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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Vampire > Thriller > Literature > Comedy > Universal Classic Monsters Complete 30 Film Collection (1931 - 1956/21-Disc DVD Box Set/Universal Home Video)

Universal Classic Monsters Complete 30 Film Collection (1931 - 1956/21-Disc DVD Box Set/Universal Home Video)

Picture: B Sound: B Extras: B Films: A

Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein. The Wolfman. Dracula. Creature From The Black Lagoon. The Mummy. Phantom of the Opera. The Invisible Man. These are the Universal Monsters that will continue to haunt and inspire audiences from all shakes of life for generations to come. These films in some fashion have inspired every makeup artist or filmmaker in Hollywood working today in the horror industry and beyond.

One of this year's best releases (and just in time for the Halloween season) is surprisingly not available on Blu-ray and that is this collection which assembles some of the greatest films ever produced in film history together with previously unreleased (or rare) titles that is a must own for collectors and fans everywhere. This marks the third version of most of these films that I own in my collection - I own all the core 8 films in last year's Blu-ray edition (which I will touch upon soon and highly recommend) and the previous Legacy Collection DVD releases that were available upon the release of Universal's Van Helsing (2004).

Exclusive to this release is the Technicolor remake of The Phantom of the Opera (1943) that isn't available separately anywhere, but is in this edition and is the only DVD in the box set that doesn't have accompanying films. What slightly upsets me about that is not including the original Lon Chaney Sr. silent classic or his incredible silent Hunchback of Notre Dame! (Both of which are mentioned in the booklet AND are widely considered as Universal Monsters). However, if you want to add a recent disc presentation of 1925 The Phantom of The Opera, I suggest you investigate purchasing the Blu-ray release by Blackhawk Films/Image Entertainment which offers three different versions of the film, or the Milestone Collection Ultimate Edition DVD which offers two versions. Both Blu-rays are reviewed elsewhere on this site, though.

Aside from these two films not being included, this set definitely made me happy for its collection of the Abbot and Costello Meet... the various monsters films and the rare Dracula's Daughter (which doesn't feature Lugosi) that also wasn't included in previous Dracula releases.

Here's the full list of all thirty films available in the set...

Dracula (1931)

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Son of Dracula (1943)

House of Dracula (1945)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

House of Frankenstein (1944)

The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy's Hand (1940)

The Mummy's Ghost (1942)

The Mummy's Tomb (1942)

The Mummy's Curse (1944)

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

The Invisible Woman (1940)

Invisible Agent (1942)

The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944)

Werewolf of London (1935)

The Wolf Man (1941)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

She-Wolf of London (1946)

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Revenge of the Creature (1955)

The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)

Actually, there are 31 films included in this box set --- why they relegate the Spanish version of Dracula to a bonus feature is beyond me since it's a complete feature film in its own right and Universal released it as such in 1931 to Spanish-speaking markets and audiences. Whether you consider it the 31st film or a bonus feature, make sure you give it a viewing if you've never seen it before: it makes a very interesting companion piece and comparison with Lugosi's 1931 masterpiece, and presumably the featurettes on the film will relate their simultaneous production at the studio, using the same sets and script but produced with different casts and directors.

The transfers on the discs are great for the format but don't compare to the sharp restoration that the core classics had on last year's Blu-ray release especially with the beautiful Technicolor restoration for The Phantom of The Opera or the 3D version of Creature From The Black Lagoon (which by the way is my favorite film of all time). Captured in standard definition, the films are presented in full frame 4:3 aspect ratio as they were originally filmed. The sound quality on the discs aren't half bad either which are captured and presented in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1.

There are plenty of great extras on these discs including:

48-Page collectible Book

Behind the Scenes Documentaries

1931 Spanish Version of Dracula

Featurettes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. and visionary makeup artist Jack Pierce

13 Expert Feature Commentaries

Archival Footage

Production Photographs

Monster Specific Featurettes

Theatrical Trailers and more surprises

These films go in and out of print often so this set is a true treasure to have if you don't own all (or any) of these films so don't overlook it The new box art for the discs are nice and the collectible booklet The Original House of Horror: Universal And A Monster Legacy that this set comes with is a great assemblage of cool pictures, classic posters, and bios on some of the key players and filmmakers that were part of these timeless productions. (However, the book is the same as last year's Blu-ray release only slightly smaller in size.) This release is also a nice compliment to the upcoming Dracula: Untold film that will be released in the coming weeks - which I am also pretty excited about. The discs themselves are a little boring with solid black art with boring white text and no real inserts in the disc collections themselves but I can live.

These are all some of my favorite films of all time so I am obviously in love with this box set. I would have liked to have seen the inclusion of the Blu-ray releases of at least the eight core films in the set like last year with some of the lesser popular films on DVD in the set but I'm sure that's coming next time. Owning both, I am very content as a fan with this release and would highly recommend searching out either the individual collections available in stores or this meaty box set to put on your shelf!

- James Harland Lockhart V



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