Old school horror fans should be thrilled with the eight-disc Blu-ray set Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection, which arrives on October 2, 2012. The roster of films mirrors the decade-plus-old DVD box, with Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931, plus George Melford’s Spanish verison), Frank Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man(1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Karl Freund’s The Mummy (1932), George Waggner’s The Wolf Man (1941), Arthur Lubin’s Phantom of the Opera (1943), and Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
Of course, unlike the old DVD, this upcoming release presents each film in 1080p high definition with DTS-HD Master Audio lossless mono mixes. Also new to disc – a featurette detailing the restoration process of Dracula and Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D, which is how it was originally released in ’54. Fear not, non-3D Blu-ray users, the 2D version is included as well.

While that seems to be it, according to the press release, for brand new extras, the many varied supplements produced for previous DVD editions (some of these films were reissued on DVD a few times) have been included with their respective movie. I had the old box set from 1999, but never re-bought the Legacy or 75th Anniversary editions that some of these received, so I’m looking forward to finally checking out the features from those – such as the additional audio commentaries on the earliest three films. 

The Legacy Collection DVDs repackaged the various sequels, spin-offs, and otherwise related films. They had previously debuted on DVD in the form of twofers (such as Werewolf of London/She-Wolf of London). I’m really hoping Univeral moves forward and brings all these to Blu-ray as well. But for now, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection – with a 48-page book, as well – is a great way to initiate the great, atmospheric horror movies from Universal’s early heyday on Blu-ray. The set carries a suggested retail price of $159.98, but pre-order deals are out there for saavy shoppers from now until the October 2 release date.

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Chaz Lipp

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