560 of 579 people found the following review helpful
The 'Universal Classic Monsters Essential Collection' takes most of the top tier titles from Universal's classic horror library of the 30's, 40's and 50's and puts them all together in one box set. These films have not just been remastered in 1080p but have also been meticulously cleaned up with much work done to both video and audio. The end result is an eye opening revelation for all the fans of these films.
To call these movies "classic" is really somewhat of an understatement for fans. These are basically the gold standard for horror films and Universal has finally given them their due. I was fortunate enough to borrow a review set for 2 days in anticipation of receiving my own set that was pre-ordered the same day it was announced. One week to go and I can watch them again! I made notes as I watched and spent a great two days and nights with this set.
With that said, this review will focus on the video/audio quality of the set and not the films' content. Basically, what everyone is wanting to know is whether or not this upgrade is a major step up from the legacy series DVD sets. Other than containing the more popular top tier titles and only one of the sequels (Bride of Frankenstein) the answer is YES this is a HUGE upgrade. In fact, once you see these transfers on a properly calibrated display you will NEVER want to watch them any other way. I simply can not imagine them looking any better when first released (other than a few missing frames here and there these days) and the audio is most definitely the best it has EVER sounded. Major kudos and hats off to the team at Universal that did this fantastic job of restoration.
The included booklet is very nice but doesn't contain anything the more than casual fan doesn't already know. Still, it is nice to have and looks great. Unfortunately the US set has the cardboard sleeve design of the new 'Indiana Jones' set and as such is going to receive numerous complaints about disc scratching, etc. The Box itself looks great and even the discs look really good. It is a shame Universal opted for the slide in/out disc storage system. Spindles and hubs would have been SO MUCH better! Due to time constraints I had no time to view any special features and just watched the films. (ok, I admit to watching both 'Bride" and 'Dracula' twice!)
***** Since writing this review I have received my UK Coffin version set. I am still blown away by the video and audio quality and have now had a chance to check out many of the special features. Seems almost all the special features from the Legacy sets have been ported over, unfortunately still presented in SD video. Still, it is a tremendous value and die hard fans will of course be holding on to their legacy sets until the remaining titles are released on Blu. (if ever)
The coffin packaging is very nice, but as another reviewer has pointed out, the disc case that holds the gate-fold disc holders , booklet and art cards is a BIT too small and constantly removing it might eventually cause the coffin to split. To solve this I am keeping the "Swag" in the coffin and the discs in the inner case just next to the coffin on my shelf. I can't figure out why they wouldn't notice this before producing large production runs but that's just the way it is. The discs themselves are much better protected in the UK packaging as they sit on hubs instead of those annoying cardboard sleeves so many are worried about. So basically, the CONTENT is stellar on either set but the packaging on BOTH sets leaves just a bit to be desired overall, albeit for different reasons. *****
If you don't know by now, here are the titles that are included in this collection:
Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein (1931 and 1935)
Dracula/Spanish version of Dracula (1931)
The Mummy (1932)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Wolf Man (1941
Phantom of the Opera (1943)
and last but not least
Creature From the Black Lagoon 3D+2D (1954)
All titles are presented in their original Black and White other than 'Phantom' which was shot in color. Each film other than 'Creature' (widescreen format) is presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratios and sporting nice healthy bit rates for each film and VERY nicely restored sound presented in DTS HD Master Audio stereo, although each film is actually a mono track with identical sound output on both sides.
THE VIDEO QUALITY:
So how does the video quality fare you ask? Absolutely Stupendous! The grain structures are INTACT and for the most part that is a VERY good thing! You will see things as you have never seen them before. You will see things you wished you hadn't seen before such as the crudely painted warped/rippled backdrop during the graveyard and ending scenes in 'Frankenstein'... Various black wires and threads are now clearly visible during effect shots of 'The Invisible Man' , etc. I for one am glad the restorers saw fit to only remove print damage such as scratches and white specks and left the original productions alone as much as possible.
Details and fine texture abound. Equipment in Frankenstein's lab reveals every nuance and texture, fabrics and set decorations become crystal clear, even shaving bumps are visible on Colin Clive's face and there is so much more added detail to Jack Pierce's makeup jobs that it would take a 5 page review to document all the new things I noticed and could see clearly for the very first time. At first I constantly A/B'd the new transfers against the legacy DVD collections to check for any discrepancies but soon realized I was dealing with something that was so much improved it was a useless exercise. These are flat out gorgeous to look at and some of the best vintage black & white restoration jobs I have seen. If you have watched these films over and over like I have on both VHS and DVD, you will be extremely excited about these new renderings.
For those that insist the video quality is no better than the Legacy DVD sets, I suggest perhaps some may have their players connected to a standard video connection or SDTV , or perhaps for some reason just can't appreciate what high end restoration/scanning rendered in 1080p has done for these films. There is NO comparison between the Legacy sets and these transfers and that goes for video AND audio. I have kept my Legacy sets to hold on to the missing titles for each parent film. (ie: Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein and the ever popular Mother-In-Law of Frankenstein, etc.)
Rather than go through each and every film in great detail I will just pick out a few moments that stood out for me personally. I was absolutely floored when I began watching 'Frankenstein' where light and shadow resolved as never before. Each and every scene was vastly improved to the point where I found myself actually cheering out loud as I watched. It truly is eye opening. I did notice a slight glitch between scenes where the video just stopped for a fraction of a second. This had nothing to do with a layer change and appears to be an encoding/editing error as my DVD's do not display this pause. (occurs at the end of the meeting between Victor, Elizabeth and Dr. Waldman before they show up at the lab)
During the early scenes in 'The Mummy" the detail revealed in Boris's bandages is extraordinary. You can truly see the extent that makeup man extraordinaire Jack Pierce went to with this makeup, actually achieving the look of an ancient and rotting mummy. These details were lost to both the VHS and DVD version and only now can you see them perfectly clearly. With the massive increase in detail comes an increase in involvement while watching the film. I guarantee you will be sucked into the story like never before!
