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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Wolf Man - part of the Universal Classics Monsters Boxset [Blu-ray]

 

(George Waggner, 1941)

 

Released individually on September 2nd, 2014:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Universal

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:09:56.192 

Disc Size: 26,577,769,131 bytes

Feature Size: 19,111,852,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.99 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 2nd, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1772 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1772 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 448 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Tom Weaver

Monster by Moonlight (32:38)

• The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth (10:02)

• Pure in Heart: The Life and legacy of Lon Chaney Jr. (36:53)

• He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce (24:56)

• The Wolf Man Archives (6:46)

• Trailer Gallery

• 100 Years of Universal (9:25 in 1080P)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From the era of silent movies through present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection showcases 8 of the most iconic monsters in motion picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature From the Black Lagoon. Starring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester in the roles that they made famous, these original films set the standard for a new horror genre with revolutionary makeup, mood-altering cinematography and groundbreaking special effects. Featuring over 12 hours of revealing bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate classic monster experience.

 

 

The Film:

"Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And the moon is full and bright." Upon first hearing these words, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) dismisses them as childish folderol. After all, this is the 20th Century; how can a human being turn into a werewolf? Talbot soon learns how when he attempts to rescue Jenny Williams (Fay Helm) from a nocturnal attack by a wolf. Collapsing, Talbot discovers upon reviving that Jenny is dead-and, lying by her side, is not the body of a beast, but of a gypsy named Bela (Bela Lugosi). The son of fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), Bela was a lycanthrope, or "wolf man." And now that he has been bitten by Bela, Talbot is cursed to suffer the torments of the damned whenever the moon is full. Arguably the best of the "original" Universal horrors (original in the sense that it was not based on an existing literary property, a la Frankenstein, Dracula and The Invisible Man), boasts one of the most stellar casts ever to grace a "B" picture: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Warren William, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya and Bela Lugosi. The man-to-wolf transformation sequences -- one of which took a full 24 hours to film -- are thoroughly convincing, thanks to the cosmetic genius of Jack P. Pierce (Chaney had wanted to emulate his father by developing his own werewolf makeup, but existing union rules would not permit this). Alas, after this powerhouse opening volley, the Wolf Man character was relegated to a series of cheap sequels, teaming him with other Universal shock stars: Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). The final ignominy was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1945), in which Lawrence Talbot (Chaney again), having been cured of lycanthropy in House of Dracula, reverts to his werewolf status -- and has to endure the one-liners of Lou Costello to boot.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

It's only in your mind' says Claude Rains to his screen son Lon Chaney Jr, as he straps the suspected werewolf to a chair in Universal's second try at the Wolf Man saga. But he's three corpses too late, and we've already seen the transformation as Chaney stomps through a never-never land of foggy glades outside English villages set in Alpine scenery. Suspension of disbelief aside, this is interesting for its relatively modern equation between Chaney's wolfish desires and his unhappy fate, for its concern over the victims, and for the fact that - despite all odds - there's undeniable magic within the staid format.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Wolf Man on Blu-ray looks the best of the 5 previous I have seen from the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection.  Black levels are pitch in 1080P and the image quality is superb. Like the others, this is dual-layered with a high bitrate. There is a hint of gloss and detail is magnificent. Contrast exports healthy, rich visuals. There is no noise in the many dark nighttime scenes and only a few minor speckles. This Blu-ray has touch of depth and overall looks extremely pleasing.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We also get a lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel transfer at 1772 kbps. There is original music by a mixture of Charles Previn, Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner that sounds creepy and mysterious in uncompressed. There are optional English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Most opf the supplementary content is from the previous Legacy DVD edition including the audio commentary by Tom Weaver. Monster by Moonlight (32:38) is another David Skal documentary (from 1999) - this time hosted by John Landis who discusses the five Universal movies featuring The Wolf Man character portrayed by Lon Chaney. There is a 10-minute video entitled - The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth and a half-hour homage; Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr. We also get the 24-minute He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce as also found on The Mummy disc. Duplicating the others Blu-rays in the set this has an Archive film-poster-stills slideshow, a trailer gallery and another 100 Years of Universal piece.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The mainstays of the Universal Horror output was Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. This has a superb build-up and to have film on Blu-ray for a Home theater late-night festival is thrilling. I doubt we're going to see it looking any better and we give the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection a huge recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

September 28th, 2012

Released individually on September 2nd, 2014:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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