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Universal Horror Collection: Volume 3

 

Tower of London (1939)                                 The Black Cat (1941)

Horror Island (1941)                            Man Made Monster (1941)

 

 

Get ready for more thrills and chills! Volume 3 of the Universal Horror Collection includes four tales of terror from the archives of Universal Pictures, the true home of classic horror. This collection includes such horror stars as Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone. A ruthless king rises to power with the help of his mad and murderous executioner in Tower of London. A mad scientist transforms a carnival performer into a murderous monster in Man Made Monster. In The Black Cat, a group of greedy heirs find themselves stuck in a creepy mansion where, one by one, people turn up dead. What started out as a treasure-making scheme ends up deadly for a group of people stuck in a haunted castle with a killer known as "the Phantom" in Horror Island.  

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: November 17th, 1939 - May 2nd, 1941

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Distribution Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:48.604 / 1:10:19.256  / 1:00:37.675 / 0:59:50.878
Video

Tower of London

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 28,122,381,302 bytes

Feature: 27,745,327,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

The Black Cat

1.37:1 1080P Sing.-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,820,854,109 bytes

Feature: 21,031,059,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Video

Horror island

1.37:1 1080P Sing.-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 18,565,237,283 bytes

Feature: 18,108,278,784 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Man-Made Monster

1.37:1 1080P Sing.-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 18,112,960,426 bytes

Feature: 17,873,000,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Tower of London Blu-ray:

Bitrate Black Cat Blu-ray:

Bitrate Horror island Blu-ray:

Bitrate Man-Made Monster Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1570 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1570 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

 

Edition Details:

DISC ONE: TOWER OF LONDON (1939)
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman
Still Gallery (3:06)

DISC TWO: MAN MADE MONSTER (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Tom Weaver And Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr
Still Gallery (1:52)

DISC THREE: THE BLACK CAT (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Gary D. Rhodes
Theatrical Trailer (1:49)
Still Gallery (4:19)

DISC FOUR: HORROR ISLAND (1941)
NEW Audio Commentary By Filmmaker/Film Historian Ted Newsom
Theatrical Trailer (1:30)
Still Gallery


Blu-ray Release Date:
December 17th, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case inside cardboard sleeve

Chapters 12 X 4

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Shout! Factory Blu-ray (December 2019): Shout! Factory have transferred four more Universal vintage horror films to Blu-ray in their Volume 3 package; Tower of London (1939), The Black Cat (1941), Horror Island (1941) and Man Made Monster (1941).

Volume One Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) had The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936) and Black Friday (1940) while Volume Two Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) offered Murders in the Zoo (1933), The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942), The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942) and The Mad Ghoul (1943).

The oldest film in Volume 3, The Tower of London, is described as being from a "New 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Print" but I would say that it looked the weakest with some contrast inconsistencies. But overall the image quality in 1080P for all four films is acceptable. They are housed on their own separate Blu-ray discs each with max'ed out bitrates for the relatively shorter films (totaling only 4 3/4 hours worth of features.) Frankly, I am not crazy about the flat-line bitrate graphs which can be an indication of digitization, but here the HD presentations have well-layered contrast, are rich with texture and export relatively clean (see frame-specific damage examples at the bottom.)  I expect this is solely due to the excellent condition of the sources with Tower of London being the, more modest, outlier and Man Made Monster looking the best of the four.

On their Blu-rays, Shout! Factory use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel (24-bit) audio transfer tracks. Scores are by the likes of Frank Skinner (The Appaloosa, Madame X, Magnificent Obsession, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, Thunder Bay, on Tower of London, teaming with Hans J. Salter (Man Without a Star, The Killer that Stalked New York, The Strange Door, Cover Up, Man Without a Star, Scarlet Street, The Land Unknown, The War Lord, The Mole People, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx) on 1941's The Black Cat. Salter takes full reins on Man Made Monster. The audio transfers are, likewise, adept exporting flat sound but carrying modest depth. Three of the films have humor infused and the score  support that with lighter tones as well as ominous depth is more suspenseful sequences. Shout! Factory offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

