filmlover

Horror films

28 posts in this topic

Please review horror film DVDs here, thanks. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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I was watching the DVD of Horror of Dracula starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee last night. The print is excellent, and I think I like this Dracula film better than any others, including those of Bela Lugosi. Even in color, I found it atmosopheric. The musical score was excellent and added to the excitement. The performances by Cushing and Lee are great. Some of the little day players tend to get hammy, but Cushing keeps it on track. Also in the cast is a young Michael Gough, Alfred from the Batman movies.

 

Extras are minimal. There is a slight printed history of Dracula films of Hammer. No commentary. Still it is worth buying for the film itself.

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I thought I'd give this one a review this one since 1. It's my favorite movie of all time, 2. TCM is going to premiere it in 3 separate times in October. Compared to the horror movies of now, it's considerably tame, but when it was released in 1964, it was shocking.

 

The film itself is great (but I'm terribly biased!). I've seen some people say that it's too long and too talky, but if you're expecting some kind of slasher movie, you're going to be disappointed. There's very little blood--most of the horror is psychological. And if you're a fan of Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland (in her one rare role as a truly evil ****), Joseph Cotten or Agnes Moorehead, you're enjoy it. Mary Astor and Bruce Dern have small parts as well.

 

The print of "...Charlotte" is spectacular. It's presented in it's original aspect ratio. The sound is clear and crisp. My only problem with the dvd is the appaling lack of extras. Normally, 20th Century Fox dvd's are loaded with extras, especially those released under the "Studio Classics" banner. This one is pretty minimal: you get the trailer, some tv spots and a deadly boring commentary by Glenn Erickson. His delivery is monotonous and if you're a devoted fan of the major stars, you'll find nothing new.

 

I was very diappointed to find out the AMC "...Charlotte" episode of "Backstory" was missing, since that's filled with plenty of rare pictures and interviews and snippets of a Joseph Cotten narrated featurette where Davis and deHavilland goof around for the camera. I'm not sure why this wasn't included since that would have been a great extra and the "Backstory"'s are usually included on Fox dvd's.

 

If you're a huge fan of the movie like I am, it's worth it just to have the movie on dvd. If you're a person who likes the movie, but is looking for fantastic extras as well, go buy "The Snake Pit" or "All About Eve" instead.

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" Hollywood Legends of Horror " includes "" Mark of the Vampire " with Bela,directed by Tod Browning is a good horror spoof with a good performance by Lionel Atwill. The picture quality is fine and the audio commentary is good if a little on the fast side, but it is informative. " The Mask of Fu Manchu " stars Boris Karloff, in the title role, with Myrna Loy as his **** daughter. This DVD is a fully restored version, no censorship, and includes an excellent audio commentary." Doctor X " a Technicolor horror film with Lionel Atwill, Lee Tracy ( as a wise - guy reporter ) and an auburn haired Fay Wray. Its good and also includes an excellent audio commentary." The Return of Doctor X ", stars Humphrey Bogart as a vampire and little else. It's better than I had remembered it, but it is so - so,at best. Director Vincent Sherman provides a very good commentary." Mad Love " has a good commentary and a very attractive Frances Drake as the lady that Peter Lorre admires, a bit too much. " The Devil Doll ", has no commentary, but this MGM horror film starring Lionel Barrymore ( also in The Mark of the Vampire ) and a very young Maureen O' Sullivan star is still a top - notch thriller.

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Anyone care to comment on the six Universal Horror sets released awhile back: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, etc? I'm talking about the sets that had three or four movies in each from their respective series. I've heard mixed reviews about the quality, especially the print condition of the original DRACULA. I read that Universal didn't use their superior restored print for this. Any truth to this?

 

Thanks for any help that you can offer,

Gerb

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A lot of the complaints I heard about, and that I agree with, were in the pressings and the packaging. I remember on the Dracula CD, one that people did complain about a lot, that there were CD defects and it made the picture freeze. That happened to mine. And one of the special packaging ideas Universal had were to box the DVDs in with minature busts of the three main horror characters. This caused the package to rattle around a lot and I had DVDs just rolling aound in the boxes.

