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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (Blu-ray)
Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (Blu-ray)
Universal // Unrated // August 28, 2018 // Region A
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 27, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movies:

Universal Studios, after releasing a ‘greatest hits' package of monster Blu-ray's a few years ago and then a couple of separate sets featuring the more popular character returns to the well once more with this fairly massive thirty film collection. Here's a look at how this beast of a boxed set breaks down…

The Dracula Legacy Collection (4-disc set):

Dracula:

Directed by Tod Browning in 1931 and based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, the film stars Bela Lugosi in an iconic turn as Dracula. Renfield (Dwight Frye) arrives in Transylvania to finalize the details of an agreement wherein the Count will lease a Castle in London. Shortly after, a ship arrives at a port in London, its crew dead save for Renfield, now a raving madman put away in a sanitarium by Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston). When Dracula looks into where his slave has gone, he discovers that Sewards has a comely daughter named Mina (Helen Chandler), who is good friends with Lucy (Francis Dade). When Dracula feeds on Lucy he then decides he wants Mina for his own. Soon enough, her fiancée Jonathon Harker (David Manners) notices Mina's strange behavior and at Seward's behest brings Dr. Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) into the picture, at which point, they realize who and what is behind all of this.

About as iconic as a movie can get, Dracula turned Bela Lugosi into a household name, and for good reason. He really is great in the part, playing the role with the right mix of suave charm and dark menace. The supporting work is solid here too, especially from the great Dwight Frye, while Browning's direction is assured and the picture well-paced. The visuals are strong, the cinematography does a fine job of capturing the atmospheric sets that were put together for the picture, and the whole thing just comes together wonderfully.

Spanish Dracula:

Shot on the same sets as the Browning/Lugosi film and at the same time (this version was shot at night while the English version was shot during the day), this Spanish language version of Drácula follows pretty much the same events as the English language picture. This time out, Dracula is played by Carlos Villarías who definitely puts his own stamp on the part. His take is quite different than Lugosi's but no less fun to watch. Pablo Álvarez Rubio isn't quite as memorable as Frye in the Renfield part but he's still pretty good, while Lupita Tovar as Eva Seward (not Mina Seward) and Carmen Guerrero as Lucia (not Lucy) also do fine work. Barry Norton as Juan (not Johnathan) Harker isn't as interesting as David Manners, however, and Eduardo Arozamena's take on Van Helsing not as much fun as Van Sloan's work. It is interesting to note that this version is quite a bit longer than the English one, adding almost a half an hour to that film's running time and that it uses music here and there where the Lugosi film does not (credits notwithstanding).

Dracula's Daughter:

Made five years later for Universal by director Lambert Hillyer, Dracula's Daughter begins when two London policemen find Van Helsing (Van Sloane again) standing over the bodies of Dracula and Renfield. Van Helsing is brought in by Scotland Yard but soon enough, Dracula's corpse is stolen by his daughter, Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden), and then burned in hopes that she'll be able to do away with the family curse. Shortly after, the psychologist asked to defend Van Helsing, Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger), meets Marya and takes an immediate interest in her, obviously unaware that she and her assistant Sander (Irving Pichel) are responsible for a series of disappearances involving young woman in the area. Understandably, this doesn't sit well with his girlfriend Janet Blake (Marquerite Churchill). When a woman named Lili (Nan Gray) is found by the authorities with bite marks on her neck, Garth starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together and brings Van Helsing in for help.

Not nearly as good as the original film, this is still worth seeing. Marya Zaleska is an interesting choice to play the title role, she certainly looks the part and has these great, piercing eyes. It's nice to see Van Sloane return as Van Helsing, essentially serving as the only real link to the first picture. Once again he's good in the part. There are some pacing issues here and there but the movie is nicely shot and Otto Kruger makes for an interesting male lead. He's not always as charismatic as we might want but he's good enough in the part. This doesn't quite compare with the original picture, few films can, but it has its moments and has not only an interesting gothic atmosphere to it but also some unexpected lesbian overtones, quite rare for a horror movie of its vintage.

Son Of Dracula:

Champion film noir director Robert Siodmak was the man in the director's chair for this 1943 film. Here Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr.) meets Katherine Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) when she travels to Hungary. Her family, primarily father Colonel Caldwell (George Irving) and sister Claire (Evelyn Ankers), runs a plantation in the deep south of the United States called Dark Oaks. After hanging out with Alucard and a fortune teller named Madame Zimba (Adeline DeWalt), Catharine develops a deep interest in matters of the occult, and so the Count decides to help her out with a little of his own first hand knowledge of the supernatural. Before you know it, he's left Budapest behind for a new life in Caldwell country, and it would seem that Katharine is very much under his influence, something that doesn't go unnoticed by her fiancée Frank Stanley (Robert Paige). Thankfully, Caldwell family friend Dr. Brewster (Frank Craven) realizes something strange is afoot and with some help from occult expert Professor Lazlo (J. Edward Bromberg) decides to investigate. From this point on, things get complicated for all involved.

If you can look past the fact that nobody in the movie realizes that Alucard is Dracula spelled backwards, Son Of Dracula is a fun way to kill eighty-minutes. Universal ups the effects a bit with this entry, we actually get to see the Count change into a cloud of mist and a bat, and the production values are pretty strong here. Siodmak does a great job directing the picture. It is quite well-paced and at times, pretty tense. The visuals in the film are top notch, the set design is really good and the cinematography is appropriately moody and atmospheric. The story unfolds rather well and the performances are solid. Chaney doesn't try to ape Lugois, he brings his own style to the role (this is, after all, the ‘son' of Dracula and not Dracula himself) and does a fine job with it, even if it won't ever be recognized as one of his best performances. Louise Allbitton is also good as the female lead while the quirky supporting players all do their best to stand out.

House of Frankenstein:

The fifth film in the set brings Karloff back into the picture, but not as the monster we all know and love. This time out, Karloff is the insane Dr. Nieman, a recently escaped mental patient who, along with his assistant, Daniel (J. Carrol Naish), attempts to revive Dracula (John Carradine). But he's not going to stop there, he's also going to revive the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) and the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) as well! Why on Earth would someone want to resurrect so many evil monsters? Because he's made a lot of enemies over the years and what better way to get back at them then by bringing in the big guns or horror to take them all down!

