With Halloween coming, it’s the perfect time to experience Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection. Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera, and Creature From the Black Lagoon (in 3-D).
As Tim Burton suggests, these were our childhood heroes: outcasts destroyed by a society afraid of the other or their own megalomania. In watching the movies again in HD, he was reminded of their primal power: “It was interesting because the high-def almost brought it back to that weird reality —- the crispness you remember as a child — so it strangely brought back that kind of experience. The movies are quite modern, not in their slow pacing, but they still have an amazing reality to them. So they don’t lose their impact — you realize why you liked them to begin with.”
Indeed, the crispness is palpable and they’ve never looked this pristine (the Technicolor Phantom shines as the only color movie in the collection) . Universal has done an outstanding job of digitally restoring the seminal Dracula (including the Spanish version with more fluid camera movement) and two Frankenstein movies, considering the elements they had to work with. Just look at the screen capture above courtesy of DVD Beaver. And the DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix is superb as well. And there’s a treasure trove of extras that have been ported over from the previous DVDs along with some new goodies.
As soon as those Universal logos come on, I’m transported back to my childhood but now I’m more acutely aware of the dark side of science and art. My favorite is still The Wolf Man: I’m still moved by the doppelganger folklore and mournful father/son story between Claude Rains and Lon Chaney Jr.
For those wondering about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, it’s available separately.