Scream Factory is at it again in terms of there Universal Horror Collections. I love these so much as I absolutely adore these old Universal horror films. It still to this day shocks me that people only think of the classic monsters when they hear Universal Horror and forget about the insane amount of other horror films they made. Scream Factory has been doing a great job with these collections that each feature 4 great classic horror films. This is the 3rd volume and it contains The Tower of London, Man Made Monster, The Black Cat, and Horror Island. Lets take a look at each one shall we.
Tower of London from 1939: Boris Karloff stars as Mord, the executioner for Edward the IV. The film actually opens with him loping off the head of one of Edwards enemies. Its through this we meet Edwards brother Richard who had a cabinet filled with dolls. The dolls are all his enemies, and each one represents someone who stands between him and his place as king. As you can guess as Richard plots each murder Mord carries them out. I would not necessarily classify this as a horror film. Its not a historical film either. Its more of a period piece which is a combination of drama and suspense. But Karloff does give it a good horror touch as Mord. A bald club footed evil bastard who really enjoys torturing people. He just looks like bad news. You throw in Vincent Price as the Duke of Clarence and you have a film with two iconic horror actors, and you get that horror crowd rub. It’s a good film, just not one that will scare you.
Man Made Monster 1941: Now I am going to say this right off the bat. I love this film. My love for Creature and atomic monster films is high. I loved watching films of this style since childhood, and love them to this day. Man Made Monster stars the great Lon Chaney Jr (in his first role) as Dan McCormick. He’s a regular guy who is the only survivor of a bus crash that hits a power line. Everyone is electrocuted except him. Turns out he is immune to electricity. Turns out he can also control it. He’s a sideshow artist called Dynamo Dan The Electric Man. He gains the attention of an evil mad scientist named John Lawrence who is doing experiments with electricity. He plans on giving Dan more and more doses of electricity to make him almost subservient so he can create an army of electro men. This is a great, fun sub atomic film. I have always been a fan of this one.
The Black Cat 1941: Bela Lugosi has a small part in this rather amusing horror film about a group of greedy family members. The real star is Basil Rathbone as Montague Hartley. He, along with most of his relatives have gathered to the matriarch of the family, Henriette Winslow who is on her death bed. They have come seeking their inheritance as she has a large fortune. She of course does plan on leaving behind her wealth but only after all of her cats die (she has lots), and her housekeeper Abigale dies as well. Now as this is a horror film Henriette gets murdered pretty much right after this announcement. Of course everyone in the family is a suspect. Then again so is her Real Estate Agent who has people who want to buy the house. An antique dealer who wants all the old priceless items in her house, and even her shady groundskeeper Eduardo (Lugosi) because he looks suspect. The film plays out like a horror comedy murder mystery, and its quiet fun. It, like all of these films has a short runtime so it moves very fast. This is a fun film to watch if your looking for something silly.
Horror Island 1941: This is a fun combination of Horror and Adventure as Bill Martin, owns a small little island off of the Florida Coast. One day he comes into possession of a treasure map from an old man that he and his friend save from drowning. The map tells the location of the lost treasure of Sir Morgan worth over 20 million dollars, and Bill’s island is where it is. Problem is a piece of the map was stolen by and evil phantom. Bill has the map verified and is informed it is a fake. He decides to start a Treasure Cruise and charge people money for a treasure hunt. Problem is when the passengers leave attempts on their lives being, all by the mysterious phantom. This is my second favorite of the bunch. It has a great old school adventure feel that, combined with the stalking elements of a horror film really make for a good flick. It’s a long lost classic to say the least.
As I said in the beginning Scream Factory has put this set out, its actually volume 3 in the series. It’s another great set. And let me tell you I hope they keep pumping them out. The video transfer is astounding. Everything looks so crisp and clear. It’s the best looking black and white prints I have ever seen. The audio is remarkable. Everything is crisp and flows out of your speakers. And, as its Scream Factory its got a good amount of extras.
DISC ONE: TOWER OF LONDON (1939)
NEW 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Print
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman
DISC TWO: MAN MADE MONSTER (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Tom Weaver And Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr
DISC THREE: THE BLACK CAT (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Gary D. Rhodes
DISC FOUR: HORROR ISLAND (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary By Filmmaker/Film Historian Ted Newsom
Another great set of classic horror that all fans should watch. It’s definitely yet another must have addition to your collection. Pick this one up right away. 4 great, good looking films that you should have a blast with.
Overall 4 out of 5 Stars!