Erle Kenton once again directs and this time turns in the silliest of the five films so far in the franchise. But, silly as it may be, there is no denying how much fun this movie is. Thanks in no small part to a terrific cast of horror movie legends, House Of Frankenstein is a fast paced monster-mash of epic proportions! Well, maybe epic isn't the right word but the movie is truly a blast and it's never anything less than pure fun watching the cast interact in front of some great sets delivering some wonderful lines.

House Of Dracula:

Erle C. Kenton directed Edward T. Lowe Jr.'s screenplay for 1945's House Of Dracula. In this film, Dracula (John Carradine), under the alias of Baron Latos, hopes to cure himself of his vampirism with the help of Doctor Franz Edlemann (Onslow Stevens). However, it's mostly just a ruse so that he can get closer to Edlemann's beautiful assistant, Miliza Morelle (Martha O'Driscoll). Meanwhile, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) sees Edlemann in hopes that he'll be able to help him with his lycanthropy issue. Edlemann sets to work trying to help both of his new patients, but it will take more time than Talbot would like. One suicide attempt later and Edlemann is scouring a cave where he finds Talbot, still alive, as well as the body of the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange). When Edlemann's nurse, Nina (Jane Adams), notices that the Baron casts no reflection she alerts her boss who quickly realizes that Miliza is in grave danger. Things get even more complicated when Edlemann himself begins to change while Police Inspector Holtz (Lionel Atwill) tries to figure out what's going on.

The final appearance of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and The Wolf Man in a serious context (at least for a while) doesn't quite live up to its potential. It's great to see Chaney back as Talbot (he's absolutely the best part of the movie), that's always a treat, and Atwill is in fine form as the top cop in the picture, but this one never quite catches fire the way that the best monster mash pictures can and do. Stevens is generally strong in his role but neither Carradine or Strange (reprising their parts from House Of Frankenstein) play their respective roles as well as their predecessors were able to. They're okay, just never amazing and Strange's part almost seems like an afterthought, just to get the Frankenstein monster in the movie to appease the fans. Still, it's fun and if you don't feel the need to think too hard about it, the movie is entertaining, if frequently very disjointed. The movie does have some nice atmosphere working in its favor, it's a good-looking picture with some cool sets and a few memorable set pieces. Still, the movie definitely feels thrown together quickly from leftover ideas and it lacks the originality of the better entries.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein:

This beloved mix of monsters and mayhem directed by Charles Barton follows two baggage handlers, Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello), who take receipt of two large cartons for a Mr. MacDougal (Frank Ferguson). The operator of a house of horrors attraction, MacDougal is unusually anxious to get his hands on the crates which he claims contain Dracula and his coffin and the body of the Frankenstein monster, two artifacts he can't wait to get into his attraction. Before they hand over the goods, Wilbur gets a phone call from Europe from a man named Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) who tells them what's inside and not to hand them over to MacDougal but before the two can finish their conversation Talbot starts to change into something not quite human.

MacDougal, concerned that our heroes have damaged the goods, insist the they deliver and unload them for him so that he can have an insurance inspector on hand to make sure everything is as it should be. They oblige and soon find out that Talbot wasn't kidding about the contents. Wilbur sees Dracula (Bela Lugosi, the only other time he'd play Dracula in a film outside of the 1931 original) come out of his coffin and later sees the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) lumbering around but Chick doesn't believe him. Eventually Dracula turns into a bat and flies to a castle where he meets Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert), who has been flirting with Wilbur to coerce him into helping her and who is going to help him put a new brain into the Frankenstein monster and in return Dracula will help Sandra out with her work. Complicating matters further is the presence of Joan Raymond (Jane Randolph), an insurance investigator who has also been flirting with Wilbur to get him to help her, which sends Chick into a bit of a spat. When all involved wind up a masquerade ball held at Sandra's castle, just as Talbot flies across the Atlantic from England, the monsters run amok!

Eighty-minutes of screwy physical comedy, snappy dialogue and creepy monsters, Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein remains one of the greatest horror comedy hybrids ever made. While some might lament the fact that Glenn Strange dons the Frankenstein's monster makeup for the film (no Karloff, of course he famously declined the offer), he does a fine job lumbering around and smashing through things while Lugosi is, not surprisingly, great as Dracula and seemingly having a lot of fun playing the part. Chaney is great as the Talbot/Wolfman character, playing his part completely straight here but eventually getting involved in a funny chase gag with Wilbur, while both Lenore Aubert and Jane Randolph are beautiful as the two female leads. The real stars though? Abbott and Costello, of course. Pairing them with the most recognizable movie monsters of all time was a great idea and the two really get the chance to show off their collective knack for slapstick and clever, funny conversations and arguments.

The film shows a fair bit of style in certain spots. The animated introduction (courtesy of Walter Lantz) involving a pair of skeletons is charming and quirky as are the bits of animation used in the movie to show Dracula turning into the bat. The castle sets are shadowy and dark, making for the perfect spot for a pair of goofballs to mix it up with some monsters… and of course, there's that revolving door that proves to be such a pain. There are plenty of sight gags throughout the movie, be it Wilbur's balancing act atop a giant carton Chick is trying to level on the floor or Wilber's demonstrations of Dracula's hypnosis technique, and they all just add to the fun. The movie flies by at a very quick pace, a relentlessly entertaining picture that has lost none of its charm and quirky appeal.

The Frankenstein Legacy Collection (5-disc set):

Frankenstein:

Colin Clive plays Dr. Frankenstein, a scientist obsessed with creating a living creature from various body parts salvaged from the dead. After a few failed attempts, he finally achieves his goal but unfortunately his creation (Boris Karloff) isn't quite stable and is seen by the townspeople as a monster. Ultimately, because of this, Frankenstein shuns his creation him and the monster makes a run for it, wreaking havoc along the way and culminating in a showdown with the inevitable angry mob that occurs when you accidentally drown a little girl.

Directed by James Whale, Frankenstein is arguably the most recognizable of all the famous monsters and Karloff's image is the one most associated with the character. He brings a sense of menace to the proceedings when he needs to, swinging his arms around and demonstrating the monster's great strength, but also a sincere sense of pathos as well, in scenes where he's attempting in his own pathetic way to reach out and make friends in the only way he knows how.

