Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection [Blu-ray]
  • SKU: 4494603
  • Release Date: 10/02/2012
  • Rating: G
  • 4.6 (25)
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$74.99
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Overview

Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
4.6
92% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (23 out of 25)

Special Features

  • Over twelve hours of bonus features
  • Blu-ray exclusive
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D!: for the first time since it was in theaters, see the movie as it was meant to be seen - in 3D
  • Plus:
  • 1931 Spanish version of Dracula
  • Documentaries
  • Expert commentaries
  • Interviews
  • Production photographs
  • Archive materials
  • And more!

Synopsis

Dracula
"I am....Drac-u-la. I bid you velcome." Thus does Bela Lugosi declare his presence in the 1931 screen version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Director Tod Browning invests most of his mood and atmosphere in the first two reels, which were based on the original Stoker novel; the rest of the film is a more stagebound translation of the popular stage play by John Balderston and Hamilton Deane. Even so, the electric tension between the elegant Dracula and the vampire hunter Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) works as well on the screen as it did on the stage. And it's hard to forget such moments as the lustful gleam in the eyes of Mina Harker (Helen Chandler) as she succumbs to the will of Dracula, or the omnipresent insane giggle of the fly-eating Renfield (Dwight Frye). Despite the static nature of the final scenes, Dracula is a classic among horror films, with Bela Lugosi giving the performance of a lifetime as the erudite Count (both Lugosi and co-star Frye would forever after be typecast as a result of this film, which had unfortunate consequences for both men's careers). Compare this Dracula to the simultaneously filmed Spanish-language version, which makes up for the absence of Lugosi with a stronger sense of visual dynamics in the lengthy dialogue sequences. In 1999, a special rerelease of Dracula was prepared featuring a new musical score written by Philip Glass and performed by The Kronos Quartet. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Frankenstein
Still regarded as the definitive film version of Mary Shelley's classic tale of tragedy and horror, Frankenstein made unknown character actor Boris Karloff a star and created a new icon of terror. Along with the highly successful Dracula, released earlier the same year, it launched Universal Studio's golden age of 1930s horror movies. The film's greatness stems less from its script than from the stark but moody atmosphere created by director James Whale; Herman Rosse's memorable set designs, particularly the fantastic watchtower laboratory, featuring electrical equipment designed by Kenneth Strickfaden; the creature's trademark look from makeup artist Jack Pierce, who required Karloff to don pounds of makeup and heavy asphalt shoes to create the monster's unique lurching gait; and Karloff's nuanced performance as the tormented and bewildered creature. Frankenstein was greeted with screams, moans, and fainting spells upon its initial release, obliging Universal to add a disclaimer in which Edward Van Sloan advises the faint of heart to leave the theater immediately. If they don't: "Well...we've warned you." Director James Whale was memorably embodied by Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Creature from the Black Lagoon
Universal Pictures introduced audiences to yet another classic movie monster with this superbly crafted film, originally presented in 3-D. The story involves the members of a fossil-hunting expedition down a dark tributary of the mist-shrouded Amazon, where they enter the domain of a prehistoric, amphibious "Gill Man" -- possibly the last of a species of fanged, clawed humanoids who may have evolved entirely underwater. Tranquilized, captured, and brought aboard, the creature still manages to revive and escape -- slaughtering several members of the team -- and abducts their sole female member (Julie Adams), spiriting her off to his mist-shrouded lair. This sparks the surviving crewmen to action -- particularly those who fancy carrying the girl off themselves. Director Jack Arnold makes excellent use of the tropical location, employing heavy mists and eerie jungle noises to create an atmosphere of nearly constant menace. The film's most effective element is certainly the monster itself, with his pulsating gills and fearsome webbed talons. The creature was played on land by stuntman Ben Chapman and underwater by champion swimmer Ricou Browning -- who was forced to hold his breath during long takes because the suit did not allow room for scuba gear. The end result was certainly worth the effort, proven in the famous scene where the Gill Man swims effortlessly beneath his female quarry in an eerie ballet -- a scene echoed much later by Steven Spielberg in the opening of Jaws. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

