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Fox Horror Classics Collection Volume 2 (Dragonwyck / Chandu the Magician / Dr. Renault's Secret)

33 customer reviews

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(Sep 09, 2008)
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Product Description

Disk 1: Chandu the Magician **Commentary by Author Gregory William Mank **Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu **Chandu the Magician Radio Serial Episode **Restoration Comparison **Trailer **Still Gallery

Disc 2: Dr. Renault's Secret **By The Book: Horror, Suspense, and Literary Inspiration **Restoration Comparison **Trailer **Interactive Pressbook **Still Gallery

Disc 3: Dragonwyck **A House of Secrets: Exploring Dragonwyck **Dragonwyck Radio Show Performed by Vincent Price and Gene **Tierney - October 7, 1946 **Restoration Comparison **Trailer **Interactive Pressbook **Still Gallery

Episode Description: Disc 1: Chandu the Magician (1932) Disc 2: Dr. Renault's Secret (1942) Disc 3: Dragonwyck (1946)

Although only one of the '40s-era movies from the Fox library contained in this set can be called a genuine horror film, all three pictures offer enough excitement and suspense--as well as the presence of genre stalwarts like Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, George Zucco and J. Carroll Naish--to warrant viewings by classic movie fans and broad-minded horror aficionados alike. Dr. Renault's Secret, from 1942, is the real article in terms of horror, with Zucco as the title scientist and J. Carroll Naish as, well, his secret, a brutish handyman with a monstrous heritage. It's a breezy B-picture on par with similar efforts like The Ape Man, although with stronger production value. The fantasy-adventure Chandu the Magician (1931) stars Edmund Lowe as the eponymous yogi, who is dispatched to save his brother from the evil magician Roxor (Lugosi). Based on a popular radio series from the '30s, Chandu benefits greatly from atmospheric cinematography by James Wong Howe and production design by William Cameron Menzies, who pull off some genuinely impressive special effects, and from the marvelous florid performance by Lugosi (who would go on to play Chandu in a subsequent serial). Dragonwyck (1946) is the volume's ringer; with its story of class struggle and forbidden marriage between wealthy Vincent Price and his less fortunate and distant relation Gene Tierney, it offers only the hint of chills in whispers about a ghost. It's also probably the best of the set's three films in regard to production value and performances, with Price taking top honors as the cold-hearted lord of the manor and Walter Huston as Tierney's suspicious father. But that probably means little to horror fans, who will probably pass over the film in favor of Renault's more upfront scares; similarly, classic drama fans may not wish to invest in all three pictures in order to enjoy Dragonwyck. But hope springs eternal that curiosity will introduce both sides to the merits of the other features included here. As with its predecessor, the Fox Horror Classics Collection Volume 2 includes a wealth of fine extras that give historical perspective to the features they accompany. Chandu and Dragonwyck feature commentary tracks by Lugosi biographer Gregory William Mank and writer Stephen Haberman and filmmaker Constantine Nasr, respectively; all three films are discussed in detail by a host of experts (authors Kim Newman, Rudy Behlmer and Lucy Chase Williams, among others, as well as effects legend Ray Harryhausen and collector extraordinaire Bob Burns) in 15-minute featurettes. The Dragonwyck disc also includes two radio adaptations, both starring Price, as well as an isolated audio track for Alfred Newman's evocative score. Trailers for Renault and Dragonwyck and an informative booklet of liner notes round out this eclectic set. --Paul Gaita

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Vincent Price, Anne Revere, Spring Byington
  • Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Restored
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2008
  • Run Time: 232 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,556 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fox Horror Classics Collection Volume 2 (Dragonwyck / Chandu the Magician / Dr. Renault's Secret)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Mark Norvell on June 10, 2008
In Fox's second set of "horror classics", Gene Tierney and Vincent Price are in 1946's "Dragonwyck", a Gothic period thriller, not a horror film, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and set in the old mansion of title. It's based on a popular 1944 novel of the same name. Then there's 1932's "Chandu the Magician", based on the old serial, with Bela Lugosi in a battle over a death ray. Again, this film is more of an adventure (followed by sequels) and not really a horror film. And then there's 1942's "Dr.Renault's Secret" with horror vet George Zucco as the doctor and J.Carrol Naish as his "assistant" who's a tad on the simian side and capable of committing murder. This is a low budget affair, runs only around 58 minutes and it's played more like a drama--- not like a horror film. Of course, all of these films are worth a look for their casts (especially "Dragonwyck"), their rarity and their b&w restoration, but none of them really qualify as "classic horror". Except maybe "Dr.Renault's Secret", but judge for yourself. I was hoping for genuine classic horror films that Fox found and restored. Maybe next time.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Patrick W. Crabtree VINE VOICE on July 4, 2008
I wanted to particularly express my enthusiasm for the rarely seen "Dr. Renault's Secret," a classic horror-mystery which has become something of a cult film these days. It was directed by Harry Lachman and is a Twentieth-Century Fox production.