The Bride Of Frankenstein:

The Monster Demands A Mate! Or so the tagline for this exceptionally good sequel to the original Frankenstein would have you believe. Karloff and Clive resume their roles as monster and creator respectively when it's revealed that both the monster and the doctor are still alive after the events in the first film. The good doctor wants to get out of the mad scientist business and tries to make a clean break from his past, but he's pulled back into the thick of things once more when the sinister Doctor Pretorius kidnaps Frankenstein's wife. Pretorius forces Frankenstein into agreeing to help him his evil scheme. What is that scheme, you may ask? Why, to create a mate for the monster! Thus, The Bride Of Frankenstein (played wonderfully by Elsa Lanchester, who also plays Mary Shelley in the film!) is born, but we all know that these things never work out.

Following the path of horror and sympathy that the first film laid out so effectively, James Whale gets behind the camera once more to helm this sequel which many horror movie fans feel betters the original (I disagree… I still think the first film is the best!). Once again, the sets are terrific, the performances stellar (you've got to love the interaction between Karloff and Lanchester) and the direction picture perfect.

Son Of Frankenstein:

This time out, Basil Rathbone (best known for his Sherlock Holmes films) plays the role of Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein, the son of the original Doctor Henry Frankenstein from the first two films. Along with his wife, Wolf returns to the family estate to receive his inheritance but when he arrives, is shocked to get an extremely cold reception from the townsfolk. One night, while digging around his late father's lab, he meets Ygor (Bela Lugosi) his father's old assistant and a man with less than moral intentions. Ygor talks Wolf into resuming his father's work and reviving the comatose creation, once again played by Karloff. He thinks he fails when he tries to bring the monster back to life, but those dead townspeople may be able to prove otherwise! Once Inspector Krogh is on the case he finds that Ygor is using the monster to do his dirty work. When Wolf finds out, he kills Ygor in a fit of rage, sending the monster on another spree as he believed Ygor to be his only friend, ignorant of how he was being used.

This time out, Rowland Lee gets behind the camera and while this film doesn't quite hit the levels of posh visuals that the first two entries had going for them, it still looks great, especially the lab scenes. It's always fun to see Karloff and Lugosi on screen together. Throw Rathbone into the mix and you've got a winner.

Ghost Of Frankenstein:

Bela Lugosi resumes his role as Ygor, having survived the events in Son Of Frankenstein after all. He resurrects the monster once more (played by Lon Chaney Jr. this time out), and tracks down Henry Frankenstein's other son, Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke), in hopes of having him restore the monster to a more powerful state. Ludwig initially doesn't like this idea but once Ygor blackmails him, he really has no choice but to help out. Ludwig soon realizes that the monster can never be anything but evil and wants to put a stop to him before he goes on yet another murderous rampage. Life is sacred to Ludwig though, and he must overcome his aversion to killing in order to halt the monster once and for all. He decides that rather than kill the monster, he can simply replace his evil brain with the brain of the recently deceased Doctor Kettering, a noble and gentle human being. Ygor is smarter than Ludwig gives him credit for, though, and has yet another doctor, Bohmer (Lionel Atwill), replace the monsters brain with his own! With Ygor's brain inside the monsters brawn, is there anyway Ludwig can stop the madness?

Ghost Of Frankenstein is a fun monster romp with Chaney doing a good job in Karloff's shoes, but really, the role belongs to Boris and it is just not the same without him under the makeup. Erle Kenton does an admirable job behind the camera but the plot lacks some serious logic and this one chalks up to the worst of the series in my opinion. That being said, even mediocre Frankenstein is better than none and there's enough monster action going on to keep the movie going, even if it's in too many directions at once.

House Of Frankenstein:

See review in the Dracula Legacy section of this review.

All five of Frankenstein films hold up very well. Sure, some of the appeal is nostalgia, a lot of us grew up on these films or were introduced to them as children as they were easy to get a hold of and, of course, suitable for younger viewers. But more of their appeal comes from the fact that they are truly great movies. The performances are possibly a bit dated but that doesn't make them any less charming or captivating. The set design and attention paid to detail in the background of sets like the laboratory or the windmill make them visually appealing and the direction is slick and professional.

House of Dracula:

See review in the Dracula Legacy section of this review.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein:

See review in the Dracula Legacy section of this review.

The Mummy Legacy Collection (4-disc set):

The Mummy:

Directed by Karl Freund in 1932, The Mummy takes place in 1921 where Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) leads an expedition that discovers the mummy of Imhotep (Boris Karloff). Imhotep was mummified alive when it was discovered he was trying to resurrect his lover, Ankh-es-en-amon. While Dr. Muller (Edward Van Sloan) advises against it, expedition member Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher) reads out loud a passage from The Scroll Of Thoth that brings Imhotep back to life! From here, he escapes the tomb and heads to Cairo hoping to find his reincarnated lover. A decade passes and Imhotep, under the alias of Ardath Bey, recruits Sir Joseph's son Frank (David Manners) and Professor Pearson (Leonard Mudie) to excavate Ankh-es-en-amon's tomb. Around the same time, Bey meets the beautiful Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who he believes to be Ankh-es-en-amon and immediately her life is in danger... because in order for them to be together she must die so that he can bring her back as a living mummy like he is!

Featuring fantastic makeup by Jack Pierce, The Mummy serves as a great showcase for Boris Karloff's abilities as an actor. He carries the film and we're all better for it. It's also interesting to see Edward Van Sloan pop up here, essentially playing Van Helsing again, albeit under a different name. he's good in his part and fun to watch. Zita Johann is also quite good here, alluring enough that we can see why Imhotep would be after her. Freund's direction is strong and there's a lot of great set design at work here. The scene where Imhotep is resurrected in his tomb is pretty much perfect and it's no wonder that the film has gone on to be as iconic as it is. The movie slows down a bit in its middle stretch but anytime Karloff is on screen, it works really well (even if there are some obvious similarities in the storyline here to Dracula!).

The Mummy's Hand:

Directed by Christy Cabanne in 1940, The Mummy's Hand introduces us to two archeologists, Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jenson (Wallace Ford). While scouring around Egypt, they set to uncover the tomb of Egyptian princess Ananka in hopes that it will be loaded with jewels. Bankrolled by a magician named Solvani (Cecil Kellaway) and his beautiful daughter Marta (Peggy Moran), the group eventually winds up in Kharis where they learn that a centuries old mummy (Tom Tyler) who was once Ananka's lover is kept as a slave by a sinister priest named Andoheb (George Zucco). Intent on protecting Ananka's tomb, Andoheb keeps the mummy ‘alive' by using tana fluid so that it will kill anyone who would dare disrupt the tomb.

