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The Boris Karloff Collection (Tower of London / The Black Castle / The Climax / The Strange Door / Night Key) (1937)

Boris Karloff , Basil Rathbone , Lloyd Corrigan , Juran Nathan  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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The Boris Karloff Collection (Tower of London / The Black Castle / The Climax / The Strange Door / Night Key) + The Bela Lugosi Collection (Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Black Cat / The Raven / The Invisible Ray / Black Friday) + Universal Horror: Classic Movie Archive (The Black Cat / Man Made Monster / Horror Island / Night Monster / Captive Wild Woman)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, J. Warren Hull, Susanna Foster, Charles Laughton
  • Directors: Lloyd Corrigan, Juran Nathan, George Waggner, Rowland V. Lee, Joseph Pevney
  • Writers: Tristram Tupper, Jerry Sackheim, John C. Moffitt, Curt Siodmak, Robert N. Lee
  • Producers: George Waggner, Rowland V. Lee, Robert Presnell, William Alland, Ted Richmond
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • 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: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 421 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FWHW8Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,815 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Boris Karloff Collection (Tower of London / The Black Castle / The Climax / The Strange Door / Night Key)" on IMDb

Special Features

Disc 1 - Night Key:
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Disc 2 - The Climax:
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Editorial Reviews

    Product Description

    No other name is as synonymous with screen terror as Boris Karloff. After skyrocketing to international stardom in Universal's Frankenstein and The Mummy, this film icon continued to break ground in an electrifying slate of popular horror classics. Now see this unrivaled movie legend in five of his most spellbinding and memorable roles in this collector's set that cements Boris Karloff's status as a true giant of American cinema. Night Key (1937): Karloff ignites the screen as the ingenious inventor of a security system who is kidnapped by a gang of burglars and forced to help them commit robberies. Tower of London (1939): Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff star in this horrifying true tale of a ruthless king's rise to power with the help of his mad and murderous executioner. The Climax (1944): In his first color feature, Karloff is terrifying as a mad doctor whose insane jealousy over a beautiful opera singer may once again drive him to murder. The Strange Door (1951): As the servant of an evil nobleman, Karloff plots to free the madman's helpless prisoners but finds himself facing the horrors of the dungeon's deathtrap. The Black Castle (1952): Karloff is mesmerizing as a doctor who risks his own life to save the captives of a mad count in this gripping tale of betrayal and revenge.

    The gaunt face, the large eyes and elegant hands, the rich voice with a touch of menace (and more than a touch of lisp): Boris Karloff had the tools of a genuine movie star. He also had a deeply sensitive understanding of flawed creatures, which made his best roles--including the Frankenstein monster and the Mummy--weirdly sympathetic. His profitable employment in those Universal monster movies is filled out with the release of The Boris Karloff Collection, a grouping of non-classics from his Universal jobs.

    These are the kind of movies that would show up with great promise on your local "Nightmare Theater" or "Creature Feature" late-show slot: Hey, Boris Karloff in something called Tower of London? Sounds scary! And you'd watch in bewilderment as the film would turn out to be a historical drama with a few grisly touches. Universal perpetuates this misunderstanding with this DVD release, which declares "The Master of Horror in His Most Frightening Roles!" Which is quite a stretch. (Some of Karloff's best horror stuff is on the Bela Lugosi Collection, a superior DVD package.)

    Still, for fans, there's much to enjoy here. Tower of London is a thoroughly entertaining tale of Richard III's bloody rise to power, with Basil Rathbone as Richard and Karloff as his bald, beetle-browed executioner (definitely one of Boris's best looks). Two early-1950s films are great fun: The Strange Door has Charles Laughton doing one of his modern-Nero roles as a perverse nobleman with a really cool torture dungeon (Karloff is his servant), and The Black Castle lays on the wolf howls and creaking doors in a tale of revenge. Juicy performances by Richard Greene and Stephen McNally gives this oomph, even if Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr., are peripheral. McNally's castle is equipped with an excellent secret room with swarming alligators.

    Night Key (1937) isn't horror, but a perfectly OK B-movie about inventor Karloff and his revenge on the businessman who stole his electrically charged idea. 1944's The Climax was made to capitalize on the lavish sets Universal made for The Phantom of the Opera, and director George Waggner (The Wolf Man) seems far too enamored of costumes and arias. Even when it's dull, which is frequently, the film has gorgeous Technicolor to look at, and Karloff is suitably obsessed as a doctor messing with a promising soprano. In short, the DVD set may disappoint the unwary, but Karloff devotees will enjoy the icon, and the occasional alligator pit. --Robert Horton

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
    Not to be confused with the other Karloff collection this is the one to get. All the films here look extremely good. Occasionally specks and dirt appear but it's rare . Of all the films here "The Black Castle" looks a bit inconsistent but overall looks quite good. "The Climax" has deep rich color capturing the original Technicolor hues although flesh tones appear to be off a tad and probably should have been color corrected. Audio goods good with no distortion and dialogue is clear on all the films. Extras include the original theatrical trailers and nothing else.

    "Tower of London" features Karloff in top form with Vincent Price appearing in one of his earliest film roles. Using the sets for "Son of Frankenstein" director Roland V. Lee tells the infamous story of King Richard III. Karloff plays Mort his club footed assistant and the executioner who kills those in the line of succession so that Richard can reach the throne. This features one of Karloff's finest performances from the 30's as Mort the Executioner. Rathbone and Price are also both terrific in their performances as well. This film certainly deserved an audio commentary but doesn't get one.

