If, earlier this year, you splashed out on Universal's release of eight of its classic horror movies, this may be kicking-yourself time. Those discs went for £19.99 each. Now here they all are again, plus nine more movies, plus an excellent feature-length doc on the vintage horror-movie phenomenon, plus three "limited edition collectable figurines" - all for the bargain price of £84.99. Enough, you might think, to induce a Dracula-rivalling hissy fit.
Still, if you did pick up those earlier releases, console yourself with the thought that you've already got the cream of the crop. The Universal horror cycle started off strongly at the onset of the '30s, with Tod Browning's original Dracula (1931) being rapidly followed by James Whale's sublime Frankenstein (1931) and Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932). Hot on their heels came two more masterpieces from James Whale: The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride Of Frankenstein (1935).
The cycle got its second wind at the beginning of the '40s with The Wolf Man (1941) and the first sound version of Phantom Of The Opera (1943). A late entry was Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954), originally released in the short-lived 3-D process. Those eight from the previous release are all in this box and are well worth getting.
But after Universal had scored an unexpected hit with its initial venture into horror, the studio went on to milk the idea to death, with increasingly perfunctory plotting, flat direction and ever-cheesier dialogue. Bride Of Frankenstein was a rare example of a sequel that surpassed the original. But then there came Son Of Frankenstein (1939), Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942) and House Of Frankenstein (1944). Likewise, Dracula spawned Dracula's Daughter (1936), Son Of Dracula (1943) and House Of Dracula (1945). The Wolf Man had a predecessor - Werewolf Of London (1935) - and a successor, She-Wolf Of London (1946). And in a bid to resurrect the dying franchise, Universal started pooling its monsters, offering Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943). All these movies feature in this new box set.
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