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Fox Horror Classics Collection (The Lodger / Hangover Square / The Undying Monster)
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Disc 2: THE LODGER **Full-Frame Feature - B&W **Commentary by Film Historians Alain Silver & James Ursini **Man in the Fog: The Making of The Lodger **The Lodger Vintage Radio Show - Performed by Vincent Price **Restoration Comparison **Trailer **Still Gallery
Disc 3: THE UNDYING MONSTER **Full-Frame Feature - B&W **Concertos Macabre: The Films of John Brahm *Restoration Comparison **Trailer **Advertising Gallery **Still Gallery
Top Customer Reviews
None of the these titles have been on DVD before, and even rarely on VHS. They occasionally showed up on the lackluster Fox Movie Channel a few years ago at odd hours of the early morning. It was on such an occasion that I encountered "The Lodger". This is a top notch effort which rests comfortably between the Gaslight thriller and the classic horror film. Cregar plays the villain with an off kilter, understated creepiness that was way ahead of it's time and could be called the screen's first serial killer performance.
The cinematography looks better and more atmospheric than what Universal was shoving out in the mid 40s'. Fog bound London streets and dimly gaslit interiors play with the viewers sense of claustrophobia. You almost feel as trapped by the heavy atmosphere as Cregar's character. Lodger is no doubt a lost classic of psychological horror.
I have to disagree with other reviewers that "Undying Monster" is the poor cousin of this set. "Hangover Square" feels more like a re-make of Lodger than a film of its own right. But Undying Monster takes us to the dark, atmospheric Sea coast. The sparse sets and jagged cliffs and caves work beautifully here. We have Jane Eyre meets Bram Stoker. A family curse is the plot engine to drive the lush monochrome cinematography. In fact Undying Monster boasts some of the best shots of the set, particularly the opening interior shot as the moon streams into a tudor drawing room. It looked great on the badly duped VHS copy I've had for years. On DVD it promises to be stunning. The titular Monster is not revealed until near the end, so forget about it and soak up the atmosphere. There is an interesting sequence near the end, all done in long shot as if you were a passerby. It's effective and helps cover the lack of make up talent Fox had for horror films.
These films were rarely seen even back in the days of Late Night Creature Features. Universal's films are better known, and MGM's more highly regarded by critics. But these lost Fox Horror films can now find an audience of their own and be appreciated for the loving cinematography.
If you're tired of the bad Hollywood "horror" films lately, which bear more resemblance to a series of snuff films rather than anything else, this box set is for you. Curl up on your couch with the DVD remote clutched in your hand. Be sure to darken the room, and quiet the mind. The intelligence and atmosphere of these gothic horrors will soon overcome the decades they have sat waiting in Fox's vault to return to the screen.
Besides being Fox movies, the three movies in this set are also tied together by all being directed by John Brahm. First made of these three - and the closest to being a horror movie - is also the weakest in the set: The Undying Monster. The story deals with the isolated Hammond family that is plagued by a curse that has a monster preying on the male Hammonds over the past few generations. This is a pale imitation of two genres made famous by Universal: the monster movie (particularly the Wolf Man) and the mystery movie (particularly the Sherlock Holmes movies, though Fox was actually the first to do the Rathbone movies). The biggest failing of the movie is the fact that the monster is on screen too infrequently.
Much better is The Lodger, a remake of what was Alfred Hitchcock's first suspense movie. Even if you've watched the older version, however, this one is still fun to watch and substantially different, plotwise. Among the big names in the movie are Merle Oberon and George Sanders, but the star is Laird Cregar who plays the title character. Sadly, Cregar's career was very short (less than a decade) because he steals the show in most of his movies (especially in I Wake Up Screaming, part of the Fox Film Noir series). The movie itself deals with Cregar as Jack the Ripper, taking up residence in a rooming house where his fellow residents begin to suspect he may not be fully on the up-and-up.
Best of all is Hangover Square. In a way, it is a reworking of The Lodger to capitalize on that movie's box office success, with Sanders and Cregar both returning in hero and villain roles respectively. Actually, Cregar is not so much evil as sick, driven under stress to take on a second, homicidal personality; in his lucid moments, however, he is a good guy, a musician who falls for bad girl Linda Darnell, my favorite femme fatale from the 1940s (who, like Cregar, would die at a young age under tragic circumstances). Besides Cregar and Darnell, there is also the great music of Bernard Herrmann that is an essential part of the movie.
The Lodger and Hangover Square fit more in the thriller or mystery category than horror, but that doesn't diminish their quality. Overall, The Undying Monster merits a low three stars, The Lodger four and Hangover Square five. Add to that some special features, most notably commentaries on the Cregar movies and some mini-documentaries on Cregar and Brahm, and this set merits a full five stars. It may not really be a horror set, but Fox Horror Classics is a worthwhile collection of some generally obscure movies.
The Lodger remake from 44' is awesome and
one of the better Jack the Ripper movies made.
Hangover Square has most of same cast as Lodger
and is more film noir/mystery than horror but
also very well made. Better than most. Undying
Monster was an attempt at making a wolfman movie
but it's more of a mystery movie but again very
well made and acted. I highly recommend this set.
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Also available're three more flicks: "Fox Horror Classics Volume 2".Read more
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