Scream Factory Announces Universal Horror Collection

House of Horrors

This week Scream Factory is releasing its newest line of vault horror classics with the Universal Horror Collection Volume 4. These are classic movies that, while maybe not specifically a true horror in of itself, stars a horror legend such as Bela Legosi (Dracula) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein). The collection has the four following films:

Night Key (1937)

In this film an inventor of a very advanced burglar alarm (Boris Karloff). He is blind and his profits were stolen from him. He attempts to get revenge in the man that stole from him when his new invention is stolen from him by gangsters that want to use it rob banks. In a sad and poignant performance, Karloff goes up against the group of gangsters. Running time: 78 minutes.

Night Monster (1942)

A rich recluse invites the doctors who left him a hopeless cripple to his desolate mansion in the swamps as one by one they meet horrible deaths. This film is as much a “who-done-it” with a supernatural twist revealed towards the end. While giving top billing to Bela Lugosi, he actually plays a fairly minor role of butler (clearly an attempt at the studio to capitalize on his name). Still, it’s a fun film to watch.

The Climax (1944)

This film was actually intended to be a “Phantom of the Opera” sequel and you can see this from the plotline. An opera-house doctor (Boris Karloff) kills his wife and then hears another young singer years later that reminds him of his dead wife. He decides he wants her for himself to sing for only him.  to Susanna Foster plays the young girl and was a cast member in the 1943 “Phantom of the Opera” film. This would be an interesting film for those that like the Phantom. Though not quite on that level it does have the same movie set, great costumes, music, and Karloff gives a great performance.

House of Horrors (1946)

A struggling sculptor saves and sculpts a disfigured man he saved from drowning. When critics disparage the piece of art he and the disfigured man start killing them.  The star of this movie is Rondo Hatton, who plays the disfigured man (“The Creeper” he is billed). This again, is sort of a whodunit again except we know who did it. We’re watching other people trying to figure it out (at times frustrating). It’s not the greatest of films, but Rondo Hatton plays his role extremely well. Hatton suffered from acromegaly (and unfortunately passed away from it the following year) which gave his face an enlarged appearance. But he played into it and gave a calloused, dry performance as an uncaring killer.

The video quality on these releases is very good, especially considering that they were made in the mid-1940’s. Of the four films, only The Climax is in color. The color palette is well done and all scenes and skin tones have proper depth. In the remaining films they did a really good job balancing the black and white filming to show clarity and depth. The audio in all four releases is English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA. The sound is quote excellent. There is no distortion or sound fragments and the dialogue is clean is crisp.

Bonus Features

DISC ONE: NIGHT KEY (1937)

  • NEW 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Film Element
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Tom Weaver And Dr. Robert J. Kiss
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Design Stills/Production Artwork Gallery
  • Still Gallery

DISC TWO: NIGHT MONSTER (1942)

  • NEW 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Film Element
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Gary D. Rhodes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

DISC THREE: THE CLIMAX (1944)

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Kim Newman And Stephen Jones
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

DISC FOUR: HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946)

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Scott Gallinghouse
  • NEW The Creeper – Rondo Hatton At Universal
  • Still Gallery

Overall, this is a fun set of films. It’s not the usual movies people think of when they think of stars like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff but that’s kind of the beauty of these vault sets. They introduce people to classic films that are not as well-known and that get you to appreciate some of the other works of that era. It’s a set worth having.

 

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 is available today from Scream Factory.

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  1. Good to see Rondo getting some attention! The just-completed doc Rondo and Bob looks at Texas Chain Saw Massacre art director Robert Burns and his obsession with Rondo Hatton. Our special effects wizard did an amazing job recreating Rondo! Look for it soon. More at rondoandbob.com.

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