I saw this movie for the first time on Turner Classic Movies a couple of years back and it's one of the superb old B&W horror-mystery flicks of the day ('40s). I tried to obtain it then but it wasn't available on either VHS or DVD... but it's available now!

Here's the story:

A dapper young brain surgeon, Larry Forbes, (played by John Shepperd) visits his fiancée ("Madeline Renault," played by Lynne Roberts) at her home in a remote French villa where her mad scientist father, Dr. Renault (played by George Zucco), resides and conducts horrific experiments in his lab. In fact, Zucco has created a man (of sorts) from an ape (reminiscent of "The Island of Dr. Moreau").

Forbes meets Noel (pronounced "no-ELL," and played by J. Carrol Naish) who functions as Dr. Renault's "Igor-like" assistant (and actually the ape-man), who harbors a dog-like devotion for Madeline, (Dr. Renault's daughter). Forbes, to his horror, soon learns Noel's true identity.

The main trouble begins at a local Inn where, during a Bastille celebration, we meet Rogell (played by Mike Mazurki), an ex-convict who is now Renault's gardener and Austin (played by Jack Norton), a drunken American who torments Noel (not a great idea!) with his insinuations about Forbes' upcoming marriage to Madeline. Austin is soon found dead, the result of a broken neck.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By R. Bailey on June 18, 2008
At $13.99 this is a bargain. I paid more than that for only a 'fair' VHS copy of Dr. Renault's Secret (a film I like very much). While I agree with another reviewer that there are other 'classics' out there I would like to see offered...I would have no problem paying this price just for Dr. Renault's Secret and consider the other 2 films a bonus.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Douglas M VINE VOICE on December 2, 2008
Fox seem to have a very creative marketing team because it is a stretch of the imagination by any standards that this extraordinary package would be classified as a horror collection. True horror enthusiasts might be very disappointed.

First off is the 1932 "Changdu the Magician", a boys' own adventure which not surprisingly became a serial a few years later. The film has Bela Lugosi chewing the scenery with great aplomb as he steals a death ray and tortures its inventor to learn how to use it. Edmund Lowe, a matinee idol of yesteryear, is a stiff and far too proper hero but the film benefits from great photography and imaginative sets which help to overcome the dreadful script.

Next is "Dr Renault's Secret", a neatly directed programmer released in 1942 and with a fair gallery of supporting players, a moderately interesting story about the missing link between man and the ape and 2 fine central performances by the enigmatic George Zucco and the superb J Carroll Naish. It is a very polished "little" film with excellent sets and photography and the closest to a horror film of this trio.

The final film, released in 1946, is the gothic romance, "Dragonwyck", an expensively mounted vehicle for the rapidly rising Gene Tierney and a star making role for Vincent Price playing the sort of character he would make his own in subsequent years. This could not be classified as a horror film really (think of "Jane Eyre" or "Rebecca" and you'll get the idea) and while it is well made with good performances from the leads and the indispensible Walter Huston, it is quite dull and predictable. This was the first film directed by Joseph Mankiewicz.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Maxwell Wiley on July 26, 2008
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The previous two reviews must be corrected regarding "Chandu the Magician" (1932). If I am reading Amazon's product information correctly, the reviewer "Texas refugee" has it right: This is NOT the Bela Lugosi serial "The Return of Chandu," but an earlier, more lavishly produced Fox fantasy in which Lugosi plays the villian Roxor, not the hero Chandu. Many of us have been waiting anxiously for this flick's release on DVD. After reading about "Chandu" for years in fanzines and books, I finally caught part of it on the Fox Movie Channel a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at the imaginative sets and production values. Having this fantasy treasure finally available is reason enough to give the box set--assuming it's as nicely produced as other Fox reissues I've seen-- five stars.
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