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HORROR DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEWS

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BORIS KARLOFF ICONS OF HORROR...
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Various

Starring:
Boris Karloff
Peter Lorre
Lorna Gray

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
See Boris Karloff as a mad scientist, an evil baron, and, well a couple more mad scientists. This is a collection of some of Mr. Karloff’s other films, aside from Frankenstein.
Is it good movie?
It is rare to see an actor with the grace and sophistication of Boris Karloff. For those of you that only know him as the dude that was Frankenstein, you are missing quite a bit. After his success in that film, he sealed his reputation as a horror icon. And four of those films are included in this set.

The first of which is The Black Room about twin brothers born to a baron. Along with this birth is the destined fate that one of those brothers will murder the other in the so called “black room”. Karloff gets to show some range here as Anton and Gregor, the later of which is one evil dude who gets off on killing women. When Anton returns from exile because of the curse upon them, he soon realizes that his older brother has plans to make sure his brother will not take his life. There are shades of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third here as the evil Gregor takes fate into his own hand. Although obviously dated, this Gothic Horror piece is a fantastic vehicle for Karloff.

Next up we get the first of my favorites included on this disc. The Man They Could Not Hang is the first of Karloff’s “mad scientist” roles and a surprisingly timely one at that. Dr. Savaard has created an artificial heart to revive the dead, making it so that operations can be preformed on a dead body and then brought back to life. For this, he is executed, never allowed to continue his work. Or is he? When those who sent the good doctor to his hangman’s noose are invited to his mansion, well let’s just say that I wouldn’t be surprised if the makers of the SAW franchise checked this one out. There is a beautiful moment where Karloff describes to his daughter how society corrupts science by making people rich off cures. Kind of like modern day drug companies. Interesting…

Before I Hang is another mad doctor flick as Dr. Garth searches for a way to cure death. In searching for his own fountain of youth, he commits euthanasia knowing that he will not find a cure for his ailing patient in time. For this he finds himself in prison, yet he is allowed to continue his experiments by a sympathetic warden. Although similar in tone to The Man They Could Not Hang, this is more of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story as the blood of a murderer turns the good doctor into just that. This is also a good film, just not quite as satisfying as the other “hang-man” film.

And finally, we get to see the comedic side of Mr. Karloff in The Boogie Man Will Get You as an absent-minded professor who keeps “killing” his subjects in hopes to make a “superman” of sorts (and no, not the comic book one). This is my other favorite on this disc because it is actually quite funny. The horror clichés are played for laughs and the fantastic Peter Lorre joins in the fun as the town’s mayor, sheriff, doctor, etc, etc… There are also a couple of terrific performances from the other cast members. This is a fun spoof on the role (aside from the “It’s Alive!” dude) that made Boris Karloff a legend.
Video / Audio
Video: This 1.33:1 Full Screen disc looks about as good as it could. Beautiful transfers for these horror classics.

Audio: The audio which has been Remastered in High Definition also may be the best we will ever get for these films which sounds pretty damn good.
The Extras
The most horrifying thing about this disc is that there are NO EXTRAS (Cue the scary music). Nope. Nothing here; that is, unless you call subtitles extras and I certainly don’t.
Last Call
Boris Karloff is a horror legend and these four films only add to that. He has a way of being terrifying and then in just a single moment, vulnerable and scared. The dude has class and if you are a fan of old-school horror then there is no reason to not go out and get this set; unless of course you want special features (yeah, you heard me Sony). But the four movies are beautifully transferred and hold up pretty well; most notably The Man They Could Not Hang and The Boogie Man Will Get You. This is gothic horror at its finest. Cheers Mr. Karloff! And just a little side note, watch for the scene with the pentagram in The Man They Could Not Hang… it is on the vault when they remove the heart… Freakin’ cool!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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