Last year’s Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection served up four of the studio’s most iconic films in stunning 4K. This second volume isn’t quite as definitive, though it includes a few indispensable gems.
Arguably one of the greatest sequels ever made, The Bride of Frankenstein is the true jewel of this collection. Though not quite as horror-driven as Frankenstein, it’s more atmospheric, boasts better production values, stronger performances and considerably more humor. Then there’s Elsa Manchester in her legendary dual role as Mary Shelley and “the Bride,” the latter character being nearly as iconic as Frankenstein’s monster himself (though not in the film as much as we might remember).
In this writer’s humble opinion, The Mummy should have been part of the first collection since it was among that first wave of Universal horror classics. On the other hand, it’s the only film in this set that’s pure horror through and through. Perhaps a bit slow and quaint compared to recent remakes, it remains the smartest, most atmospheric mummy movie of them all, with some key moments that are still chilling. Boris Karloff is miscast as the title creature - feels kind of like stunt casting - but the make-up effects are excellent.
|"Can I borrow this? I'll bring it right back."|
I think most purists would’ve preferred Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera (which was also released by Universal) over this 1943 version. Claude Rains dons the mask and cape this time, and while he’s quite good in the role, the film ultimately plays more like colorful melodrama than horror, with too much emphasis on the operatic musical numbers and dull supporting characters. Still, it features great production design and looks gorgeous, especially in 4K.
One of Universal’s scrappiest scarefests, Creature from the Black Lagoon, rounds out the collection (in two versions). Though no one has ever mistaken it for a masterpiece, the film remains one of the studio's most entertaining and endearing creature features. What it lacks in finesse is countered by an imaginatively rendered, sympathetic monster and terrific underwater photography.
Each 4K disc - as well as the accompanying Blu-rays - comes with interesting bonus features, though not as many as the previous set. None of them are new, but all are worth checking out. Like Volume 1, the main reasons to consider this set are purely aesthetic. All of the films look great in 4K and the packaging is cool (though they should have gone with traditional disc trays instead of cardboard sleeves). Though not quite as essential, Universal Classic Monsters: Icons of Horror Collection, Volume 2 is a great addition to any horror collection.
4K, BLU-RAY & DIGITAL COPIES (of all four films)
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
FEATURETTES - “She’s Alive! Creating The Bride of Frankenstein”; “The Bride of Frankenstein Archive”; “100 Years of Universal: Restoring theClassics”
AUDIO COMMENTARY - by Scott MacQueen
FEATURETTES - “Mummy Dearest: A horror Tradition Unearthed”; “He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pearce”; “Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy”; “The Mummy Archives”; “100 Years of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era””
2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns & Brent Armstrong; 2) By Paul M. Jensen.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
FEATURETTES - “The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked”; “100 Years of Universal: The Lot”
AUDIO COMMENTARY - by Scott MacQueen
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
3-D VERSION ON BLU-RAY
FEATURETTES - “Back to the Lagoon”; “100 Years of Universal: The Lot”
AUDIO COMMENTARY - by Tom Weaver
Post a Comment