All Day Entertainment
Cast: Boris Karloff, Anton Diffring, Helen Westcott
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Trailers, Interviews, DVD-ROM content
Troubled teen Mary Shelley could have hardly imagined the creature she would conjure up one dark, stormy night in 1816 would endure as a cultural phenomenon and iconic characterization nearly two centuries later. As this ’Tales of Frankenstein’ DVD demonstrates, the Frankenstein legend has been one of the most adapted works in cinema and television. The DVD is a Frankenstein lover’s delight, delivering a smattering of all-things-Frank from original theatrical trailers, interviews with Boris Karloff and Peter Cushing, to the highlight of the disc, the 1958 unaired Hammer Studios TV pilot ’Tales of Frankenstein.’ You’ll also find rare excerpts from Lon Chaney’s appearance as the man-made monster on television’s ’Tales of Tomorrow.’ It all makes for a fun and informative Frankenstein-fest, to be sure.
Another disc from All Day Entertainment, ’Tales of Frankenstein’ unfortunately lacks the striking image quality we’ve all come to expect from DVD, but it is the content that makes it so valuable. Mostly presented in full-frame format, the picture quality varies due to the rarity of the source material – something to be expected in my opinion. By and large it’s very watchable but don’t be surprised by overly dark sequences or occasionally monstrous levels of source defects.
The audio is a simple Dolby Digital mono mix but it plays well all the same, especially if you’ve ever endured the murkiness of previous videotape releases (many bootlegged) of this material. Given the fact that some of the content dates back to 1931, it’s remarkable that it sounds as decent as it does.
There are some real nice extras here, including bonus trailers, two very interesting audio interviews – one with Boris Karloff and one with Glenn Strange – and a fun and informative audio commentary that runs along with the ’Tales of Frankenstein’ pilot. Horror historians Ted Newsom, Gary Smith, and Stuart Galbraith provide their very candid views of what worked and what didn’t on the failed pilot, providing much back-story to the production and why it was ultimately doomed to fail. And, in case you haven’t yet read it, Mary Shelley’s original novel is included in DVD-ROM format.
Certainly, the content on ’Tales of Frankenstein’ was worthy of being rescued and is pleasing to see in a more stable media format. Though not as compelling as their other release, ’The Horror of Hammer,’ All Day Entertainment still delivers a reasonable feast for Frankenstein fanatics in this nicely well-rounded retrospective of the world’s most famous monster.