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Universal Cult Horror Collection

 

Murders in the Zoo (1933)     The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942)


The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942)       The Mad Ghoul (1943)       House of Horrors (1946)

 

From the Universal Studios vaults come five digitally remastered horror classics featuring madmen, fiends, murder and mayhem, many never released to home video by TCM. These often overlooked cult titles represent Universal doing what they did best in the 30's and 40's - creating atmospheric and chilling B-Movie entertainment from a studio synonymous with horror cinema. Included here is the gruesome Pre-Code programmer, MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) which still packs quite a punch - plus HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946), THE MAD GHOUL (1943), THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR Rx (1942) and THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942). Each disc includes great bonus material including behind-the-scenes stills, posters and lobbycards, TCM Database info, and more.


Titles

 


 

Murders in the Zoo
Millionaire Eric Gorman is a zoologist/hunter who has created his own private menagerie of wild beasts from his safaris. He is also insanely jealous and uses his dangerous pets to dispose of any potential romantic rival for his wife or anyone that displeases him. Made before the Production Code was enforced, Murders in the Zoo (1933) is a grisly and perverse Pre-Code horror thriller that was quite shocking for its time. The movie is dominated by Lionel Atwill's superb performance as the sadistic zoo owner and features stunning cinematography by seven-time Oscar(r) nominee Ernest Haller. The supporting cast includes Charlie Ruggles (Bringing Up Baby, 1938), Kathleen Burke (Island of Lost Souls, 1932), a young Randolph Scott and the future Governor of Connecticut, John Lodge.

The Mad Doctor of Market Street
When Dr. Benson's experiments in suspended animation result in a man's death, he is forced to flee San Francisco with the police in hot pursuit. He boards a luxury liner to Australia but a shipwreck lands him and a handful of survivors on a remote tropical island. The island natives are NOT very welcoming until Dr. Benson demonstrates his godlike powers by reviving the comatose wife of the island chief. Now worshipped as a deity, the doctor's ego rages out of control as he begins to focus on his master plan: "Just as the natives worship me, so will the whole world." An ideal showcase for horror star Lionel Atwill, The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942) is also notable as an early effort by cult director Joseph H. Lewis (The Big Combo, 1955).

The Strange Case of Doctor Rx
A mysterious vigilante known as "Dr. Rx" strikes again, leaving his calling card behind as evidence. All of his victims have been crooks who have escaped prosecution through legal loopholes and his hit list keeps growing. Assigned to the case is private detective Jerry Church (Patric Knowles) but the crimes are baffling and involve death by strangulation and a possible attempt to implant a gorilla's brain into a human body. The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942) is an offbeat horror-comedy film starring Lionel Atwill, veteran of such macabre classics as Doctor X (1932) and Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), and featuring Shemp Howard (of The Three Stooges) as a bumbling police sergeant.

The Mad Ghoul
When Dr. Morris experiments with a poisonous gas first used by the ancient Mayans in their sacrificial rites, he discovers that it produces a "death in life" state in the subject. It also has severe, irreversible side effects of advanced decomposition that can only be temporarily halted by a potent mixture of herbs and fresh human hearts. Guess who can't wait to test it on his unsuspecting lab assistant Ted? Grave-robbing, corpse desecration, murder and total madness follow. Despite the grisly title, The Mad Ghoul (1943) is a visually stylish thriller with a quintessential mad doctor performance by George Zucco and memorable roles for David Bruce as the title character and forties "Scream Queen" Evelyn Ankers.

House of Horrors
After a particularly devastating critique by a famous art critic, Marcel walks to the waterfront, intent on suicide. Instead, he ends up rescuing a man who is drowning and drags him to safety. The would-be victim is a large, hulking brute with hideous features yet Marcel takes pity on him and offers him refuge. The sculptor realizes he has found the perfect subject for his new work. Nevermind those newspaper headlines about "The Creeper," a serial killer on the loose whose description matches this strange homeless man. Even if his new friend is guilty of murdering prostitutes by snapping their spines, why give him up to the police? He might actually prove useful in removing any obstacles in the way of Marcel's success. House of Horrors (1946) is an atmospheric B-movie delight with familiar screen heavy Martin Kosleck (The Flesh Eaters, 1964) as the demented Marcel and Rondo Hatton, an actor who needed no makeup, as "The Creeper."

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1933 - 1946

  DVD Reviews

 

DVD Review: Universal (5-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC
Time: 1:02:08 + 1:00:00 + 1:05:38 + 1:05:08 + 1:05:32
Audio English (2.0 stereo)
Subtitles None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  "Behind the Scenes Photos"
     "Publicity Stills"
     "Movie Posters"
     "Lobby cards"
      TCM text screen article and some trivia (also text screen)


DVD Release Date: December 14th, 2016

5 housed in one standard keep case
Chapters: various 

 

 

 

Comments:

The 5 main features of this boxset are housed in one standard case 4 are overlapping. All five DVDs are MoD (DVD-R), are interlaced, single-layered, and have no subtitle options. They are available individually at an exorbitant price. Their extras include, for all discs, "Behind the Scenes Photos", "Publicity Stills". "Movie Posters", "Lobby cards" a TCM text screen Article and some Trivia (also text screen).

This package was originally released a long time ago and subsequently gets re-issued - the last time being in December of 2016 - reminding me that I had not seen 4 of the 5 films and I, curiously, picked it up. I don't believe that I have any upgraded version.

The 5 films are Murders in the Zoo (1933), The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942), The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942), The Mad Ghoul (1943) and House of Horrors (1946). They usually run just over an hour - simple characterizations, definitely a product of their era, but wonderful atmosphere.

I'd say the a/v quality is about the same for all five films - artifacts but watchable with pleasing, but hardly stellar, contrast. We've definitely been spoiled by HD but even in the heyday of DVD these have obvious limitations. To be fair - we have seen worse - I saw no advanced chroma and damage is very minor with only a few speckles to contend with. I thought The Mad Ghoul looked quite decent and House of Horrors a bit weaker than the rest. Audio is about the same quality as the video - workable, audible dialogue, but lacking any depth. This was also a function of the original productions.

I'll tell you one thing, I thoroughly enjoyed the Universal Cult Horror Collection. I've always been a fan of these short and sweet horror efforts, even marginal ones, from the vintage years. One observation I will share is the, arguably, best film;
Murders in the Zoo is pre-code and there was obviously no 'animal rights' for films back then - it can get surprisingly graphic. I liked all 5 to varying degrees but I was in the mood. They are a great way to start a double feature night... so for fans of this genre/era - recommended!   

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus



 Keep Case Cover

 

Also available individually here:

 

Murders in the Zoo

 

 


 Keep Case Cover

 

Also available individually here:

 

The Mad Doctor of Market Street

 

 


 Keep Case Cover

 

Also available individually here:

 

The Strange Case of Doctor Rx

 

 


 Keep Case Cover

 

Also available individually here:

 

 

 The Mad Ghoul

 

 


 Keep Case Cover

 

Also available individually here:

 


House of Horrors

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Universal - Region 0 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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