 

I know this wasn't just an isolated case with Universal. There were other titles they produced at the time and there were reports of printing flaws in the DVDs themselves. I hesitate buying anything from Universal since then.

 

Te film prints, I believe, were excellent.

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So, the actual prints are okay. Thanks for the info. Any news about THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON collection? Are they pan & scanned?

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I didn't buy the Creature From the BL one.

 

Oh, in case you are interested, A&C Meet Frankstein is on one of the A&C Franchise collection DVDs, but is not in the Frankenstein original Legacy set.

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Gotcha. Hopefully, someone else can chime in about it.

 

I snagged every one of the Universal Monsters and A & C movies back in the early to mid-90s when U-MCA released them all on home video. I've worn several of those tapes out now, but I'm hesistant to upgrade to DVDs if the quality hasn't improved.

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> Anyone care to comment on the six Universal Horror

> sets released awhile back: Dracula, Frankenstein,

> the Mummy, etc? I'm talking about the sets that had

> three or four movies in each from their respective

> series. I've heard mixed reviews about the quality,

> especially the print condition of the original

> DRACULA. I read that Universal didn't use their

> superior restored print for this. Any truth to this?

 

I have all (6) sets of the versions you speak of. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a good transfer of Dracula to DVD. It is better than the previously released version with Bela Lugosi's bust on the cover.

 

The Invisible Man is remarkable in the set. I remember that film being very worn when TCM used to show it. That version benefited greatly from the restoration.

 

The Mummy's wasn't that great. Creature obviously looks the best, but the Wolf Man set was nicely done. Of course Frankenstein was good, but filmlover is spot-on about the packaging--it's horrific!! All of my DVD sleeves with the monster hologram on them have very worn edges. They don't store well with other DVDs because of the packaging. All of my discs are in order, and the Special Features with each individual monster are second to none.

 

A lot of great Universal Horror classics in those sets. It's a good feeling to know you have all of those films on file during the Halloween season. After all, it was the Universal monsters that got me into classic film when I was 11.

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I'm a Claude Rains fan so i bought the Invisible Man and the Wolfman collections...some of these collections have more titles than others...I like "Invisible Agent" because it features Peter Lorre as basically an evil Mr. Moto...

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imdb says that it's in widescreen, but other sources say that it was shot in Academy ratio. I've never see it in anything but 4:3, so I question whether or not imdb is correct.

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I've often wondered that myself. None of the widescreen sites that I've used list any of the Creature movies, but they are by no means all-inclusive. So, who knows?

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This is a 5-DVD box set that contains 26 half-hour programs hosted by Christopher Lee, with clips and interviews with insiders. Each show examines a part of horror film history, such as Dracula, girl ghouls, etc. While this all sounds good at first, the execution of it is pretty bad. Most of the clips are actually parts of trailers of low quality, since probably they didn't try to pay for any rights to actual film clips. Overall, the video quality of the DVDs is only about 3 (at the most) on a scale of 5. It's an interesting watch but not worth the money.

 

Note: There are 2 versions out there. A single DVD version and the 5-DVD Complete Collection. This review is for the 5-DVD set, but based on its lack of quality the single DVD compilation wouldn't be worth having, either.

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Phantom of the Opera

 

This is a review of the Universal DVD release of the Claude Rains version. This DVD has been available for some time but I think it is worth picking up.

 

Claude Rains only received third billing in this film, a fact that seems unbelievable now, right after Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster, and his and Foster's name appears in smaller case than Eddy's in the opening credits roll. Eddy does have more scenes than anyone, possibly, and the musical scenes do dominate the film, but there is still the excellent Rains as the violinist who kills a music publisher because he believes the man has stolen his concerto. The violinist gets his face burned by acid and flees to the sewers and to the depths of the Opera House. From there, he seeks to make a star of his beloved Christine (more about this relationship further on).

