[Blu-ray Review] Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection


If you're a fan of monster films, chances are that you hold Universal's Classic Monster films on a very high pedestal. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever met a single person that doesn't adore these films. This newly released complete collection is an essential must-own set for any cinephile. All of the studio's famous monsters are here and presented in glorious fashion. Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, and Phantom of the Opera are all spread across a whopping 24 Blu-ray discs, all of which feature stunning audio and video quality and a plethora of well-made and informative bonus features. The set even include a stunning full-color, 48-page booklet that details Universal's history with classic horror films through biographies, poster art, trivia, and more.

If I were to describe Universal's monster film in one phrase, I would have to say that they were way ahead of their time. State-of-the-art special effects, haunting and heartfelt stories, even sometimes campy, but never failing to entertain. Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, and Lon Chaney, Jr. all delivered legendary performances in their roles as men and as monsters. These actors created a whole new level of immersion and wonder with each film they starred in. It's an wonderful thing to see these iconic films finally get the release they deserve with this massive and comprehensive set. The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection completely obliterates any previous collections released by Universal, containing nearly four times as many films as the Essential Collection! Many of the films included in the set are new arrivals to Blu-ray and they all look absolutely amazing! (You'll probably see me say that again) Dracula in 1931, ending with The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956, and covering every film in between, there's just no comparison when it comes to the legacy of these films.

The set includes both the 3D and 2D versions of Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature, as well as all three Abbott and Costello films. It's a real blast seeing the hilarious duo interacting with Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, and The Invisible Man. The films show just how flexible and creative Universal was with their beloved characters. While, a few of the films in the set aren't the greatest and were obviously made to nab a quick buck, they're all vital and welcome additions. This collection is so valuable from a both a fan standpoint and a cultural point of view. Universal played such a huge part in the evolution of the horror genre and without these films, horror and quite possibly, cinema as a whole, wouldn't be the same.

The Blu-ray set is packaged in a gorgeous and sturdy box, featuring embossed lettering on the front, top, and spine. The films are divided up into seven clear Blu-ray cases, one for each monster's saga. There are four duplicate discs out of the 24 included. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man appears in both the Frankenstein and Wolf Man sets, with House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein appearing in the Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf Man sets. This may seem redundant, but I find it rather convenient. Reason being, if I want to binge-watch an entire monster's collection, I don't have to get up and swap cases to do so. Or maybe you want to take the Frankenstein collection to a friend or family member's house, you'll only have to bring along one case.

All 30 of these films have been lovingly restored, giving them a whole new life. I found myself admiring the picture clarity and quality on many occasions. I noticed so many little details that I had never seen before in previous VHS and DVD releases. Grain is obviously still present but helps in preserving textures and adds that certain level of coziness found in classic cinema. Blacks are rich with little to no crush, whites are bright and vibrant, with the gray scale providing depth and excellent detail. In terms of audio, we're presented with fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono tracks for each film. These films have never sounded so good, there's practically no noise or distortion to be heard. This is very impressive for the early features such as Dracula and Frankenstein. Also, we can finally appreciate the magnificent scores for these films like never before, all sounding crystal clear and full.

In terms of supplements, we're presented with an overwhelming amount of documentaries, featurettes, commentaries, short films, and much more. It would take days to consume all of the bonus features that this set has to offer. I especially enjoyed seeing modern horror legends Rick Baker and Joe Dante expressing their love for these films throughout the in-depth documentaries.

I'm so proud to have the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection as a part of my film library and I know that any other fan of these films will feel the same. These films have never looked or sounded this good and to have them all in one comprehensive and robust set is such a blessing. This set is a must-own for any fan of monster movies or anyone that loves cinema in general. With Halloween just around the corner, you won't regret picking this set up and adding some classic chills to your holiday.

The Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection is now available from Amazon and other major retailers.

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