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Hints of sublime horror lurk in a big pile of camp lunacy in Frankenstein: The True Story. While a subtitle like The True Story might make you think this 1970s TV production hews close to Mary Shelley's classic novel, it's safe to say that Shelley's opus did not include crawling disembodied arms, sinister Chinese coolies, solar power, or the flabbergasting paisley dressing gown that Dr. Frankenstein wears for one brief but startling scene. In fact, The True Story deviates from Shelley's story in almost every detail. In this version, the young and handsome Dr. Frankenstein (Leonard Whiting, star of Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet) is lured into reviving the dead by the obsessive Dr. Clerval (David McCallum, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), who gruffly tosses off lines like "Fail? That is a word I shall teach you to forget!" and "This was specially prepared with chemicals--I'll explain what they are later." Clerval's untimely death doesn't stop Frankenstein from bringing his Creature to life in the form of the jaw-droppingly handsome Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?). Alas, tissue degeneration soon sets in--but the oily, sinister Dr. Polidori (James Mason, Lolita) arrives to make things even worse with his plan for a female Creature in the form of the even more jaw-droppingly dewy and luscious Jane Seymour (later to becomeDr. Quinn, Medicine Woman). Most of Frankenstein: The True Story rattles along as enjoyable badness, but every so often an image flares up that's genuinely creepy--when Frankenstein's fiancee Elizabeth is menaced by an undead butterfly, the scene is laughable and eerie at the same time--and though Whiting is stiff, Mason and a parade of cameo stars (including John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, and Agnes Moorehead) inject the movie with the sort of sinister relish that animated the classic horror of the black and white era.

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MC31685 Frankenstein : The True Story DVD (1973/James Mason/Jane Seymour) $14.98