Something that today’s younger cinephiles will never get to experience is logging onto the rec.arts.laserdisc newsgroup and debate the existence of rumored lost scenes and alternate cuts. Before studios realized that deleted scenes and assorted extras were a terrific marketing tool, film enthusiasts debated for days on end about the existence of the “spider walk” sequence from The Exorcist or the Brad Majors/Riff-Raff love scene from Rocky Horror (one of those is real; one is not). If Suicide Squad were released in the ’70s, it would have taken twenty years to get that director’s cut into your hands (or a bootleg VHS from a vendor table at Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors) and rumors would have circled about exactly was cut for days on end.
With the Internet having grown exponentially since 1995—and all this information at everyone’s fingertips—there is a dearth of mystery when it comes to older films. That’s why it’s quite exciting when something like this restoration of the original, uncut Son Of Frankenstein trailer comes around.
The newly restored preview of a coming attraction—taken from a 35mm nitrate print—features alternate takes and scenes deleted from the final film that have not been seen for close to 75 years. The trailer existed only on silver nitrate film stock, and was thought to be lost to time and the elements. The restoration also looks fantastic, probably better even than it did in 1939.
Son Of Frankenstein was the third film in Universal’s Frankenstein series and part of the original shared cinematic universe. The film follows the Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, son of the original Dr. Frankenstein, looking to redeem his father’s reputation and proving his theories right. The film featured a classic horror trifecta of Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi. Horror was on a downswing in the late ’30s, no doubt in part due to the heavy censorship American horror films were subjected to by the British Board Of Film Censors, effectively killing the overseas market. Universal also had its share of issues dealing with the Production Code Administration stateside.
Thanks to a successful triple-feature of the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and King Kong in 1938, Universal green-lit a big budget Frankenstein sequel. Son Of Frankenstein was a hit for the studio in 1939, but marked the last time that Karloff would portray the iconic monster with Lon Chaney, Jr. taking over in 1942’s The Ghost Of Frankenstein.