Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2

 

  Chandu the Magician (1932)        Dr. Renault's Secret (1942)          Dragonwyck (1946)

 

Chandu the Magician (1932)
Megalomaniac and would-be world dominator Roxor has kidnapped Robert Regent, along with his death ray invention, in hopes of using it to degenerate humanity into mindless brutes, leaving himself as Earth’s supreme intelligence. Faced with revealing the machine’s secrets or allowing his family to die a horrible death at the hands of Roxor, Regent’s only hope lies with the intervention of his brother-in-law, the be-turbaned yogi and magician Chandu, who has the power to make men see what is not there.

Dr. Renault's Secret (1942)
A young man visits his fiancée in a remote French villa where her scientist father (George Zucco) resides. There he meets Noel (J. Carrol Naish), Dr. Renault’s mysterious assistant, who has a strange attraction to Renault’s daughter. Soon he learns Noel’s true identity: he is an ape that was turned into a man by Renault’s bizarre experiments!

Dragonwyck (1946)
When Miranda Wells was invited to live with her dark and charming distant cousin Nicholas Van Ryan in order to school his daughter at Dragonwyck manor she was a naive farm girl. As she watches the dark secrets of the house unfold, she becomes more aware of selfishness, desire, and insanity while becoming more involved with Nicholas. The closer Miranda grows to the community and the Van Ryan’s, the more she wishes she had never come to Dragonwyck.

 


Titles

 


 

Chandu the Magician
William Cameron Menzies, Marcel Varnel, 1936
Roxor, a baleful character whose behavior may be described with the simple information that Bela Lugosi plays the part, is a madman who wants to possess himself of a death ray and destroy the world. The ray is the invention of a certain Robert Regent, traveling in Egypt with his family. Chandu, an adventurer turned Yogi, shows up in time to prevent the annihilation of the entire family and to battle Roxor all over Egypt in the process of saving the world from extinction. Although Chandu, like a good Yogi, is indifferent to all earthly things, his indifference does not keep him from loving and ultimately wedding the Princess Nadji, another imperiled damsel.

Excerpt from the NY Times HERE.

Dr. Renault's Secret
Harry Lachman, 1942
A young man visits his fiancée in a remote French villa where her scientist father (George Zucco) resides. There he meets Noel (J. Carrol Naish), Dr. Renault's mysterious assistant, who has a strange attraction to Renault's daughter. Soon he learns Noel's true identity: he is an ape that was turned into a man by Renault's bizarre experiments!.


Dragonwyck
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946

Based upon the bestselling novel “Dragonwyck” by Anya Seton, this is Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ directorial debut.

It tells the story of the naïve farm girl Miranda (Gene Tierney). When she gets an invitation from a distant cousin, Nicholas Van Ryn (Vincent Price), to stay at his mansion. After much persuasion, she talks her father into letting her leave and thus she leaves her very religious family to live a life with the terribly rich and elegant.

But life at Dragonwyck is not quiet what she expected. Van Ryn is cold and tyrannical, and both his wife and daughters starve for affection. When his wife dies, he asks for the hand of Miranda, but she declines and returns home. However Van Ryn is set to marry Miranda, and after a few months he pays the family a visit and asks for her hand once more.

Returning to Dragonwyck, his kindness towards her soon turns into cold. Not only does their newborn son die, but a new law also allows the tenants to buy their land, which leaves Van Ryn without income. Soon Miranda falls ill, and her doctor suspects her of being poisoned, the same way Van Ryn poisoned his former wife. When Van Ryn is confronted, he reveals himself as mad and is shot. The doctor accompanies Miranda to her home.

Originally to be directed by Ernest Lubitsch, he fell ill and Mankiewicz, who wrote the adaptation, was offered the directors chair. From a production point of view, a very safe first film. The book was a bestseller and the chemistry between Gene Tierney and Vincent Price had already been proven solid twice before in “Laura” by Otto Preminger in 1944 and in “Leave her to Heaven” by John Stahl in 1945, for which Tierney got an Oscar nomination.

It is not really a Mankiewicz, or for that matter a Lubitsch, type of film, being a somewhat ordinary gothic romantic drama, but Mankiewicz takes full advantage of his leading actors, even though one can argue, that Tierney perhaps is miscast, even though she plays her naivety brilliantly. On the other hand, Price is superb as the mad Dutch aristocrat, who hates his wife for not giving him a son, and blames Miranda for the death of his newborn son.