'Dracula" has been so improved that it deifies description. Yes it is a very old film and problematic in certain areas but the picture quality presented here had me almost having to pick my jaw off the floor. Renfield in 1080P? It just doesn't get any better than this! Bela's eyes actually gave me the creeps and I have seen this movie a good 50 or 60 times over the last 50 some odd years. It is simply outstanding! And YES, Dracula does groan at the end after Van Helsing whacks the stake for those that were wondering. (Renfield screams too which seems to be cut on some earlier DVD versions)
'The Invisible Man' stands out for me as one of the best transfers. Maybe I only think that because it is a personal favorite. Still, I found it to be almost on par with the new Casablanca 4K scan for overall balance and detail. I really enjoyed watching it and I was very happy to see that one of my favorite titles turned out so very well! (ok, maybe not as good as the new Casablanca scan, but pretty darn close)
I have only viewed 'The Creature' in 2D and can not comment on the 3D rendering. (vision problem precludes me from evaluating 3D in my reviews)
I can definitely say this of the 2D version, it is by far the clearest, most detailed rendering I have ever seen of this movie and unfortunately betrays clearly just how fake the "Creatures" suit really is. On the other hand, Julie Adams is even more of a dish than ever before in 1080p so this transfer certainly DOES have it's advantages. (hard to believe she ended up selling Real Estate in Cabot Cove. Maine!)
Another real standout is 'The Wolfman" with both contrast levels and detail being absolutely fabulous. A tiny amount of EH causes just a smidgen of 'ringing' in the video but it is so little only the most picky would EVER notice it. And the fog/mist is handled very well in this transfer, something that normally is a sore point with digital. It looks REALLY good. There are many instances of depth in this movie and actually in ALL of them during their respective running times. When I first put on 'Frankenstein" and noticed perceived depth I was totally astounded. DEPTH from a movie shot in 1931? Nothing short of amazing! Universal Monsters on Blu Ray rocks! I'm here to tell ya!!
Yes, there are a few soft shots here and there, but nothing egregious and at least 90% or more of the time the image is flat out brilliant.
Noise reduction is either not used or used so judiciously that you can not see it happen. Edge enhancement was not even needed and if used I can not notice it. Picture flickering has all but been eliminated using some very sophisticated digital tools. At times it still fluctuates just a bit on the older titles but shows up mainly on the character faces. It is so small and infrequent that only the truly obsessive (like myself) will even notice it. Still, most annoying defects of the past are now history.
Scratches, tears and white specks have been sent packing. GREAT!
THE AUDIO QUALITY:
Each and every film is an auditory revelation. Gone are the crackles, pops, hiss and wow and flutter that has plagued each home release before this one. With all these undesirable elements finally removed, the dynamic range seems much greater and the full frequency spectrum, such as it is for these older films is given a chance to really shine through. Of course there is no LFE or surround activity and the mixes are the original MONO minus the sonic aberrations that started from the very first playback of the original source. Simply put, the audio on this set is superb considering the source elements. I highly doubt it could have been done any better by anyone.
Bottom Line: If you are a fan of these films this purchase is a no brainer. You simply can NOT go wrong here folks. I purchased them all, first on VHS, later on DVD, then remastered versions of the DVD's, the entire legacy collections, etc. This was well worth the wait and almost every film in this collection will see multiple viewings.
The only thing really lacking here is the exclusion of all the sequels, especially the Frankenstein and Wolfman series sequels. I also wish the 'Werewolf of London' along with 'The Old Dark House', 'The Black Cat' and a few others could find their way to Blu Ray in the future. But for now, this is what we get and along with the legacy DVD sets (for the sequels and extras) this collection of horror classics on Blu Ray is a real gem. I do think it is just a BIT overpriced but things have a way of coming down in price over time and this will be no exception. However for me, it is a MUST HAVE day of release purchase and I will never regret it.
(From what I have seen, the UK packaging is nicer..both for the standard set and the collectible coffin version which is what I have ordered and since received now)
Marty G's most HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION for this set!
172 of 183 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
No series in the history of the cinematic horror genre has endured as long as the Universal Monster classics of the 1930s and '40s - a time marked by the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler's Germany and America's eventual involvement in WWII. At the outset, the Universal films were hugely successful with audiences seeking an escape, but by the time the U.S. became embroiled in the conflict, the popularity of the studio's trademark monsters became less inviting to viewers, who turned their attention to war-time enemies as the cinematic nemesis of choice. Before that happened, however, Universal established a litany of Monster Classics that would inspire long-running franchises and become favorites of viewers for generations to come.
Universal's eagerly anticipated UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION arrives on Blu-Ray this week and pays a new, glorious high-definition tribute to eight of the studio's genre benchmarks, all presented in fresh, and impressive, 1080p AVC encoded transfers marked by a surprising amount of detail.
Looking at Tod Browning's 1931 DRACULA is virtually like gazing upon the Bela Lugosi classic for the first time. The movie is best remembered for its opening Transylvanian set-piece that introduces viewers to Lugosi's unforgettable count, and while the London sequences tend to be static and dull by comparison, the increased detail seen here in the Blu-Ray's HD presentation even makes the talky, latter sections of the picture more interesting. In fact, without any overt use of DNR, this ranks as one of the studio's most satisfying catalog transfers to date. The DTS MA mono sound is nearly crackle-free, and Philip Glass' Kronos Quartet score (which makes the stilted drawing room sequences a bit livelier at least) is also available in Dolby Digital stereo.
Supplements include two commentary tracks reprised from prior DVD editions: an authoritative discussion by historian David J. Skal, and a more recent talk with Steve Haberman (screenwriter of the awful Mel Brooks spoof "Dracula: Dead and Loving It"), both offer enlightening analysis and artistic commentary on the film; "The Road to Dracula" (35 mins.), hosted by Carla Laemmle, returns here from its original DVD appearance, as does the still gallery "Dracula Archives" (8 mins.), while "Lugosi: The Dark Prince" (36 mins.), a carry-over from the 75th Anniversary DVD, sports interviews with historians and directors including Joe Dante paying tribute to Lugosi's career. Trailers are included for the whole Universal "Dracula" series (Dracula, Dracula's Daughter, Son of Dracula and House of Dracula), and an eight-minute restoration featurette (HD) includes a look at the studio's efforts to restore both the English and Spanish language versions as a part of their centennial efforts, noting that a portion of the Spanish "Dracula" had to be taken from an international print as the studio's negative was badly damaged during the third reel.