 

This single DVD is chock-full of good things. The color print is exceptional, still beautiful to behold. The commentary by Scott McQueen is very lively, intelligent, and highly informative, one of the better commentaries I have come across.

 

Also on the DVD is a 50-minute documentary on the history of the Phantom of the Opera, including interviews with Susanna Foster and Turhan Bey (who starred in "The Climax," a film originally planned as a sequel). One of the very important reveals in the documentary is that there was originally a scene in this Rains version in which it was revealed that the Phantom is secretly the father of Christine, the singer, something she doesn't know, and that he had left when she was born to pursue his music career. It was something I had never known about this version...but now knowing it, it adds many layers to Claude Rains' performance. The reason that the scene was cut was that some studio execs were worried that people might think there was some sort of incest at play here. I don't feel that at all. I think if you see it again now, knowing he is her father, you will find that scenes of his overcaring now make much more sense than before. And addressing her at one point as "My child," an affectionate expression an older person might make to any person much younger, takes on a whole new meaning in the film.

 

There is also a photo gallery of 60+ photos.

 

Very much recommended.

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Hi. It seemed to be a good time to ressurect the individual threads that were set up when I helped get this Forum created. We are getting so many threads being started for so many things that could all be in one place that it makes it hard to find anything.

 

Keeping within a theme thread makes the Classic Film DVD Reviews Forum a much neater place and better organized.. Thanks.

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*Phantom of the Opera (1943) Blu-ray*:

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Note: This film is available now from Amazon UK separate from the Monsters set and is region free: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Oper...0161697&sr=8-4'>http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Oper...0161697&sr=8-4'>http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Oper...0161697&sr=8-4'>http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Oper...0161697&sr=8-4[/url">http://www.amazon.co.uk/Phantom-Oper...0161697&sr=8-4[/url] )

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also get it from Amazon here in the U.S. Oct. 23rd: http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-of-the...'>http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-of-the...'>http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-of-the...'>http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-of-the...operablu-ray[/url">http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-of-the...operablu-ray[/url])

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the three Phantoms (prior to the musical remake), the Claude Rains version remains my favorite. A good combination of horror, comedy, and music, plus the lush Technicolor cinematography, bring it to the forefront, as far as I am concerned. Claude Rains is a violinist who is driven mad when he thinks his concerto has been stolen by a music publisher. Of course, getting a tray of photochemicals searing into his face probably did nothing to calm his nerves. Before this, the violinist had been a gentle man who was secretly using his salary at the Paris Opera House to pay for the lessons of a young singer (played by Susanna Foster).

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOT-EXACTLY-A-SPOILER ALERT: I menton this because it was a theme cut from the film, so doesn't it doesn't hurt the viewing. The commentary reveals that the violinist was secretly the young singer's father, but she didn't know this. There was at least one scene filmed between an opera singer (Nelson Eddy) and her aunt in which it is revealed, but it - and the subplot - was cut from the film, partly because the powers-that-be at Universal feared the relationship between the Phantom and the young singer would look a bit incestuous. Now, with that removed, it looks like he is an old man trying to hit on her, LOL. It's better to just watch it with the father-protecting-his-daugher theme in mind. It works much nicer and brings a sensitivity to the performance of Claude Rains as the violinist. END OF NOT-EXACTLY-A-SPOILER ALERT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The high-definition transfer is several steps up from the DVD release. No, it is nowhere even close to today's standards, naturally, but it still looks very good, and, boy, do I miss Technicolor! Lush colors abound, far superior to the DVD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio is quite sufficent, retaining its mono nature in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Again, much better than the DVD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There may not be a lot of extras but what is there is entertaining and VERY informative. Most of these have been carried over from the DVD:

