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

4.3 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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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.

Amazon.com

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


Special Features

Disc 1 - Night Key:
  • Theatrical Trailer


  • Disc 2 - The Climax:
  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, 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 Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
    • Run Time: 421 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000FWHW8Q
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,522 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

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 14, 2006
    Format: DVD
    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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    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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    8 Comments 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    This "Boris Karloff Collection" features 5 of his films from 1937 through 1952....all worth a look, especially for Universal/Karloff fans. Across the board,the picture and sound are excellent. Lean on bonus features,..a few trailers only. I do miss scene selection. This set is comparable to the "Bela Lugosi Collection" in spirit and high quality. The truth is,the Lugosi set features what I'd consider at least as important Karloff footage as the Karloff Collection! ("The Raven", "Invisible Ray", etc.). As for the films Boris graces here, they are more mystery/costume pieces than horror. But the high quality transfers and the excellent casts make it all worthwhile. "The Climax" is a rare opportunity to see Karloff and friends in color...from the forties. Cool stuff. "Night Key" is entertaining. A 1937 mystery with a twist: Karloff as the good guy and Samuel Hinds (Peter Bailey from "It's A Wonderful Life") as bad guy! Despite being a rabid Universal fan, I'd forgotten that the early version of the "disco ball" Universal film opening theme has a couple of extra bars of music. Check it out! This was short-lived. It was gone by 1939. "Tower of London" is quite lavish, and a pleasure seeing Boris, Vincent Price, and Basil Rathbone together, forecaddying their early sixties "Comedy Of Terrors" collaboration/reunion. "The Black Castle", while less horror than drama, is a period piece featuring costumes from pethaps the late 1700's. Obviously trying to sound "Frankenstein-like" with its title and the inclusion of Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. (who both give notable performances), there's tons of spooky atmosphere that rivals any sets in the Frank/Drac/Wolfman classics, but neither ghosts nor monsters. Villainous behavior does abound...Read more ›
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