The Universal Horror Collection: Volume 1 [Blu-Ray]

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.

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The Old Dark House (1932): Cohen Film Collection [Blu-Ray]

You could almost attribute the invention of the sub-genre involving travelers trapped in a house with a bunch of demented folks to James Whale. While there are no chainsaws or torture devices anywhere, you could see where the seeds were sewn for films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Haunting.” Whale’s film “The Old Dark House” presents glimmers of dark comedy and some pretty funny one-liners but through and through it’s an atmospheric and very creepy tale about a travelers trapped in a house with a psychotic brood. During a horrific rain storm, a group of travelers in the country side of Wales find themselves soaking wet and seeking shelter from the cold water barreling down on them.

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Jack Nicholson: The Early Years

Everyone is familiar with Jack Nicholson’s Oscar-winning and -nominated performances, as well as his icon roles in beloved cult films. But less attention is bestowed on his early screen work – and many of these films only gained belated notice after Jack’s rise to superstardom. Today, we are honored to have the celebrated film historian James L. Neibaur, author of “The Essential Jack Nicholson,” to discuss the star’s earlier films, including his now-classic collaborations with Roger Corman and Monte Hellman.

The episode can be heard here.

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

Black Sabbath (I tre volti della paura) (1963)

black-sabbathBoris Karloff is deliciously spooky as the narrator who unfolds a trio of stories in Mario Bava’s immortal “Black Sabbath*.” Each tale involves people whose demons come back to haunt them in one way or another. Mario Bava is excellent in depicting various shades of terror, devoting bold and stark palettes of colors to each segment that add to the EC Comics vibe that Bava inadvertently conveys. “The Drop of Water” is the best and arguably most iconic of segment in horror movie anthologies, involving the classic comeuppance of a grave robber. In the early 1900’s, nurse Chester is called to a large house once owned by an elderly woman who was also a medium. After the elderly woman dies while seemingly in a trance, Nurse Chester arrives to discover the gruesome visage of the woman and helps to dress up her corpse alongside her incredibly terrified house maid.

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Midnight Movie Madness 50 Movie MegaPack (DVD/Digital)

mmdvdFor movie buffs and collectors looking to gather up some classic schlock and silly horror films, “Mill Creek Entertainment” brings us a 50 Movie MegaPack DVD Set of some their worst and most infamous horror films. Thrown in to the mix, there are some science fiction, juvenile terror movies like “I Accuse My Parents,” and even the George Hamilton starring “Evel Knievel.” Further digging in to the selection of fifty titles, there’s 1944’s “Delinquent Daughters,” the Francis Ford Coppola horror classic “Dementia 13,” the slasher “Driller Killer,” and 1977’s “Drive In Massacre.”

There’s the deliriously bad but hilarious science fiction action film “Future Hunters” starring Robert Patrick, and Bruce Le, William Castle’s fun “House on Haunted Hill,” the early Brandon Lee starring stinker “Laser Mission,” the classic MST3K spoofed “Manos-The Hands of Fate,” the so bad it’s great drug hysteria movie “Reefer Madness,” the goofy science fiction film “Slipstream,” the classic dwarfsploitation movie “The Terror of Tiny Town,” and the Fred Williamson post apocalyptic science fiction film “Warriors of the Wasteland.” All movies come packed in a cardboard box by Mill Creek and in paper sleeves. I have to say I miss the plastic clam cases, but maybe it’s a cost thing.

This year movie collectors might enjoy knowing that Mill Creek Entertainment has taken to the digital world, allowing their consumers to redeem their fifty megapack purchases for digital libraries for their laptops, cell phones, and Ipads. Much like every other home release, the consumers will be given a unique code with their purchase, allowing them to redeem their movie packs in digital form at Mill Creek’s new service Watch.MillCreekEnt.Com where they can watch them, stream them, or download them.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

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It’s hard to imagine a more perfect adaptation of a Dr. Seuss story than the 1966 Chuck Jones feature; perhaps, “The Butter Battle Book.” In either case, I was one of the many children that grew up watching the TV version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It’s such a wonderful combination of talents and rich enthusiasm for the source material, that it’s tough to not like it. There’s Boris Karloff, Chuck Jones, and Dr. Seuss, not to mention the perfectly simplistic tale about anti-materialism and the true meaning of Christmas.

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Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953)

It’s pretty crummy that Abbott and Costello don’t get to do much with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In fact you have them in a movie with Boris Karloff who doesn’t get to do much to spook them beyond his monster mask, and you have the pair of knuckleheads that almost play second banana in their own movie. In fact, they don’t really show up until twenty minutes in to the movie, and their entrance smacks of sloppiness and lack of ideas. The pair should have memorable introductions, and yet here their characters Tubby and Slim are only in the story by circumstance.

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Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)

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In this follow up to “Meet Frankenstein,” Abbott and Costello don’t so much meet Boris Karloff, as they do a character Karloff plays named Swami Talpur. I still think the potential for Abbott and Costello meeting Karloff is potential never realized, and that’s pretty sad. Karloff only plays a side character, and appears for a few scenes, including an extended bit with character Freddie Phillips (Lou Costello) that’s still hilarious, at least. You don’t often see someone’s sheer idiocy save their lives, but you have to love how Freddie avoids all forms of vicious death by his slow wittedness.

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