From the studio that created the horror genre comes five terrifying films that will send chills down your spine and bring terror to your heart in the Universal Horror Classic Movie Archive! Unearthed from the vaults and o... more »n DVD for the very first time, Universal Pictures invites you to journey through fog-filled moors, into haunted mansions and through secret hallways to meet a chilling collection of mad scientists, crazed circus performers, mysterious butlers, maniacal killers and one very ape-like woman! Prepare yourself for hours of pure terror starring some of the most iconic actors in the history of horror, including Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. The Black Cat Bela Lugosi and Basil Rathbone star in this mystery about a group of greedy heirs stuck in a creepy mansion where, one by one, both cats and people turn up dead. Man Made Monster When a mad scientist transforms a carnival performer (Lon Chaney, Jr.) into a murderous monster, he creates a path of destruction leading to an edge-of-your-seat climax! Horror Island What started out as a treasure-making scheme ends up deadly for a group of people stuck in a seemingly haunted castle with a killer known only as ?The Phantom.? Night Monster Bela Lugosi stars in this horrific tale filled with strange characters, secret passages, dark storms and a murderer who?s mastered the art of ?mind over matter.? Captive Wild Woman A mad scientist turns an ape into a beautiful, but deadly, woman (Acquanetta) in this frightening film featuring groundbreaking make-up effects.« less
"I wish sets like Universal Horror Classic Movie Archive would not be specific to a chain (Best Buy for this set) since the availability tends to be too small and after they sell out the prices become ridiculous (like The Classic Sci-fi Ultimate Collection another Best Buy exclusive). Of course, as soon as I saw this for sale I knew I needed to add it to my early horror collection. All of these are on DVD for the first time and the transfers look quite good. Several of these were made quite quickly like "Man Made Monster" and "Horror Island" and a couple of these like "Captive Wild Woman" are not really horror (though nowhere near as bad as the advertising on the "The Boris Karloff Collection" also on Universal), but fans of the 40's monster/horror genre are going to want (need) this on their shelf. Now only if Universal had added some supplements.
Black Cat (1941): This movie is not a remake of the superior 1934 version nor bares resemblance to Poe's short story. It does have two stars at that time with a fading Bela Lugosi (somewhat played against type so that is interesting) and Basil Rathbone (there is a nice little in-joke referencing him as Sherlock Holmes). Neither is the lead though which would belong to future Academy Award winner Broderick Crawford who plays a character who wants to buy the estate. The plot of a heiress inviting relatives over to discuss her will and subsequent death and subsequent trapping of the rest of the guests in the house (bad weather) as they slowly get killed off seems stereotypical of this genre which was similar to the "Cat and the Canary" films (1927 & 1939). Gale Sondergaard who plays the maid here performs a similar role in the 1939 version (and other films). The pace is a bit slow and Hugh Herbert's performance (he plays a house and antique appraiser who is completely oblivious to everything) was vaudevillian comedy way overdone and reminds me of a more annoying Costello. If it was toned down it could have been beneficial. Black Cat is an OK film with nice sets and good performances by the secondary character actors.
Man Made Monster (1941): Director George Waggner was extraordinarily busy during 1940/1941 helping helm several cheap horror/suspense films like "Man Made Monster" until his masterpiece "The Wolf Man". This film would also star the consummate commonplace common-man in Lon Chaney Jr. (still in his dad's shadow at this point; though he would not be typecast in horror until "The Wolf Man") who's role in this film is analogous to that of the furred fanged fury. Chaney plays Dan McCormick an oafish congenial low-rent magician who survived an electrocution (and crash) and is found by two scientists - one who wants to help him and one who wants to exploit him (Lionel Atwill). "Man Made Monster" is a decent film for an extremely low budget and quickly shot (apparently three weeks according to IMDB) movie. You have to love the glow that surrounds him as his powers grow. This movie seems more like a sci-fi film than horror though.
Horror Island (1941): Another George Waggner horror film of 1941 that was on a double bill of "Man Made Monster". The film starts with Bill Martin (Dick Foran) as a down-on-luck entrepreneur who avoids bill collectors while trying to make big on his next crazy idea. He happens on half a map that might lead to treasure on an island he owns. He decides to make his island/castle a tourist spot so he can make money regardless if there is treasure or not. The first bunch he takes all seems suspicious. Once they get to the island it then takes from Agatha Cristie's "And Then There Were None" (which was not that original in the first place). Not too much interesting in this film, but nothing horrific either. Some nice sets and situations, but everything feels rushed. This film has one of the most egregious examples of getting a crew member on film. As the cast enters the castle and the camera pans toward the inside, a grip moving a portable light moves towards the left, gets his cord stuck on a table, points his light down and slowly moves out-of-screen after he has already hit the midpoint of the camera shot -- unintended hilarity. This is partially because it had a 12-day shooting schedule and was released less than a month after production started.
