogance. There are some darker ideas on offer here - his flippant dispatching of just about anybody in his way - but it was more interestingly investigated even in his Jekyll affair, where at least there were moral consequences at stake. Things only get worse once Vader's David Prowse turns up in a diaper, putting the last nail in the neck of this lacklustre outing, which circles the plughole at the nadir of Hammer's output.
Picture QualityStudiocanal's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Hammer Studios' The Horror of Frankenstein delivers the film with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Despite the budgetary restrictions, the film looks better than ever, and likely the best it ever will.
The film looks better than ever and likely the best it ever will
Detail is reasonably good throughout, picking up on the lead's six o'clock shadow even when he's supposed to be playing a schoolkid (in a class full of similar thirtysomethings!), affording texture and richness to the lavish stately manor interiors, but still holding back enough to leave you in some doubt as to whether or not actress Kate O'Mara is wearing a Ricardo Montalban-esque breast plate. The colour scheme, whilst not exactly popping with vivid tones, is afforded some rich wood tones on a few scant exteriors, and the aforementioned stately manor interiors, whilst crimson blood tones are strong enough. Black levels leave you wanting, but only slightly, and given the general lack of defects, damage or other issues, it's not bad looking for a film of this ilk pushing 50.
Sound QualityThis is also the best that the film has ever sounded
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is strong enough too, and certainly the best that the film has ever sounded. It's not particularly demo in any respect, but it is also a faithful representation of the material, affording room for the dialogue to rise above the remaining elements with clarity and confidence, whilst the piecemeal generic score - arguably a little too sweeping to suit the material - never gets too tinny and provides an otherwise appropriate backdrop. Effects are nominal, with cutting, slashes, and electricity-based experiments allowing for some more inventive nuances, but none of it's particularly significant, not even a couple of shotgun booms which barely register. Nevertheless the track does a solid job given the vintage and budget.
ExtrasJust an 18 minute Featurette, Gallows' Humour: Inside the Horror of Frankenstein.
Blu-ray VerdictCircles the plughole at the nadir of Hammer's output
Studiocanal's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Hammer Studios' The Horror of Dr. Frankenstein affords the 1970 horror decent video and audio as well as a single Featurette and Trailer in the way of extras. Fans will enjoy rediscovering this title.
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