Speaking of the Spanish "Dracula," it too has been lovingly restored here in a 1080p AVC encode that's perhaps not quite as crisp as the Lugosi version, even if the elements seem to be, on balance, in healthier condition. An optional introduction with star Lupita Tovar is included as well.
James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN introduced viewers to Boris Karloff in his legendary role as the Frankenstein monster, and while the film remains a striking work for its 1931 release date, it pales in comparison to THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, the 1935 sequel graced with a spectacular Franz Waxman score that shows, in the space of four short years, how quickly movie-making had progressed as a medium. Whale's playful, inventive direction, the performances of Karloff, Colin Clive and Elsa Lanchester, and that Waxman score - one of the all-time greats - are unforgettable aspects of a film many regard as the finest in the pantheon of Universal Monsters.
Each included here on separate BD platters, "Frankenstein" includes a number of supplements carried over from prior releases: "The Frankenstein Files" is an engaging 45-minute account of picture's production and legacy; "Karloff: The Gentle Monster" (36 mins.) is a carryover from the 75th Anniversary release; "Frankenstein Archives" is another 10-minute assortment of stills; "Boo!" is a fun 1932 Universal "Brevity"; commentaries are provided by Rudy Behlmer and Sir Christopher Frayling; and a full trailer gallery boasts the original coming attractions for Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Frankenstein.
Also included on the "Frankenstein" disc is Kevin Bronlow's fine 1998 TCM documentary, "Universal Horror." This examination of the beginnings of Universal's monster franchises is narrated by Kenneth Branagh and offers ample vintage footage, interviews and an entertaining look into the genre's origins.
Visually, both movies look more detailed than I've ever seen before, with crisp 1080p presentations that blow past prior DVD releases - even if there does seem to be, perhaps, just a bit more filtering on "Bride of Frankenstein" than "Frankenstein" or especially "Dracula." Regardless, the image still looks exceptionally good, and extra features - not as substantive as the other discs - include the original DVD documentary, "She's Alive! Creating `Bride of Frankenstein,'" plus a stills archive, commentary with historian Scott MacQueen, and trailers for Bride, Ghost and House of Frankenstein (surprisingly, "Son of Frankenstein"'s trailer is nowhere to be found in this set).
In 1932, "Dracula" cinematographer Karl Freund helmed the first appearance of what would ultimately become - thanks to both a handful of sequels and a contemporary series of modern fantasy films (with another version headed to theaters in 2014) - the most durable of Universal's monsters, THE MUMMY. Boris Karloff carved out his second iconic studio role as Imohotep, who lusts after Zita Johann in an entertaining - if somewhat creaky - film with unforgettable imagery (though ironically, Karloff only appears in the patented Mummy make-up for a couple of minutes).
A bit uneven in its overall visual appearance, there's some occasional filtering on-hand in "The Mummy"'s 1080p AVC encoded transfer compared to the other films in this set. It's certainly an appreciable improvement on DVD, however - crisp detail is in evidence during most of the transfer, but some sequences look sharper than others. Extra features include "Mummy Dearest" (30 mins.), a documentary from the original DVD release; "He Who Made Monsters" (24 mins.), a Jack Pierce retrospective; "Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy" (8 mins.), a brief featurette from the 75th Anniversary DVD; "The Mummy Archives" still gallery; commentaries by Paul M. Jensen and a more recent track with Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong; and trailers for all the "Mummy" films (The Mummy, Mummy's Hand, Mummy's Tomb, Mummy's Ghost, Mummy's Curse).
Inbetween "Frankenstein" pictures, James Whale helmed a magnificent adaptation of H.G. Wells' THE INVISIBLE MAN, a 1933 classic that, in certain ways, holds up better than any of Universal's earliest genre outings for sheer dramatic impact. Claude Rains gives a memorable performance as a scientist who slowly goes mad after an experiment renders him invisible - a portrayal that relies heavily on his voice since Rains is only on-screen for a few minutes. John P. Fulton's visual effects, especially for their era, are superb, and Gloria Stuart believably renders Rains' sympathetic girlfriend.
Arguably tthe healthiest looking of the original, early `30s Universal Monsters classics, "The Invisible Man" appears in top form in its 1080p AVC encoded HD transfer here - there's still a bit of filtering present in some sequences (like "The Mummy," some scenes seem to be affected more than others), but on balance the transfer is exceptionally good for any film of its vintage. Special features include the original DVD doc, "The Invisible Man Revealed" (35 mins.) plus production photographs, trailers for the Invisible Man series, and commentary by Rudy Behlmer.
Scripted by Curt Siodmak, Universal's 1941 classic THE WOLF MAN stars Lon Chaney as Larry Talbot, who becomes cursed with the fate of a werewolf after wandering in the forests of Wales and bitten by one of the creatures. Claude Rains plays Talbot's father, and the supporting cast includes Maria Ouspenskaya and Bela Lugosi as the Gypsies who predict Talbot's fate, along with Evelyn Ankers as the love interest and additional supporting turns from Ralph Bellamy and Patric Knowles. The settings, atmosphere, and direction (by George Waggner) are all top-notch and the movie compares favorably with the Universal chillers of the period.
Last released on DVD a couple of years ago, "The Wolf Man"'s 1080p AVC encoded HD transfer is solid, generally in-line with the other transfers in the box-set, with deep blacks and added detail over its standard-def releases. Extras are bountiful here, highlighted by David J.Skal's "Monster by Moonlight" documentary, a DVD carryover hosted by John Landis, this is an engaging look into the Wolfman's creation and phenomenon as the last great character to originate from Universal's "Golden Age" horror cycle. Eschewing the testimony of countless historians (as were utilized in Skal's other documentaries) in favor of interviews with make-up artist Rick Baker (who discusses Jack Pierce's lasting legacy) and screenwriter Siodmak, the program is entertaining and enlightening, even though it uses a generous selection of film clips from the Wolfman's subsequent cinematic appearances to round out the program. Of special interest to film music fans will be the discussion of "The Wolf Man"'s musical score by Frank Skinner, Hans Salter, and Charles Previn, which is given a few minutes of analysis in the documentary by John Morgan and conductor William Stromberg. Morgan notes how most film scores today consist of musical wallpaper while Stromberg discusses one particular cue that had been cut down in editing, where Talbot watches a Gypsy burial. The "Archives" section also contains an abundance of still-frame photographs and publicity shots, underscored by the original music without dialogue.
