The Bela Lugosi Collection (Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Black Cat / The Raven / The Invisible Ray / Black Friday)
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Since others have already spoken at length about the films, and since most people buying this two-sided disc know what they're getting, I want to address the DVD mastering problems experienced. Many have noted that, regardless of player, films on the disc pixelate and freeze at random points. This is a problem with Universal's DVD-18 mastering process, which has flaws that have since caused Universal to return to their earlier, more reliable DVD-9 process.
In the meantime, both this disc and the 2-DVD "The Hammer Horror Series" have more than their share of bad discs. Contacting Universal itself will serve no purpose: even though they are aware of the problem, the pressings are out there and are not being remastered. You just have to be persistent and keep exchanging defective copies at retailers--even if you have to get a refund and start again with another dealer; the films are worth it. Eventually, you *will* get one without glitches.Read more ›
As much as I am delighted by this set I find it an interesting and somewhat sad chronicle of Lugosi's early film career. The disc features an early 30s film following his success in "Dracula" where he is the main star ("Murders in the Rue Morgue" 1932), two films which team him in a role of equal stature with his rival, Boris Karloff ("The Black Cat" and "The Raven," 1934 and 35 respectively), a film which exploited the marquee value of his name but gave him a more minor role ("The Invisible Ray" 1937), and, finally, a film which saw him slip into a rather demeaning supporting role ("Black Friday" 1940) beside his old equal, Karloff.
Within eight years Lugosi had gone from full-fledged leading man to supporting actor. It must have compounded matters for Lugosi to have Karloff continue to receive leading roles while he was reduced to small supporting roles in Karloff's films. The duo would work again in 1945 in RKO's "The Body Snatchers" where Lugosi, again, played a minor role opposite Karloff's much meatier portrayal. Lugosi's career was on a steady downward slide by this point (with few exceptions like "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein") and would continue to decline through the next decade until his death in the mid-1950s.
The best part of this collection are the earliest films (pre-1937) which represent Universal's golden age of horror.Read more ›
THE FILMS THEMSELVES:
Not a hint of restoration on any of the films. This to me is a huge disappointment. As far as I know Universal made no claims of restoration so they have not falsely advertised or anything. I guess I am just so spoiled by Warner's classic releases which always seem to be restored and remastered.
The prints don't look horrendous or anything but they could have looked spectacular. The prints they used to make this collection are probably what they show in syndication (like you'd be likely to see on TCM). There is a lot of graininess in all of the films. "The Raven" even has some blotchiness (like dirt on the print) in some early scenes. You can also see lots of scratches all over the place.
If MGM can take a film like "The Ghoul" that was once considered lost and make it look brand new then Universal could have invested some cash in restoring these classic horror films. They did a much better job with their Monster Legacy Collections. I am surprised they put no effort into this set. These are some of the most famous films they ever made!
P.S.: I strongly advise old-time horror fans to buy "The Ghoul". Great film, great restoration.
All I can say to describe the extras in this collection is threadbare. All you get are some battered old trailers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If your a fan of Lugosi and Karloff or the classic horror or mystery movies then you must have these on VHS and then on DVD and if not then
this is a good collection to start. Read more
This collection contains some great titles that I had been looking for on DVD. Unfortunately, two of the movies had problems. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jerold Downing
The Black Cat and the Raven are both here, and other than their theatrical trailers this is a bare bones release. Read morePublished 3 months ago by anonymous
The films are wonderful quality! This collection has 5 outstanding movies. It's not just for fans of Bela Lugosi... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Rainey Dawn
This set has some of Bela's greatest films. Very good quality. If you're a Lugosi fan, check out "Red Skelton - The Early Years" also available from Amazon. Read morePublished 6 months ago by MJB
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