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Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection(1931-1954)
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these original films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience
For more about Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection and the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray release, see Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: James Whale (I), Tod Browning, Karl Freund, George Waggner, Arthur Lubin, Jack Arnold
Writers: John L. Balderston, Mary Shelley (I), Robert Florey, Garrett Fort, Richard Schayer, R.C. Sherriff
Starring: Boris Karloff (I), Claude Rains, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye (I), Bela Lugosi, Colin Clive
This Blu-ray bundle includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray Review
The first of many box sets worth adding to your collection this fall...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 28, 2012
Take a moment and imagine what modern horror would be without Universal Pictures. Without founder Carl Laemmle and his vision for the future of cinema, or his son Carl Laemmle Jr., who inherited the keys to the studio kingdom in 1928, when talkies were rapidly displacing silent films and promising groundbreaking new strides in moviemaking and the movie-going experience. Without early horror pioneers like Tod Browning, James Whale, Karl Freund, George Waggner or Jack Arnold. Without iconic creature actors Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, Jr., Elsa Lanchester or Ben Chapman. Without Dracula, the indispensable 1931 classic that left a more lasting mark on vampire movies and lore than any other vampire film before or after (save Nosferatu). Or Frankenstein, which pushed boundaries, shocked audiences and has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm ever since. The Mummy, bold in its atmosphere and unforgettable in its tragic romance. The Invisible Man, which features some of the most astonishing special effects and perhaps one of the most unnerving depictions of mounting madness of the era. The Bride of Frankenstein, a complex, wickedly funny, altogether unpredictable sequel that in many regards surpasses its predecessor. The Wolf Man, a once-chilling character drama that examines the frailty of man and the beast within. Phantom of the Opera, though more a twisted love story than a traditional horror picture, a film that nevertheless caused some theaters to stock smelling salts in in the event that a moviegoer fainted upon the removal of the Phantom's mask. Or Creature from the Black Lagoon, which frightened audiences above the water and below with a scaly monster unlike any they had seen before. Needless to say, modern horror, and really the genre in whole, would be completely different than what we know.
The 8-disc Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection box set features all eight films; nine when you include Drácula, a Spanish-language version of Dracula that was shot simultaneously to the Lugosi picture, albeit with an entirely different cast. For the purposes of this review, I'll be highlighting the video and audio scores for each individual disc, discussing the set's packaging, and outlining the special features included. More thorough and detailed reviews of each disc can be found by visiting each title's individual listing:
Disc 1: Drácula (1931)
Disc 2: Frankenstein (1931)
Disc 3: The Mummy (1932)
Disc 4: The Invisible Man (1933)
Disc 5: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Disc 6: The Wolf Man (1941)
Disc 7: Phantom of the Opera (1943)
Disc 8: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
See each film's individual review for a detailed analysis of its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation:
Disc 1: Drácula - 3.5/5
Disc 2: Frankenstein - 4.5/5
Disc 3: The Mummy - 5/5
Disc 4: The Invisible Man - 3.5/5
Disc 5: The Bride of Frankenstein - 5/5
Disc 6: The Wolf Man - 3.5/5
Disc 7:Phantom of the Opera - 3.5/5
Disc 8: Creature from the Black Lagoon - 4/5
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
See each film's individual review for a detailed analysis of its two-channel DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix:
Disc 1: Drácula - 4.5/5
Disc 2: Frankenstein - 3.5/5
Disc 3: The Mummy - 4/5
Disc 4: The Invisible Man - 4/5
Disc 5: The Bride of Frankenstein - 4.5/5
Disc 6: The Wolf Man - 4/5
Disc 7: Phantom of the Opera - 5/5
Disc 8: Creature from the Black Lagoon - 4.5/5
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection comes packaged in an understated but handsome box set (measuring 7" h x 5¾" w x 1¼" d) with a sturdy outer sleeve that houses a tome-like DigiPak (with one page devoted to each film) and a copy of "The Original House of Horror," a 48-page booklet. The discs themselves slide inside of each DigiPak page -- something that will be a sticking point for some since you have to grasp the edge of a disc to remove it from its snug hideaway -- but I didn't encounter any problems. Yes, individual disc hubs would have been preferred to the Alien and Star Wars-style page sleeves. It isn't a deal breaker by any means, though, and any irritation had faded the moment I slid the first disc into my Blu-ray player.
Disc 1: Dracula and Drácula
Disc 2: Frankenstein
Disc 3: The Mummy
Disc 4: The Invisible Man
Disc 5: The Bride of Frankenstein
Disc 6: The Wolf Man
Disc 7: Phantom of the Opera
Disc 8: Creature from the Black Lagoon
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection isn't perfect. Not every film is a tried and true classic, debate will rage about horror greats that were left behind, not every video presentation or DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is ideal, and the majority of the special features have been ported over from the previously released DVDs. Even so, the Essential Collection is a Blu-ray essential. Universal has put considerable effort into restoring and revitalizing each film, and while there's room to nitpick, it's hard to focus on little flaws when the whole of the package is so good. If you have any love for Golden Age horror classics, add this one to your cart or wish list post haste.
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