The Phantom of the Opera
The Bride of Frankenstein
This greatest of all Frankenstein movies begins during a raging thunderstorm. Warm and cozy inside their palatial villa, Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon), Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton), and Shelley's wife Mary (Elsa Lanchester) engage in morbidly sparkling conversation. The wicked Byron mockingly chastises Mary for frightening the literary world with her recent novel Frankenstein, but Mary insists that her horror tale preached a valuable moral, that man was not meant to dabble in the works of God. Moreover, Mary adds that her story did not end with the death of Frankenstein's monster, whereupon she tells the enthralled Byron and Shelley what happened next. Surviving the windmill fire that brought the original 1931 Frankenstein to a close, the Monster (Boris Karloff) quickly revives and goes on another rampage of death and destruction. Meanwhile, his ailing creator Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) discovers that his former mentor, the demented Doctor Praetorius (Ernst Thesiger), plans to create another life-sized monster -- this time a woman! After a wild and wooly "creation" sequence, the bandages are unwrapped, and the Bride of the Monster (Elsa Lanchester again) emerges. Alas, the Monster's tender efforts to connect with his new Mate are rewarded only by her revulsion and hoarse screams. "She hate me," he growls, "Just like others!" Wonderfully acted and directed, The Bride of Frankenstein is further enhanced by the vivid Franz Waxman musical score; even the film's occasional lapses in logic and continuity (it was trimmed from 90 to 75 minutes after the first preview) are oddly endearing. Director James Whale was memorably embodied by Ian McKellen in the Oscar-winning 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Invisible Man
The Mummy
The Mummy represented Boris Karloff's second horror starring role after his "overnight" success in Frankenstein. Brought back to life after nearly 3,700 years, Egyptian high priest Imhotep wreaks havoc upon the members of the British field exposition that disturbed his tomb (shades of the King Tut curse). While disguised as a contemporary Egyptologist, he falls in love with Zita Johann, whom he recognizes as the latest incarnation of a priestess who died nearly 40 centures earlier. Spiriting Zita away to the tomb, he relates the story of how he had dared to enter her ancestor's sacred burial crypt, hoping to restore her to life. Caught in the act, he was embalmed alive and his tongue was cut out for his act of sacrilege. Now that he has returned, he intends to slay Zita, so that they will be reunited for all time in the Hereafter. Despite its melodramatic trappings, The Mummy is essentially a love story, poetically related by ace cinematographer and first-time director Karl Freund. Jack Pierce's justly celebrated makeup skills offers us two Karloffs: the wizened Egyptologist and the flaking, rotting mummy, who though only seen for a few seconds remains in the memory long after the film's final image has faded. Best line: "It went for a little walk." The Mummy was followed by four stock footage-laden sequels, none of which approached the power and poignancy of the original. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Wolf Man
"Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And the moon is full and bright." Upon first hearing these words, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) dismisses them as childish folderol. After all, this is the 20th Century; how can a human being turn into a werewolf? Talbot soon learns how when he attempts to rescue Jenny Williams (Fay Helm) from a nocturnal attack by a wolf. Collapsing, Talbot discovers upon reviving that Jenny is dead-and, lying by her side, is not the body of a beast, but of a gypsy named Bela (Bela Lugosi). The son of fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), Bela was a lycanthrope, or "wolf man." And now that he has been bitten by Bela, Talbot is cursed to suffer the torments of the damned whenever the moon is full. Arguably the best of the "original" Universal horrors (original in the sense that it was not based on an existing literary property, a la Frankenstein, Dracula and The Invisible Man), The Wolf Man boasts one of the most stellar casts ever to grace a "B" picture: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Warren William, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya and Bela Lugosi. The man-to-wolf transformation sequences -- one of which took a full 24 hours to film -- are thoroughly convincing, thanks to the cosmetic genius of Jack P. Pierce (Chaney had wanted to emulate his father by developing his own werewolf makeup, but existing union rules would not permit this). Alas, after this powerhouse opening volley, the Wolf Man character was relegated to a series of cheap sequels, teaming him with other Universal shock stars: Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). The final ignominy was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1945), in which Lawrence Talbot (Chaney again), having been cured of lycanthropy in House of Dracula, reverts to his werewolf status -- and has to endure the one-liners of Lou Costello to boot! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Overall Customer Rating

4.6 (25 Reviews)
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