Universal authority Tom Weaver's insightful commentary also returns as well a "Wolf Man Archives" of still photos and artwork. Also on-hand are the eight-minute "The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth" (10 mins.) and the 2009 effort "Pure in Heart" (37 mins.), a loving tribute to Lon Chaney, Jr., with historian Gregory Mank, Rick Baker, Joe Dante, Kim Newman and others paying respect to the original Larry Talbot. Trailers for Werewolf of London, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and She-Wolf of London round out the disc, which also includes the same Jack Pierce documentary contained on "The Mummy"'s Blu-Ray.
The sole Technicolor offering in the "Essential Collection" is PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, the studio's lavish, operatic 1943 take on Gaston Leroux's novel with an accent on the love story courtesy of director Arthur Lubin. Claude Rains is the Phantom to Susanna Foster and Nelson Eddy's romantic leads; it's a sturdy, if unspectacular, film that receives a similarly respectable 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The image looks a bit hazy at times and some of the source elements aren't as vibrant as other Technicolor films of its era, but it's still an upgrade over the DVD. Extras include the lengthy 51-minute DVD documentary "Phantom Unmasked," plus Scott MacQueen's commentary and the trailer.
The final disc in the set may be the most exciting for Universal Monsters fans, as 1954's CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON debuts on Blu-Ray, not only in its 2-D version but its first-ever 3-D home video release as well! For 3-D enthusiasts, being able to see the film in pure three-dimensional form - and not an anaglyph 3-D version like we used to see on TV back in the `80s - is a revelation. Both occasional pop-out effects and depth-of-field photography add immeasurably to visuals that are often flat and uninspired otherwise. In fact, seen in its native 3-D format, effects and shots which otherwise look awkwardly (or routinely) framed make visual sense, and the overall experience enhances Jack Arnold's `50s monster mash as a result.
One of many films shot in 3-D during the `50s, this Blu-Ray release of "Creature" hopefully will usher in a wave of 3-D catalog titles in the fledgling format, and certainly its inclusion here in Universal's box-set makes this a must-have for "Creature" fanatics with 3-D home theater set-ups.
Other extras on the "Creature" platter include "Back to the Black Lagoon" (40 mins.), a DVD retrospective, plus Tom Weaver's fascinating commentary, trailers for the Gill Man series, and production photographs. The 2-D version is also included, and probably because of the film having been shot in 3-D, it's a bit blurry and less detailed in its 1080p AVC encoded transfer compared to all the other films on-hand in the box-set.
All the discs are contained in a hardbound "digibook" release with original poster artwork (consumers should be mindful that a bit of adhesive may be stuck on the edges of some of the discs, and ought to be removed promptly before playback). A small accompanying booklet offering trivia and glossy photographs rounds out the release, which will undoubtedly rank as essential Halloween viewing for all Universal Monster fans. Highly recommended - and here's hoping sales are strong enough to scare up a second volume of all the various Classic Monster sequels in another release for next October 31st!
176 of 194 people found the following review helpful
This box set is truly worth every penny it costs: a collection of eight iconographical titles in the "Universal Horror" pantheon from the 1930s and 1940s. The titles are DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLFMAN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Each DVD comes in a plastic case sporting original poster art, and all eight are neatly packaged in a single box for easy organization. Each of the titles have been significantly restored, and although the bonus features vary a bit from disk to disk each disk has a short documentary and interesting critical audio track.
The "Jewel In The Crown" of the set is DRACULA. While critical response to the film varies, the DVD includes both the Bella Lugosi and the so-called "Spanish" Dracula, as well as the option to play the Lugosi version with or without the recent Philip Glass soundtrack as well as memorable bonus material. The weak link the collection is THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; the Claude Rains remake isn't a patch on the original, and it is a pity that the silent Lon Chaney version was not offered instead. Still, the Rains version has its charms, and it far surpasses later film versions of the same title.
While each of the DVDs included can be purchased separately, those wishing to have all these titles will find the box set more cost-effective. Sure to delight fans of Universal horror classics and fans of classic film in general; strongly recommended as an essential.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2013
I'll agree with all the rave reviews of the blu-ray remastering, I was amazed at how good "Creature from the Black Lagoon" looked in 3D (and I had no issues with the disc with either the 2D or 3D versions, but I bought the region-free set from amazon.co.uk). In the early scene with the fossil Creature hand jutting out of the rock, that hand was reaching right into my living room! I was horrified, lol!
So it's a great set of these Classic monster movies that is loaded with extras and the movies look great, but this is what you really need to know: YOU SHOULD NOT PAY $90 FOR THIS SET! Using my regular Amazon login, I was able to order the region-free version from Amazon UK and I don't know if I got an additional discount for being a first-time UK-site customer or what, but the checkout price dropped even lower than the listed price. Even with shipping included (since super-saver free shipping isn't available on UK orders here in the states), I paid a TOTAL of $39.50 US for the set! I ordered early on a Saturday morning (8/10) and received it the following Saturday (8/17), so wait-time was not an issue either. It's the exact same blu-ray content best I can tell as the US version, just different artwork on the box and discs and packaged differently, but from what I've read on here about the US version, I prefer the UK packaging anyway as the discs are stored in the digi-book style with the pop-on spindles instead of the cardboard sleeves.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Without question, this is one of the great purchases in my film collection. While I had seen most of these movies many times beginning when I was a young boy, I'd never seen them in the quality presented here. All of the transfers are in 1080p in their original aspect ratio. In addition an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel)sound layer is on each disc. In some cases there are minor transfer quality differences but they are rarely noticeable. Each disc has its own set of special features. Some are excellent and informative. Some are redundant. Some of the commentaries are terrific, others not so much. Here is a review of each movie and disc in the collection:
DRACULA (1931) 5.0 stars
Although I've seen this classic Universal film dozens of times starting at about age 10, this is my first look at the excellent Blu ray transfer available as a stand-alone film or part of the "Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection."
The well-known tale stars Bela Lugosi in his most recognizable role. The Hungarian actor also played the character in the stage production from which much is adapted for this early talking picture. Some will snicker at the mannerisms and heightened theatrics more common in the theater. Even as a great admirer of the movie, I chuckle when I see a couple armadillos scurrying across Dracula's Transylvanian castle.
