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Hollywood's Legends of Horror Collection (Doctor X / The Return of Doctor X / Mad Love / The Devil Doll / Mark of the Vampire / The Mask of Fu Manchu)
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Doctor X/The Return of Dr. X Mark of the Vampire/The Mask of Fu Manchu Mad Love/The Devil Doll]]>
The greatest film of the bunch is Mad Love (1935), a rich and oft-imitated bit of perversity with a deeply romantic streak. Concert pianist Colin Clive (from Frankenstein) has his hands wrecked, and his actress wife (Frances Drake) turns to the obsessive Dr. Gogol (Lorre), who has long worshipped her. But the doctor replaces the pianist's hands with those of a murderous circus knife-thrower! Superbly directed by Karl Freund (The Mummy), this eerie film is shaped by Lorre's subtle, uncannily sympathetic performance.
Karloff reigns in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), which offers more minute-for-minute lurid action than any other movie in this set. Connoisseurs of horror will be well pleased by the roster: a crocodile pit, deadly snakes and spiders, poisons, various forms of torture including a man strapped beneath a giant reverberating bell, and Fu Manchu's sexy daughter (Myrna Loy). MGM designer Cedric Gibbons runs wild with a wonderfully daffy Deco-meets-Orientalism scheme. There are some undeniably racist epithets thrown in the direction of the evil Dr. Fu Manchu, but he gives as good as he gets, and the character is ultimately as irresistible as any evil mastermind. Karloff gives one of his juiciest performances ever.
Doctor X (1932) is presented in a recently-restored 2-strip Technicolor process (a lot of throbbing greens and oranges), which gives the movie an antique appeal. Doctor Xavier (Lionel Atwill) brings his colleagues together to figure out which of them might be the Full Moon Killer; daughter Fay Wray and reporter Lee Tracy (a typical fast-talking role for this fun actor) tag along. Michael Curtiz directed; he also did the similar Mystery of the Wax Museum, again with Atwill (available on the House of Wax disc). The Return of Doctor X (1939) is more of a curio than a full-fledged horror movie, as it has Humphrey Bogart, resplendent in a Bride of Frankenstein hair streak, in a rare supernatural outing.
The other two films are directed by Tod Browning. Mark of the Vampire (1935) is a clear example of MGM trying to ride the Dracula gravy train, with plenty of smoky graveyards, scuttling possums, and Lugosi in a tuxedo striding through giant spider webs. Lugosi is peripheral here, as Lionel Barrymore hunts down the blood-suckers. It's slow going, but the touches are wonderful and there's a spooky vampiress. Browning makes The Devil-Doll (1936) a memorably oddball thriller, with Barrymore a wronged man seeking revenge--and exploiting a device that allows people to be miniaturized. All the films have lively commentary tracks, except Devil-Doll. Overall this is a very neat package; even the inclusion of Return of Doctor X makes sense as a pairing with its original. MGM and Warners seemed embarrassed by the horror genre in the thirties, but these examples prove they could rise to Universal's game. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (MGM, 1932) - Boris Karloff is wonderfully creepy as Sax Rohmer's evil genius, Dr. Fu Manchu. It would not be the last time Karloff played a Chinese, as he later starred as Mr. Wong in Monogram's low budget detective series later in the decade. The plot concerns a race between good guy Lewis Stone and Fu Manchu to find the tomb of Ghengis Khan. If Fu Manchu gets there first he will possess the magical relics placed there which, in turn, will allow him to enslave the world. Look for a young Myrna Loy in a delightful turn as Fu's diabolical, and scantily-clad, daughter.
