What are you watching tonight while the trick-or-treaters decide whether or not to egg your house? Are you going to go with Jason or Michael Myers? How about something newer like A Cabin in the Woods or maybe Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? These are all viable options, but I am going really old school – Universal Classic Monsters.
Below is my recipe for an all star classic monster movie night, whether it be Halloween or any other night. Another good thing about this list of movies is that they are not too bad for kids to watch also. Compared to today’s gross-out torture horror, these are quite tame. Of course, use your parental discretion – your mileage may vary. For tonight and this recipe, I picked up Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection which was released on Blu-ray earlier this month. This horror library in a box combines the greatest of the classic monsters and remasters them in higher definition than any previous attempts and a collectible 48-page book featuring behind-the-scenes photographs, original posters, and letters from the cast. Not only is the video in HD, but the sound has also been remastered to current Blu-ray quality. Each movie also contains several bonus features that will entertain the movie buffs in your presence and also show you how the movies were brought up to this new standard.
First start with the original 1931 Dracula. This is, of course, Bram Stoker’s classic tale starring Bela Lugosi. This is one of the first vampire movies and it still holds up today. Clocking in at 75 minutes, you will have just got the party started; then it is time for Boris Karloff to take over as Frankenstein’s Monster in the also 1931 Frankenstein. Yes, Dr. Henry Frankenstein creates a new best friend out of people parts and introduces him to the local population. Good times ensue until someone starts a fire, then it is all over in 71 minutes.
Has it really only been 3 hours total? It is just getting really dark outside. That is when Boris Karloff returns to the screen – this time as The Mummy. In this 1932 version of The Mummy, a team of British archaeologists accidentally revives a mummified high priest after 3,700 years. There is no Brendan Fraser around to help them out however, so things get serious as the mummy goes looking for his lost love for nearly 74 minutes.
Now it is getting late, we can really see the moon outside by this time. Sounds like the perfect time to watch The Wolf Man. In this 1941 classic we see Lon Chaney Jr. portray Larry Talbot, a cursed man who transforms into a deadly werewolf when the moon is full. Chaney’s performance marks the first time the werewolf is brought to the big screen. He stays covered in fur for 70 minutes and now the party is getting out of control.
Is that someone in the pool? Nope, it’s time for The Creature From the Black Lagoon. This 1954 classic is always a fan favorite. Here we have another love story, where man captures creature; creature breaks free; creature falls in love; and creature kidnaps love interest. Much like King Kong, this ends badly…
Well my night ends there but if you have the time, the Essential Collection also contains: The Invisible Man (1933, 71 min.), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, 75 min.) and The Phantom of the Opera (1943, 93 min.).
If you are interested in this awesome box set, you can probably still score one at your local big box store. If you want to grab one for viewing later, you can get it at your favorite online sales site like here on Amazon.