Lugosi, still struggling with English accentuates his dialog not only with an unusual cadence, enunciating each syllable but seemingly each letter. But Bela was a charmer, especially of the ladies which transformed the Count from the Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel and the first production on film, "Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror" (1922). In F. W. Murnau's film, the Count (Orlok) was ugly, sinister and more in tune with what Stoker had in mind.
One of the things that always bothered me about the film was the lack of a musical score. The story has extended moments of silence, except for noise coming from old tape or DVD transfers. The cleaned up version here, eliminates almost all of the surface noise, and makes the silence even more...well silent. I much prefer the added Philip Glass score performed by The Kronos Quartet. I was fortunate to see Glass perform this live accompanying the film a few years ago in Dallas.
This exquisite 1080p transfer maintains the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono) option. It is the way to go. Extras include some interesting short documentaries including one introduced and narrated by producer Carl Laemmle's niece who had a small role in the film which included the first words spoken. The package also includes a Spanish language version which was filmed using the same sets at the time, a couple commentary tracks, trailers and more. If you are a fan, you'll want this Blu ray.
"Dracula" (Spanish language version): When Tod Browning's game-changing Dracula was being filmed in Hollywood, a Spanish language version was being filmed at night using the same sets and a slightly altered script. In some ways, this is actually a better movie. Unfortunately in some ways it is not.
The first noticeable element is that the film runs nearly 30 minutes longer. Much of this actually provides some context and continuity especially during the voyage of Dracula from Transylvania to England. Some of the length is also just laborious dialog. There are two big improvements over the English language version. First, the creepy atmosphere lingers throughout the movie, rather than just on those early scenes in Drac's castle. For example, when Dracula rises from his daytime slumber, wisps of smoke exude from his coffin before he is seen.
Secondly and most importantly, the leading lady, Lupita Tovar is much sexier and a better actress than Helen Chandler. Now Eva (rather than Mina) has a clear attraction for the Count. Her clothing reveals a bit of décolletage rather than Chandlers buttoned up look. Here Lucia is played by beautiful Carmen Guerrero although her role is scaled back. Like Eva, Lucia is taken with Drac's charms.
To offset these improvements however are two more issues. First and foremost, Carlos Villarias' Dracula is, well...terrible. His over-acting is often laughable to say the least. Bela Lugosi certainly is much better and inhabited the role. I would also point out that in this Spanish version, Renfield takes on a much bigger role and like Villarias, Pablo Alvarez Rubio is no match for his counterpart, Dwight Frye in the English-language version. All in all, this is an interesting comparo to the better known Dracula and is all the better with this Blu ray update included on the same disc.
FRANKENSTEIN (1931) 4.5 stars
This is the second of the classics restored by Universal in their monster collection and it is a gem of course. I don't know how many times I've seen this great movie, but this Blu ray is certainly the highest quality. Given a serious look, it's not quite the perfect horror movie I have forever thought but it's still close. The best thing here is Boris Karloff, as Dr. Frankenstein's creation. Watch his near mute (he does grunt and growl) performance. Like many of the silent films a few years earlier, actors have to use their movement, their eyes and facial expression to communicate feelings. And Karloff is masterful in this performance. Can't say enough about him.
Troubled actor Colin Clive is also excellent as Frankenstein. Dwight Frey as Fritz and Edward Van Sloan return after their similar performances in "Dracula." The story of course is based on an early 19th century story by Mary Shelley. All of this wouldn't have happened of course but for some great direction from James Whale and masterful makeup from Jack Pierce. So what's wrong? Quibbles admittedly but still.
First when the monster is on the loose on day of the doc's wedding to lovely Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), Frankenstein thinks he hears the monster inside the house. He gathers a search party of staffers and locks Elizabeth in her room "to keep her safe." Say what? Of course, the creature enters though an open window. Then there is the issue of the little Maria (Marilyn Harris) who is playfully tossed into the lake by her cottage by the creature. Fortunately this once censured scene was rightfully restored. Her father finds the girl (off camera) and marches into the village carrying her dead body claiming she had been murdered. Huh? Couldn't she just have drowned on her own? And why did he teach her how to swim anyway? Great sets, especially the flowing electricity in the laboratory, excellent acting and a timeless story overcome any shortcomings.
The Blu ray transfer comes in 1080p resolution with a 1.35:1 aspect ratio. While perhaps not quite as sharp as "Dracula" the film is as good as its ever been. The original photography is well represented with little to complain about in terms of flicker, specks, and other video crud. If anything the picture appears a little too dark on rare occasion. These are minor picked nits and of little consequence. The audio comes courtesy of DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel) and while it is very good it does seem a bit noisier than the aforementioned "Dracula." I don't know if this is the transfer or the condition of the original material. In any case, most will not notice. Here are the extras:
*The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster (45 minutes)
*Karloff: The Gentle Monster (38 minutes)
*Universal Horror (95 minutes)
*Audio Commentaries: Film historians Rudy Behlmer & Sir Christopher Frayling.
*100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics (9 minutes)
*Boo!: A Short Film (10 minutes)
*Frankenstein Archives (9 minutes)
*Trailer Gallery (8 minutes)
THE MUMMY (1932) 5.0 stars
This was Universal Studios third big hit after "Dracula," and "Frankenstein" and features several of the same cast and crew. This time around famed cinematographer Karl Freund ("Dracula") gets his first shot at directing. Boris Karloff who was so effective as Frankenstein's monster again signs up for hours in the makeup chair and Jack Pierce's wizardry.
This spectacular Blu Ray version is currently available as part of the Universal Monsters Collection. It brings new appreciation for this childhood favorite. The opening scenes feature The Mummy (Karloff) slowly come to life. Watch his face wrapped in perfectly aged linen. You can see the dust and bits of fabric fall from the 3500 year old man. Karloff also plays the modern day recreation of Im-Ho-Tep (The Mummy) in the form of Egyptian archeologist Ardeth Bey. If anything, the make up with Bey is even more startling and is crystal clear in this transfer. The story has Bey searching for his reincarnated lover. He was originally entombed for desecrating her final resting place by trying to raise her back to life using some magic words on a forbidden document. She is found in the form of Helen played by stage actress Zita Johann.