DOCTOR X (WB, 1932) - A good early effort by Michael Curtiz concerning the "Moon Killer" murders in which the victims are strangled, cannibalized and surgically dissected under the light of the full moon. Wise-cracking reporter Lee Tracy traces the clues to a spooky seaside mansion, where Dr. Xavier (Lionel Atwill) and his colleagues are conducting strange experiments. Made in early two-strip Technicolor, the film is wonderfully atmospheric, and the sets themselves will linger in your mind. Aside from the irritating Lee Tracy as reporter Lee Taylor, the acting is crisp and to the point. Atwill in particular is eerie. Fay Wray is good as Xavier's daughter. I won't give any more of the plot away, but just remember the phrase "synthetic flash." Once heard, it will linger in the mind always.Read more ›
"The Devil Doll" (1936): Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) was a respected banker in Paris when he was framed for robbery and murder by crooked associates and sent to Devil's Island. Years later, he escapes with a friend, a scientist who was working on a method to reduce humans to a height of mere inches (all for the good of humanity, of course). Lavond however is consumed with hatred for the men who betrayed him, and takes the scientist's methods back to Paris to exact painful revenge.
"Dr. X" (1932): A monster lurks as New York newspaperman Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) investigates one of the "Moon Killer" murders, in which the victims are strangled, cannibalized and surgically incised under the light of the full moon. The trail leads to the cliff side mansion of Dr. Xavier (Lionel Atwill), where the doctor and his colleagues conduct a strange experiment. Fay Wray of "King Kong" fame plays the good doctor's daughter, Joan Xavier.
"The Return of Dr. X" (1939): New York newspaper reporter Walter Barnett (Wayne Morris) finds himself out of a job after he claims to have found actress Angela Merrova (Lya Lys) dead in her apartment - only the next day she showed up alive and threatened to sue the paper. Determined to investigate he discovers her involvement with a strange doctor (Humphrey Bogart) who is an expert on human blood. Barnett then finds a connection to a series of gruesome murders where the victims were all found drained of blood.Read more ›
Far more than merely intending to shock and frighten audiences, these films still have a busy plot and interesting story, albeit unrealistic and even a bit silly at times. My personal favourites are "Mad Love", based on an earlier silent film, "The Hands of Orlac" about transplanting the hands of an executed murderer onto a pianist whose hands were injured in an accident, (echoes of Frankenstein here) and although the story is interesting enough in itself, Peter Lorre is simply brilliant as the mad doctor. His uncanny bald-headed appearance is already unnerving, and he uses his foreign accent to its absolute creepiest effect. And in the same league, Boris Karloff as the evil Fu Manchu is the best I've seen him so far, making this exaggerated character almost believable, and certainly very entertaining.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you love old horror movies, this is a great collection.horror moviesPublished 26 days ago by Miriam Arcelus
YOU CANT GO WRONG WITH BORRIS BELA AND PETER GOOD FILM FILMS AND HORROR ICONSPublished 1 month ago by BOB SZVETICS
This is like a one-stop collection of MGM's offer's to the horror genre in the Hollywood Golden Era of the 1930s. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mark King
A great collection of classics! Perhaps not what many might consider "A" list items, but all are very strong nonetheless (and you get the bonus of seeing a true inspiration... Read morePublished 9 months ago by D. West
I bought this collection just to get "The Mask of Fu Manchu" at the lowest price I could find. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Drew
Every one of these films is a classic, from the blatantly racist Mask of Fu Manchu, to the oddly cast part of Humphrey Bogart as "Cain" in Return of Dr. X. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Marv Fox
For the early supernatural Back and White film enthusiast. All of these films are today classics of the genre. My personal favorite among these is "Mad Love. Read morePublished 12 months ago by cmcc
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Where's THE WALKING DEAD||
As in the past, there will probably be a Part II to this set, since there have been with other Warners sets. Hopefully in those there will be The Walking Dead, and maybe You'll Find Out also with Karloff, not to mention Lugosi and Lorre. There seems to be little end to the Warner back catalog... Read More
Aug 14, 2006 by Matthew Bowling | See all 3 posts
|Walking dead should have been included||
I suspect Warner is planning a volume 2 if this set sells well.
Feb 9, 2007 by Wayne Klein | See all 3 posts
|Anybody Know this Movie?||
Try to contact Premiere magazine, they have a section where people describe random movies and one of the writers looks it up and tries to find out the name of it!
Nov 11, 2006 by Maryam | See all 2 posts
|pixelization||Be the first to reply|
|Doctor X double-disc set||Be the first to reply|
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