Fox Horror Classics Collection, Vol. 2 (Dragonwyck / Chandu the Magician / Dr. Renault's Secret)
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Magician Frank Chandler uses his abilities to stop a villain with a deadly machine; Miranda visits her rich cousin's estate, finding within it dark secrets; a scientist attempts to recreate man's evolution by turning an ape into a human.
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Top Customer Reviews
This threesome includes Chandu the Magician, Dragonwyck and Dr. Renault's Secret. Although you could argue the "Classics" word in the main title of the package, there is an undying respect for such movies that have been remastered and put together so lovingly.
Picture wise, Chandu shows a bit of its age, while the other two are fairly much better, but all three still are easy to watch. The sound is quite nicely done too and makes for a very satisfying edition.
Much like the previous volume, Fox included some special features such as commentaries, photo galleries, featurettes and trailers (when available).
This is one series I wish Fox had continued (we'd be on Volume 6 or 7 by now), but it seems the fanbase wasn't there. Nevertheless, at least we can enjoy volumes 1 and 2 and dream of what unknown treasures they might have unearthed next.
Vincent P. is a treat to watch and Bela L. is casted in a role made for him.
Loved it !!!!
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I saw this movie for the first time on Turner Classic Movies a couple of years back and it's one of the superb old B&W horror-mystery flicks of the day ('40s). I tried to obtain it then but it wasn't available on either VHS or DVD... but it's available now!
Here's the story:
A dapper young brain surgeon, Larry Forbes, (played by John Shepperd) visits his fiancée ("Madeline Renault," played by Lynne Roberts) at her home in a remote French villa where her mad scientist father, Dr. Renault (played by George Zucco), resides and conducts horrific experiments in his lab. In fact, Zucco has created a man (of sorts) from an ape (reminiscent of "The Island of Dr. Moreau").
Forbes meets Noel (pronounced "no-ELL," and played by J. Carrol Naish) who functions as Dr. Renault's "Igor-like" assistant (and actually the ape-man), who harbors a dog-like devotion for Madeline, (Dr. Renault's daughter). Forbes, to his horror, soon learns Noel's true identity.
The main trouble begins at a local Inn where, during a Bastille celebration, we meet Rogell (played by Mike Mazurki), an ex-convict who is now Renault's gardener and Austin (played by Jack Norton), a drunken American who torments Noel (not a great idea!) with his insinuations about Forbes' upcoming marriage to Madeline. Austin is soon found dead, the result of a broken neck.
Local Police Inspector Duval suspects that Forbes was the intended victim and that Rogell was the perpetrator, (Forbes had involuntarily changed his sleeping arrangements with Austin) but Duval also ponders the possibility that Noel killed Austin because of his remarks about Madeline. Duval eventually releases all the witnesses and suspects and Noel drives Forbes to the Renault estate.
A sub-plot is that Rogell plots with Henri (Renault's butler, played by Jean Del Val) to kidnap Madeline and hold her for ransom.
I'll stop there to avoid any spoilers but there are indeed some surprises in the movie. This 1942 film is shot in black-and-white and the aspect is full-screen. I'm a huge George Zucco fan and this is one of his best movies, right up there with "The Flying Serpent" (1946) and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1939). In fact, I liked it just slightly better than three other great Zucco vehicles, "Topper Returns" (1941), "The Black Raven" (1943) and, "Fog Island" (1945). None were more magnificent than Zucco at portraying the role of "The Mad Scientist". (See my Listmania List for many more of Zucco's great films, "George Zucco... Almost Live!!!")
If I have a problem with this film it's that it only runs for 58 minutes, but that is a common caveat of 1940s period B-movies.
As far as the "Chandu" (Bela Lugosi) entry goes, I can add no information except to say that there is the ADDITIONAL Chandu entry, (not on this DVD package) the 1934 SERIAL (shown in its entirety, 12 chapters), broken down into two parts, available on two separate DVDs:
The Return of Chandu the Magician, Vol. 1
The Return of Chandu the Magician, Vol. 2
This Lugosi serial was later edited into this 1935 film:
Chandu on the Magic Island:Feature
The SERIAL version is terrific (the movie is pretty good too but I prefer viewing the uncut version of the film) with Lugosi playing Frank Chandler, aka Chandu the Magician, as he battles on with the evil High Priest Vindhyan on the South Seas Island of Lemuria. It is on this island where Chandu's fiancée, the Egyptian Princess Nadji (played by the lovely Maria Alba) is being held captive until Chandu can rescue her. You'll love seeing the special effects as Chandu "vanishes" into thin air -- it really freaks out his adversaries too!
I apologise that I can shed no light on the other films of this package but I did wish to present enthusiasts with some details on both "Dr. Renault's Secret" and "Chandu".
First off is the 1932 "Changdu the Magician", a boys' own adventure which not surprisingly became a serial a few years later. The film has Bela Lugosi chewing the scenery with great aplomb as he steals a death ray and tortures its inventor to learn how to use it. Edmund Lowe, a matinee idol of yesteryear, is a stiff and far too proper hero but the film benefits from great photography and imaginative sets which help to overcome the dreadful script.
Next is "Dr Renault's Secret", a neatly directed programmer released in 1942 and with a fair gallery of supporting players, a moderately interesting story about the missing link between man and the ape and 2 fine central performances by the enigmatic George Zucco and the superb J Carroll Naish. It is a very polished "little" film with excellent sets and photography and the closest to a horror film of this trio.
The final film, released in 1946, is the gothic romance, "Dragonwyck", an expensively mounted vehicle for the rapidly rising Gene Tierney and a star making role for Vincent Price playing the sort of character he would make his own in subsequent years. This could not be classified as a horror film really (think of "Jane Eyre" or "Rebecca" and you'll get the idea) and while it is well made with good performances from the leads and the indispensible Walter Huston, it is quite dull and predictable. This was the first film directed by Joseph Mankiewicz.
The prints of the film are excellent, surprisingly so in the case of "Changdu" which is a very old Fox film, many of which have not survived. "Renault" is a very bright print preserving the outstanding Fox photography. Each film has a short documentary with the same group of dull historians. They tend to be repetitious. "Changdu" and "Dragonwyck" have good commentaries and Greg Mank is particuarly witty and entertaining with "Changdu". Theatrical trailers for the later films are also presented.
This is a very unusual set, nicely packaged with an insert about the films and also very cheap, possibly because it would appeal to a very limited audience. Accordingly, it is very good value if the films are of interest to you.
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