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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great set of horror from Hollywood's golden age, November 28, 2006
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This review is from: 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) (DVD)
The cover art to Warners' Hollywood's Legends of Horror Collection features images of horror legends Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart. Humphrey Bogart ... what the heck? Yes, although Bogart was about as much a legend of horror as John Wayne was a musical comedy star, he did appear in one horror film ("The Return of Dr. X") included in this collection. Maybe it is a little erroneous and misleading to describe Bogie as a legend of horror but thankfully Warners' has included his one and only rarely shown thriller. The other films included in this collection feature Hollywood's true horror legends in an array of interesting roles.

"The Mask of Fu Manchu" (1932) may not be a real horror film but it does have the incomparable Boris Karloff in fine form as the demoniacal Fu Manchu. This engaging pre-code film features some delightfully racy scenes and insinuations. A young Myrna Loy as Fu Manchu's lascivious daughter is especially entertaining. Her very obvious goal of making the young male lead her own personal sex slave would surely have been censored from the script just a few years later.

MGM reunited Bela Lugosi and his "Dracula" director, Tod Browning, for 1935s "The Mark of the Vampire." This film was a remake of Browning's own silent classic "London after Midnight" which had starred Lon Chaney (and has been lost for 40 years). The image of the vampire had solidified in the public consciousness in the form of Lugosi's Dracula. MGM, obviously hoping to profit from the Dracula image, hired Lugosi to play the lead vampire character in a departure from the horrific and creepy, shark toothed vampire Chaney played in the original film. The final result is a well-mounted and moody horror offering with all the eerie trappings you'd expect from a 30s thriller including lots of fog, cobwebs, shadows and screams.

Maybe the best 30s horror flick included on this set is MGM's "Mad Love" from 1935. This film features a very young (and very creepy) Peter Lorre as a demented surgeon who torments a highly-strung concert pianist played by Colin Clive. Clive seems even more neurotic here than in his role as Henry Frankenstein in Universal's first two Frankenstein films. Lorre has been lusting after Colin's wife and uses a horrible accident as a means to destroy Clive's life and steal his bride. This is a first class horror film from MGM that rivals Universal's best horror classics.

The two Warner "Doctor X" films have no connection other than a similarity in title. The first film is a pretty slow-moving and dated 1932 thriller. "Doctor X" was filmed in an early two-strip Technicolor process, just like 1933's "The Mystery of the Wax Museum," and is presented here in a restored color version. Even if it is a bit creaky, "Doctor X" is an interesting Hollywood artifact and worth at least one viewing. 1939's "The Return of Doctor X" is the one with Bogie. It's more of a B-movie but very fun to watch with Bogart as the villain of the title.

Rounding out this collection is Tod Browning's 1936 "Devil Doll" from MGM. This one features Lionel Barrymore as a vengeful soul who miniaturizes humans to do his bidding. It's an interesting addition to the set but by no means the primary reason to purchase the collection.

As you would expect from Warners' all the films are high quality transfers from the best available material. There are some trailers and film commentaries (not for all films though) including one with the late film director Vincent Sherman. Overall this set is highly recommended to fans who wish to add to their film libraries of horror films from Hollywood's golden age.

Side note: Some other reviewers have commented on the absence of the Warners' Karloff film "The Walking Dead" (1936). I too was mystified until I realized that this may have been done deliberately. Perhaps Warners has the future intention of offering their own collection of Karloff films. Since both Universal and Columbia released Karloff sets this fall I would guess Warners would have held back. If they choose to release their own set they would only need to take "The Walking Dead" and add "West of Shanghai" (Warners 1937), "The Invisible Menace" (Warners 1938), "British Intelligence" (Warners 1940), "Devil's Island" (Warners 1940), and maybe even "You'll Find Out" (RKO 1940). Let's hope Warners does put out a nice salute to Boris.
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