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked" (SD, 51 minutes) explores the history of the Phantom in movies from Lon Chaney through Herbert Lom. Film historian Scott MacQueen hosts this detailed documentary and there are short interviews with Susanna Foster, Carla Lamaelle, and Universal star Turhan Bey. Excellent and well-done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Production Photographs" (SD) is a series of 67 images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Audio Commentary" by McQueen provides a lot of informative facts about the stars and the production. The commentary is available as subtitles only while viewing the movie with the movie's regular audio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other extras include a 7-minute short about the Universal lot and a trailer. Regretably, two minor (but nice) things from the DVD are missing from the Blu: production notes and bios of the cast and filmmakers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highly recommended.

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*The Bride of Frankenstein (Blu-ray)*

 

Sequels that are considered better than their original are very few. Godfather Part II is the only one I can think of. However, Bride of Frankenstein could likely fit in in that slim category. Production values were much higher than the first, settings improved, and a great deal of weird and humorous characters thrown in. While thaty humor could spell disaster for a horror film, Bride of Frankenstein succeeds. It soars to great heights in the fright films' echelon, a must-see classic. Whether you only want to see Elsa Lanchester's Bride's swanlike hiss, or the looney tunes Ernest Thesinger's experiments with tiny people, you will ievtably watch the whole film unfold yet agaiin. The center of this film is the Frankenstein monster as it stumbles form one nightmare situation to another, desperately trying to stay alive (as it were) and to be accepted, not shunned. To do that, you really needed an actor like Boris Karloff, who could not only be menacing, but he could tear your heart out in pathos. His is without a doubt the best performance in the film. So, sit down, watch the electrical equipment spark and crackle, as a new life is born...the Bride of Frankenstein.

 

 

The video on this is very good, but due to the condition of the film itself it is not a stellar restoration...but it is likely that this HD is the best you will ever see.

 

 

Audio is excellent, and especially effective for Franz Waman's famous film score.

 

 

The extras include an audio commentary, which I found quite uninvolving. Likewise, there is a documentary, "Creating the Bride of Frankenstein" (SD), which, honestly, was rather tedious because it seemed to spend less time on the making of the film and too much on contemporary filmmakers' saying, "Gee, when I first saw this...". There are also movie trailers for four different Frankenstein films, plus an archive of photos and posters. In addition, there is a newer short (HD) about restoring the classics, which you can find on other releases.

 

 

I am not sure why, but after watching the film and the extras, I felt a little disappointed with the totality of the release. It is possibly the condition of the film and the lackluster extras this time, but I still recommend it.

 

 

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*Creature From the Black Lagoon Blu-ray 3D/2D*

 

Just a poor, misunderstood creature. That's all the Creature from the Black Lagoon is. People invade his sanctuary, and he fights back...but not without falling in love with the beautiful damsel (Julie Adams).

 

 

 

 

 

 

I forgot how wonderful this entry into the horror fray is. It's basically a one-set premise, with a small cast, but it is highly enjoyable. And Universal has put together a terrific package. The film comes in Blu-ray 3D and 2D on the disc, with only a few extras, but it is definitely worth a purchase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The black and white 3D is astonishing, a full 5-stars. An excellent print with several in-your-face 3D effects. There is a healthy amount of grain in several scenes, and the sharpness of the 3D print is fully to be applauded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio is excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The extras are on the slim side. The 40-minute history of the Creature (in SD) has all you could want to know (I didn't know that an uncredited Henry Mancini composed some of the music in this film). The gallery of several dozen images is also good. In addition, there are trailers from all of the three Creature movies. There is also a commentary accompanying the film that contains a ton of information, but they should have reduced the movie's audio to nothing during it because it's like trying to listen to someone but a person nearby is also having a conversation. The 100 Years of Universal: the Lot, is okay, but is on other discs. It would have been nice if they could have provided a different Universal history piece for each horror film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A must-buy for classic fans, for horror fans, and for 3D fans.

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