Studios typically release their horror titles around Halloween, so Universal gets chutzpah points for unleashing three essential bundles of vintage creature features just in time for Mother’s Day. Apparently there’s some Hugh Jackman-movie tie-in, too, but why look a gift horse in the fangs? The elaborate two-disc sets – Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man (unrated, 399/384/281 mins., 1931-46) – all carry over the terrific commentaries found on the films’ initial 1999 DVD releases, with eggheads waxing eloquent about flat heads. Each package now also contains a delirious slew of sequels, like Dracula’s Daughter, Son of Dracula, Son of Frankenstein…all those uneven filmic spawn that made men of a thousand faces like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. seem like men of a thousand monstrous paternity suits. Bride of Frankenstein is, of course, Universal’s horror crown jewel. But if you’re just curious how undressed the undead could get in the ’30s, check out the Spanish-language Dracula, shot concurrently with Lugosi’s and featuring the same sets, better direction, a stiffer lead actor, and skimpier lingerie, or Daughter, which offered predatory lesbian chic seven decades before Showtime. No wonder young Chaney had hair on his palms, and everywhere else.
Posted May 7 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT
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