Wednesday, October 03, 2012



It sells for about $160 retail and features 8 of the tip-top classic Universal horror films:  DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY, THE WOLF MAN, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE INVISIBLE MAN and THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON plus a coffin-load of extras.  These films are all remastered and appearing for the first time on Blu-Ray in a deluxe book-like box set.  All well and good, you say.  Yes, it should be, shouldn't it.  However, as seems to be Universal's chronic tendency to screw-up these dvd -- and now blu-ray -- releases, this new blu-ray is something I'd dearly love to have but probably won't buy.

Directly under this post is horror host Dr. Gangrene's video review of the box set which does a better job than I could of describing the box set to you.  After watching it, you'll notice that the one and only drawback he mentions about the spectacular looking blu-ray transfers of these classic Universal monster movies is that the discs don't come in trays but are in cardboard slots which force you to slide them in and out and thus scratch them.  What exactly is the point in restoring and remastering these films to blu-ray if the cheapo packaging forces you to slide them in a cardboard slot (not even a separate sleeve which you'd have more control over) which unavoidably will scratch the discs resulting in playback issues in the future.  

Now $160 bucks is a hefty price tag to ask for horror fans to shell out one more time for movies they've already purchased from Universal on DVD twice before this as well as on VHS back in the 90s.  However, I for one would have no compunction about picking up a copy (especially as I've seen it on sale for just over $100) if it wasn't for those damn cardboard slots.  Universal sadly has a history of disrespecting it's horror catalogue as far as DVD releases go.  We all remember the infamous BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION which pissed off countless Boris Karloff fans -- well, I for one didn't mind that so much as the fact that Universal cheaply crammed too many movies on the front AND back of one dvd resulting in rampant playback issues such as skipping and freezing of the movie.  My dvd in fact has a problem playing THE BLACK CAT and Universal's similar ABBOTT AND COSTELLO film collection also had the same problem: my A&C MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF freezes about 10 minutes before the end of the film.  I, and every other horror fan, would've gladly paid a higher price to have these films spread out on another dvd so we could actually watch the films we were buying.  But now, we're stuck with DVDs which don't always play and the prospect of buying them ONCE AGAIN at some future time when Universal re-releases them presumably to blu-ray . . . and then packages them in cheapo cardboard sleeves in order to scratch them up and cause even more playback problems.  Is this some love/hate relationship Universal has with their consumers?  One wonders.  It's also come to my attention that there are not one but TWO versions of this new blu-ray set available in England for much-cheaper -- the regular box which retails for 30+ pounds and the limited edition "coffin" box set which is 40+ pounds.  And get this:  apparently they come in digipak plastic trays instead of cardboard sleeves.  But even here, we have a problem:  the plastic trays holds TWO dvds - one on top of the other - resulting in a lesser but just as real potential for scratching.  Sheesh!  Can't Universal do ANYTHING right?!?!?!?!

Needless to say, I have not as yet bought the new blu-ray Universal Classic Monsters Collection and I'm not sure if I will.  I bought the Universal Monsters Definitive Collection which came out on DVD in ... what. . . 1999 or thereabouts?  I then bought the LEGACY collections -- all of 'em -- when they came out several years later.  I even bought the "Anniversary Editions" of a couple of films (like DRACULA) which came out only a year or two AFTER the LEGACY collections.  Remember them?  With the brown "book-like" cases?  That's not to mention the entire set of VHS releases which occurred back in the day.  And I would've paid yet again for the new blu-ray.  But I don't know that I will.  For the pennies Universal saved putting their new blu-ray discs in cardboard scratching posts, they've probably lost the $100+ sale they would've made if they'd just given me 8 stinking plastic dvd trays.  Is that good business?   

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