Friday, July 15, 2016

Universal Monster Sequels Coming to Blu-ray

Well, gang, it appears the long wait is finally coming to an end. On September 13, Universal begin rolling out a blood-red carpet to welcome their classic monsters to the Blu-ray, beginning with "Legacy" box sets devoted to the entire sagas of the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man. Presumably, Dracula, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon will follow at a later date. These appear to be identical to the Legacy sets released two years ago by Universal, at least in terms of supplementary contents; however, MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT's Jim Clatterbaugh tells me "the Frankenstein sequels, starting with SON, are all newly restored and mastered in 4K (completed in December 2015), they're not the same HD transfers used in the most recent Legacy sets." These alone will be worth the cost of the upgrades.

For the record, here are the contents:


FRANKENSTEIN COMPLETE LEGACY COLLECTION
Disc 1 - FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
with supplements
The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster
Karloff: The Gentle Monster
Monster Tracks
Universal Horror
Frankenstein Archives
Boo!  A Short Film
Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
Feature Commentary with Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
Trailer Gallery
100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
My Scenes

Disc 2 - THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
with supplements
She's Alive!  Creating The Bride of Frankenstein
The Bride of Frankenstein Archive
Feature Commentary with Scott MacQueen
Trailer Gallery
100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
My Scenes

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)
Theatrical Trailer


Disc 3 - THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942)
Theatrical Trailer
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 4 - HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)
Theatrical Trailer
HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 5 - ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)
with supplements
Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters
Theatrical Trailer
Feature Commentary with Film Historian Gregory W. Mank
100 Years of Universal: The Lot
100 Years at Universal: Unforgettable Characters


THE WOLF MAN COMPLETE LEGACY COLLECTION

Disc 1 - THE WOLF MAN (1940)
with supplements
Monster by Moonlight
The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth
Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.
He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce
The Wolf Man Archives
Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
Trailer Gallery
100 Years of Universal: The Lot
My Scenes

Disc 2 - FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)
Theatrical Trailer
HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)
Theatrical Trailer
HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)
Theatrical Trailer

Disc 3 - ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)
with supplements
Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters
Theatrical Trailer
Feature Commentary with Film Historian Gregory W. Mank
100 Years of Universal: The Lot
100 Years at Universal: Unforgettable Characters

Disc 4 - THE WERE-WOLF OF LONDON (1935)
Theatrical Trailer
SHE-WOLF OF LONDON (1945)
Theatrical Trailer

4K restorations aside, we can spot things from afar that are bound to annoy every single buyer of these sets. Most obviously, anyone picking up the Frankenstein set is bound to pick up the Wolf Man set - by including FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN only on the Wolf Man set guarantees this - so why are consumers being forced to buy almost half their content a second time? Couldn't Universal have slipped some of their 1940s B-horrors, those one-shot items without a legacy, into those slots? How many copies of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN are we going to have to buy in our lives?

Nevertheless, it is exciting to know that these beloved films and sequels are finally on their way to Blu-ray. I first saw the Universal classics in HD on the late, lamented Monsters HD channel slightly more than 10 years ago and wrote about my response to seeing THE WOLF MAN in 1080p for the first time here in an essay entitled "Revel in Evelyn." It might make for some nice reading as you wait. 


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