My favorite sequence in the movie is when Bey and Helen look into a magical and misty pool of water that serves as kind of a way-back machine. We see the events that cost Im-Ho-Tep his life. David Manners ("Dracula") plays a dashing archeologist who has the hots for Helen and Edward Van Sloan plays pretty much the same character he played in "Dracula" and "Frankenstein." That is, the wise old professor. Freund's use of lighting is very effective in this atmospheric thriller. Other than the opening scenes inside the tomb, the film is rarely frightening even by the standards of 1932.
As previously noted, the Blu ray version of this film is as good as it gets, especially on a film this old. Greys are grey and blacks are black. There are no noticeable artifacts that I could detect. The audio comes in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2 channel) and is very clear. I could hear no hissing, common with these older movies, especially those with minimal musical scoring. Extras include a 30 min. documentary called "Mummy Dearest" and one about make up master Jack Pierce. There are a couple commentary tracks, photos, trailers and 2 short docs about Universal and the Mummy legacy.
THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) 4.5 stars
Universal Studios kept their string of hit horror flicks going, that began with "Dracula," with this fine film based on H. G. Wells's novel. Evidently several adaptations were created and several directors considered. Wells was said to have approved of both James Whale ("Frankenstein") as director and R. C. Sherriff's screenplay. In fact the opening scene is taken directly from the book.
In his first "talkie" and only second movie, Claude Rains plays tormented and invisible scientist Jack Griffin. We never actually see his face until the final scene but that famous voice is all that's needed. Griffin holes up in a village inn attempting to find a way to reverse the experiment that makes him invisible. A side effect of the Monocane is that his temperament is becoming more and more violent. As his megalomaniac tendencies increase, murder is not out of the question.
After he is forced to leave the inn, he returns to the city and the home of a fellow scientist, Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan) who he enlists to help him with his continued provocation. Griffin's beautiful girlfriend (Titanic's Gloria Stuart) tries to get him help but at this point, he's beyond hope.
While certainly not very scary, Whale keeps things interesting with large doses of humor. Innkeeper Mrs. Hall (Una O'Connor) is a hoot. Perhaps the most surprising element to the film is the terrific special effects. Breaking some new ground, John P. Fulton and John Mescall introduce some remarkable film tricks, especially those involving Griffin's invisibility. Watch for brief glimpses of John Carradine, Dwight Frye and Walter Brennan in small roles.
The Blu ray version is currently available as part of the Universal Monsters Collection and will be available as a stand alone in June, 2013. The transfer has a 1080p resolution and a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Like all of the films in this collection, "The Invisible Man" is a significant upgrade from DVD. I will admit that this transfer didn't seem to be a sharp as some of the others I've seen. I can't quite put my finger on it but I noticed some specks and other blemishes show up here and there. Not a big deal and I suspect most won't notice. The audio includes DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2 channel) and its very good. Not much going on to jazz up your speakers as you might expect but the dialog is clear and intelligible. Extras include a documentary hosted by historian Rudy Behlmer and an audio commentary track also featuring Behlmer. A trailer, some photos and a short 8 minute doc showing off some of Universals monsters over the years round out the extras.
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) 5.0 stars
A Blu ray version of this great film is currently available as part of the Universal Classic Monsters Collection and will be available in the near future as a stand alone disc. Before I get into the technical aspects of the Blu ray transfer here's a bit about the film.
This true sequel to director James Whale's 1931 masterpiece is considered by most critics to be even superior. Certainly from a production standpoint, it is hard to argue against it. This movie actually continues the story originated by Mary Shelley in 1816. In fact, like "Frankenstein," the movie opens with Mary (Elsa Lanchester), Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) and Percy Shelley (Douglas Walton) once again in flashback, discussing Mary's horror novel during a thunderstorm. This was a scene Whale insisted on recreating.
Back to the present day, the story picks up where "Frankenstein" left off. The monster is trapped inside a burning windmill and Dr. Frankenstein is near death after being thrown off by the monster. He recovers, but is forced to help a strange former teacher, Dr. Pretorius (fey Ernest Thesiger). Pretorius had his own success with creating life. Whale and screenwriter William Hurlbut struggled with censors as the film hints at homosexuality, necrophilia and has numerous religious connotations.
Boris Karloff returns as the monster and once again is terrific, this time more sympathetic in spite of the fact he kills more people than he did in his first outing. Both he and Colin Clive, once again Henry Frankenstein, were injured before and during the movie causing additional complications for Whale. A 17 year old British actress, Valerie Hobson replaces Mae Clarke as Elizabeth, Henry's fiancée. She has a couple meaty scenes and pulls them off nicely.
As a kid I mostly remembered Pretorius's little people which he created and housed in jars. A lightened moment in what was still a frightening film. The best scenes however are given to Lanchester who also portrays the "Bride" complete with herky-jerky head movements and the now iconic lightning bolt hairdo. Pretorius also utters a couple quips that become important to the future. When the lady monster comes alive, he calls her the Bride of Frankenstein not the Bride of the Monster. Is that how the monster became known by many as "Frankenstein?" He also announces the successful reanimation declaring "gods and monsters," the name of a 1998 biopic about James Whale.
The movie is enhanced by some excellent photography (Stephen M. Katz), makeup (Jack Pierce returning), special effects (John P. Fulton) and an amazing musical score by Franz Waxman. Note how each main character has his/her own musical announcement. This is one of the great horror movies. Make that one of the great movies of all time.
The Blu ray disc comes in a 1080p resolution and has a near original 1.35:1 aspect ratio. This black and white film is certainly one of the best of the Universal restorations. Some have rightly complained about some earlier DVD quality issues. I can assure you they have been cleaned up here. The transfer quality is consistently excellent throughout with beautiful detail. Many of the aforementioned little people provide some interesting elements I had never seen before. There are no scratches, light fading or any other abnormalities that I could see. The audio comes by way of DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel) and is likewise excellent. Waxman's score is perfectly replicated given the age and source. The dialog is crisp and clear. There is little if any noise in any of the scenes. The only extra worth a look is 39 minute documentary called "She's Alive!: Creating the Bride of Frankenstein." There is a numb audio commentary by a historian, some archival photos, trailers and a Universal commercial that appears on all of the discs in this collection.
THE WOLF MAN (1941) 4.5 stars
Ten years after Universal Studio's successful run of horror films, another shot at a werewolf movie was made. Contrary to popular belief, this wasn't the first. Six years earlier Universal put out "Werewolf of London." The underappreciated movie bombed at the box office.
