Fox Horror Classics Collection

 

  The Undying Monster (1942)      The Lodger (1944)      Hangover Square (1945)

 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment celebrates three classic chillers from director John Brahm. ‘The Undying Monster,’ ‘The Lodger’ and ‘Hangover Square’ showcase a director who has hit his stride working with the confines of a genre. Brahm’s 1944 remake, ‘The Lodger,’ is widely considered a superior thriller to the silent Jack•the•Ripper fable originally directed by Hitchcock back in 1927. ‘Hangover Square’ has a legion of fans, making the movie one of Fox’s most requested titles for DVD release.

Brahm was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1893. He escaped the rise of Hitler’s regime, moving to England and then landing in Hollywood where he carved out a career as a solid director.

His debut at Fox was with 1941’s ‘Wild Geese Calling,’ starring Henry Fonda and Joan Bennett. Critical to this first film for the studio was Brahm’s pairing with photographer Lucien Ballard. Ballard would become famous in his own right, best•known as collaborator with Sam Peckinpah – but worked for other greats including Joseph von Sternberg, Henry Hathaway, Budd Boetticher and Stanley Kubrick. It was on the set of Brahm’s ‘The Lodger’ that Ballard met and then later married the movie’s leading lady, Merle Oberon.

Brahm’s second outing for the studio was ‘The Undying Monster.’ Heavily influenced by the Sherlock Holmes classic, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles,’ the movie makes for an intriguing twist on the legend of the Werewolf. At a secluded English country estate the Hammond family has been under the wretched curse of a Werewolf – who has discriminatingly been killing key family members. James Ellison stars as the Scotland Yard inspector sent to investigate the bizarre killings.

Between 1941•50 Brahm completed eight features for Fox of wildly varying types – proving himself as a ‘go•to’ journeyman director. The wartime drama, ‘Tonight We Raid Calais’ came after a musical outing for the Sonja Henie vehicle, ‘Wintertime.’

The Lodger’ would prove to be a breakthrough. Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck assigned Brahm to the movie, which already had Laird Cregar signed to the titular role. Cregar had made a splash in Tyrone Power’s ‘Blood and Sand’ as well as Lubitsch’s ‘Heaven Can Wait’ at Universal. Cregar’s spell•binding performance in ‘The Lodger’ is central to the movie’s success and the critical esteem it enjoys today.

Hangover Square,’ the third of the movies in the collection reunites Cregar, Ballard and Brahm for a dark and dangerous love triangle. Cregar stars as a classical composer who suffers from blackouts during which he may (or may not) commit very brutal murders. Co•starring George Sanders and Linda Darnell, the movie wonderfully pushes the boundaries of horror and noir.

Tied up in legal rights and unavailable for DVD release is Brahm’s best known movie, the Raymond Chandler thriller ‘The Brasher Doubloon.’ The last Brahm movie that Fox would release was ‘The Thief of Venice’ in 1950.

Brahm moved to television in the late 50s, directing numerous classic episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents,’ ‘The Outer Limits’ and ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

 


Titles

 


 

The Undying Monster
John Brahm, 1942
A curse hangs over the ancestral home of the Hammonds. These English toffs are all destined to die at the claws of the hairiest monster the make-up department can cobble together. Fox made a foray into Universal territory with this admirably eerie werewolf pic. Lucien Ballard, one of Sternberg's protégés, provided the gloomy chiaroscuro photography. The story's a howler, but direction and performances have plenty of bite.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

The Lodger
John Brahm, 1944
One of the great evocations of that strange lost city of Hollywood imagination, the fogbound London of Jack the Ripper. It might almost be a continuation of Pandora's Box as a blind man haltingly taps his way through Whitechapel past posters announcing a reward for the Ripper's capture, a hulking figure prowls in the obscurity, a woman's screams are accompanied by animal panting while the camera stares blindly into a dark hole in the wall. Huge, feline, softly obscene as he builds his sonorous facade of biblical quotations and secretly rinses his bloody hands in the waters of the Thames, Laird Cregar gives a remarkable portrayal of perverted sexuality, at once horrific and oddly moving. Stunningly shot by Lucien Ballard, this is one of those rare films - like Casablanca - in which everything pulls together to create a weirdly compulsive atmosphere.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Hangover Square
John Brahm, 1945
John Brahm, a baroque stylist of the 40s best known for The Locket and his remake of Hitchcock's The Lodger, directed this Victorian gothic (1944) about a high-strung and temperamental composer (Laird Cregar) who goes nuts when his mistress (Linda Darnell) betrays him. Bernard Herrmann, himself a high-strung and temperamental composer, contributed the score, and curiously Cregar is made up to look very much like him. With George Sanders and Glenn Langan; the lush and striking cinematography is by Joseph LaShelle.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule located at the Chicago Reader located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1942 - 1945

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: 20th Century Fox (3•disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively • 1:03:12, 1:23:39 + 1:17:36
Bitrate:

The Undying Monster

Bitrate:

The Lodger

Bitrate:

Hangover Square

Audio English (original mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  NOTE: Undying Monster offers a Spanish DUB
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

The Undying Monster:
• Concertos Macabre: The Films of John Brahm (15:26)
Restoration Comparison

• Trailer

Advertising Gallery (click thru)
• Stills Gallery (click thru)


