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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Creature > Supernatural > Vampire > Werewolf > 3D > Comedy > Universal Classic Monsters Complete 30-Film Collection: 1931 - 1956 Blu-ray Box Set

Universal Classic Monsters Complete 30-Film Collection: 1931 - 1956 Blu-ray Box Set



3D Picture: B+* Picture: B+ Sound: B Extras: B Films: see below in text



PLEASE NOTE: This Blu-ray set has a replacement disc program for Revenge Of The Creature, as its 3D side is not working in old pressing. See more below...



Film (and especially Horror fans) all over the world will always embrace the classic Universal Monsters movies as they are essential viewing for any and everyone who loves the magic of cinema. Almost every modern filmmaker (even those that don't make horror films) count these films amongst the ones that have influenced their career and spawned several classics by mere inspiration alone. A few years ago, Universal released this edition of 30 films in the catalog in a similar boxset on the standard definition DVD format that we reviewed which can be found here :


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/13051/Universal+Classic+Monsters+Complete+30+Film+C



Basically, Universal came out with this set on DVD in full and then started releasing the Legacy Collection individually on the Blu-ray format, with the exception of Phantom of the Opera (1943) which is a box set exclusive. Now, the boxset is released again, only this time with every one of the features restored to 1080p. If you are new to the Universal Monsters and are only familiar with the characters and want to dive in deeper, then this set is a great way to binge through the films and see the Monsters in all of their glory. While some films in the set are better than others, none of these films are necessarily bad and are all totally worth watching.


The films in the set are as follows with each Monster having its own set.



Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection


Dracula (1931) Film: A the original Bela Lugosi classic that is still the best imagining of the classic Bram Stoker text. With optional Phillip Glass score (recorded much later) accompaniment, the film looks and sounds terrifically good here.


Dracula's Daughter (1936) Film: B Lugosi wasn't interested in coming back for the sequel at the time so the story shifts to that of his vampiric daughter, played by Gloria Holden. While a bit dated, it's still fun to look back on this B-movie sequel with some admiration even if it doesn't quite stack up to other entries in the Universal catalogue.


Son of Dracula (1943) Film: B Lon Chaney Jr. plays Dracula in this sequel which sees him emerging from a coffin in a lake in time to make Louise Allbritton his bride to be.


House of Dracula (1945) Film: B Lon Chaney Jr. (as the Wolfman) and John Carradine (as Dracula) seek out Dr. Franz Edelmann (Onslow Stevens) in hopes of finding a cure to their monstrous states. Instead, another monster just ends up coming to life (also included on the Wolfman disc).


Special Features include the 1931 Spanish Version of Dracula made at the same time, The Road to Dracula Documentary, Lugosi: The Dark Prince Featurette, Dracula Archives, Alternate Dracula Score by Phillip Glass, Abbott and Costello Meet The Monsters, 3 Feature Commentaries, Production Photographs, and HD Theatrical Trailers.



Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection


Frankenstein (1931) Film: A The original Boris Karloff classic directed by James Whale is simply a masterpiece of filmmaking. Part german expressionism, Mary Shelley's story is brought to life in its best looking incarnation yet in this excellent 1080p Blu-ray restoration from the 35mm photochemical restoration a few years ago.


The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Film: A One of cinema's greatest sequels and directed again by James Whale, The Bride is played by Elsa Lanchester with Colin Clive returning as Dr. Frankenstein.


Son of Frankenstein (1939) Film: B+ Bela Lugosi as Igor against Boris Karloff as The Monster makes for must see cinema. While not quite as strong as its predecessors there's a lot of interesting things going on here.


The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) Film: B+ This is a really fun and underrated film which features Karloff as the Mad Dr. Neimann, Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman, John Carradine as Dracula, and Glenn Strange as the iconic Frankenstein Monster.


House of Frankenstein (1944) Film: B Featuring the great Boris Karloff (as a Mad Doctor) and Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolfman with John Carradine again as Dracula. This is another one of my favorite entries as it sees the Monsters being sent out to do the Mad Dr.'s bidding in a savage killing spree. (the film is also included on the Wolfman set)


Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Film: A By far the best of the Abbott and Costello monster spin-off movies, this entry features Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolfman, and Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein Monster. While a comedy through and through, there are so many classic moments in this film that makes it one of the strongest entries in the Universal Monsterverse. (The film is also included on the Wolfman set).


Special Features include The Frankenstein Files, How Hollywood Made a Monster Documentary, She's Alive!: Creating the Bride of Frankenstein Documentary, Karloff: The Gentle Monster, Frankenstein Archives, The Bride of Frankenstein Archives, Boo!: A Short Film, Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters Featurette, 4 Feature Commentaries, and HD Trailers.



The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection


The Mummy (1932) Film: A Karloff stars as Imhotep in one of the most iconic monsters in horror: The Mummy! More of a weird love story than the action packed Mummy movies of the modern era, there are plenty of hair-raising moments in this film!


The Mummy's Hand (1940) Film: B Tom Tyler stars in the second Universal Mummy film which centers around the tomb of Princess Ananka... and the Mummy is guarding it!


The Mummy's Ghost (1942) Film: B Lon Chaney Jr. takes a turn at being The Mummy - this time crossing into a college town in search of his reincarnated bride.


The Mummy's Tomb (1942) Film: B Lon Chaney Jr. is the Mummy again... this time the backdrop is a then modern New England.


The Mummy's Curse (1944) Film: B- The third Lon Chaney Jr. Mummy film - this time he terrorizes the Louisiana Bayou. Also stars Virginia Christine as Princess Anaka.


Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) Film: B The last Abbott and Costello monster film, the film is funny but is the lesser of the series.


