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Universal Horror Collection: Volume 4

 

Night Key (1937)                          Night Monster (1942)

The Climax (1944)                       House of Horrors (1946)

 

 

Volume 4 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, Lionel Atwill, and Rondo Hatton. Boris Karloff ignites the screen as an inventor who is kidnapped by a gang of burglars and forced to help them commit robberies in Night Key. Bela Lugosi stars in a creepy tale of strange characters, secret passages and a murderer who masters the art of "mind over matter" in Night Monster. In The Climax, Karloff is terrifying as a mad doctor whose insane jealousy over a beautiful opera singer may drive him to murder. A giant of a man is used as an instrument of evil by a mad sculptor in House Of Horrors.  

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 18th, 1937 - March 29th, 1946

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

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

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:07:37.678  / 1:12:12.953  / 1:26:06.286  / 1:05:37.934      
Video

Night Key

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,842,202,436 bytes

Feature: 19,908,950,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Night Monster

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 21,743,356,026 bytes

Feature: 21,281,820,672 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Video

The Climax

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 26,201,971,851 bytes

Feature: 25,334,347,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

House of Horrors

1.37:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 26,471,087,941 bytes

Feature: 19,388,325,888 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 Night Key Blu-ray:

Bitrate Night Monster Blu-ray:

Bitrate The Climax Blu-ray:

Bitrate House of Horrors Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1077 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1077 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

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

 

Edition Details:

 

DISC ONE: NIGHT KEY (1937)
NEW 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Film Element
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Tom Weaver And Dr. Robert J. Kiss
• Theatrical Trailer (1:39)
• Production Design Stills/Production Artwork Gallery (3:59)
• Still Gallery (3:27)

DISC TWO: NIGHT MONSTER (1942)
• NEW 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Film Element
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Gary D. Rhodes
• Theatrical Trailer (1:09)
• Still Gallery (3:59)

DISC THREE: THE CLIMAX (1944)
NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historians Kim Newman And Stephen Jones
• Theatrical Trailer (2:08)
• Still Gallery (4:26)

DISC FOUR: HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946)
• NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Scott Gallinghouse
• NEW The Creeper – Rondo Hatton At Universal (22:25)
• Still Gallery (5:19)


Blu-ray Release Date:
March 17th, 2020
Standard Thick Blu-ray Case inside cardboard case

Chapters 12 X 4

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Shout! Factory Blu-ray (March 2020): Shout! Factory have transferred four more Universal vintage horror films to Blu-ray in their Volume 4 package; Night Key (1937), Night Monster (1942), The Climax (1944) and House of Horrors (1946).

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). Volume 3 (Reviewed HERE) had Tower of London (1939), The Black Cat (1941), Horror Island (1941) and Man Made Monster (1941).

Like the other 3 volumes, these 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 in this package.) Frankly, I am not crazy about the flat-line bitrate graphs which can be an indication of digitization, but let's examine them individually:

The oldest film in Volume 4, Night Key, is described as being from a "New 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Element" and I would say it looks very strong, perhaps the best, with heavy textures and solid contrast supporting a lovely clean film-like HD presentation. It may be a bit horizontally stretched compared to the DVD, but is in the correct 1.37:1 aspect ratio.

The next film, The Night Monster has some inconsistencies with its contrast and a few noticeable speckles. It is also advertised as a "New 2K Scan Of A Fine Grain Element". It is surprisingly cropped on the right and top edges beside the DVD, gaining on the bottom and left sides. The visuals carry some unexplainable softness in spots. Overall though, entirely watchable with, like all 4 transfers, a max'ed out bitrate and an excellent image in-motion.

The third film, The Climax, is in color and from a "NEW 2K Scan Of The Interpositive". This was Technicolor and gets some of that vibrancy through the 1080P transfer. Colors can be very impressive with only minor bleeding - certainly acceptable for the age of the film. It really does looks spectacular at times. A genuinely highly pleasing bump to HD. See our comparative screen captures for the substantial increase in image quality.

