Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
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Universal has put considerable effort into restoring and revitalizing each film, and while there's room to nitpick, it's hard to focus on little flaws when the whole of the package is so good. If you have any love for Golden Age horror classics, add this one to your cart or wish list post haste.
Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection (1931-1954)
The 8-disc Universal Classic Monsters: Essential Collection box set features all eight films; nine when you include Drácula, a Spanish-language version of Dracula that was shot simultaneously to the Lugosi picture, albeit with an entirely different cast.
The Collection comes packaged in an understated but handsome box set with a sturdy outer sleeve that houses a tome-like DigiPak (with one page devoted to each film) and a copy of 'The Original House of Horror, a 48-page booklet. The discs themselves slide inside of each DigiPak page - something that will be a sticking point for some since you have to grasp the edge of a disc to remove it from its snug hideaway.
From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these original films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience.
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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.)
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.