Special Features include Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed Documentary, He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce Featurette, Unraveling The Legacy of the Mummy, The Mummy Archives, 2 Feature Commentaries, and HD Theatrical Trailers.



The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection


The Invisible Man (1933) Film: A Claude Rains is The Invisible Man in a film that still holds up to this day. The special effects are remarkable for the time as is the superb filmmaking in this frantic and perfectly executed horror thriller.


The Invisible Man Returns (1940) Film: B Vincent Price stars in this sequel to the original Invisible Man film which is a pretty fun popcorn flick. A murder mystery, the film features Price who is wrongfully accused of murdering his brother and becomes invisible (thanks to John Sutton who plays the Mad Dr. in the film) so that the real culprit can be found. Full of twists and turns, this one is worth checking out!


The Invisible Woman (1940) Film: C+ John Barrymore and Virginia Bruce star in this very long sequel that has some interesting ideas but doesn't stand up to the other entries in the franchise.


Invisible Agent (1942) Film: B Peter Lorre stars in this action packed entry that takes the Invisible Man formula and melds it with the spy/ secret agent/ action franchise formula in this memorable entry.


The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) Film: C+ John Carradine stars in this installment as a Mad Doctor who is haunted by the invisible Jon Hall in his creepy mansion.


Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) Film: C+ While it doesn't quite compare to the Frankenstein entry in the Abbott and Costello spin-offs, there are some funny (and over the top) moments in this entry where the bumbling idiots help a framed Boxer disappear.


Special Features include Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed, Feature Commentary by Film History Rudy Behlmer, Production Photographs, and Theatrical Trailers.



The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection


Werewolf of London (1935) Film: B+ Released before the classic Wolfman film, Henry Hull stars as the Lycan this time as he gets bitten by a odd creature and becomes this diabolical monster. Full of great imagery, and a classic Wolf-man makeup, this is a must see.


The Wolf Man (1941) Film: A The original Lon Chaney Jr. classic has some of the greatest Special Effects makeup of all time (by Jake Pierce) and one of the best horror movies ever made.


Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) B+ Bela Lugosi takes a turn at being the Frankenstein monster up against Lon Chaney's Wolfman in this classic Monster Mash Up.


She-Wolf of London (1946) Film: C+ Starring June Lockhart and Don Porter, this last entry in the Wolf series isn't so much of a monster movie but more like a film noir.


Special Features include Monster by Moonlight Documentary, The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth Featurette, Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr., He Who Made Monsters: The Art and Life of Jack Pierce, The Wolfman Archives, Abbott and Costello meet the Monsters Featurette, 2 Feature Commentaries, and HD Trailers.



Phantom of the Opera (1943) Film: B Just one feature included in this, the only color film in this set. The big budget Phantom of the Opera stars Claude Rains as the Phantom and gorgeous production design and costuming. While it may be a little slow for some, it's an interesting piece of cinema even if it doesn't quite hold the charm of the original 1925 Lon Chaney Sr. version.


Special Features include The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked, Feature Commentary with Film Historian Scott MacQueen, Production Photographs, and an HD Trailer.



The Creature from The Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection


Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 2D/3D Film: A My personal favorite of the Monsters and arguably my favorite film. While nobody has dared to remake it outright, there certainly wouldn't be a Shape of Water without it. Julie Adams gives a classic heroine performance as Ricou Browning.


Revenge of the Creature (1955) 2D/3D* Film: B+ An interesting sequel that pits the Creature in a Sea World-esque water park so that he can be a quick cash grab. Of course, he doesn't take too kindly to entrapment and craves the aquatic life.


*It's worth noting that some sets might have a bad copy of the 3D for the film. Replacement discs are available from Universal Home Video with more info that the bottom of this review.


The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) Film: B- 2D Only This is where the Monster legacy was starting to come to a close with this bizarre third entry that might as well be an Al Adamson movie. The Creature ends up getting surgically altered to be half man/ half creature and the results are.. sad.


Special Features include Back to the Black Lagoon Documentary, 3 Feature Commentaries, Production Photographs, and HD Trailers.


The films are all presented in 1080p high definition with their original 1.33 X 1 full frame aspect ratios (save 1.85 X 1 on the Creature films, the first of which is great in its 1080p 1.85 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image) and paired with new DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless tracks that have the films looking and sounding better than ever. With the only color film in the set being The Phantom (originally issued in dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor, a limited 1990s theatrical rerelease included DTS Mono theatrical sound), the rest of films have been remastered and comes across nicely with lots of texture and details in the shots that weren't evident on previously compressed versions released on DVD and other formats.


While it's unknown as of this writing when the films will become available on the 4K UHD format, the answer is certainly in time. With this set, you can tell that the key films (or the first ones in the respectable series) look and sound the best while some of the sequel films don't look quite as good. Still, if you're a fan this is a nice and easy way to get the bulk of the classics in one surefire go and makes for great viewing during the Halloween season.


Collectible Color Insert Booklet is called The Original House of Horror: Universal and a Monster Legacy which features behind-the-scenes stories and rare production photographs to give you the ultimate insight in the films as you are watching through them. Interestingly enough, The original Phantom of the Opera (1925) is listed as the first Universal Monster film in the book but is mysteriously missing from the box set as is Lon Chaney Sr.'s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. These two titles are available on Blu-ray from other companies as well and you can read about the best current editions elsewhere on this site.


If you track down the boxset and want a replacement disc for Revenge of the Creature (the 3D transfer is a little off currently), then be sure to email Universal Home Video at...

USHEConsumerRelations@visionmediamgmt.com


...with the information they will provide as proof of purchase. We'll review the replacement disc ASAP!


All in all, this is a great and highly recommended box set with the best transfers available at this time. This will no doubt be a hard one for collectors to track down as it keeps selling out, but I suggest you try!



- James Lockhart

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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