Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection DVD Review

The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection
The cover for the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection

Some of the films and bonus features are included in Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray, but the set also features films missing from that release.

Just in time for Halloween, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released a box set loaded with scares with the arrival of the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection – which features Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of the Opera and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The collection also features performances from some of the horror genre’s greatest icons – including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, and Elsa Lanchester. Their performances brought the creatures to life in such a way they became the first image viewers now think of when someone mentions the characters names. Although many actors have played Dracula, it is Bela Lugosi’s entrance that first comes to mind when someone mentions the character. Karloff’s legendary make-up and performance is Frankenstein’s monster has never been bested in other film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel.

This set collects all those great performances along with the films that followed through Universal’s defining time in the monster horror genre of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The films might have lost some of their ability to terrify audiences like they did when first unleashed on the big screen, but they are simply a joy to watch. They continue to entertain no matter how many times you have seen them before. The set is broken down by the monsters Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Phantom of the Opera (which only contains the Claude Rains version of the film).

Dracula films featured include 1931’s Dracula, 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter, 1943’s Son of Dracula, and 1945’s House of Dracula. Frankenstein films featured include 1931’s Frankenstein, 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein, 1939’s Son of Frankenstein, 1942’s Ghost of Frankenstein, 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and 1944’s House of Frankenstein. The Mummy films featured include 1932’s The Mummy, 1940’s The Mummy’s Hand, 1942’s The Mummy’s Tomb, 1944’s The Mummy’s Ghost, and 1944’s The Mummy’s Curse. The Wolf Man films featured include 1941’s The Wolf Man, 1935’s Werewolf of London, and 1946’s She-Wolf of London. The Creature films featured include 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1955’s Revenge of the Creature, and 1956’s The Creature Walks Among Us. Invisible Man films featured include 1933’s The Invisible Man, 1940’s The Invisible Man Returns, 1940’s The Invisible Woman, 1942’s Invisible Agent, and 1944’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge.

Along with the scares, the set contains a few laughs thanks to the inclusion of the comedic talents of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy. These films feature some great laughs as poor Costello is scared to death thanks to his encounters with some of the screen’s greatest monsters.

All of the films look great for the DVD format (it would have been nice to have a Blu-ray release as well) and all are gems to watch – even if the later movies showed the characters starting to slip a bit from the greatness of their first appearance. Many of the films were included in the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray, but this set features a few titles (such as Son of Frankenstein) that were greatly missed in that collection. Having the series of Frankenstein and Dracula films collected also give fans a chance to see some of the other great actors (such as Glenn Strange) who took on the iconic characters. The make-up effects of Jack Pierce continue to impress and hold up to anything being done on the screen today.

Along with the films, the set also features several hours of bonus features ranging from classic Behind the Scenes Documentaries to features on Lugosi, Karloff, Chaney, and legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce. Bonus material also includes the Spanish version of 1931’s Dracula, archival footage, production photographs and archival footage. The set also includes a 48-page book chronicling each monster and the people who brought it to the screen. The book features great poster art and production stills. The book and many of the features were included in the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection on Blu-ray.

If you are a true horror fan with a love of these classic monsters, this is a great set! It has hours of entertainment and is being released at just the right time for a few classic scares. The films look and sound solid (there is some grain, but that is to be expected) and are all worth taking the time to watch. The inclusion of the Abbott and Costello films seems like an added bonus and will keep you laughing long after the end credits roll.

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