Made eight years after the original film, this second entry lacks the presence of Karloff but is still a pretty fun watch thanks in no small part to the involvement of George Zucco, who is a blast as the sinister priest. Unfortunately, there are times where Cabanne's film spends too much time following the corny, comedic exploits of Banning and Jenson, which hurts the film's pacing. When we're focusing on the mummy and the related horror, the picture works quite well but as it stands, it is fairly uneven and we don't really even get much mummy action until the last third of the film. Any time that the film does raise tension and suspense, it's undone shortly after by the hokey comedy. This one has its moments, to be fair, but it's far from the best of the series and not nearly as good as the original.

The Mummy's Tomb:

The third film in the series, directed by Harold Young in 1942, is considerably better than the second picture, despite the fact that there's quite a bit of footage from the earlier film cut into this one… in case we forgot what had happened. The story, this time, is somehow set forty years after the preceding picture! A new high priest, Mehemet Bey (Turhan Bey), decides to travel to the United States with the corpse of the mummy (now played by Lon Chaney Jr.) so that he can exact revenge against the surviving members of the expedition from the last picture, Stephen Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Hanson (Wallace Ford) and their families in particular. Eventually, Mehemet falls in love with Isobel Evans (Elyse Knox) and decides that she shall be his new priestess while the mummy shambles around and kills people.

Not only do we get stock footage from the earlier film but we get some from the original Frankenstein too (it's no wonder those scenes with angry torch wielding visitors looks familiar!). The fact that the movie is set in 1970 makes no difference here, it's very much a forties film through and through and they make no attempt to convince us that this is set in the future. Foran and Ford run around in old age makeup and it isn't that convincing. Still, this one works despite the abundance of stock footage because it delivers some pretty solid scenes of mummy action. Chaney is good in his part even if he never approaches Karloff levels of awesomeness (and Tyler just looked creepier in the last movie), and Bey does a really good job of playing the priest. Lovely Ms. Knox is also quite good as the damsel in distress and Young keeps the pacing quick. This isn't a classic, but it's a fun B-movie and it's thankfully got a lot less goofy comedy in it.

The Mummy's Ghost:

Reginald Le Borg directed 1944's The Mummy's Ghost, which once again casts Chaney in the role. Once again, a high priest is up to no good. This time it is Yousef Bey (John Carradine), and he travels to American shores to find and return the bodies of the mummy Kharis and Princess Ananka so that they can be properly buried in Egypt. When he once again brews up some tana leaves, he brings the mummy back into action to help steal Ananka's body from a museum. When Kharis touches Ananka's corpse, it crumbles into dust… but all is not lost! Her spirit now lives in the body of Amina Mansouri (Ramsay Ames). Bey and the mummy kidnap Amina, much to the dismay of her boyfriend Tom Hervey (Robert Lowery) who soon leaps into action to save his girl!

An improvement over the two that came before it, this fourth film benefits quite a bit from the presence of a very enthusiastic John Carradine. While Carradine could ham it up with the best of them, he's very solid here, playing his part well and using his impressive screen presence to nice effect. The movie also features better mummy makeup than the last one and a bit more enthusiasm from Chaney in the role. Lowery isn't much in his part and Ames looks fantastic but is a bit flat. This hurts the movie a bit, but Le Borg knows how to build suspense and pace a picture. This one is quick and has a good energy to it, and on top of that the story has a bit more meat on it that the two that came before, using the ‘lost love' angle far more effectively.

The Mummy's Curse:

Leslie Goodwins was the director behind the last ‘serious' mummy film, made in 1944. Here we once again travel ahead in time, this time by a quarter century (which places the movie in 1995?) where the mummy (Chaney again) is excavated from his resting place in a swamp in Louisiana. An Egyptian named Zandaab (Peter Coe) hires a local worker named Ragheb (Martin Kosleck) to bring the mummy's corpse to a nearby abandoned monastery. Elsewhere, Princess Ananka (Virginia Christine) comes back from the dead and shambles towards town, unsure who she really is or what has happened to her. When Zandaab figures out who she is and why she matters, he sends the mummy to retrieve her, but of course, it doesn't go well…

This last film in the series does a fine job of bringing some welcome closure to the storyline. Highlighted by a seriously eerie scene in which Ananka is raised from the dead, the movie has its share of flaws but remains an enjoyable watch regardless. The story feels repetitive, recycling a lot of ideas that at this point we'd seen done a few times before, and while the mummy does thankfully get a lot of screen time, Chaney's heart doesn't seem to be in it so much. But there's a decent amount of atmosphere here, some nice camera work and some memorable set pieces. If, like all of the sequels, it will live in the shadow of the original it's still worth seeing for fans of the series.

Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy:

The trend that started with the comedy duo meeting Frankenstein in 1948 continues in this 1955 picture directed by Charles Lamont. In this picture, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are in Egypt looking for treasure. They run out of money so to fund their trip back to the United States, they take a job working for Dr. Gustav Zoomer (Kurt Katch) who just so happens to need to men to accompany his mummy on a trip back to their native land. They're unaware that the sinister Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor)'s henchmen, Josef (Dan Seymour) and Iben (Mel Welles), are listening in and that they plan to raid the tomb of Princess Ara where Klaris the mummy (Edwin Parker) lays in rest with a particularly valuable gem hanging around his neck. Complicating matters further is the presence of Semu (Richard Deacon), the leader of a cult sworn to protect the tomb and all that lies inside of it. Soon enough Zoomer is dead, and you can kind of figure out where it goes from here…

If you're not an Abbott and Costello then this film won't change your mind but if you appreciate their particular brand of wacky humor, there's a lot of fun to be had with this one. The jokes come very quickly and are delivered with plenty of snap, and the film rarely goes more than a minute or two without something genuinely funny (or at least moderately amusing) happening. It isn't the best of the Abbott and Costello/Universal Monsters team ups, though it is the last, and it offers enough good laughs to make it worth checking out.

