Icons of Horror Collection - Boris Karloff

 

Boris Karloff was to the Horror Movie what Fred Astaire was to the Musical: the epitome of class and style. No matter how grisly the circumstances, he'd rise above them with talent, poise and even charm. And here, for the first time on DVD, are four of his finest chillers from his peak years in the 1930s and 1940s, all demonstrating his amazing range. In The Black Room, he plays twin brothers -- one good, one evil, naturally -- in a small country where beautiful women seem to turn up missing. The Man They Could Not Hang and Before I Hang present him in his classic "Mad Doctor" persona as forward-thinking scientists who run afoul of the law and become crazed killers. And in The Boogie Man Will Get You, he sends up that image in a delightful farce that also stars Peter Lorre (M) and Larry Parks (The Jolson Story)

 

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)     The Black Room (1935)

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)   Before I Hang  (1940)

 

Titles

 

 

 

The Boogie Man Will Get You
Stars Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom, Larry Parks, Jeff Donnell
Directors: Lew Landers
Theatrical Release Date: October 24th, 1942
Synopsis - Crazy professor Nathaniel Billings is working on creating a race of supermen in the basement of a New England house. He sells the building to a naive woman and her ex-boyfriend to run as a hotel. Billings then teams up with equally crazy Dr. Lawrence and uses the guests as a source for their experiments.

The Black Room
Stars Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen, Thurston Hall, John Buckler
Directors: Roy William Neill
Theatrical Release Date: July 15, 1935
Synopsis - Prophecy has it that younger twin Anton will kill brother Gregor in the castle's Black Room. Anton returns to the castle after a 10 year hiatus. Gregor, a Baron, has many attempts on his life as his subjects detest his tyranny. However, good natured Anton earns the subjects' respect, and the admiration of Col. Hassel, uncle of the beautiful Thea. When Gregor kills young servant Mashka, his subjects storm the castle to remove him. Devious Gregor renounces his title in favour of brother Anton to appease them. He then kills Anton to assume his identity and the Baronship again. He is free to pursue Thea with Col.Hassel's blessing. When Col.Hassel discovers Gregor's impersonation, he also meets death. With Thea's true love, Lt. Lussan, wrongfully convicted of Hassel's murder, it appears nothing can stop evil Gregor from ambushing her into marriage. But what of that prophecy?

The Man They Could Not Hang
Stars Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox, Roger Pryor, Don Beddoe
Directors: Nick Grinde
Theatrical Release Date: August 17, 1939
Synopsis - Mad Scientist, Dr. Henryk Savaard, is obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. The police are alerted of Savaard's activities by his assistant's girlfriend. Savaard is arrested, convicted and sentenced to hang. He vows revenge on the judge, jury and district attorney. After the hanging, his assistant claims Savaard's body and uses Savaard's technique on it. Savaard is brought back to life. Now he can seek sweet revenge on his prosecutors.
 
Before I Hang
Stars Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Bennett, Edward Van Sloan, Ben Taggart
Directors: Nick Grinde
Theatrical Release Date: September 17, 1940
Plot Outline - A physician on death row for a mercy killing is allowed to experiment on a serum using a criminals' blood, but secretly tests it on himself. He gets a pardon, but finds out he's become a Jekyll-&-Hyde.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1935- 1942

 DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony (2-disc) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

   

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Distribution Sony Pictures - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC
Runtime 1:06:32 + 1:02:02 + 1:08:04 + 1:03:58
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.2 + 4.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:  Disc 1
The Boogie Man Will Get You / Before I Hang

Bitrate: Disc 2
The Black Room / The Man They Couldn't Hang

Audio English (original) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none
 

DVD Release Date: October 17, 2006
2 slim transparent keep cases inside a cardboard box (see image at top)

Chapters: various

 

 

Comments:

The 4 films are spread over 2 single-sided - single-layered discs (less than 4.0 Gig each). Each disc is housed in a slim transparent keep case - both are inside a cardboard box. They are encoded in the NTSC standard for regions 1,2,3,4. All are progressively transferred and have optional English subtitles. There are no extras.

Image quality is fairly consistent over the four films. Reasonably clean, minimal digital noise, dark and probably un-manipulated contrast and deep black levels. The Bogie Man Will Get You stands out as the weak film and weakest DVD image and surprisingly its the newest of the 4 features, but it is not that far behind.

This package is as stingy as they get - 2 films sharing single-layered discs, no extras and no artwork menus ?!? But I would say for fans of the genre (or Karloff) the $4.50 per film price may be too enticing to pass up. On the good side - image is fair to surprisingly strong and there are optional subtitles (ghastly yellow!).

This four-movie set has some rarely seen Karloff B-film standards - thrillers with the Mad Doc and a comedic misfire notable for the teaming of Karloff and Lorre. I'm addicted to this stuff, so for me it was an easy sell -  out of    

Gary W. Tooze

 





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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Sony Pictures - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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