The last film is House of Horrors - which I may have liked the best of the four. There appears to be some digitization here. It can look a bit muddy at times and this is the only one of the four without a citing of the source. It may simply be an SD-bump but, regardless, doesn't carry the film-like qualities of the first three, imo. Without being overly picky pulling the magnifying glass out - most fans will appreciate the dark, shadowy hi-res video appearance. 

On their Blu-rays, Shout! Factory use DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel (24-bit) audio transfer tracks for all 4 films. The audio is, authentically, flat with minor depth exported. Scores are often uncredited (stock) by the likes of Edward Ward (Mystery of Edwin Drood, Night Must Fall, Boys Town), David Raksin (Separate Tables, Laura, Bigger Than Life, The Big Combo), Hans J. Salter (Man in the Shadow, 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), Frank Skinner (The Appaloosa, Madame X, Magnificent Obsession, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, All That Heaven Allows, Thunder Bay), William Lava (The Deadly Mantis, Moonrise, S.O.S. Tidal Wave, War Arrow, The Night Riders, Retreat, Hell) etc. They sound quite clean and consistent with minor depth that helps establish atmosphere and tone. Shout! Factory offer optional, gaudy yellow, English subtitles on their four Region 'A' Blu-rays.

Aside from stills and production galleries plus trailers, the Shout! Factory Blu-rays offer new commentaries... by Tom Weaver (who is always fun and filled with anecdotes) and Dr. Robert J. Kiss on Night Key. We get Gary D. Rhodes (author of Bela Lugosi - Dreams and Nightmares) on Night Monster, always delightful Kim Newman and Stephen Jones on The Climax and Scott Gallinghouse on House of Horrors. On that last Blu-ray is a 22-minute documentary by Gallinghouse entitled The Creeper – Rondo Hatton At Universal. He knows his stuff as he is also the author of Rondo Hatton: Beauty Within the Brute. Gallinghouse can talk with authority on the actor Rondo Hatton, a victim of a disfiguring disease who required no extensive make-up for his “Brute Man” characters. Hatton died at only 51-years of age. The package also contains a 12-page leaflet with photos.   

As the Universal Horror Volumes rise in number - the films seem to lessen in quality with mostly lovable 'B' pictures remaining. I'm not really complaining - to have these vintage, sometimes fun, horrors of the 30's and 40's on Blu-ray with commentaries is very appealing. I can turn the lights down and throw one of these on at any time and get an hour's worth of enjoyment. Fans know what to expect by now and Shout! Factory's Blu-ray package is recommended to the vintage-era horror fans who appreciate these gems of a time long gone by. In many ways, I wish those days would return.

Gary Tooze

 


Menus / Extras

 


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

 

 

Directed by Lloyd Corrigan

USA 1937

 

Boris Karloff stars as a kindly old scientist (a role in which he excelled at) who invents a new type of alarm system. When he gets cheated out of the patent, Boris uses his technology to get revenge on the security company. Using the name “Night Key”, Boris goes around to the stores in town using his newfangled device to circumvent the alarm system. He then sneaks in and does some Turk 182 type shit and graffitis his name on the wall to ruffle the company’s feathers. Naturally, the underworld hears about his gadget and they force him to commit robberies.

Excerpt from The Video Vacuum located HERE

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


 

 

Directed by Ford Beebe

USA 1942

 

A wealthy recluse becomes a quadriplegic after three doctors botch a surgery. The crippled millionaire invites the doctors to his house for a demonstration of an Indian mystic’s power of mental materialization. The doctors get bumped off one by one in the night and the police are called in to investigate. While the detectives question the suspects, the hired help starts dropping like flies too. In the end, we learn that the old timer could walk around on “materialized legs” to murder his victims.

Excerpt from The Video Vacuum located HERE

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


 

Directed by George Waggner

USA 1944

 

Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer's fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film's climax.

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


 

 

Directed by Jean Yarbrough

USA 1946

 

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."

 


(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 


Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

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


 


 

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