The Invisible Man Legacy Collection (4-disc set):

The Invisible Man:

James Whale's 1933 film holds up well, as we meet scientist Jack Griffin (Claude Rains), a man in the employ of Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers) who in turn was kind enough to let his assistant work on his own projects from time to time. When Griffin goes missing, Cranley's lovely daughter, Flora (Gloria Stuart), becomes concerned. In a nearby hotel, Griffin tries to reverse the experiment he performed on himself, an experiment that has made him invisible! This has had other effects, however, as the drugs that he's been using have negative side effects…

The original and best of the series is highlighted by some absolutely fantastic special effects work and a great performance from Rains. Supporting work is solid as well, but it is Rains' show pretty much all the way. Whale's direction is spot on and while the movie may feel deliberate in its pacing, it is never dull, giving us enough character development throughout to really feel for Griffin and Flora Cranley.

The Invisible Man Returns:

Five years later, director Joe May brought us this story of Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price), a man convicted for the murder of his brother and sentenced to hang by the neck until dead! All is not lost, however, as after he gets a visit from Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton) he mysteriously disappears. When Inspector Sampson (Cecil Kellaway) realizes who Frank's brother was, he puts two and two together and realizes that he's helped Radcliffe escape. Radcliffe, however, is an innocent man and he intends to prove this, or at least try, before the cops close in on him and send him back to prison and, ultimately, his own death, that is if he can keep his sanity long enough to make that happen.

A really enjoyable sequel highlighted by an excellent turn from Vincent Price in the lead, this one does justice to the first film's legacy and does a nice job of expanding on the storyline that it laid down. May's direction isn't as good as Whale's but it's good enough and as a showcase for Price's abilities, it's pretty great stuff. Again, the effects set pieces are highlights of the film while the production values are, overall, strong here. It's also cool to see Nan Grey from Dracula's Daughter show up as Price's love interest and to see Alan Napier in a supporting role.

The Invisible Woman:

A. Edward Sutherland's adaptation of Curt Siodmak's story from 1940 follows a brilliant but slightly unhinged professor named Gibbs (John Barrymore). His latest project is a machine that will turn people invisible, but to perfect it he needs a human guinea pig. Enter the lovely Kitty Carroll (Virginia Bruce), a model who realizes that with the power of invisibility she's be able to pay back a few that have wronged her without getting caught. Things get hairy when a trio of hoods steal the machine and use it on their boss Blackie Cole (Oscar Homolka)… but Hell hath no fury like an Invisible Woman scorned!

This one is played for laughs and not meant to be taken seriously at all. While that hurt a few of the other sequels in this set, here it works quite well simply because it never really tries to mix the serious elements with the comedic ones. John Barrymore is quite good here as the quirky professor and Virginia Bruce is extremely likeable and quite charming here. This is light and fluffy stuff to be sure, but if nothing else it is entertaining and once again it does feature some impressive effects work.

Invisible Agent:

Edwin L. Marin's 1942 picture follows Frank Raymond (Jon Hall), the grandson of the original Invisible Man, Jack Griffin. Frank has possession of the original formula but is understandably hesitant to use it do to the dangers involved. This gets complicated when Axis agents try to steal it and when Pearl Harbor is attacked, he changes his mind and volunteers to become an invisible agent and help the Allies overcome the Germans. Eventually he teams up with Maria Sorenson (Ilona Massey), a beautiful double agent, and comes across Baron Ikito (Peter Lorre), then hoping to put a stop to Hitler's plans.

This one mixes comedy and suspense rather well, throwing in some good action set pieces and the requisite ‘invisible' effects work to ensure that it gave audiences what they wanted. Clearly meant to be a crowd pleaser and to play off of WWII patriotism, it might be a little dated but it's still an entertaining picture with some good comedy and even genuinely atmospheric spots to it.

The Invisible Man's Revenge:

Robert Griffin (Jon Hall) should have been rich given that he'd helped discover a diamond mine, but he was ripped off and left for dead. Once he recuperates from his injuries he faces up to those who wronged him, but the burden of proof is in him and evidence is sorely lacking. His fate changes when he meets Dr. Drury (John Carradine), a scientist who has discovered how to turn people invisible and, like his predecessor, needs a human guinea pig. Robert, wanting revenge, volunteers so that he can use invisibility to get back at his enemies while the doctor agrees to keep his mouth shut about what Robert is up to. But of course, the invisibility serum has side effects…

Directed by Ford Beebe in 1944, this final film in the run is a good way to send the series out on a high note. Robert's already damaged goods before he takes the serum, so we know it's only a matter of time before he's driven mad. Jon Hall plays his part well, never chewing the scenery but doing his part with a lot of enthusiasm. Carradine is a lot of fun here as well, really giving it his all and using that great voice of his to build quite a character. And once again, the effects work featured in the picture is top notch, and a little more unique in how it is used than the other sequels in the run.

Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man:

Bud and Lou play a pair of private eyes out to prove the innocence of a boxer named Tommy Nelson (Arthur Franz) accused of murdering his manager. When the PI's find an invisibility formula, rather than let the cops get him Tommy injects into his arm and hijinks ensue. Before you know it, there's a wonky plan in place to trap a gangster named Morgan (Sheldon Leonard) by letting Lou fight champ Rocky Hanlon (John Daheim). What could go wrong?

A solid entry in the A&B series of monster mashups, this one features a few more effects than you might expect and, of course, uses them to goofy, comedy effect. The picture is light and fluffy but quite funny in spots, with our two leads showing great comedic timing. Franz isn't the best of the actors to have ‘gone invisible' for Universal, but he's decent enough and it's nice to Adele Jergens of Armored Car Robbery and Nancy Guild of Somewhere In The Night show up here in supporting roles.

The Wolf Man Legacy Collection (4-disc set):

The Wolf Man:

Director George Waggner, working from Curt Siodmak's screenplay, directed this 1941 classic that introduces us to Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.), a man who returns to Welsh soil from America after his brother passes away. When he and friend Jenny Williams (Fay Helm) visit a Gypsy camp, Jenny is attacked by a man named Bela (Bela Lugosi) who turns into a werewolf. Larry defends her and is bitten in the process. He's warned that anytime the moon is full, he'll transform as Bela did. Larry tells his father, Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains), of his predicament but it falls on deaf ears: Sir John doesn't believe him. But of course, when the next full moon arrives, Larry starts to change and local woman Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers) finds herself in serious danger!

