Universal's classic monster flicks in Blu-ray box set

NewImageFrom Bela Lugosiin Dracula to Lon Chaney, Jr.'s The Wolf Man to Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, the classic Universal monster films of the 1920s-1960s defined horror cinema for a generation and elevated those creepy characters to timeless archetypes of scaredom. Universal has just re-issued eight of those classic films on Blu-ray in a box set: Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. The set includes restored versions of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of the Opera, and Creature from the Black Lagoon, plus bonus featurettes, mini-documentaries about the special effects and the historical contexts of the films, and a 48-page book. The trailer above got me itching to watch all of the films. One after another. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection

Discuss

27 Responses to “Universal's classic monster flicks in Blu-ray box set”

  1. Gyrofrog says:

    “…Hollywood’s most iconic horror talent…”

    That truly was iconic use of the word “iconic!”

    Now if y’all will excuse me while I use the iconic urinal and make an iconic cup of tea.  Have an iconic weekend!

  2. hypnosifl says:

    This collection is awesome, but note that if you want them on blu ray it’s vastly cheaper (around 42 bucks) to go for the same set on amazon.co.uk instead of the overpriced US version (the UK set is region-free so the discs play on US players).

  3. Christopher says:

    So the Wolf-Man gets mentioned but isn’t included in the box set?

    I’ve heard that Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy, and the Wolf-Man get together they refer to the Creature From The Black Lagoon as “the Aquaman of Universal monsters”.

    • David Pescovitz says:

      Huh? The Wolf Man is included.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I really don’t understand the inclusion of the Creature.  All the other characters are famous from movies from (or series that started in) the 30s, and he’s from the 50s.  All the other characters are human, and he’s something else.  It’s completely weird to include him.

      Vasaria or bust.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        Nah.  Take the Universal tour.  When you get on the tram, you’ll see guys dressed up as the famous Universal monsters: the Karloff Frankenstein’s monster, the Lugosi Dracula, the Chaney Wolf Man, the Karloff Mummy, and the good ol’ Gill Man, shaking hands with the kids in a genially terrifying way.  (I presume there isn’t much point in including Claude Rains’ Invisible Man at the meet & greet for obvious reasons.)  Though the Gill Man is nearly a generation younger than the others (and Chaney Sr’s Phantom of the Opera is literally a generation older), he’s still been a card-carrying member of the Universal monster stable for over fifty years, with three Universal films to his credit (and one perennially on the way).  The first seven glow-in-the-dark monster model kits Aurora produced between 1961 and 1977 were the Universal versions of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You Baby Boomers grew up with the Universal pantheon of monsters.  That studio has been exploiting those properties for every nickel they could wring out of them since House of Frankenstein in 1944, and though the Gill Man was created a bit late in the game compared to the rest, the Universal Monsters thing has been a Thing for decades now.

        Check out 1987′s The Monster Squad if you disbelieve.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Thus, it’s based on marketing rather than content.

          • Donald Petersen says:

            Nailed it!  That’s Universal in a nutshell.

            In the mid 90s, my brother was attached to write and direct a reboot of The Mummy for Universal.  His script was literate and intelligent, moody and atmospheric, much like the Karloff original.  Around this time, Universal was bought by Seagram, and Sid Sheinberg stepped down as head of Universal.  He started his Seagram-funded production company The Bubble Factory and assigned himself to The Mummy.  And then he wanted someone to rewrite it.  And then he wanted another director.  And then The Mummy was shelved for a couple of years.  And then Universal made Stephen Sommers’ version, which made Universal buckets of money.  Even my brother will concede that that was certainly the right financial choice for Universal, though he’s understandably not of the opinion that it was a superior creative choice.

            But between his two Mummy movies, Van Helsing, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, all of which made well over $300 million worldwide, the world has profited from the career of Stephen Sommers.

            Well, Universal and Paramount have, anyway.

        • ashypete says:

          Gill man, as mind bending as the last 2 movies are (Let’s give him lungs and put him in trousers!), really isn’t in the same league as the originals… If his presence in the 80′s Monster Squad is his legitimacy you’ll find that he’s noticeable absent from the first and my personal favourite iteration of the Monster Squad

      • B E Pratt says:

         One, Vasaria looks mighty intriguing. And two, that set had better have Creature From the Black Lagoon in3D!! Not to mention throwing in some vintage red/blue glasses.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Vasaria, the most unlucky village in the world, is my dream home.  It’s always night.  It’s always foggy.  All the buildings look like horror movie sets.  There are lots of winding roads through deep forests.  Semi-ruined castles galore.  Vardo traffic jams.

  4. technogeekagain says:

    Want the films… but it’s a lot cheaper to get them used on DVD, or on VHS…

  5. annoyingmouse says:

    Of course, as someone always inevitably points out, there’s actually nine films in the box because you also get the Spanish version of Dracula.  

    • Donald Petersen says:

      And that one’s a good time.  Technically superior, although the acting tends to the telenovela-esque.  And the good Count kinda looks like Harpo Marx to me.

  6. helvispresley says:

    universal never payed any royalties to the stars or their estates and appropriated their likenesses.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Many of those likenesses were actually created (or augmented) by makeup artist Jack Pierce. It was he who created the iconic looks of the Karloff Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster, as well as Chaney’s Wolf Man and (to an understandably lesser extent) Lugosi’s Dracula. Universal cut Pierce loose in 1946 since he was unwilling to change his ways and adopt faster and cheaper methods.

      He didn’t get a red cent of royalties or residuals for his creations either; just a weekly paycheck while he was working. But that was characteristic for Hollywood before 1960, when even movie stars were paid a flat fee for their work and received no residuals thereafter, even for highly profitable movies. Universal was not alone in this treatment of their creative types.

Leave a Reply