Customer Reviews for

Boris Karloff Collection

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Five Karloff Gems Finally On DVD!

    Being a Film-Maker and Film Historian, I grabbed some free time over the last two days to screen the five films released by Universal featuring Boris Karloff as part of their Franchise Collection. I have to disagree with those negative reviews I've read (although most have been positive) as one must remember these films (with the exception of Night Key) are "Period Pieces" made between 1944 and 1952. They are certainly not "Horror Films". Night Key is a contemporary story based on it's release in 1937 and was produced during the "ban" on horror films which ended with Son Of Frankenstein released by Universal in 1939, launching the last cycle of Universal horror, which came to a close in the late 1940's. Night Key, in this reviewers opinion, is probably the weakest in this collection, dealing with a scientist who invents a machine that uses a form of short wave to disengage all locks and safes around the city and who's earlier device was acquired by a businessman years earlier at a fraction of it's value. The businessman made a fortune and the Karloff character didn't although he wants nothing to do with crime, as he states throughout the film as he becomes involved with gangsters out to steal his new device. Basically a mediocre film saved by Karloff's excellent performance in a very unique character role! Definatly worth screening! Now the remaining four films are Wonderful Period Films which feature Karloff in more or less a supporting role within an ensemble cast which makes them that much more priceless per Film As Art based on Karloff's one of a kind screen presence within this ensemble framework. At the same time, Karloff was branching out in a diversity of Supporting Character Roles within a film industry undergoing severe changes moving in new directions. Karloff thrived, Lugosi did not survive, more on that another time.. The Gem here is without a doubt Tower Of London, directed by Rowland V. Lee (Son Of Frankenstein, also 1939) Karloff, Basil Rathbone and a young Vicent Price comprise a trio of characters who would again work together for Roger Corman some 25 years later (with the addition of Peter Lorre in The Raven & The Comedy Of Terrors, both 1963) The Climax, released in 1944 and shot in Technicolor, is more a Musical featuring Susanna Foster (she co-starred with Claude Rains in the 1943 remake of Phantom Of The Opera) with Karloff giving a fine performance as a Doctor who's jealousy drives him to "steal" her operatic voice and transfer it to his dead love, missing for 10 years. Interesting only in as much as it captures another fine Karloff performance from the mid forties, in color, with wonderful sets and cinematography, fine acting all around however the screenplay needs more development and the film is basically to short. Never really comes full circle. Still a 3 star film and interesting in it's own right (Karloff's first color film) Now the gems here without a doubt are The Strange Door and The Black Castle, released respectively in 1951 and 1952. Although neither captures the mood, texture and flavor on the level of Val Lewton's wonderful lower budget period pieces made at RKO in the mid 40's (The Body Snatcher & Isle Of The Dead come to mind, both starring Boris Karloff) they do come very close and as a matter of fact in the period of the early fifties when Sci-Fi was in and the Horror genre was at a standstill (would be revived by Hammer Films at the end of the decade) Universal did a fantastic job in all phases of production. Now these films utilized a higher budget than was available to Lewton and it shows, yet one must remember that Lewton's films utilized the most for his money (which wasn't much) and he created Very Atmospheric Gems. Universal comes close with these two, and my personal favorite is The Strange Door. Wonderful sets, lighting, photography, score and tight direction by Joseph Pevney (he and Marc Daniels directed the best episodes of

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2010

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    Posted October 14, 2010

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