Not to be confused with ‘The Legacy Collection’, which grouped the monsters into their specific franchises and separate boxes, or with ‘The Essential Collection,’ which contained the eight watermark horror flicks from the collection in BluRay for the first time. My favorite image in The ‘Essential’ packaging is a two-page spread at the end of the collection featuring the eight monsters standing in a row as if on a police lineup.
And now there’s the latest iteration, and even though there is an unavoidable sense of been-there-done-that about it, this one really is the one to have, presenting an incredible thirty titles, all in Blu-ray and all in one box, encompassing the birth of the genre, the Golden Era of the 30s, the equally wonderful assembly-line years of the 40s, and the late arriving CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON franchise in the mid 50s. All of them are now in the Blu-ray format, and the difference in DRACULA, for example, with its massive sound track hiss greatly reduced, takes on new life, and may be the presentation that director Tod Browning wanted, thumbing his nose at ‘the talkies’ while the real standout scenes are in his sacred silence. The collection also includes the Spanish DRACULA and the 3D CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
There are other monsters laying low in Universal’s stable. Lon Chaney Jr.’s first horror flick for the company – MAN MADE MONSTER, is a rather sweet film with Chaney turning in a relaxed, believable performance. But it isn’t part of a franchise, which was the determining factor in the choice of thirty. Here’s hoping it shows up at another time, perhaps a year from now when Halloween draws near again. And I’d also love to see a gorgeous Blu-Ray of 1934’s THE BLACK CAT starring Karloff and Lugosi, and directed by Edgar Ulmer, arguably one of the two best horror films Universal produced in the glory days. There was also, by the way, a Grade C franchise in the 40s featuring Acquanetta as the ape woman. The Wolfman-esque make up transformation was courtesy of Jack Pierce There were three instalments in the series, but seeing them, each worse than the last, one can understand Universal’s reluctance to include them with the other towering monsters in this collection.
There are supplements galore, commentaries by such authorities as Scott McQueen and Tom Weaver, docs covering the lives of Lugosi, Karloff, Chaney Jr., and Pierce. Great extras to meander through.