Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Reviews, Horror

Blu-ray: Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (Universal, Blu-ray)

Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy have traversed the trail from horror icon to camp figure and back again and sparked the imaginations of readers and moviegoers for decades. Yet call forth the images nestled in the public consciousness and you’ll find that the figures created by Universal Studios, the home of Hollywood nightmares during the great gothic horror cycle of the 1930s and 1940s, have becomes the definitive versions of the great horror movie monsters.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Universal has been upgrading and repackaging its library of classic monster movies and the franchises they launched through the 1930s-1950s on disc for almost 20 years. This new collection is the ultimate compilation. Previously released on DVD, it offers 4K restorations of all 30 films for Blu-ray, some for the first time. That means not just the bona fide Gothic horror masterpieces and monster movie landmarks previously on Blu-ray individually or in the “Legacy Collection” sets—Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy(1932), and The Bride of Frankenstein(1935) with Boris Karloff, The Invisible Man (1933) with Claude Rains, The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney Jr., the Technicolor Phantom of the Opera(1943) with Claude Rains, and the post-Gothic, atomic-era Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) in standard and 3D versions, plus the Spanish language Dracula (1931)—but stand-out sequels such as Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Son of Frankenstein (1939), the pre-Wolf Man The Werewolf of London(1935), Vincent Price in The Invisible Man Returns (1940), the mad monster parties Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945), and the surprisingly creepy horror comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) among others, with all the commentary tracks, featurettes, and other supplements from earlier DVD and Blu-ray releases.

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Posted in: by Richard T. Jameson, Contributors, Film Reviews, Horror

The classic: ‘Frankenstein’

[Written for the National Society of Film Critics anthology The A List (2006)]

In 1931, the director Robert Florey lived in a Los Angeles apartment with a view of a Dutch-style bakery and its logo, a windmill complete with turning vanes. Florey had just been assigned by Carl Laemmle Jr. to direct a production of Frankenstein for Universal, and as he mused on a possible look for the film, he found himself considering a windmill as a key location – perhaps the site of the scientist’s secret laboratory. As it happened, it would be James Whale, not Florey, who directed Frankenstein, and Henry Frankenstein would set up shop in “an abandoned watchtower.” But that windmill got lodged in the collective brain of the filmmaking team (also in one line of dialogue absentmindedly retained from an early script draft), and finally made it on screen as an opportunistic but aptly crazed-Gothic setting for the film’s fiery climax.


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Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Essays, Horror

Monster in the Box: How a Childhood Love of Frankenstein Turned Me Into a Film Critic

Robert Horton hosts the Cinema Dissection of Bride of Frankenstein, a six-hour interactive tour through the movie, at SIFF Film Center on Saturday, January 24, part of a weekend-long program “It’s Alive: Frankenstein on Film.” Tickets and details here. In anticipation of the event, here is an excerpt from his upcoming book on Frankenstein, to be published next month. © and all rights reserved, 2015, Wallflower/Columbia University Press.

If a cult is anything, it has rituals and ceremonies and a schedule of worship. And here is ours: Friday nights, gathered in somebody’s basement, sleeping bags staked out on the floor. There are chocolate-bar wrappers scattered around and a half-eaten bag of Fritos waiting to be finished off. This is 1970, or possibly 1971 or 1969, and as 12-year-olds our beverage of choice is something innocuous, Kool-Aid or Coke.

It’s almost 11:30, so the parents have already looked down a final time and said their goodnights, and the lights are appropriately low. If anybody managed to smuggle in an issue of Playboy it’s been put away, because we need to concentrate on television now. There’s a plaster Madonna looming in a corner, that home icon of the Catholic family, which is apt because we are gathered here for something like a religious ceremony ourselves.

The local 11 o’clock news program on KIRO-TV, Seattle’s Channel 7, is ending. As always, the broadcast signs off with an editorial comment from station manager Lloyd E. Cooney, a bespectacled square perpetually out of step with the turbulent era (Channel 7, owned by the Mormon Church, is a conservative business). Strange, then, that every Friday night Cooney’s bland homilies are immediately replaced by a dark dungeon, a fiend in a coffin, and three hours of evil.

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