Top tier Universal horror, The Wolf Man is not only an absolute classic but also a remarkably influential film. Chaney is in top form here, doing a fantastic just both in and out of the makeup and it's great to see Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi show up in the film as well. Waggner directs with a good bit of style and control while the effects work was not only ahead of its time but still holds up today. Throw in an excellent score and some fantastic cinematography and it is easy to see how and why this stands the test of time the way that it does. It's all too easy to throw the word ‘classic' around but in this case, it absolutely applies.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man:

Two years later, Universal paired up two of their most popular monsters in this Roy William Neill once again penned by Siodmak. This time around, poor Larry Talbot (Chaney again) is in an asylum where he's recuperating from the surgery that was performed on him by Dr. Frank Mannering (Patrick Knowles). Inspector Owen (Dennis Hoey) shows up, wondering if given Talbot's past he doesn't have something to do with some recent murders that have taken place, but soon enough Talbot escapes. He tracks down Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), an old Gyspy, in hopes that she can help and she in turn brings him to Dr. Frankenstein. Unfortunately, when they arrive, the learn that the doctor has passed away but his daughter, Baroness Elsa Frankenstein (Ilona Massey), is there. Talbot askes for her father's research and when she doesn't have it, he decides to explore the late doctor's castle where he comes face to face with the monster (Bela Lugosi), trapped in a block of ice. Things get even more complicated with the arrival of Mannering, who seems fascinated by the late Dr. Frankenstein's work.

This one doesn't live up to its potential but it's entertaining enough. Chaney is, once again, very good in the role and it's interesting to see Lugosi play the Frankenstein Monster, particularly when that part is so closely associated with Karloff. Ilona Massey is good in her part as well, and Knowles is reasonably solid as the doctor. Lionel Atwell also has a fun supporting role in the film as the town mayor. As far as monster mash movies go, this one delivers enough to hold our attention but it is a few stops short of classic material. Chaney gets a lot more time here than either Massey or Lugosi, so it's very much more of a Wolf Man movie than a Frankenstein one, but it's still worth seeing for fans of either character.

House Of Frankenstein:

See review in the Dracula Legacy section of this review.

House Of Dracula:

See review in the Dracula Legacy section of this review.

Werewolf Of London:

This earlier film from 1935 features a British botanist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) who joins an expedition to Tibet with the hope of finding a rare wolf-flower. Unfortunately, this specimen grows in a cursed area and while gathering the flower, Glendon is bit by… something. When he returns to London to conduct his research, strange things start to happen. First a Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland) tells him that the flower he has is a cure for lycanthropy and that there are currently two werewolves active in the city. Of course, the bite that Glendon received means he's going to ‘change' as well, and when the first full moon hits and he starts to transform, he finds the flowers have been stolen from his lab. Wanting to keep his wife Lisa (Valerie Hobson) save from the harm he fears he'll do her, he heads out into the streets of London.

This picture tends to live in the shadow of the first Chaney picture but it holds up remarkably well. Like a lot of the best monster movies there's an element of tragedy to this one but it works in the context of the story being told. Hull creates a sympathetic character and also does a great job as the werewolf, while it's fun to see one-time Charlie Chan star Oland in a good supporting role. The effects are impressive given the film's age and director Stuart Walker, who produced quite a few of the Bulldog Drummond films, does a nice job behind the camera with this atmospheric and nicely paced picture.

She-Wolf Of London:

Made in 1946, this one starts when a rash of murders has broken out in and around a London park. The victims all have one thing in common: their throats have been slashed out, claw marks left on their corpses. The cops investigate and deduce that a female is responsible for the killings, possibly a female werewolf. Wealthy socialite Phyllis Allenby (June Lockhart), is concerned that her old family curse might have something to do with the murders and that she might even be the one responsible for them, particularly when her older aunts continue to bring it up!

More of an atmospheric melodrama than a proper horror picture, the film looks quite good and features some beautifully mysterious sets and appropriate Victorian-era costumes but it never really quite catches fire. June Lockhart, to her credit, is a great leading lady and delivers a fine performance here but the script is light on tension and occasionally suffers from some pacing issues. It's still worth seeing, as every film in this set is, but despite a nice look to the film and fine work from its lead, this sits near the bottom of the list.

Phantom Of The Opera (1-disc):

Arthur Lubin's 1943 adaptation of Gaston Leroux's classic novel tells a familiar tale. Violinist Erique Claudin (Claude Rains) is madly in love with beautiful chanteuse Christine Dubois (Susana Foster) and he does what he can to help her star rise. Things head south when Dubois loses his job and murders a publisher, getting some acid on his face in the process. Soon after, strange things are afoot in the opera house, all blamed on the mysterious phantom who is said to roam the catacombs beneath. The two men who also love Christine, fellow opera singer Anatole Garron (Nelson Eddy) and police inspector Raoul Daubert (Edgar Barrier), vow to find out the truth about what's happening.

Not nearly as good as the Lon Chaney film made years before, this version of Phantom Of The Opera is just okay. Not great, not terrible, but a perfectly fine way to kill some time. Rains is pretty good here but the rest of the cast aren't all that interesting. The pacing is decent if never breathtaking but the big finish just doesn't feel big enough when compared to what came before it. The color photography in the film is nice and the costumes look great. There's a decent score here as well. This is worth seeing but it's hard to imagine anyone preferring it to the 1925 film, which we can't help but compare it to.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection (2-disc Set):

The Creature From The Black Lagoon:

Jack Arnold's undisputed classic from 1954 follows Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) as he discovers the skeleton of something not quite human. Upon hearing of this, David Reed (Richard Carlson) puts together a group of scientists to travel down the Amazon River in hopes of learning more about Maia's discovery. At first, they don't turn up much but once they learn that the Black Lagoon, located down river, might yield better results they head that way and soon come face to face with a humanoid amphibious reptile creature! They capture it but soon it escapes, and once it does, it seems intent on having lovely Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) for its own!

What's not to love? Arnold keeps this one moving at a quick pace and gives us plenty of action with the ‘gill man' in the film's last half. Building up to that, we get some nice foreshadowing and hints at the creature's appearance before the full reveal. It works really well and keeps us excited as to what is going to happen next. The effects are mostly limited to the creature suit but the design work that went into that has gone one to become almost as iconic as Universal's take on Dracula or Frankenstein. Julie Adams is also quite good here, and it doesn't hurt that she's gorgeous, while work from Carlson as David Reed and Richard Dennings as fellow expedition member mark Williams is also strong. The movie also benefits from some really cool photography and a classic score that suits the picture perfectly. This is one worth going back to time and again and one of the most enjoyable films of the Universal Monsters classic run.

