Halloween has come early this year! Lionsgate has graced horror fans with a ton of really interesting documentaries from the History Channel and A&E Network in America. For folks that always wanted to know the “Real” story behind “Frankenstein” and “The Wolfman,” well this is where you can turn. Truth be told, the entire double disc DVD set garners an array of forty five minute documentaries, with the Frankenstein topic taking center stage. With all three documentaries clocking in at 178 minutes in length, it’s a treasure trove for individuals that love Frankenstein and Mary Shelly. Featured in the first disc is “In Search of the Real Frankenstein,” “Frankenstein,” and “It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein.” Oddly enough while all three documentaries can sometimes become repetitive, they offer up a unique look at Frankenstein with different angles and approaches.
“In Search of the Real Frankenstein” is a scientific look at Mary Shelly’s book and how she not only used science to create terror, but how she somewhat predicted the future medicinal use of electricity as a means of reviving the human body and curing its ailments. It also explores the idea of electricity being used to actually re-animate human bodies or body parts, and how Mary Shelly was so far beyond her time, especially considering she was alive during a time where a woman writing a famed novel was unheard of and shocking. “Frankenstein” is more of an examination of the book and how Mary Shelly was, once again, ahead of her time, as the documentary also explores the inspirations for the book, and how Shelly used her fears and dreams to help build her novel. Finally “It’s Alive! The True Story of Frankenstein” discusses Frankenstein in the literary world and pop culture, especially in the realm of pop culture.
The producers discuss the making of the James Whale movie and how the director approached the material from Shelly. All things considered, all three documentaries cover most of the interesting material regarding Frankenstein and is a very engaging three hours. The DVD comes with no extras, which isn’t a bad thing, but I wish there was a “Play All” function for the trio of documentaries. Believe it or not every bit of legend or folklore is based on some thing that happened in history. People were either inspired by the events, or cobbled together elements from said event to concoct the legends we know them today. “The Real Wolfman” is a ninety minute interesting look at the werewolf and how the legend came to rise to prominence on pop culture. There’s a look at how and why the full moon is considered supernatural, how the werewolf was created based around a real life series of attacks by a man like monster that ended with a silver bullet.
As well there’s also the exploration of the Beast of Bray Road, yet another legend of a man like beast wreaking havoc on a small town that sparked a lot of terror and hysteria. The documentary follows two alleged investigators looking in to a series of murders and animal killings that supposedly are being committed by a werewolf or man like beast. The segments feel painfully staged and scripted, but they thankfully squeeze in a lot of interesting information about the werewolf, lycanthropy and how the idea of the werewolf has surefire scientific validity. The History Channel documentary comes with no extras, save for a Scene Selection function, which isn’t an extra but is convenient nonetheless. The Double DVD set is the perfect appetizer for October, as Lionsgate packs in fascinating looks at folklore and very iconic horror.