The Lodger:
• Commentary by Film Historians Alain Silver & James Ursini
• Man in the Attic: The Making of The Lodger
(15:37)
• Audio only - The Lodger Vintage Radio Show - Performed by Vincent Price (29:58)

Restoration Comparison

• Trailer

Advertising Gallery (click thru)
• Stills Gallery (click thru)


Hangover Square:
• Commentary by Film Historian/Screenwriter Steve Haberman and Co-Star Faye Marlowe

• Commentary by Richard Schickel
• The Tragic Mask: The Laird Cregar Story (19:43)
• Hangover Square Vintage Radio Show - Performed by Vincent Price (28:49)

Advertising Gallery (click thru)
• Stills Gallery (click thru)


DVD Release Date: October 9th, 2007

3 Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters: 16, 20, and 12

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 3 feature films of this boxset are housed in slim individual transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe these particular editions can only be obtained in Fox's Fox Horror Classics package at present.

Each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The Undying Monster is single layered and The Lodger and Hangover Square are both on dual-layered discs. The transfers are progressive and in the original aspect ratios (1.33 for all). The audio is original English mono with a 2.0 channel stereo option and The Undying Monster has a Spanish DUB choice. There are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles.

Image quality: Fairly consistent although in descending quality for reverse chronological order with The Undying Monster , the oldest film, looking the best sporting sterling contrast and excellent detail, The Lodger also looking surprisingly strong and Hangover Square bringing up the rear in a slightly weak transfer with what appears to be some edge enhancement. At around 1 hour there is an awkward layer change and a light vertical scratch appears intermittently down the centre of the screen and a few frames of damage are noticeable. The audio also has a few lapses - like it is out of sync.  There is some minor digital noise in all three. There are no distracting damage marks excepting in one segment near the end of Hangover Square but it may have been the shadowy intent of the shot. I re-watched it over and over and couldn't tell. I think the captures below give a fair representation of how the DVD package looks. They are very watchable!

Audio volume was a bit quiet but I noted no significant dropout flaws or excessive background hiss (very minor now and again - unobtrusive). The audio is supported with optional English, Spanish or French subtitles.

 

Supplements, as per usual for Classic Fox releases - are excellent. Each disc has click-thru advertising galleries and stills galleries. The Lodger and The Undying Monster offer trailers and restoration comparisons. The Undying Monster has a 15 minute featurette called Concertos Macabre: The Films of John Brahm concentrating on the neglected director of every feature in this boxset. The Lodger has another excellent commentary by the film historians team of Alain Silver and James Ursini. Most have heard this pair working on notable Film Noirs and I feel quite comfortable listening to them share their encyclopedic knowledge of classic film which is always evident and they genuinely seem to enjoy their work (and each other). Also on The Lodger is a 15 minute featurette - Man in the Attic: The Making of The Lodger. It's a nice overview touching on some production details. The Lodger also offers an audio only segment - The Lodger Vintage Radio Show - performed by Vincent Price's recognizable voice. On Hangover Square there are two strong commentaries - a fairly lightweight -full of gaps - one with film historian/Screenwriter Steve Haberman and co-star Faye Marlowe but I preferred the professional Richard Schickel commentary - like Silver & Ursini - Schickel is a pleasure to listen to - the guy REALLY knows his stuff. Great to indulge in after the film - I strongly recommend it. We also have a 20 minute featurette - The Tragic Mask: The Laird Cregar Story and another half-hour audio only segment with Vincent Price. For the price - these extras are solid gold and the films are three fascinating gems. I found all three films here extremely enjoyable. This would be Feature DVD of the Month if the timing were better. I give it my strongest recommendation!

Gary W. Tooze




DVD Menus


Supplements


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

The Undying Monster


John Brahm, 1942


A curse hangs over the ancestral home of the Hammonds. These English toffs are all destined to die at the claws of the hairiest monster the make-up department can cobble together. Fox made a foray into Universal territory with this admirably eerie werewolf pic. Lucien Ballard, one of Sternberg's protégés, provided the gloomy chiaroscuro photography. The story's a howler, but direction and performances have plenty of bite.

 
Subtitle Sample
 

 
Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

The Lodger


John Brahm, 1944

One of the great evocations of that strange lost city of Hollywood imagination, the fogbound London of Jack the Ripper. It might almost be a continuation of Pandora's Box as a blind man haltingly taps his way through Whitechapel past posters announcing a reward for the Ripper's capture, a hulking figure prowls in the obscurity, a woman's screams are accompanied by animal panting while the camera stares blindly into a dark hole in the wall. Huge, feline, softly obscene as he builds his sonorous facade of biblical quotations and secretly rinses his bloody hands in the waters of the Thames, Laird Cregar gives a remarkable portrayal of perverted sexuality, at once horrific and oddly moving. Stunningly shot by Lucien Ballard, this is one of those rare films - like Casablanca - in which everything pulls together to create a weirdly compulsive atmosphere.

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Hangover Square


John Brahm, 1945


John Brahm, a baroque stylist of the 40s best known for The Locket and his remake of Hitchcock's The Lodger, directed this Victorian gothic (1944) about a high-strung and temperamental composer (Laird Cregar) who goes nuts when his mistress (Linda Darnell) betrays him. Bernard Herrmann, himself a high-strung and temperamental composer, contributed the score, and curiously Cregar is made up to look very much like him. With George Sanders and Glenn Langan; the lush and striking cinematography is by Joseph LaShelle.

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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