Revenge Of The Creature:

When a group of men led by Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva) head back to the Amazon to capture the creature from the first movie, they use dynamite to knock him out and capture him. From here, at the behest of Joe Hayes (John Bromfield), he's brought all the way to Florida and put on display in an aquarium as an exhibit as well as to be studied by scientists. This, understandably, doesn't sit so well with the creature. After being prodded one too many times, the creature makes his escape but then falls for lovely scientist Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson), leaving Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) to hopefully catch up with the creature and free his associate before its too late.

It's fun to see a young and uncredited Clint Eastwood pop up in this worth sequel. While the original is still the best, Jack Arnold's direction on this 1955 follow up is still rock solid. Performances are also fine, with John Agar doing a nice job in his role and Nestor Paiva does a fine job as the world-weary expedition leader. Lori Nelson doesn't have quite the same level of chemistry and glamourous screen presence that Adams did in the original but she's still perfectly good in this part. Again, the highlights of the film are the scenes wherein the creature is running around doing his thing. Anytime this is happening it's hard not to fall in love with the movie even if it lacks much of the tension and suspense that made the first one work so well.

Note: initial pressings of this set contain an error with the 3-D option in this film. Universal is, at the time of this writing, working on a replacement program.

The Creature Walks Among Us:

Last but not least, our third film begins when the affluent Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow) who, along with his wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), puts his resources to use and puts together an expedition that will head deep into the heart of the Florida Everglades. He's got scientists Dr. Thomas Morgan (Rex Reason), Dr. Borg (Maurice Manson) and Dr. Johnson (James Rawley) along for the ride. Their quest? To find and catch the infamous creature, of course! The hire a ship piloted by Captain Stanley (David McMahon) and also bring on Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer) to help out. Drama unfolds on the trip when Barton becomes uncomfortable with the way his wife is being treated, but when they catch up with the creature they find him injured by burns. After capturing it, they find that he's learned how to breath through lungs rather than gills, and brought to Barton's California research facility for further study. Of course, soon enough the creature decides to push back against his captors.

This third and final film in the series takes the idea in some interesting directions with Barton positing that so much of the creature's behavior has to do with how he himself is treated. As Barton's problems with his wife take center stage, the effects that this has on their captive start to develop. There's a bit more to this one than just a creature running amok trying to capture a pretty lady, we get more food for thought. Director John Sherwood, working from a script by Arthur A. Ross (who penned the first film) keeps things moving nicely, balancing character development and the requisite scenes of monster mayhem in fairly equal measure. The movie is nicely shot and again features some quality suit and effects work. It's a shame that we only got the three Creature movies, as all of them are very well done.

The Blu-ray

Video:

Everything in the set is framed at 1.33.1 fullframe except for the three Creature movies which are presented at 1.85.1 widescreen. In short, the transfers here are excellent. Yes, some age-related wear and tear does show up in the form of small specks and scratches here and there but given the age of many of these pictures it's quite impressive that they're as clean looking as they are in this set. Compared to past DVD editions, there's a lot more detail here and considerably more depth as well. Texture is also impressive and the black and white image shows nice deep blacks, clean whites and a nice greyscale (while the color reproduction in the set's lone color offering, Phantom Of The Opera, also looks quite nice). Compression artifacts are never a problem and the transfers appear to be free of any noise reduction or edge enhancement issues. While Universal didn't do much in the way of new extras on this set and may have doubled up on certain films (which is understandably irksome to some fans), they have at least done an excellent job with the presentation quality of these important and beloved films.

Sound:

Here's how the audio and subtitle options break down for each of the thirty movies in this collection:

Dracula / Frankenstein / The Mummy / The Invisible Man / The Bride Of Frankenstein / The Wolf Man / Phantom Of The Opera / Creature From The Black Lagoon: English and French DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

Spanish Dracula: Spanish DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with English subtitles.

Werewolf Of London / Dracula's Daughter / Son Of Frankenstein / The Mummy's Hand / The Invisible Man Returns / The Invisible Woman / The Ghost Of Frankenstein / The Mummy's Tomb / Invisible Agent / Son Of Dracula / Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man / House Of Frankenstein / The Mummy's Ghost / The Mummy's Curse / The Invisible Man's Revenge / House Of Dracula / She-Wolf Of London / Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein / Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man / Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy / Revenge Of The Creature / The Creature Walks Among Us: English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono.

Werewolf Of London / Dracula's Daughter / Son Of Frankenstein / The Invisible Man Returns / The Invisible Woman / The Ghost Of Frankenstein / Invisible Agent / The Mummy's Tomb / Son Of Dracula / Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man / House Of Frankenstein / The Invisible Man's Revenge / House Of Dracula / She-Wolf Of London / Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein / Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man / Revenge Of The Creature / The Creature Walks Among Us: English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.

The Mummy's Hand / The Mummy's Tomb / The Mummy's Ghost / The Mummy's Curse / Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy: English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles.

No issues to note with the audio. These are older, single channel mixes and the limitations in the source will be obvious to anyone but there's no need for fancy surround remixes here, the original mono works quite well. Every once in a while, you might detect a bit of hiss but it's minor when it does occur. Otherwise, no problems to report. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow, the scores typically sound very nice and we do get a bit more depth here than we had on the older DVD sets.

Extras:

The extras on this set are all carried over from their past DVD editions, there's no new supplemental content here, but it does look like at least everything from those DVDs is here.

The Dracula Legacy Collection:

The original film gets two audio commentary tracks, the first with Film Historian David J. Skal and the second with Steve Haberman, the Screenwriter of Dracula: Dead And Loving It. The disc also includes the option to play the film with the alternate Philip Glass score performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Featurettes include thirty-five-minute The Road To Dracula that covers the genesis of the project. Also here is thirty-six-minute Lugosi: The Dark Prince documentary that sheds some light on the leading man's history. Great stuff. Dracula: The Restoration is a nine-minute piece that explains the cleanup work that was done for the picture. We also get an installment of Monster Tracks alongside the nine-minute Dracula Archives piece. There's also an optional intro included for the Spanish version of Dracula.

As far as A&C Meet Frankenstein goes, first up is a commentary from film historian Gregory W. Mank who does a very strong job of exploring the history of the film and providing loads of detail on those who made it. He covers the involvement of the various cast and crew who worked on the production, relays some interesting stories about things that happened on the set during the making of the movie and offers up quite a bit of interesting trivia about the film as well as providing some fun details about the makeup and effects work that we see in the feature.

