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Blu-ray Review: Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Blu-ray Review: Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 (The Raven)

Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1
Blu-ray
Directors: Edgar G. Ulmer, Lew Landers, Lambert Hillyer
Writers: Peter Ruric, David Boehm, John Colton
Cast: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop, Irene Ware, Samuel S. Hinds, Walter Kingsford, Frances Drake
Distributor: Scream Factory
Not Rated
Runtimes: 66 / 61 / 79 / 70 Minutes
Release Date: June 18, 2019

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi created some of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Their unforgettable performances as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster terrified a generation of moviegoers. Now, Scream Factory pays tribute to these legendary actors with Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1.

In this 4-disc set, you’ll find The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), and Black Friday (1940). On Blu-ray for the first time, these films are presented in high-definition with a brand new 2K scan from the original film elements and the collection comes loaded with new audio commentaries and featurettes.

Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Black Cat was the first of eight movies to pair the two iconic actors. The film stars David Manners and Julie Bishop as Peter and Joan Alison, American newlyweds traveling through Central Europe. The honeymooners are forced to share a train compartment with Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Lugosi), a Hungarian psychiatrist who, like most psychiatrists, has spent 15 years in a Siberian prison camp.

Werdegast is on his way to see an old friend, Hjalmar Poelzig (Karloff), an Austrian architect who, like every architect worth their salt, is also a Satan-worshiping priest who collects dead women and displays them in glass cases. As you might have guessed, things aren’t exactly above-board at this European bed and breakfast. Poelzig plans to sacrifice Joan in a satanic ritual during the dark of the moon and add another corpse bride to his collection of deceased dames.

Blu-ray Review: Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 (The Raven)

In 1935’s The Raven, Lugosi stars as Dr. Richard Vollin, a brilliant surgeon and Edgar Allen Poe fanboy with a basement full of homemade torture devices inspired by Poe’s oeuvre. After saving the life of a dancing beauty (Irene Ware), the scientist goes mad when he can’t have her for himself. Enter Edmond Bateman (Karloff), a murderer on the lam who needs a new face so he can live in anonymity. Vollin turns Bateman into a disfigured monster, promising to give the fugly fugitive a new face in exchange for his savage services.

The Invisible Ray stars Karloff as Dr. Janos Rukh, an astronomer who has invented a telescope that photographs light-waves from the Andromeda Galaxy, giving him a way to view the past. Rukh and his colleague Dr. Benet (Lugosi) travel to Africa to examine a meteorite that crashed to Earth a billion years ago – according to the light-wave photos of the past, of course. It turns out that the rock is composed of “Radium X,” an element that makes the doctor glow in the dark – neato! Unfortunately, the radiation also drives Rukh mad, turning the genius scientist into a killer.

Blu-ray Review: Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 (Black Friday)

1940’s Black Friday is, surprisingly, not an origin story about the American shopping holiday. Here, Karloff plays Dr. Ernest Sovac, a surgeon who performs a brain transplant to save the life of his friend, George Kingsley (Stanley Ridges). While the procedure is a success, there are – surprisingly – a few side effects. Kingsley’s head is now home to two personalities: his bookish college professor self and Red Cannon, a manipulative gangster with $500,000 hidden away. Lugosi appears in a small role as a rival gangster searching for Cannon’s stash.

Each film in Scream Factory’s Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 looks and sounds great, with top-notch production design and makeup effects and memorable performances from two all-time greats. This 4-disc set makes a great companion to the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection, as well as Scream Factory’s Vincent Price Collection releases, which include Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe adaptations.

Special Features

The Black Cat:

  • NEW Audio commentary by film historian Gregory William Mank
  • NEW Audio commentary by film historian Steve Haberman
  • NEW Dreams Within a Dream: The Classic Cinema of Edgar Allan Poe
  • NEW A Good Game: Karloff and Lugosi at Universal Part I
  • Vintage footage – The Black Cat Contest
  • Still Gallery

The Raven:

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW Audio commentary with film historian Gary D. Rhodes
  • NEW Audio commentary with film historian Steve Haberman
  • NEW A Good Game: Karloff and Lugosi at Universal Part II
  • Audio Recording: Bela Lugosi reads “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  • Still Gallery

The Invisible Ray:

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW Audio commentary with historians Tom Weaver and Randall Larson
  • NEW A Good Game: Karloff and Lugosi at Universal Part III
  • Re-Release Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Black Friday:

  • NEW 2K scan of the original film elements
  • NEW Audio commentary with historian Constantine Nasr
  • NEW A Good Game: Karloff and Lugosi at Universal Part IV
  • Inner Sanctum Mystery: “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Boris Karloff
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Still Gallery

Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 1 is now available at Amazon. For more reviews of Scream Factory releases, click here. Universal Horror Collection: Vol. 2 includes Murders in the Zoo, The Mad Ghoul, The Mad Doctor of Market Street, and The Strange Case of Doctor Rx. The set, which hits shelves on July 23, is available for pre-order at Shout! Factory’s website.

Clip: Scaredy Cat (The Black Cat)

Clip: One Good Eye (The Raven)

Clip: Glow in the Dark (The Invisible Ray)

Clip: You’ve Been Ill (Black Friday)

Cover Art

Blu-ray Review: Scream Factory's Universal Horror Collection: Volume One Cover Art

Follow Adam Frazier on Twitter and Letterboxd!

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