This week, film fans will see Frankenstein, Dracula and the Gill Man like they have never seen them before. Universal Studios is releasing Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu Ray on Tuesday, October 2nd. These films, memorized by many film fans will burst alive in restored 1080p glory!
The films in this Blu-Ray set are the Bela Lugosi Dracula, and the alternate Spanish Language version of Dracula, Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, the 1932 version of The Mummy, James Whale’s The Invisible Man and The Bride Of Frankenstein, the 1941 the Wolf Man, the Technicolor 1943 Phantom Of the Opera, and in both 2-D and 3-D- The Creature From The Black Lagoon.
The set comes with a booklet that doesn’t have any new information about these film monster fans don’t know about- but where the real value in this set is in the films themselves. They have been painstakingly restored and cleaned up. People who have previewed the set state that more detail in make-up artist Jack Pierce’s work is so visible here. You see new facial detail Pierce gave Karloff in Frankenstein. You can even see the bits or wear he gave Colin Clive for his performance as the overworked Dr. Frankenstein. The rot and decay on Karloff’s Mummy stands out more. You’ll say ‘Yes, I can see where it took eight hours to apply that make-up.’
The Bela Lugosi Dracula went through the most restoration work here. Previous video releases of the 1931 film tend to look and sound washed out. Careful, sometimes frame-by-frame work restored contrast to the image, bringing out lost photographic detail. Dracula was recorded in mono, and the film is kept in mono, with much of the old-film crackle and hiss eliminated.
The Bride Of Frankenstein is beautifully restored. The source material- the original negatives are in apparently great shape. Bride does not suffer from that over-restored look and sound that some classic films on Blu-Ray tend to have. You’ll really feel like you are watching a 35mm print. Universal’s monster series ends with 1953’s Creature From The Black Lagoon, which is available here in 3-D. One of the unsung highlights of Creature in 3-D can be found in the underwater sequences. The 3-D effect creates a dreamlike blur as the Gill Man stalks swimsuited Julia Adams during her lone Amazon swim.
Universal always gave hard attention to the look of their monster films- employing the best cinematographers in the business to capture their creatures to black and white celluloid. (I recently watched Universal’s 1932 film The Murders In The Rue Morgue. It’s not in this collection, but cinematographer Karl Freund turned almost every shot here into a stunning portrait.) This is surely the movie buff must-buy of the season.
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