Distributor: Universal Home Entertainment
Suggested Retail Price: $199.99
As with most home entertainment divisions, re-issuing previously released material in new box sets has become the norm. However, some times it can be a good thing as is the case with the excellent new box set UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION.
Corralling every important monster movie from the Universal archives from 1931-1956, this is a must-have even for those who owned the previous 2004 Legacy monster sets and want them all in one place.
Those editions from ten years ago, took every important monster (Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Creature, The Invisible Man and included every movie that included that character in a character specific box set). Now you get everything all wrapped into one big box (and they’re single sided, not double sided discs).
The obvious culprits are here from 1931’s DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN, 1933’s THE INVISIBLE MAN, 1941’s THE WOLF MAN and 1954’s CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. You also get all the subsequent sequels that followed – some brilliant (1935’s THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN) and other forgettable (1942’s INVISIBLE AGENT).
However, the great part of the set is it also includes non Lon Chaney Wolf Man movies including 1935’s excellent WEREWOLF OF LONDON (which predates Chaney’s memorable creation by six years) and the three Abbott and Costello monster movies (MEET FRANKENSTEIN, MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN and MEET THE MUMMY).
There are some great archival featurettes also included on each set – giving insight into the history of the monsters and the subsequent sequels. Even though they’re standard def and feel dated, they are still quality featurettes and it’s great that Universal decided to port them over from the previous editions.
With so many reissues, it’s hard to determine if it’s worth another upgrade. While it would have been much better to have a full Blu-ray set, this UNIVERSAL MONSTERS collection still packs tons of bang for its buck (you can find it for half its suggested retail price on Amazon). As horror continues to devolve, there’s still something magical about the simplicity of these movies. From spooky lighting, the rather impressive special effects and the great black and white photography, The Universal Monsters are an enduring legacy at Universal Studios and it’s great that they haven’t abandoned their bread and butter.
The rumor that they’re trying to launch a multi-film franchise/arc ala the Marvel films, but with the Universal Monsters, is a step in the right direction. However, they need to reboot their Monsters with more scares and less CGI spectacle. It was what you didn’t see that made these movies resonate and even though audiences need a little more oomph to keep their attentions, some middle-ground can surely put the Universal Monsters back on track for a whole new generation.
Related: Blu-ray Review: WITHOUT WARNING
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Article: Blu-ray Review: UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS: COMPLETE 30-FILM COLLECTION