TV Party Tonight! #116

TV Party Tonight! #116

Friday, 04 November 2022

Universal Classic Monsters
Icons of Horror Collection
Volume 2
[4K/Blu-Ray Combo]

Welcome, dear readers, to a very special and very spooky edition of TV Party Tonight! Sometimes, the stars just align into a collective beautiful moment, and this time, it did just that with our special coverage of the Universal Classics Monsters collection 4K box set. I’m not exactly a movie guy, but I’ve been trying to become one. And one way to do that is to indiscriminately watch anything on the Criterion channel. You cover a lot of ground there, but things will still inadvertently slip through the cracks. You can’t be a film buff without knowing the classics. And you can’t know the classics without knowing the Universal monster movies.

It was never the intention for Universal Studios to create a franchise around monster movies, but their take on horror spurned such fandom that they kept at it, producing some of the most memorable characters in all of cinema history. I can only imagine that this collection is the first of many, because it barely scratches the surface of their output. But really, what an itch has been scratched by the movies in this box set. These might not be the most revered of the Universal Monster movies, but it seems like Universal will be adding to the covered titled every year. Strangely, they don’t want to distinguish the collections in the box set and are using the same title for this new box set. This volume contains: Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Creature From the Black Lagoon.

I’m quite embarrassed to say I had never watched these movies until now, and I didn’t think they’d play well. I was sorely mistaken: these movies are still highly entertaining, moving, and quite disturbing at times. The highlight has to be the Mummy, which fortunately highlights more of Karloff’s acting, than just the grunts we get from him in the Frankenstein movies. Speaking of Frankenstein, I’m sure that Bride of Frankenstein is another favorite in this box set, and though highly entertaining and worth it for the reveal of the bride at the end, it’s heavy leaning on comedy and slapstick is a startling contrast to the tone the movie is trying to have (or maybe not?). The Creature From the Black Lagoon is another essential for horror fans and is your standard who-is-the-real-monster-here storyline underlining a very engaging story. The Phantom of the Opera is probably the weakest entry in this box set, and even though it’s not bad per se, it leans to heavily on the musical numbers and loses momentum. Also, it’s hardly a “horror” movie. All the movies have production value that holds up to this day with incredible makeup, and special effects that were decades ahead of their time. It’s truly a testament to these movies how easily one is engrossed in them. In the loads of great extras (including commentaries), there is a highly informative feature showing just how painstaking the restoration process was. All the work is visible on screen and a wonderful way to preserve these classics.

Like I said, I hope the collection continues, especially considering how they knocked it out of the park for this one.

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