Shout! Factory Blu-rays include a new commentary for each film with Steve Haberman (author of Silent Screams: The History of the Silent Horror Film) on Tower of London, Tom Weaver tag-teaming with Constantine Nasr on Man Made Monster, Gary D. Rhodes (author of The Birth of the American Horror Film) on 1941's The Black Cat and Ted Newsom on Horror Island. I enjoyed all four but Nasr and fun Weaver (who asks the quiz of what was the only film that Lon Chaney Jr. was credited as such - you guessed it - and an extensive poll on his best films) the most but appreciated the historical references that Haberman gave on Tower of London includes bones and DNA! There are also sills galleries, and trailers as well as a liner notes booklet. 

The dated-ness of these films is part of their appeal - a much more innocent time period of horror films. I wouldn't say that these four are the best of the 12 found in the first three Universal Horror Collection Blu-rays that we have reviewed so far, but they still have immense appeal to fans. Shout! could have fit two films per dual-layered Blu-ray but the commentaries are an excellent addition and encourage a purchase.  

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 


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

 

 

Directed by Rowland V. Lee
USA 1939

 

 

Basil Rathbone's real-life son, John Rodion, has his head chopped off early on in this historical melodrama often mistakenly referred to as a horror film. Yes, a second-billed Boris Karloff does stomp about on a club-foot as the Duke of Glouchester's chief executioner, Mord, but Karloff's presence is really more colorful than horrifying. Rathbone is the main villain here, as the Duke of Glouchester, the deformed second brother of Edward IV (Ian Hunter), whose throne he covets. But before he can place himself on that exalted chair, there are quite a few relatives and pretenders to be rid off. The exiled Prince of Wales (G.P. Huntley) is dispatched during a battle, and his father, the feeble-minded Plantagenet King Henry VI (Miles Mander), who steadfastly refuses to gracefully die of old age, is murdered by Mord. Half-brother Clarence (Vincent Price), meanwhile, is drowned very picturesquely in a vat of Malmsey wine and when Edward IV dies of natural causes, only his two young sons remain. To the horror of Queen Elizabeth (Barbara O'Neil), Glouchester is named their protector -- which of course means that Mord the executioner will be working overtime once again. But the evil duke, now Richard III, has not counted on the heroic John Wyatt (John Sutton), who, by looting the treasury, is able to bring back from exile in France yet another pretender, Henry Tudor (Ralph Forbes).

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


 

 

Directed by: Albert S. Rogell

USA 1941

 

Undistinguished comedy-chiller involving the familiar routine of old dark house, reading of a will, assorted murders. Nothing to do with Poe's story except for some business involving cats, it's worth watching mainly for the admirable Stanley Cortez camerawork. Alan Ladd has a small role as Rathbone's son.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


 

 

Directed by: George Waggner

USA 1941

 

A small-time entrepreneur takes advantage of a fake treasure map he has acquired to stage a treasure-making scheme to an island with an old castle that he has rigged up to be haunted. However, he finds himself being stalked by a killer known as "The Phantom," and the treasure-seekers find themselves being knocked off one by one.

Excerpt from Dave Sindelar review at Sc-fi.org located HERE

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


(aka "Man-Made Monster")

 

Directed by: George Waggner

USA 1941

 

While Man-Made Monster is not one of the all-time great horror films like many of its thirties and forties Universal Pictures celluloid brethren, it is not without certain merits; in particular, it can be viewed historically as the proving ground for one of Universal's undisputed classics, The Wolf Man. Both filmed in 1941, Man-Made Monster first teamed many of the people who would later collaborate on The Wolf Man. Star Lon Chaney Jr., and director George Waggner are well known to have gone on to make the furry opus, but many of the other talents that reunited for the Wolf Man included some of Universal's stable of technicians and artists like special effects wizard John P. Fulton (Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Ten Commandments), makeup magician Jack Pierce (Frankenstein, The Mummy), musical director Hans Salter (The Mummy's Hand, Ghost of Frankenstein) and costumer Vera West (The Man Who Laughs, Son of Frankenstein).

Excerpt from Jason Jones review at Classic Horror located HERE

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


Damage Samples
 

 


  

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

    

Distribution Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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