In "The Wolf Man," makeup artist Jack Pierce used the original face that was planned for the 1935 film. In WWL, the facial features were pared back for a variety of reasons. Lon Chaney, Jr. escaped acting obscurity with this starring role as Larry Talbot, who after 18 years in America, returns to England where his father (Claude Rains) is mourning the death of Larry's older brother. You'll have to suspend logic a bit as Rains is about a foot shorter and much slighter than the hulking Chaney. Just like you will have to suspend logic as to why almost all the British characters speak with American accents.
As a kid, I thought this movie was pretty darn scary, much more so than Dracula or even Frankenstein's monster. Maybe because Talbot was just a regular guy, trying to do good by killing a wolf who had attacked a woman. Unfortunately, he was bitten and we all know what happens if you are bitten and survive. Interestingly enough, most of the werewolf mythology we accept in movies today - including how you become one, the death by silver, the pentagram, etc. - was concocted by screenwriter Curt Siodmak a German immigrant.
The film features Ralph Bellamy who would go on to make much bigger films, Bela Lugosi in a brief appearance as gypsy leader (and part time werewolf) Bela, and Maria Ouspenskava who made a career playing an old and wise gypsy matriarch. Directed and produced by George Waggner, the film has some wonderful sets and artwork and features an excellent musical score. In the end Talbot tragically succumbs, getting throttled by the silver handled cane he once used to kill Bela the werewolf. The film was wildly successful and in horror films, no one necessarily dies forever. Chaney went on to make 3 sequels and other appearances as Talbot the Wolf Man.
The Wolf Man is currently available on Blu ray as part of Universal Classic Monsters: The Essentials Box Set. It will be available as a stand alone disc in the near future. The film is transferred in 1080p with a 1.36:1 aspect ratio. Like all of the Universal Blu ray updates, this film looks great. I did notice a slight halo effect in some scenes but for me, no big deal. The black and white film shines otherwise. Like others in this collection, the detail will have you finding scene tidbits you probably missed before. The audio has a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel)track and it is excellent. Clear and consistent and gives nice representation of the outstanding score. Extras include a couple informative and interesting documentaries (Monsters by Moonlight and The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.) both a little over 30 minutes. There is another about makeup man Jack Pierce, an audio commentary by film historian Tom Weaver, some posters and other stills, a story about Universal's back lot, a short about the appeal of The Wolf Man and some trailers. Whew!
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943) 3.5 stars
I recently acquired the Blu ray version of this film as part of Universal's Classic Monster Collection. It will be released alone in June, 2013. As opposed to earlier versions of "Phantom," it is in no way a horror film. Having said that, it is a pretty good movie for what it is.
While the film pretty much abandons Leroux's story, the film has lavish production, most of which is concentrated on the hugh opera scenes, and there are several. In fact each chapter on the old laserdisc version I own has an operatic opening. The film won a couple Oscars for technical achievement. If you are a fan of opera and especially Nelson Eddy you will enjoy this adaptation more than horror freaks.
I also did like the lovely Susanna Foster who can shatter glass with her soprano. Claude Rains gives his usual fine performance as the orchestra violinist who goes wacko when he believes his beloved concerto is stolen. He of course is in love with Christine (Foster), as is inspector Raoul D'Aubert (Edgar Barrier) and Anatole Garron (Eddy). The later have some comedic banter along the way which certainly alters the tone of the movie. Also watch for Leo Carrillo who went on to play Pancho on the TV Cisco Kid series, a fave of mine as a kid. There is also a small role for the great Hume Cronyn here. In the end, a bit of a mixed bag for me, but no denying the production values.
The Blu ray disc comes with a video resolution of 1080p and maintains the films original aspect ratio (1.36:1). Filmed in color, the transfer is very good. The elaborate sets, costumes and operatic vista are well presented. Very good blacks and little in the way of blemishes. There were a couple instances of inconsistent color, but its hardly noticeable. The audio is really the highlight of the upgrade. Using DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2 channel), the lavish film score really comes to life. With music a highlight in this version of "Phantom," the Blu ray should be well received by music lovers. Dialog is clean and intelligible throughout. Extras include an interesting documentary regarding the various "Phantom" films. Film historian Scott McQueen provides a commentary track. There is a 9 minute short about Universal's back lot, some photos and a trailer.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) 4.5 stars
I remember my mother gathering my 2 brothers and me, decked in our PJs, into the family Plymouth and heading to the drive-in movie theater. I was a kid. It was a big deal. It was 3-D! Among others on the bill, was the "Creature From The Black Lagoon." The 3-D gimmick has come and gone a few times since then and appeared to have made a real comeback recently. Yet, checking out the Sunday ads in the paper (Best Buy, Fry's, Target, Tiger Direct), there was not one featuring a 3-D TV for sale. In any case, I watched this Blu ray disc in good old fashion 2-D and it looks better than ever.
The story centers on a group of scientists who find a large webbed hand and part of an arm in the Brazilian Amazon. Believed to be a water creature, scientists who are also scuba divers are recruited. Among them are David (Richard Carlson) and Mark, his boss (Richard Denning) both playing for the affections of statuesque Kay (Julie Adams). While the story is pretty much a straight forward beauty and the beast, director Jack Arnold and his team create an above average "horror" film.
The movie was essentially shot in two locations. One was the Universal Studios lot and some of the shots are well done, but others are limited to the technical capabilities of the time. All of the underwater filming was done in a Florida grotto and they are remarkably well done, especially when you remember that the film was shot in 3-D using the big and cumbersome cameras of the era. The creature, even with a rubber suit is plenty creepy given its human characteristics.
The most memorable scene (and yes, one I remember as a kid) is when Kay decides to go swimming in the lagoon in her white, and brief for the day, one piece suit. With the camera in the water shooting upward to the surface we see the shadowed silhouette of Kay gracefully swimming across the surface. Yeah, that got my attention, then and now...and more importantly, that of the creature. Director Steven Spielberg must have remembered that scene too (see "Jaws"). This goes on for a while and the creature joins in, swimming upside down below Eve. Great swimming by Ricou Browning who played the creature in the underwater scenes.
