Available on Region One for some time, eight of Universal's best-known horror classics finally make it across the pond. The flagship titles are 1931's Dracula and Frankenstein and 1932's The Mummy - - the movies that introduced the supernatural to the sound era and gave desperate Depression-era audiences some much-needed escapism.
Inevitably, what shocked them then now seems quaint. This is especially true of Dracula, which starts off eerie and ends up merely tedious. It may have created an indelible icon with Bela Lugosi's hypnotic count, but it's Dwight Frye's deranged fool who remains unnervingly creepy.
Frye pops up again as the assistant to Colin Clive's lunatic Dr Frankenstein in James Whale's masterly adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel. But here he's overshadowed - as is everyone - by the wondrous performance of Boris Karloff. His creature is a wounded, sympathetic creation who doesn't deserve his fate.
Karloff would again bring "his eyes like shattered mirrors" to the role of Imhotep in The Mummy. Here director Karl Freund creates a bizarre, feverish fantasy that's as much a twisted love story as a traditional shocker.