Simply put, if you love watching classic horror films around Halloween, you’re going to want the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essentials Blu-ray set in your collection. You really do get some of the best of the best horror movies Universal Studios has to offer: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera (1943), Creature from the Black Lagoon. For me, I thought of it as getting an instant Halloween movie collection because it has a so many of my annual must-see Halloween favorites. Only one movie in this set is new-to-me, The Phantom of the Opera (1943), but for the others, getting this set was like getting to see them for the first time all over again. The picture quality is consistently beautiful throughout the set; these movies look like they could have been released yesterday. I have never seen these movies look this good before.
Each disc is also rich with bonus features. If you have the standard DVD versions of these movies, many of the bonus features will be familiar to you, but I don’t mind that since the bonus features are still great. Each movie comes with a featurette with historians and other film authorities discussing the film. I’ve been enjoying watching these featurettes almost as much as I’ve been enjoying watching the movies themselves. If you have a 3-D TV and Blu-ray player, you’re in luck because the Creature from the Black Lagoon disc includes the 3-D version of the movie as a bonus feature.
It’s been a long time since I had this much fun with a Blu-ray or DVD set. Pretty much the only way this collection could have been better is if it had the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera instead of the 1943 version. But I am still so thrilled with the collection that I can forgive that. If you’re interested in ordering it for yourself, my one big recommendation is to buy the UK import version instead of the US version. The UK version comes with the exact same movies as the US one, has the exact same extra content, and it’s region free so it will work in US players. The only differences are the packaging and the price. With the US version, the discs are packaged in a book style where the discs slide in and out of cardboard pages. But in the UK version, the discs are housed in a more typical DVD style, which I personally prefer over the book style. But you know what the best part is? The UK version is considerably cheaper than the US version. The UK version is available on amazon.co.uk or on the Amazon US store, but at the time of writing this post, it’s about $20 cheaper to order it through the Amazon UK store.