When “The Universal Horror Collection” was originally announced, it was titled the “Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi Collection” by Shout Factory. One can only assume that they’ve managed to retain the rights to many Universal movies obscure and classic, thus changing their new series to “The Universal Horror Collection.” With that broad a title, the sky is apparently the limit for Shout Factory and what they can do with these volumes. Since this was originally a Karloff/Lugosi four movie set, the whole of the films included star the pair of horror icons. With Volume 1 of “The Universal Horror Collection,” fans will be elated to see that they’re starting us off on the right foot.
Although Universal eventually did follow up Tod Browning’s “Dracula” from 1931 with their own “Dracula’s Daughter” and “Son of Dracula,” the unofficial sequel has always been 1943’s “The Return of the Vampire.” When Columbia Pictures sough to revive Dracula for the big screener, Universal halted their efforts, prompting Columbia to basically deliver the follow up to Dracula but under a variety of different names and different circumstances. With “The Return of the Vampire” we have a great spiritual sequel that stars Lugosi returning as Dracula, but–not Dracula.
It’s funny how I know so much about Dracula and still can’t get enough of the character or the concept no matter where I turn. Intervision’s “The Trail of Dracula” is an hour long look in to the history of Dracula through the ages. There are tons of interviews and accounts from the creation of Bram Stoker’s novel, and the unauthorized adaptation called “Nosferatu,” right down to his pop culture influence in the modern age like “Vampire Hunter D” and “Castlevania.” While I would have loved a more thorough examination of the vampire legend and its various incarnations of cultures all around the world, “The Trail of Dracula” explores how Dracula eventually was crafted.
The winner of the Best Picture Award at this year’s New England Underground Film Festival, this amusing 25-minute from filmmaker Jesse Berger slices and dices scenes and dialogue from four anti-classics from the notorious Edward D. Wood Jr. – “Glen or Glenda?”, “Bride of the Monster,” “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and “Night of the Ghouls” – into a wonderfully warped blend of lunacy that perfectly captures the inane spirit of Wood’s work in a fraction of their running time.
For the Mill Creek compilation “Scared Silly,” the company brings together the roots of horror comedy with a thirteen movie set that’s well worth the cash. Some of it is the same old material you’ll find in other collections, but considering the sub-genre, that’s nothing to sneeze at. On Disc One there’s 1961’s Creature from the Haunted Sea starring the googly eyed sea weed monster, as directed by Roger Corman. It’s a classic you can’t help but giggle through.
Director Ron William Neill’s “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman” is a sequel to “The Wolfman” and a prequel to “Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” One of the many future crossovers for monsters, Neill’s movie is often incoherent, but at least delivers on the promise of the wolf man meeting Frankenstein. They only do battle for about four minutes in the finale, but technically they cross paths, so your expectations should be low for this sequel. The reasoning for bringing the characters together stretches all ideas of logic and suspension of disbelief. So “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” is really a process of asking the audience to willingly ignore its inconsistencies and wait for the monsters to meet up and fight.
This is the story of a man, his giant, and an Octopus. And the man’s experiments involving kidnapping people and turning them in to—something. I think giants. Let’s go with giants. Said doctor also has a fondness for his giant octopus which, whenever he decides to leave his lab, comes across the octopus that seems to gleam at him from behind his glass. The doctor often smiles and waxes poetic about his friend that he hopes will never murder him in a shallow pool of cold swamp water. The thing I like about Ed Wood’s movies is that his villains just aren’t very smart.