While the creature manages to kill a few crew members, it was he who was attacked first and he doesn't seem to have menace in mind when it comes to Eve. Mostly we are sympathetic to his plight. He's lonely. He wants a friend. My only complaint with the film is that each time the creature is featured, we get a menacing, shrill brass section musical blast. It's very annoying and unnecessary given the otherwise excellent score.
The Blu ray version is currently available as part of the Universal Classic Monsters box set and will be available as a stand alone disc in June, 2013. The transfer has a 1080p resolution and is in black and white with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While not quite up to the quality of some of the earlier films in this collection, the film still looks very good. Detail is excellent although there are brief moments of glitchiness. Never sure if this is the adaptation or a problem in the original print being used. In any case, it was never a big deal for me. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (2-channel)and is very good. The dialog is clear and properly centered. As noted above the music can startle at times but that was the intent unfortunately. Ms. Adams screams are excellent. Extras include a documentary about the production and include the still fit and beautiful Julie Adams, Browning, Ben Chapman (the land based creature)and others. An audio commentary track is narrated by historian Tom Weaver. Some "Creature" trailers, photos and a short about Universal's back lot round out the extras.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2002
Universal Studios the Master of the Horror movie has masterfully restored & remastered EIGHT of the their BEST in the "CLASSIC MONSTER COLLECTION! Seven Black & White and One Technicolor (The 1943 "Phantom of the Opera") are presented in OUTSTANDING Clarity and Sound. The entire set is preserved in the actual theatrical FULL Screen format (4:3 aspect ratio-tv). Each of these 8 movies have extensive extra features including; background featurettes, commentary by film historians and a Picture montage of original lobby posters & publicity photos. This is an absolute must have for your DVD Home Theatre library!!!
The Universal Studios of the 1930's revolutionized special effects and the horror movie under the helm of Carl Laemmle Jr., Director James Whale and make-up genius Jack Pierce. Universal also had one of the greatest stable of stars many to play in reoccurring roles; Boris Karloff - Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) & Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Bela Lugosi - Dracula (1931) & The Wolfman (1941). Claude Rains - The Invisible Man (1933 - Karloff was replaced by Rains due to contractual disputes), The Wolfman (1941) & The Phantom of the Opera (1943 - in fabulous TECHNICOLOR). Dwight Frye (the mad assistant) - Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man & The Bride of Frankenstein. Una O'Connor (the hysterical screamer) - Frankenstein, The Invisible Man & The Bride of Frankenstein. Edward Van Sloan (The Scientist/Doctor) - Frankenstein, Dracula & The Mummy. Lon Chaney Jr. - became The Wolman (1941).
Summary:Dracula (1931) established Carl Laemmle Jr. & Universal as the King of the Horror Picture while Bela Lugosi became the undisputed KING of the Vampires. Provided in 3 versions - Original, New Musical Score & Spanish Version filmed with all Spanish cast (see my review). Frankenstein (1931) established James Whale as the Master Director of Horror (also did, The Invisible Man & The Bride Of Frankenstein). Boris Karloff became a Super star playing "The Monster". (AFI top 100 film - see my review) The Mummy (1932) has Karloff playing in the lead role as a cursed Eygptian Priest returning from the dead after 2500 years. The Invisible Man (1933) establishes Claude Rains as a star with his voice. Playing a manical chemist who discovers invisibility with insanity is only seen at the very end of the picture. ( Outstanding special effects). The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - Karloff in an encore role with a wife. (Considered to be the Best Frankenstein of the series). The Wolfman (1941) - establishes Lon Chaney Jr. as a superstar. He is bitten by a werewolf and begins a cursed nightmare. Phantom of the Opera (1943 - in Technicolor) has Rains in the lead role of the tormented manical violinist who loves a young upcoming opera singer. The Creature of the Black Lagoon (1954) Outstanding underwater photography. Is a cult classic of a gillman fall s for girl. "Beauty & the Beast" storyline.
This is a great collection and a must for the classic collector. Enjoy.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2014
You'd be better off with the Universal Monsters: The Essential Collection [Blu-ray] [Region Free] [UK Import. It's half the price and the discs are not housed in those cardboard pages that scuff up the disc everytime you take them out or put them back. I hate those things. You can buy the better set here at Amazon or it may be less expensive at Amazon.co.uk. You also get a book and postcard replicas of the movie posters with the UK import set and it plays in all regions. I've already enjoyed Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy in HD. The UK import is the better set for value and for discs on spindles where they don't get scratched up.
59 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Buyer beware! Amazon just shipped our replacement copy of this entire set, and the 2D Blu-ray of Creature From the Black Lagoon is STILL DEFECTIVE.
The defect affects both picture and sound at around 59 minutes in. From there on the disc skips and glitches for several minutes. We have two high-end set-ups and neither one of our players, one Sony, one Samsung, play this disc properly. Now that we have received a total of TWO copies of the entire set (thanks, Amazon, for the prompt replacement) we KNOW it is a result of Universal's legendary lack of Quality Control.
Otherwise it's a wonderful if pricey set. But don't waste your hard-earned money on this until Universal acknowledges this defective disc and promises that they have fixed this disc. (I cannot say if any of the other discs are defective, as we haven't even had a chance to screen them all.)
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
I really like the Classic Monsters,The Essential Collection. I am a fan of those movies when they were in the theaters on Saturday afternoon. I would have given it 5 star. but won't because of the cheap casing of 100% card board. Every time you remove or insert a Blu-Ray disk into the card board sleeve you take a chance of scratching the Blu-Ray disk. You would think that for the HUGE price you pay for the collection, the packaging would be of better quality. I give the collection itself a 5 stars and the packaging a 2 stars.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2001
If you check my other reviews on Amazon you will see I think collector's sets are generally a waste of money. Often they cost more than buying the DVD's individually, and always there are a number of dog titles in the set nobody really wants.
However Wow!!! This set is a real exception. Most of these titles are hard to find at all but the best video stores and when you do find them they seem to be selling for around thirty dollars each. I know because it took me months to find a good price on Bride of Frankenstein. For once I was happily surprised to see a set that has all great titles a monster fan would like to have and at a fantastic price that is a real bargain. What is more is these aren't some crummy public domain prints. These are high quality super clean sharp prints with full length commentaries and abundant supplemental photos and featurettes.
What an amazing collection! It satisfies all my criterea for what a good boxed set should be. All great titles, a great savings over buying individually, and the best quality versions of the film available.