Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray Review: It’s Perfect For Halloween!
If you are a fan of monster movies or know someone who enjoys them, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray box set is a must-have! It contains all the classics featuring Dracula, The Mummy, Invisible Man, and more along with a whole lot of extra material. I’m talking audio commentaries y’all! Audio commentaries!
I was provided a free Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray box set for review. The opinions are my own.
The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray box set has all of the films (with restored video and audio) spread across 24 Blu-ray discs and also offers tons of extra content. There is also a full-color, 48-page commemorative book going over the legacy of Universal’s monster franchise.
Here are the details:
From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection showcases all the original films featuring the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Starring some of the most legendary actors including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these films set the standard for a new horror genre and showcase why these landmark movies that defined the horror genre are regarded as some of the most unforgettable ever to be filmed.
For decades, when it came to studios delivering horror titles that captivated audience around the world, Universal took the lead working with legendary talent such as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, and directors such as Tod Browning, James Whale, and more. No wonder Universal’s classic monsters franchise is still iconic.
Many fans might already own the 8-disc Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection which was released in 2012 and only included 7 of the classics. Building on that, the current Blu-ray box set includes an impressive 30 films beginning with the original Dracula (1931) and ending with The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). It is fun to see the technological advancements (in front of and behind the camera) in each subsequent film through the decades. Take note the 48-page book is the same which was included in The Essential Collection. The book shares movie analysis, trivia, photos, promotional material, and biographies.
The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray box set has 7 cases. Each case features titles related to one of the classic monsters. Again, take note 4 of the 24 discs are duplicates. What I mean by this is House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein are included in the Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf Man Blu-ray cases. Furthermore, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man is in both Wolf Man and Frankenstein cases.
The chronological order of the films is:
- Dracula (1931)
- Frankenstein (1931)
- The Mummy (1932)
- The Invisible Man (1933)
- The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
- Werewolf of London (1935)
- Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
- Son of Frankenstein (1939)
- The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
- The Invisible Woman (1940)
- The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
- The Wolf Man (1941)
- The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
- The Mummy’s Ghost (1942)
- The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)
- Invisible Agent (1942)
- The Phantom of the Opera (1943)
- Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
- Son of Dracula (1943)
- House of Frankenstein (1944)
- The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
- The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
- House of Dracula (1945)
- She-Wolf of London (1946)
- Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein (1948)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)
- Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)
- Revenge of the Creature (1955)
- The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).
Coming to the packaging, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection is in a sturdy box with embossed lettering on the box’s front, top, and spine. You get seven Blu-ray cases and the book. As mentioned, the cases house films related to a specific monster including Phantom of the Opera, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, Invisible Man, and Frankenstein. The back of the box has a list of all the films as well as the extra content.
The video codec is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with audio being DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The video transfers do look stunning. The team has done a great job of restoring these classic titles with the clarity and contrast allowing you to take in the classic artistry. The gray scale variance helps to offer more depth and details. Similarly, I didn’t encounter any issues with the audio quality. You can tell the tracks have been cleaned up for modern viewers considering the equipment used so long ago. The dialogue is clear and the music scores have no distortion.
As for the special features, you get audio commentaries, featurettes, documentaries, vintage short films, trailers, and trivia tracks.
Here’s the official extra features list for this Universal Classic Monsters Blu-ray set:
- Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
- 3D Versions of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature
- 1931 Spanish Version of Dracula
- Featurettes on Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jack Pierce
- 13 Expert Feature Commentaries
- Archival Footage
- Production Photographs
- Theatrical Trailers
Each Blu-ray disc set packaging has artwork related to the monster the set is for. There is also a list of special features included in each set on the back.
- Audio Commentaries – You get two audio commentaries. In the first feature, we have historian David J. Skal offering an academic and comprehensive discussion on the film, its history, and the relation to its source and its lasting impact. The second track has Steve Haberman, author and writer of Dracula: Dead and Loving It offering us a fan perspective on the title’s legacy and influence.
- Spanish Version (104 min) – This is the alternate language version of Dracula. It features an optional introduction (approximately 4 minutes long) by Lupita Tovar Kohner, who played Eva.
- The Road to Dracula (35 min) – Hosted by Rebecca Isabelle “Carla” Laemmle, niece of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle, this is a short documentary which includes interviews with film historians, relatives of cast members and fans.
- Lugosi: The Dark Prince (36 min) – A discussion on the actor.
