DirectorGeorge Waggner, Stuart Walker, Various
Release Date(s)1935-1948 (September 13, 2016)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Universal)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: B
- Overall Grade: C-
If you’ve read our review of Universal’s new Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray, which was released concurrently with The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection, you’ll know that set represents a fine updating of the original DVD version of the set, as well as a relatively decent value for fans. Unfortunately, things get a little more complicated with The Wolf Man. This set too is a fine upgrade of the previous DVD release, it’s just that it’s not nearly as good a value for fans.
Released in 2014, the DVD version of The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection included The Wolf Man (1941), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), all of which feature the Wolf Man character, as well as the earlier Werewolf of London (1935) and the spin-off She-Wolf of London (1946 – aka Curse of the Allenbys), plus associated extras. The whole point, of course, was to include all the classic Universal werewolf films in a single collection.
The problem here is two-fold: If you’ve also purchased the new Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray, fully four of the films included here are duplicates from that set. And if you already own the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set from 2012 (because of course you do if you’re a self-respecting fan of these films – see our review here), the original The Wolf Man is a duplicate too. That means you’re buying this set just to get the two films that are new to Blu-ray: Werewolf of London (1935) and She-Wolf of London (1946). We can’t really fault Universal for doing this. The logic of including these titles here makes perfect sense and they were all duplicated in the DVD sets too – the whole point was to release an exact upgrade of the DVD set on Blu-ray, with all the films now in HD. But it’s still a lackluster deal for fans.
The good news is that Universal’s restoration of The Wolf Man is excellent (again, we’ve reviewed it here), and as you’ve probably learned from our Frankenstein set review (linked above), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) all look and sounds great too. Werewolf of London also has fine A/V quality here, but does show its age a lot more. The image is softer looking, and the audio is a little more muddy, with more obvious pops and warble – not surprising, given that it’s the oldest film of the lot. She-Wolf of London is more on part with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and the House films quality-wise, though it hasn’t received quite as much digital clean-up. There are occasionally little nicks and flecks visible on the print. All of the films are presented in full HD at their original 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratios, with English 2.0 mono audio in DTS-HD MA format, and optional subtitles in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Virtually all of the previous DVD and Blu-ray features carry over here, so you lose nothing of note if you upgrade to this set. Here’s what’s included in The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray set:
Disc One – The Wolf Man (1941) – This is exactly the same disc that was released in 2012. It includes the film in HD, along with audio commentary by Tom Weaver, Monster by Moonlight (SD – 32:37), The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth (SD – 10:02), Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr. (SD – 36:53), He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce (SD – 24:56), The Wolf Man Archives (SD – 6:46), trailers for Werewolf of London, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and She-Wolf of London (SD – 9:20 in all), and 100 Years of Universal: The Lot (HD – 9:25)
Disc Two – Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945) – includes all three films in HD, along with the trailer for each film in SD
Disc Three – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) – This is exactly the same disc that was released in 2012. It includes the film in HD, along with Abbott and Costello Meet the Monsters (SD – 33:18), audio commentary with Gregory W. Mank, 100 Years of Universal: The Lot (HD – 9:25), 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters (HD – 8:18), and the film’s trailer in SD
Disc Four – Werewolf of London (1935) and She-Wolf of London (1946) – includes both films in HD, along with the trailer for each film in SD
Again, it should be remembered that this is an excellent Blu-ray upgrade of the previous DVD release. But it really should be priced lower than the Frankenstein set, simply for its duplicated content and thus lack of value. $30 for just two new films is a tough sell. Of course, if you’re buying the Frankenstein set, you’re going to want this one too – just do get the best price you can. In any case, it’s a thrill to finally have all of these films available to watch in HD. So this set is still cautiously recommended, but only if purchased on sale.
- Bill Hunt
QUALITY RATINGS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS):
The Wolf Man (1941): B/B/A/A-
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943): B-/A/A-/D
House of Frankenstein (1944): B-/A-/B+/D
House of Dracula (1945): C/A-/B+/D
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948): B+/B+/B/C+
Werewolf of London (1935): B/B-/C/D
She-Wolf of London (1946): C/A-/B/D