The result is a haunting classic gothic tale and a must-see for all lovers of Tierney, Price and Mankiewicz. Highly recommended.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1932 - 1946

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 • 1:11:18, 57:56 + 1:42:44
Bitrate:

Chandu the Magician

Bitrate:

Dr. Renault's Secret

Bitrate:

Dragonwyck

Audio English (original mono) - Spanish mono Dubs on Dragonwyck and Dr. Renault's Secret
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

Chandu the Magician (1932) - single layered
Commentary by Author Gregory William Mank
Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu featurette (15:17)
Restoration Comparison

Dr. Renault's Secret (1942)
- single layered

• Featurette: Horror's Missing Link: Rediscovering Dr. Renault's Secret (15:51)
Restoration Comparison
Trailer
Stills Gallery

Dragonwyck (1946)
- dual layered

Commentary by Author Steve Haberman and Filmmaker Constantine Nasr
A House of Secrets: Exploring Dragonwyck featurette (16:12)
“Dragonwyck” Radio Show Performed by Vincent Price and Gene Tierney – October 7, 1946
Isolated Score Track
Restoration Comparison
Trailer
Still Galleries


DVD Release Date: September 9th, 2008

3 slim Keep Cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters: 16, 20, and 24

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 3 feature films of this boxset are housed in slim, individual, black, keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe these particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Fox's Fox Horror Classics Vol. 2 package at present.

Each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. Chandu the Magician and Dr. Renault's Secret are single layered and Dragonwyck is dual-layered discs. The transfers are progressive and in the original aspect ratios (1.33 for all). The audio is original English mono with optional Spanish DUBs on Dr. Renault's Secret and Dragonwyck. There are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles. Each DVD has viable extras - with a commentary on two of the films.

 

Image quality: I thought both single-layered transfers were very impressive - Chandu shows its age but still has some surprisingly detail. Contrast flickers a bit in the opening and it starts with the caveat 'We have brought this film to DVD using the best surviving source material available.'. Dr. Renault's Secret is a short film (less than an hour) and the single layering is most adequate in helping represent the film on digital. It also looks quite strong all things considered. We've compared Dragonwyck HERE to two other existing European DVD editions. Overall in all three there is no distracting damage marks and I was happy that they looked as good as they do although Dragonwyck is only a marginal improvement still showing noise in monochromatic black sequences. Contrast is excellent without green or sepia seeping into the purity of the B/W and shadowy greytones. I think the captures below give a fair representation of how the DVD package looks. They are very watchable!

Audio volume is consistent and I noted no significant dropout flaws or excessive background hiss (very minor now and again - on Chandu the Magician). The audio is supported with optional English, Spanish or French subtitles.

 

Supplements, as per usual for Classic Fox releases - are excellent. The discs have click-thru advertising and stills galleries plus split-screen restoration  comparisons. Each film has a 15-minute featurette with input from historians, authors, novelists etc. On the wonderful Chandu the Magician we have expert and author Gregory William Mank giving great coverage to all the eccentricities of the narrative. On Dragonwyck we have a team-up of author Steve Haberman and filmmaker Constantine Nasr (who is also the DVD producer). They are a bit dry together but plenty of information is imparted - especially regarding the studio decisions, Alfred Newman's score, a deleted scene etc. Haberman knows his facts and Nasr backs him up with extraneous data - overall quite good and worth the listen.

 

Fox Horror Classics Vol. 1 came out almost a year ago (reviewed HERE) so it's been a while for this 2nd volume. Of the three films, while Dr. Renault's Secret may be the only bona-fide horror film. Chandu the Magician is a fabulous vintage fantasy adventure. Dragonwyck is a great film but more a Gothic melodrama than a horror. Still I won't complain because I LOVED these films so much. The price is ridiculously low for what is being offered. Dragonwyck could be considered the come-on star of the collection for some (easily worth the price offered for the whole set) - but I tell you that both Chandu the Magician and Dr. Renault's Secret so adeptly encapsulate that innocent older genre style that we adore. I was in total rapture watching them and I give the, possibly misnamed, Fox's Horror Classic Volume 2 my strongest recommendation!

Gary W. Tooze




DVD Menus


Supplements


 

Slim Black Keep Case Cover

 

 

Chandu the Magician (1932)
Megalomaniac and would-be world dominator Roxor has kidnapped Robert Regent, along with his death ray invention, in hopes of using it to degenerate humanity into mindless brutes, leaving himself as Earth’s supreme intelligence. Faced with revealing the machine’s secrets or allowing his family to die a horrible death at the hands of Roxor, Regent’s only hope lies with the intervention of his brother-in-law, the be-turbaned yogi and magician Chandu, who has the power to make men see what is not there.
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 
Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Black Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Dr. Renault's Secret (1942)
A young man visits his fiancée in a remote French villa where her scientist father (George Zucco) resides. There he meets Noel (J. Carrol Naish), Dr. Renault’s mysterious assistant, who has a strange attraction to Renault’s daughter. Soon he learns Noel’s true identity: he is an ape that was turned into a man by Renault’s bizarre experiments!
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Slim Black Keep Case Cover

 

 

Dragonwyck (1946)
When Miranda Wells was invited to live with her dark and charming distant cousin Nicholas Van Ryan in order to school his daughter at Dragonwyck manor she was a naive farm girl. As she watches the dark secrets of the house unfold, she becomes more aware of selfishness, desire, and insanity while becoming more involved with Nicholas. The closer Miranda grows to the community and the Van Ryan’s, the more she wishes she had never come to Dragonwyck.

 

NOTE: FULL COMPARISON OF DRAGONWYCK AVAILABLE HERE
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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