Also carried over from that DVD release is the documentary Abbott And Costello Meet The Monsters: The Making Of Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, which clocks in at over half an hour and is hosted by David J. Skal. Primarily made up of interviews with Lou Costello's daughter Christine, film historian Ron Palumbo, Bela Lugosi Jr. and filmmaker/monster man extraordinaire Bob Burns this documentary does cover some of the same ground as the commentary but has the added bonus of the visuals, so we get a good look at some of Burns' memorabilia from the film and very cool stills and clips.

Trailers are included for Dracula's Daughter, Son Of Dracula, House Of Dracula and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The Frankenstein Legacy Collection:

Frankenstein and Bride Of Frankenstein both have excellent commentaries from Rudy Behlmer and Scott MacQueen respectively. There's a wealth of great information on these tracks and anyone who enjoys these films will want to sit down and spend the time listening to the tracks if they haven't already heard them.

Moving along, you'll find The Frankenstein Files : How Hollywood Made A Monster (thirty-nine minutes in length) and She's Alive! Creating The Bride Of Frankenstein (forty-five minutes in length). Both are great documentaries that provide a pretty in-depth look at just what went into getting these films made. They may seem commonplace or even somewhat cliched nowadays but these documentaries do a pretty nice job of bringing you back in time with the movie makers and putting it all into an historical context. David Skal directed both pieces and his love and enthusiasm for these films shines through in the attention to detail on display here and the respect with which he treats not only the characters but the actors who portrayed them as well.

Also be on the lookout for the thirty-eight minute documentary Karloff: The Gentile Monster, which covers the actor's relationship with his most famous character in quite a bit of depth, as well as a ninety-five minute documentary called Universal Horror that basically runs down the entire run that the studio was behind. The Frankenstein Archives and The Bride Of Frankenstein Archive featurettes, which focus on the first two movies, are also found here.

Minor supplements include a vintage short film entitled Boo! from 1932 that takes a humorous look at the Universal Monsters, the nine-minute Frankenstein Files which displays a wealth of promotional materials for the film, and a theatrical trailer for each of the movies included in this set.

Trailers are included for Frankenstein, The Bride Of Frankenstein, The Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, House Of Frankenstein and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein.

The Mummy Legacy Collection:

The Mummy gets audio commentaries with Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong and with Film Historian Paul M. Jensen. Both are quite informative, these guys have done their research and know their stuff and cover a whole lot of ground.

We also get a host of featurettes, including the half-hour Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed piece that explores the origins of the series, the twenty-five-minute He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art Of Jack Pierce piece that rightly shines some well-deserved light on the makeup man who brought the monster to life on the silver screen, the quite eight-minute Unraveling The Legacy Of The Mummy piece and the ten-minute The Mummy Archives piece that is done in a similar vein to the other Archive featurettes found in the set. Also be on the lookout for the nine-minute retrospective 100 Years Of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era piece that focuses on the time that Era spent in charge.

Trailers are included for The Mummy, The Mummy's Hand, The Mummy's Tomb, The Mummy's Ghost, The Mummy's Curse and Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy.

The Invisible Man Legacy Collection:

The Invisible Man gets an audio commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer that explores the origins of the character, its literary roots, Claude Rains' performance, the film's place in the history of the studio and plenty more. All of the commentary tracks done for these films are worthwhile, this one is no exception.

There are a few less featurettes here, but we do get the thirty-fix-minute Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed featurette that takes a look at the series as well as the eight-minute 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters segment. There's also a selection of production photographs included.

Trailers are included for Abbott And Costello Meet The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns and Invisible Agent.

The Wolfman Legacy Collection:

The first film gets an audio commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver that, like most of Weaver's tracks, proves informative and entertaining. Lots of talk here about Chaney but also the director, supporting cast, effects work, score and more.

Monster By Moonlight, which is thirty-three-minutes, and The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth, which runs ten-minutes, cover the movie and then the folk lore behind it. The thirty-seven-minute Pure In Heart: The Life And Legacy Of Lon Chaney, Jr. is a very nice look back at the actor, exploring his life and times and expanding on the legacy that he left in cinema. We get the He Who Made Monsters featurette included here as well, alongside the seven-minute The Wolf Man Archives piece and the nine-minute 100 Years of Universal: The Lot featurettes here as well.

Trailers are also included for Werewolf Of London, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, House Of Frankenstein, House Of Dracula and She-Wolf Of London.

The Phantom Of The Opera:

The main extra on this disc is a commentary with Film Historian Scott MacQueen who talks about the book and earlier film version that lead up to this take on the film before then going on to discuss the cast and crew, the effectiveness of certain scenes, directorial touches and plenty more.

From there, The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked is a fifty-one-minute exploration of the character and its history that is fairly in-depth and nicely done. Aside from that, look for a trailer, six-minutes of Production Photographs and the 100 Years of Universal: The Lot featurette making a return appearance.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection:

Tom Weaver delivers another fine audio commentary that does a deep dive into the history of the first film, talking about Arnold's career behind the camera, the effects set pieces, the score, the cast, the crew and plenty more. He really leaves no stone uncovered. Weaver is joined by actress Lori Nelson and historian Bob Burns for a commentary on the second film, and by Burns again for a commentary on the third. Again, these are detailed and quite interesting if you haven't heard them before.

The only real featurette we get for the Creature films is the forty-minute Back To The Black Lagoon documentary but it is a very good one, exploring the history of the monster in question and bringing back a few cast members to reminisce about working on the picture.

We get eleven-minutes of production photos here, and 100 Years of Universal: The Lot makes another appearance. Trailers are included for all of the films in the Creature portion of this set.

Universal has also included a full color insert booklet exclusive to this box that contains some thoughts on each film as well as some nice original poster art reproductions and promotional stills. Each ‘collection' is included in its own clear keepcase, the multi-disc sets using flipper style spindles to hold their discs in place. These in turn fit inside a nice, sturdy embossed box. It's quite an attractive looking package.

Final Thoughts:

Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection is an absolutely mammoth set. If you've already got the individual sets, there isn't much reason to upgrade (the book is nice but not enough) as the content and presentations are the same, but for those who didn't bite on the earlier releases, if Universal Monsters are your thing this is hard to resist. It would have been nice to see some additional extra features included, and that didn't happen, but the A/V presentation is really strong and the movies, well, they're classics. Even the lesser ones are still fun and revisiting them all in high definition was a blast. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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