The Curse of Frankenstein (Warner Archive) Blu-ray Review

Warner Archive has really outdone themselves with this release. Amazing video and audio along with some great special features make this release a real treat for fans.

Studio: Warner Archive
Release Date: May 20th, 1957 (theatrical)
                            December 15th, 2020 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 23 minutes 11 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.33:1, 1.66:1, and 1.85:1 aspect ratios)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart
Written by Jimmy Sangster
Directed by Terence Fisher
Rating: Not Rated (violence and gore)




What's It About?

In prison and awaiting execution, Dr. Victor Frankenstein recounts to a priest what led him to his current circumstance. He inherited his family's wealth after the death of his mother when he was still only a young man. He hired Paul Krempe as his tutor and he immediately developed an interest in medical science. After several years, he and Krempe became equals and he developed an interest in the origins and nature of life. After successfully re-animating a dead dog, Victor sets about constructing a man using body parts he acquires for the purpose including the hands of a pianist and the brain of a renowned scholar. As Frankenstein's excesses continue to grow, Krempe is not only repulsed by what his friend has done but is concerned for the safety of the beautiful Elizabeth, Victor's cousin and fiancée who has come to live with them. His experiments lead to tragedy and his eventual demise.

Film Review

I came to THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN rather late in life.  I didn't watch it until a few years ago and I have to say that I really like it. I grew up on the Universal monster movies so it was nice to see this story in color. And man did Hammer really know how to use color. Every scene has some type of color to it and it always enhances the scene. The gothic setting is familiar to those who grew up on the Universal monsters, but somehow Hammer makes it feel a lot creepier. Of course, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee make the film ever the more watchable just by being in it with Cushing given the plum role of Dr. Frankenstein. Lee is great as the monster, but this is Cushing's show and he rocks it. Add in some gore (in color) and some pretty effective scares and you have a monster movie classic and the start of a direction for Hammer.



Presented in two different aspect ratios (a third is found on disc 2 as a special feature) and sourced from a recent 4K restoration, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN looks great. I chose to watch the film in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio as that is probably how it was projected back in the day. The 1.85:1 aspect ratio feels a bit too tight, but the 1.66:1 feels just right. Gone is the flat look of the old Region B disc and in its place is a lush picture with a lot of depth. Skin tones look more accurate and less like ghosts and detail is pretty high. The color timing is also tweaked a little bit to make it closer to what the film is supposed to look like instead of something that was shot with cheap lights you can get at Home Depot. All in all, this is a fantastic restoration and fans should pick this up right away. The sound comes to us in the form of a DTS-HD Master Audio track and it sounds nice. Dialogue is clear and the score has never sounded better.


Disc 1 has a commentary track that is really informative. 

Disc 2 starts out with the open matte version of The Curse of Frankenstein. Two cards appear before the film addressing why this version of the film is here. It boils down to "this is how many fans saw the film for the first time" and "this is how they know the film". I have mixed feelings about this inclusion. 

Next up, we get a quartet of featurettes, starting with The Resurrection Man which runs for almost 22 minutes. Richard Klemensen gives us a great rundown of the hows and the whys of how The Curse of Frankenstein came to be and its place in horror movie history.  Sir Christopher Frayling is up next to talk about the gothic history of The Curse of Frankenstein in Hideous Progeny which runs just under 23 minutes. Next, David J. Miller takes us through the cinematography of Jack Asher in Torrents of Lights which runs for 15 minutes. Composer Christopher Drake talks about James Bernard and his contributions to Hammer Horror in Diabolus in Musica, which runs for 17 minutes. We end the special features with the film's theatrical trailer.

Disc 1:
  • Audio Commentary by Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr

Disc 2: 
  • 1.37:1 "Open Matte" Version (1h 23m 35s, HD, 1.37:1)

Featurettes: (with Play All option)
  • The Resurrection Men: Hammer, Frankenstein, and the Rebirth of the Horror Film (21m 51s, HD, 2:1)
  • Hideous Progeny: The Curse of Frankenstein and the English Gothic Tradition (22m 49s, HD, 1.78:1) 
  • Torrents of Light: The Art of Jack Asher  (15m 14s, HD, 1.78:1)
  • Diabolus in Musica: James Bernard and the Sound of Hammer Horror (17m 5s, HD, 1.78:1)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2m 19s, HD, 1.66:1)



THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is quintessential Hammer Horror. You got Cushing, Lee, and a classic monster for them to play with and they are clearly having a ball. The film is scary and intriguing and a lot of fun. Warner Archive has done an outstanding job finally bringing the film to blu-ray. The restoration they have done is worthy of being reference quality and the special features are informative and entertaining. This blu-ray is a must-own for Hammer Horror fans.








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