Bride of Frankenstein Blu-ray delivers stunningly beautiful video and superb audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
An acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein, the legendary monster now longs for a mate of his own, as the overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein creates the bride. Bride of Frankenstein ranks as one of the finest films not only of the genre, but for all time.
For more about Bride of Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein Blu-ray release, see Bride of Frankenstein Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Take a moment and imagine what modern horror would be without Universal Pictures. Without founder Carl Laemmle and his vision for the future of cinema, or his son Carl Laemmle Jr., who inherited the keys to the studio kingdom in 1928, when talkies were rapidly displacing silent films and promising groundbreaking new strides in moviemaking and the movie-going experience. Without early horror pioneers like Tod Browning, James Whale, Karl Freund, George Waggner or Jack Arnold. Without iconic creature actors Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, Jr., Elsa Lanchester or Ben Chapman. Without Dracula, the indispensable 1931 classic that left a more lasting mark on vampire movies and lore than any other vampire film before or after (save Nosferatu). Or Frankenstein, which pushed boundaries, shocked audiences and has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm ever since. The Mummy, bold in its atmosphere and unforgettable in its tragic romance. The Invisible Man, which features some of the most astonishing special effects and perhaps one of the most unnerving depictions of mounting madness of the era. The Bride of Frankenstein, a complex, wickedly funny, altogether unpredictable sequel that in many regards surpasses its predecessor. The Wolf Man, a once-chilling character drama that examines the frailty of man and the beast within. Phantom of the Opera, though more a twisted love story than a traditional horror picture, a film that nevertheless caused some theaters to stock smelling salts in in the event that a moviegoer fainted upon the removal of the Phantom's mask. Or Creature from the Black Lagoon, which frightened audiences above the water and below with a scaly monster unlike any they had seen before. Needless to say, modern horror, and really the genre in whole, would be completely different than what we know.
Is The Bride of Frankenstein a horror film? A complex comedy? A genre satire? A social commentary? A dual creature feature? A sequel? A revelation? An act of mad genius? A sharp turn? A crown jewel? A hoot, as director James Whale so eloquently put it? How should I put this? Yes. Shooting a straight followup to Frankenstein didn't appeal to Whale, who believed the original Frankenstein couldn't be expanded or improved upon. So he did the only thing a filmmaker agreeing to do the unagreeable would do: change everything, be it slightly or fundamentally. The resulting script, which went through numerous re-drafts and rewrites, finally came together and, just like that, was headed to theaters, where audiences were in for a different kind of shock than they experienced watching the original Frankenstein four years earlier. Actors Colin Clive and Boris Karloff reprise their roles as Henry Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster, Elsa Lanchester dons the iconic wig of the Bride (even if only for a few minutes), and Ernest Thesiger co-stars as the eccentric, royalty miniaturizing Dr. Pretorius, who nearly steals the show as the movie's unofficial third monster. But amusing as a first viewing is, The Bride of Frankenstein is best digested over multiple viewings. Its wry barbs, cloaked wit, clever imagery and daring symbolism all but demand it. The fact that Whale also managed to deliver a suitable sequel in the midst of forging anything but is only more reason to admire a film that remains one of the genre's most unexpected delights.
The Bride of Frankenstein is granted new life with a discerning restoration and an exquisite 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that's easy to fall in love with. The image boasts an evenness and consistency that place it alongside the best the Universal Classic Monsters collection has to offer, and an all around first-class presentation, collection or no. The film's original elements were either in great condition to begin with or given a masterful overhaul, free of the side effects associated with over-processed catalog restorations. Noise reduction and other overly invasive techniques haven't been employed irresponsibly, scratches and other blemishes have been corrected with the utmost care, and real affection (not to mention time) has been invested in retaining the filmic qualities of the image. Grain is pleasant and typically inconspicuous. Contrast is both evocative and balanced, with beautiful mid-tones and deep black levels. And edge definition and fine detail, while dependent on the inherent clarity or softness of John J. Mescall's photography, is remarkably refined. (Even shots of the film's more demure actresses, who Mescall casts in a velvety glow, exhibit all the characteristics of a respectful restoration.) Then there's the encode itself. With no macroblocking, banding, aliasing or serious anomalies to report, this one brushes perfection.
The sequel's two-channel DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track is also one of the finer lossless mixes in the Classic Monsters collection. By and large, dialogue is clean, clear and rejuvenated, without anything approaching a heavy hiss to point to. There's a slight, audible noise floor beneath it all, but it's only at its most noticeable when the actors and music grow quiet, and even then it isn't disruptive. And while sound effects have a canned, stagy temperament, it's all befitting of seventy-seven-year old sound design. Franz Waxman's music is really the only thing I would have liked to hear in a more unhampered state, but that would require something of a miracle considering the age and limitations of the audio elements. I'd much rather Universal err on the side of faithfulness, though, so I'm not about to complain. The Bride of Frankenstein has more lossless bite than her brothers, making this one of the best of the Essentials Collection bunch.
She's Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein (SD, 39 minutes): Howling and Gremlins filmmaker Joe Dante hosts this Bride of Frankenstein postmortem, which analyzes the complexities of the film, the ultimatum-driven casting of Elsa Lanchester, the return of Boris Karloff, the rise of Dr. Pretorious, the manner in which director James Whale approached the sequel, the makeup and production design, the groundbreaking emergence of a female horror icon, and essentially everything a fan could want to know about the beloved Frankenstein followup.
Audio Commentary: Film historian Scott MacQueen gets a lot of mileage out of the essay he reads aloud, dry as his delivery may be. Pauses are frequent but MacQueen unravels the mysteries and nuances of the film, its horror and comedy, its unique place among early horror classics, and much, much more.
100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics (HD, 9 minutes): Rather than a Bride of Frankenstein-centric restoration featurette, like the one that accompanies Dracula, this is a general catch-all. It's appreciated, but not nearly as revealing.
The Bride of Frankenstein Archive (SD, 13 minutes): Movie posters, campaign art, production stills and other images.
Trailer Gallery (SD, 7 minutes): Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Ghost of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein.
The Bride of Frankenstein isn't as familiar a classic as some of the other iconic pictures featured in the Essentials Collection, but it's without a doubt the biggest surprise and arguably the most disarming delight in the Monsters box set. Complex and elaborate for a horror film of its era, deviously sharp and funny, and undeniably ahead of its time, James Whales didn't just make a sequel, he forged a path none before him and few after him have dared to brave. In many ways, The Bride is even superior to the original Frankenstein, which shouldn't be taken lightly or dismissed as hyperbolic. It only helps that its Blu-ray debut also happens to be one of the strongest films in Universal's new eight-movie collection, thanks to a well-oiled restoration, a stunning video transfer and an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix. The only disappointment? The sequel doesn't have as many special features on tap, but it only stings for a moment. The Bride of Frankenstein and Blu-ray are a match made in heaven.
The Bride of Frankenstein: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Bride of Frankenstein (2 bundles)
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Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced and detailed the individual Blu-ray releases of four classic horror movies originally available as part of the Universal Classic Monsters Essentials Collection box set: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein ...