nicely remastered and nicely priced. of course its all to coincide with the definitely mediocre van helsing, but who cares? take advantage of it.
there are of course the stand out gems, beginning with the 1931 dracula.
the philip glass score is a disservice. one of the problems with dracula has indeed always been its lack of a good score. the film is a bit too minimalistic to begin with but having a minimalist composer (and, sorry, a bad one at that)score this film only compounds the problem. it really needs something more dramatic.
but, you can opt out of the glass score anyway, so...
dracula is certainly flawed. at times lugosi is brilliant and at times much less so. the first half of the film is undoubtedly the best and its mood and atmosphere are most striking in the transylvania castle.
the spanish dracula, on the whole, is somewhat better.
helen chandler seemed a bit too vampiric even before she was bit.
her mexican counterpart is much better and oozing far more sexuality.
the mood and pacing is better. torches instead of candles. draculas emergence from his casket and the ships travel to london is far more effective.
but this dracula doesnt hold up to lugosi, and at times the spanish dracula seems to be aping lugosis performance and
it too loses some steam once being transplanted to england.
still, dracula started a whole new hollywood genre, which leads us to :
frankenstein and bride of frankenstein.
it really is apparent that the two whale films stand way apart from the rest. whales films possess an original style and art. even the mob scenes here seem genuine. in the later films the mob scenes seem paled down, weaker copies of what they are here.
karloffs pantomime performance is brilliant in frankenstein, but it is in bride that he surpasses himself. his monster is touchingly human.
as excellent as karloff is thesiger steals the show and his performance should have at the very least garnered an oscar nomination.
son of frankenstein is the last decent film with the monster. its also karloffs final turn at the character. but, karloff only has one good scene (when he finds the dead ygor). but it is lugosi and atwill who steal the whole movie.
lugosi is brilliant here, smashing the myth that he really couldnt act to smithereens. his ygor is gnarled, pathetic, evil, and charming. he would never top this performance and its a shame the universal execs didnt wake up to lugosis potential after this.
atwill gives a classic performance which was later spooofed by peter sellers in dr strangelove.
the scene when he is explaining his handicap to rathbone and crahes his false arm into the wall is milked for all the campy brilliance it can muster.
rathbone however overacts badly and his performance is at time embarrasing. originally peter lorre was wanted for the role and one can only imagine how much better lorre would have made it.
too, the kid is the worst sort of cutesy hollywood tyke and one keeps hoping the monster will dispose of the brat.
it is in the rest of the sequals that we start getting that sense of paled down copies.
draculas daughter however is a nicely paced sequal to dracula. gloria holden should have developed a following after this, but the film didnt take with a public who didnt want to see it without lugosi.
son of dracula also has a decent pacing,atmosphere, a badly miscast chaney and the quintessential whiny hero that you absolutely hate.
the wolfman was the 40s entry and it is a superbly cast film with chaney earning his place in horrordom.
everbody from claude rains to ouspenskia are excellent. the film has numerous loop holes in logic but none of that matters.
its a lesser classic but stiil a definite classic.
frankenstein meets the wolfman propels the story into the B category.
its a lot of fun and it moves along at a rapid pace. but lugosi was classically screwed over in this. at the end of ghost ygors brain had been put into the monster and the monster spoke again for the first time since bride (albeit briefly).
in ghost the sound of lugois raspy ygor voice coming out of the monsters lips actually worked and was one of the few interesting things about that movie.
and meets the wlfman was filmed that way, with lugosis blind monster speaking. but someone didnt like it so the voice was muted out and all references to the monsters blindness was eliminated, rendering lugosis performance ridiculous.
it was a cruel case of bad editing.
still, chaneys talbot is really a cool character here and if anything he is even better here than in the previous film.
the two house films are D grade. house of frankenstein at least has karloff and hes damned good. chaneys character is now starting to sound whiney but j carrol naish and john carradine are nice mixes to the brew and the scene were chaney gets put out with a silver bullit is classic.
werewolf of london is pre wolfman and stars henry hull. its mood is more subtle than the chaney one but its a very good film with more a sense of mythos and folklore than the wolfman.
the dogof the collection is she wolf of london (with house of dracula being a close second to the bottom) with the less said about it the better.
now if universal would put out a second collection with the black cat, the raven, black friday, the invisible ray, the invisisble man, the mummy and creature films then it would be a great round off. but then, unless van helsing returns to fight all these other characters, dont expect it to happen