By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Available to purchase on Amazon USA
The Universal Classic Monsters will shine this Halloween. All the icons from the Golden Age of Cinema from this studio–Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Wolfman–have been given a recent restoration, and now they’re in 4K! The quality is beautiful, and the hard slipcase booklet is a sweet way to keep the discs intact. It features the poster used when the film first came out.
There’s some film grain and audio buzz, which is to be expected, in the product. I’m glad some of the celluloid feel is kept, while the frame rate is increased.
Anyone who collected these older works from one medium to another over the years knows the challenges involved. Whether that’d be from VHS to DVD to Bluray and now 4K, there’s only so much the preservation team can do before putting the original negatives back in the vault. Dracula will be glad, and The Invisible Man can rest in peace.
This collection’s bonus features aren’t new. Anyone who hasn’t picked up prior releases will not find a lot of new content.
What’s revealed on each disc is specific to each iconic monster from folklore. In “The Road to Dracula,” everything you’ve read in the graphic novel released by Humanoids publishing (Lugosi-The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula) is confirmed with the interviews offered here. Additional bits include looking at how the film was restored and an image gallery. I advise not to sell off those older collections because there’s the odd feature worth rewatching when the mood hits.
I bought the Legacy DVD Box set with the busts. The exclusive content added to those discs isn’t found in this 4K mini-box set. That is, the featurettes with Stephen Sommers will not be found elsewhere. He talks about how these original films inspired the creation of his film, Van Helsing.
Perhaps new are the 100 Years of Universal featurettes. They’re spread out across the eight discs (half are Blu-ray) which look at “restoring the classics,” “unforgettable characters,” and “the lot. “
This collection shows a lot more love for the lupine. When compared to the DVD collection, more material was made and perhaps independently released to explain “The Wolfman: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth.” Other pieces include an excellent look at the life and legacy of Lon Chaney Jr. The son of the man of a thousand faces had a tough time living up to his father’s legacy, and it’s a perfect piece to establish his role in the history of horror cinema. Just as important is the work of Jack Pierce, who contributed to a lot of makeup effects used in these films. These two pieces may have been in the bluray release, but I didn’t pick up those editions, so I can’t compare. I bided my time like the Count for a proper 4K release, and Universal Studios have delivered!
I’m hoping for another volume to be released, as Universal’s monsters aren’t limited to these four. Missing is the Mummy and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Both are bound to resurface soon.
One thought on “Comparing the Old with the New: Universal Classic Monster: Icons Collection in 4K”
I love classic monster movies and Universal made some of the best. This re-mastered pack sounds really good. So glad to hear this will be released for Halloween. Perfect!