Karloff & Lugosi - Horror Classics

 

   The Walking Dead (1936)       You'll Find Out (1940)


Zombies of Broadway (1945)       Frankenstein 1970 (1958)


Titles

 


 

The Walking Dead (1936)
The Walking Dead is a unique blend of cinematic horror and the classic Warner Bros. gangster stylings. This long-admired cult favorite stars Boris Karloff, who gives an outstanding performance as John Ellman, an ex-con framed for murder who's sentenced to the electric chair. When Ellman is brought back to life through the miracles of science, his only task is to seek revenge against those responsible for his death. Michael Curtiz directs.
Special Feature:
Commentary by historian Greg Mank

Frankenstein-1970 (1958)
Nearly twenty years after his final appearance as the Frankenstein monster in Son of Frankenstein, Boris Karloff returned to the screen in a new film derived from the Mary Shelley story that first catapulted him to stardom. In this 1958 horror classic, Karloff appears in the role of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a descendent of the original doctor, whose depleted fortune forces him to grant a film crew access to the family castle to shoot a horror film. It's not all bad, though, since he now has a supply of fresh body parts ready for harvesting.
Special Feature:
Commentary by historians Charlotte Austin and Tom Weaver

You'll Find Out (1940)
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre poke fun at their horror-genre personas in this 1940 RKO mix of music, murder and mirth. The plot finds the trio of horror legends leaving a trail of terror and laughs along the way, as they plan a murder in order to nab a young heiress' inheritance in a spooky, spoofy haunted house tale. The film was one of several hits of the era featuring the music and merriment of the then popular Kay Kyser and his band. The film's original song, "I'd Know You Anywhere" was Oscar nominated.

Zombies on Broadway (1945)
The emphasis is equally spread between horror and humor in this RKO production that has endeared itself to generations of die-hard Lugosi fans. Here, Bela Lugosi stars as mad scientist Dr. Paul Renault who ends up with more than he bargained for when he encounters two inept Broadway press agents (Alan Carney and Wally Brown) looking for a real-life zombie to use for a publicity stunt in promoting a new nightclub.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1936 - 1958

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Warner Home Video (2-disc) - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1, 2, 3, 4 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:05:16, 1:22:48 + 1:36:39 + 1:07:52

Bitrate:

Disc one with The Walking Dead (1936) + Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

Bitrate:

Disc two with You'll Find Out (1940) + Zombies of Broadway (1945)

Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English (SDH), French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 2:35:1 for Frankenstein 1970 + 1.33 for the rest

  for Frankenstein 1970

Edition Details:
Commentary by historian Greg Mank on The Walking Dead

Commentary by star Charlotte Austin, historian Tom Weaver and Bob Burns on Frankenstein-1970

• Trailers for Frankenstein-1970 + You'll Find Out


DVD Release Date: October 6th, 2009

One Keep Case inside a cardboard sleeve
Chapters: 12 X 4

 

Comments:

Much in the vein of Boxsets like Icons of Horror - Boris Karloff or Sam Katzman collections, the four feature films of this boxset are shared, two each on two dual-layered, DVDs with each being in their original aspect ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced for Frankenstein-1970 and 1.33 for the older three. Each disc is coded for Regions 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the NTSC standard. They have original mono audio (or 2.0 channel stereo) and the dialogue is supported by optional English or French subtitles. The 2 DVDs are housed in one keep cases inside a cardboard sleeve and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe these particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Warner Home Video's Karloff & Lugosi Horror Collection at present although the trailer for Frankenstein-1970 trailer is on the Festival of Fright DVD HERE. Disc one houses The Walking Dead (1936) + Frankenstein 1970 (1958), where disc two has You'll Find Out (1940) + Zombies of Broadway (1945)

Image quality: All four should be treated as single-layered disc transfers as they share the DVD with another feature. The image quality really varies on the 4 black and white films. The most anticipated and sought after film, The Waking Dead, has muddy contrast but is not the weakest of the four.  It is fairly soft with occasional scratches and speckles - it doesn't appear to have had any restoration but remains watchable. The next best film "You'll Find Out" - a mixture of genres - looks significantly better with stronger detail and richer black levels. Zombies on Broadway is exceptionally poor. The transfer is paper thin, has fragile black levels and is interlaced (combing example below). It looks like a bad RKO Editions Monteparnasse PAL release from France.  It's comedic elements kind of ruined the film experience for me anyway I had a ton of fun though with Frankenstein-1970 (whose opening credits are pictureboxed by the way).  It's the hokiest but looks the best of the four. It's one of those - it's so bad - it's good with some 50's sweater girls for pleasant distraction. Overall, I've seen worse visual quality but it's a surprise that Warner would release this in such an un-restored state but, to be fair, it's priced accordingly and vintage horror fans will probably want to partake no matter how weak The Waking Dead looked. Actually, they are all within the range of watchability except Zombies on Broadway - which should be given a pass for content anyway.

Monaural audio was acceptable if unremarkable. The oldest feature, The Waking Dead, probably has the most minor issues but still no dramatic hiss or pops were uncovered.  It was consistent and clear enough for each and the dialogue is supported with optional English or French subtitles.

 

The first disc has a commentary for each feature. Historian Greg Mank talks with some confident knowledge on the iconic The Walking Dead although he has a tendency to sound a bit canned reading from some professional notes. It's good though and mixed in well with the film audio. I liked it a lot. He has 100's of details that encourage appreciation of this noirish Karloff feature. A grouping of star Charlotte Austin, historian Tom Weaver,  Bob Burns and a host's name that I didn't catch have some fun with Frankenstein-1970. It's quite lively and upbeat with all aspects of the film discussed - Weaver taking the lead for many of the details. There are trailers for Frankenstein-1970 + You'll Find Out but that is all in the supplements department.

 

We come back to the same old question - is it worth the price? I suppose it depends on how keen you are on the films. I'd say disc one with The Walking Dead and Frankenstein-1970 is worth it alone - especially with the included optional commentaries. The former may even appeal to Film Noir buffs. The interlacing of Zombies is unfortunate but it seems the first DVD is where most of the effort for this pragmatic package went - and it's where the significant value lies. As long as you keep your expectations of the image quality in-check you'll probably appreciate this as much as I did. I hope Warner comes out with more of these clandestine films - as opposed to their overpriced DVD-R Archive collection.  

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


Disc 2


 

 

The Walking Dead (1936)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 
Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

You'll Find Out (1940)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Zombies of Broadway (1945)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

Combing from an interlaced transfer

 

 

 

Frankenstein 1970 (1958)


 

Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1,2, 3,4 - NTSC




 

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