- Alternate Score Track – Presented in Dolby Digital stereo, this score was composed by experimentalist Philip Glass and performed by The Kronos Quartet.
- Dracula Archives – A collection of poster artwork, marketing stills and other photos from the film’s set.
- Monster Tracks – A trivia track providing information about the film’s production.
- Audio Commentaries – The first has film historian Rudy Behlmer providing insight and history of the production. The second features historian Sir Christopher Frayling offering a cultural perspective for the title.
- The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster (45 min) – A documentary hosted by film historian David J. Skal. It features several worthwhile comments and interviews from other filmmakers, historians as well as relatives of the cast, like Sara Karloff. What I found interesting is how it also talks about working Shelly’s novel into a film adaptation.
- Karloff: The Gentle Monster (38 min) – A feature on Karloff with comments from Sara Karloff, fans, and more about the actor and his work.
- Universal Horror (95 min) – A 1998 documentary narrated by Kenneth Branagh. It takes an in-depth look at Universal Studios’ impact on the horror genre, all the way back during Carl Laemmle silent era.
- Short Film (10 min) – Titled Boo!, this is a vintage short film from 1932.
- Feature Commentary with Film Historian Gregory W. Mank
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters (33 min) – Hosted by David J. Skal, it covers Abbott and Costello as well as all of the Universal monsters they appeared with.
- Frankenstein Archives
- Monster Tracks
- Audio Commentaries – Again two audio commentaries. The first features film historian Paul M. Jensen, sharing insight about the title. The second is by make-up effects artist Rick Baker, film historian Steve Haberman, filmmaker Scott Essman, sculpture artist Brent Armstrong and collector of movie memorabilia Bob Burns. Hearing the group chat added to the fun.
- Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed (30 min) – A documentary by film historian David J. Skarl. It also talks about how the title was impacted by the previous monster films.
- He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce (25 min) – A tribute to legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce and his lasting influence.
- Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy (8 min) – A brief look at the actors who have played the iconic monster in various forms.
- The Mummy Archives
- Invisible Man
- Audio Commentary – Film historian Rudy Behlmer providing his insight.
- Now You See Him, Now You Don’t: The Invisible Man Revealed (35 min) – Hosted by Behlmer, this short doc features interviews of other historians, actors, and filmmakers.
- Production Photographs
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Audio Commentary – Film historian Scott MacQueen offers an academic approach as the film unravels, including behind-the-scenes information.
- She’s Alive! Creating The Bride of Frankenstein (SD, 39 min) – A documentary by horror film historian David J. Skal. It is hosted by horror filmmaker Joe Dante.
- The Bride of Frankenstein Archive
- Trailers (SD)
- Wolf Man
- Audio Commentary – Featuring film historian Tom Weaver’s academic approach.
- Monster by Moonlight (33 min) – A short doc hosted by John Landis discussing werewolves in films. It also goes over the legacy of this classic title.
- The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth (10 min) – A discussion on Curt Siodmak script and how his work invented many of the legends surrounding werewolves.
- Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr. (37 min) – This short doc looks at the life and career of Lon Chaney Jr./Creighton Tull Chaney.
- He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce (25 min) – A tribute to legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce.
- The Wolf Man Archives
- Phantom of the Opera
- Audio Commentary – Film historian Scott MacQueen talks in a very educational manner about this film.
- The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked (51 min) – A documentary by David J. Skal where Scott MacQueen also plays host. It talks about the history of the story which has been adapted several times for the screen.
- Production Photographs
- Creature from the Black Lagoon
- Audio Commentary – Film historian Tom Weaver goes over the film while offering educational and interesting information.
- Back to the Black Lagoon (40 min) – Small documentary from film historian David J. Skal. It also talks a bit about the sequels.
- Production Photographs
Most of the other films include trailers. Revenge of the Creature features an audio commentary with actress Lori Nelson as well as film historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns. The Creature Walks Among Us includes an audio commentary by Weaver and Burns.
I am a fan of audio commentaries. I enjoyed these offerings a lot!
All in all, the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray set is a must-have for every cinephile. Each title has been restored to make use of the Blu-ray format and allow the audience of today to experience these classics. And if you have been meaning to host a monster movie marathon this Halloween, you should consider picking up this box set!
It is currently available for purchase.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the Universal Classic Monster: Complete 30-Film Collection Blu-ray set with us. What’s your favorite Universal Classic Monsters movie?
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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