    "The Black Castle" features Karloff with Lon Chaney Jr. with the real heavy being played by Stephen McNally. Sir Richard Burton (Richard Greene) investigates the disappearence of two of his friends. He suspects that Count Von Bruno (McNally) has murdered them. Karloff plays the court physician with Chaney playing a giant mute named Gargon. Director Nathan Juran ("The 7th Voyage of Sinbad")gets the most atmosphere out of this b-movie minor classic. Writer Jerry Sackheim creates an appealing script with witty dialogue (as he did on "The Strange Door")borrowing liberally from other films.
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    32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Karloff is Consistently Better than the Material October 25, 2006
    Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
    With this collection of five films on three discs, Universal has pretty much cleaned its vault of Boris Karloff films waiting to be issued on DVD. What fans are given here, in a nutshell, are two of Karloff's lesser starring vehicles plus three of varying quality in which the horror icon is featured in supporting roles.

    "Night Key" (Movie: **** _ DVD Transfer: ****), released in 1937, is the oldest film in the package, as well as the only one set in modern dress. Boris stars as one of his trademarked elderly inventors who falls victim to evil forces that thwart his original benevolent intent, in this case an unscrupulous rival (Samuel S. Hinds) and a hardened crime boss (Alan Baxter, in a performance that brings new meaning to the term "underplaying"). Jean Rogers makes an appealing enough heroine as Karloff's loving daughter, and at 67 minutes, the film fairly whizzes through to its predictable conclusion. It's hokey fun, and includes the theatrical trailer as a bonus feature.

    "Tower of London" (Movie: **** _ DVD Transfer: ****), an historical thriller with Karloff in a meaty supporting role as Mord the Executioner, in service to the treacherous Richard III of England (top-billed Basil Rathbone), is definitely a mixed bag. Released in 1939, the film boasts an impressive supporting cast (including Ian Hunter, John Sutton, and Vincent Price), wonderful sets and costumes, and superb cinematography. Unfortunately, the film is ultimately done in by a wildly uneven script, some poor editorial choices, and a laughably poor performance from the usually reliable Barbara O'Neil who scored a triumph that same year as Scarlett O'Hara's mother in "Gone With the Wind".
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    11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars St. Clair's Karloff box: Some right, some Wong December 11, 2007
    ST. CLAIR DVD multi-packs are reasonably priced, and offer fine quality video/audio transfers of unrestored public domain material. Discs are single-side recorded, plastic storage cases fairly sturdy, liner notes appear on box's back cover.


    In Roger Corman's THE TERROR, Karloff costars with up-and-comer Jack Nicholson. An atmospheric color film somewhat hampered by a rushed production and two directors, THE TERROR feels like two different movies at times. Story involves a French military officer infatuated with a mysterious woman, and an eccentric old castle dweller.

    Have you ever wondered what the person behind Rocky the Flying Squirrel and all the old witches in "Fractured Fairy Tales" looked like? If so, SABAKA is your chance to find out. Cartoon voice specialist June Foray appears as the High Priestess in this tale set in India about a revenge-obsessed elephant trainer. Good cast, so-so story.

    DICK TRACY MEETS GRUESOME is one of the better entries in this 1930s-'40s movie series. Here, Karloff is a villain who robs banks by using nerve gas. Tracy is played by Ralph Byrd, who would continue this franchise on TV briefly in the early 1950s. Anne Gwynne, aka Tracy's girlfriend Tess Trueheart, was a popular pin-up girl during WWII.

    The four "Mr. Wong" movies in this set. Karloff is miscast, for he plays the somewhat eccentric Oriental detective stiffly (almost uncomfortably) and with a British accent. Well... at least the stories are good.

    For a similar ST. CLAIR box set, check out their BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION .

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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars KARLOFF ELEVATES EVERY VEHICLE!
    Because he was so closely identified with the horror genre I believe many people tend to underrate the acting finesse of Boris Karloff. Read more
    Published 7 days ago by Fred R. Smith
    5.0 out of 5 stars "Five Stars & A Good Price If You're A BORIS KARLOFF fan......
    For the reasonable price this goes for today, if you like Boris Karloff this is a boon for three of the five films. Read more
    Published 29 days ago by John H. McCarthy
    3.0 out of 5 stars Doubt that Mr. Karloff would approve
    Die hard Boris Karloff fans like me will have difficulty rating the quality of the movies contained on this DVD any higher than three stars. Granted some of the movies are from Mr. Read more
    Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    tower of London best dvd
    Published 2 months ago by michael j. stefan
    5.0 out of 5 stars I had few friends growing up. One of them ...
    I had few friends growing up. One of them was named Boris. I'm nearly 60 and he's still my friend. Blessings on William Henry Pratt. My friend, Boris.
    Published 2 months ago by Robert Jackson
    4.0 out of 5 stars Boris Karloff Rules
    Glad these are on disc. Good transfers and Boris is always fun.
    Published 3 months ago by wolfster
    5.0 out of 5 stars boris karloff
    unusual man, I like his work and years ago these movies would have been considered scary but they are still watchable
    Published 8 months ago by beetlejuice
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film Noir
    I guess some of these titles can be related to a horror theme, Though most are of a Film noir style which is fine with me. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Jerry G
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good Set Despite Misleading Advertising
    If you were to purchase this set thinking it was a horror collection you wouldn't be remiss in claiming to be ripped off. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by David Baldwin
    4.0 out of 5 stars Karloff... Always and Forever The King!
    This "Boris Karloff Collection" features 5 of his films from 1937 through 1952....all worth a look, especially for Universal/Karloff fans. Read more
    Published 15 months ago by Jack Pripusich
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