Night Monster (1942): The plot: Dr. Lynne Harper gets summoned to Ingston Mansion to help the daughter of the invalid owner (Kurt Ingston) Margaret Ingston who thinks she is going insane because of what she sees, the murders near the house and the fact that the maid keeps cleaning up blood spots. Meanwhile three doctors have been invited also to witness the improvement of Kurt who was left crippled because of an operation by the three (though it was not necessarily their fault). Kurt has been using the help of a fakir Agor Singh who is tapped into the spiritual power. Also visiting is Dick Baldwin (the protagonist) a writer who is friends with Kurt. Soon more killings happen in the household. Could it be the fakir, the butler Rolf (Bela Lugosi and we know the butler always does it, or does he), the misogynistic chauffer, the owner or the crazed daughter? Night Monster is an effectively directed film by Ford Beebee (director of the Bomba series and lots of sci-fi/horror `B' films) that works well for most of the movie but fails at the very end. This is because it is obvious who the culprit is and the special effects are a bit of a let down too. However, there are enough suspects at the beginning to keep it interesting; though, there is the age old problem that when there are murders about it would be best to leave the house.
Captive Wild Woman (1943): Dr. Sigmund Walters (Universal hammy horror stalwart John Carradine) is an endocrinologist who tampers with science and transforms a female ape to a human (played by Acquanetta, yes that is her name probably influence by the hair spray) with borrowed glands from other females. While the direction by Edward Dmytryk, who would later helm the excellent Caine Mutiny (1954) is solid, and the acting is decent, the plot is `b' level entertainment that is ridiculous (typical Universal Horror film of the time). There is a plethora of stock footage featuring a real lion tamer that outdoes the rest of the action in this movie. I cannot believe they made two sequels to this film (which I have not seen): Jungle Woman (1944) with Acquanetta reprising her role and The Jungle Captive (1945) with Vicky Lane as the ape girl. Once again this proves that sequels are nothing new. "
A bit of a let down, (edited)
Greg Horn | waterford, wisconsin USA | 10/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First off, don't pay the scalpers prices, best Buy had like 15 of these on the shelf for $17 today.
second...Poor choice of movie mix for this collection. Common sense would say Captive Wild Women should have been a 4 pack with Jungle Woman, Jungle Captive and Monster and the Girl.
Certainly Night Monster and Man Made Monster are fantastic, must see flicks, but really now they should have been packaged with Mad Ghoul, House of Horrors, Murders in the Zoo and Island Of Lost Souls.
A hit/miss package which obviously didn't have much thought put into it's content. I find that odd seeing how well a job Universal did packaging up their classic monsters series. I give 2 stars due to poor choice of movies in this collection."
Entertaining, and not the same "Black Cat".
P. Wolske | 10/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of five Universal films aren't classics, but every one is fun, with good production values. And note that "The Black Cat" is NOT the 1934 Lugosi/Karloff film, but a 1941 film with Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Broderick Crawford, Anne Gwynne, and Hugh Herbert! If those names mean anything to you, you'll really love this set. Other actors include John Carradine, Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr, Evelyn Ankers, and many more. For $17 as a Best Buy exclusive, that's only 3 1/2 bucks a movie. Picture quality is pristine, and they're even closed captioned. Hurry, because when they've sold out, that's it."
FIVE MORE FROM THE UNIVERSAL VAULT! A COUPLE OF GEMS! LIMI
! MR. KNOW IT ALL ;-b | TRI STATE AREA | 02/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD set around Halloween 07, it was an exclusive Best Buy 2 disc DVD set and I am finally getting to it now. I've got so many horror films to catch up on! This DVD set contains five rare Universal films from the 40's. The prints are clean and there some trailers, but the best reason to buy this set is because all the films included are seeing their first DVD releases! If your a Universal fan it's a great set. I will review each film as I watch them, so I will be adding to this. The first film 'The Black Cat' is a film I had never seen. When I bought the set I thought it was the 1934 classic with Karloff and Lugosi....I'm glad it wasn't as I already have that film on the Bela Lugosi collection.......anyway..... 'The Black Cat' on this set is a murder/mystery/comedy from 1941. The film stars Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi in a fun supporting character. I did like this fun film full of secret passages and things that go bump in the night. The next film 'Man Made Monster' is a very good Lon Chaney Jr. film. The Third film 'Horror Island' is a misleading title as there isn't much horror going on, on this island! It's actually a mystery/comedy film that doesn't have much comedy in it either. This is the weakest of the five films on this set. I have reviewed these films on the individual release or VHS release. Please look for those releases.
The Black Cat(1941)3 1/2 Stars Man Made Monster 4 1/4 Stars Horror Island 2 1/4 Stars Night Monster 4 Stars Captive Wild Woman 3 Stars"
Hopefully the Tip of the Iceberg
G. Schneider | VA United States | 10/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Universal Pictures, as fans of the horror genre well know, was the leader in this type of film. I grew up on their movies when "Shock Theatre" debuted on WCAU-TV in Philly back in the 50s when I was in high school. (The first two films they showed were FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, two of my favorites to this day.) In this collection, there were only two films -- CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN and HORROR ISLAND -- that I'd never seen before, and some of the others I hadn't seen since the 50s. For fans of Universal, this set is highly recommended. And as my title for this review indicates, I hope this is just the first of many such collections. (I'd like to think that one day there will be a complete Boris Karloff set or a complete Bela Lugosi set. I'd like to hope there will never be a complete Lon Chaney, Jr., set, however!)
One thing puzzles me, though: The cover art for the inside DVD holder shows Boris Karloff from some movie in the 50s. Not only is whatever that film might be from the wrong era (the others all being from 1941-1943), but Karloff isn't even in any of the films in this set. How did this picture get included in the collage?"