FRANKENSTEIN - THE LEGACY COLLECTION (UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO)

DRACULA -THE LEGACY COLLECTION (UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO)

THE WOLFMAN -THE LEGACY COLLECTION (UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO)

THE GREAT ESCAPE  [ 2 DISC SPECIAL EDITION] (M.G.M. HOME VIDEO )

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY  [ 2 DISC SPECIAL EDITION]  (M.G.M. HOME VIDEO)

THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE ( DISNEY D.V.D )

Every single one of the discs listed above and reviewed below, all of which are returning to dvd for a second time,  are most enthusiastically recommended to those who missed purchasing them on their first go round. That said, this review is directed primarliy at those who already own these titles, and we'll be offering our verdict on whether a second purchase would be beneficial or not, and why.

FRANKENSTEIN--THE LEGACY COLLECTION -- (includes FRANKENSTEIN,THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN) All but one of the FRANKENSTEIN original transfers were very good indeed in their initial dvd release, and that one was, unfortunately, James Whale's THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which was by far the most originally conceived, wittiest, and most beautifully photographed of the bunch, if not necessarily the most entertaining. (I love them all!) BRIDE'S framing problems were glaringly apparent, and the source material was no great shakes. The fact that all those previous problems have been corrected this time around makes purchase of this new edition mandatory for all fans of this legendary classic. THE BRIDE has never looked better!                

DRACULA-- THE LEGACY COLLECTION -- (Includes the English and Spanish versions of DRACULA, DRACULA'S DAUGHTER, SON OF DRACULA, HOUSE OF DRACULA )For reasons unknown, HOUSE OF DRACULA, which stars Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Lionel Atwill and Glenn Strange, wasn't included in the original collection, and if, like me, you're a Universal Horror completist, this is a very significant reason for purchasing this collection.                                                

THE WOLF MAN -THE LEGACY COLLECTION -- (Includes THE WOLF MAN, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN, SHE-WOLF OF LONDON, WEREWOLF OF LONDON.) As there is absolutely no difference, in any way, shape, or form, from the original releases of these titles, all of which had very strong transfers, purchase of this particular WOLF MAN set is recommended only to those who failed to purchase the first incarnation.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY --  While the original dvd release of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY was one of the very few anamorphic transfers ever released by the  notoriously anamorphically-challenged M.G.M., it's my duty to advise those who purchased that first disc to pitch it without any further delay, and run, don't walk, to your local dvd emporium to purchase this new 2-disc collectors set. There's so much that's new and significantly improved here, but let's start with the luminous new 2.35:1 transfer, and the spectacularly directional and resonant 5.1 surround sound, both of which put the original release in the shade, and are every bit the equal of Paramount's superb special edition of Sergio Leone's other mammoth oater ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Equally significant is the addition of 18 minutes of new and restored footage, the inclusion of which is important enough to dramatically alter my opinion of a film I simply couldn't warm up to on it's initial release.

THE GREAT ESCAPE -- If THE GREAT ESCAPE isn't the greatest war film ever made, and I'm not that certain it isn't, it's unquestionably the most entertaining. How else to explain the fact that the film's mammoth 2 hour and 52 minute running time flies by in what feels like a fraction of the time. Owners of the original dvd, a pallid non-anamorphic atrocity, have ample reason to purchase this new anamorphic 2.35:1 release, though I must admit I found the colors a little overly saturated, which gives most of the actors a suntanned appearance which is rather inappropriate considering the fact that they're portraying prisoners in a Nazi prison camp. The new 5.1 Dolby Surround tracks, unlike those for THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY, have very limited directional effects, but they are a big improvement over the original releases' flat and raspy mono tracks, and they certainly sock home the significant contribution of Elmer Bernstein's phenomenal score. This is an ESCAPE you won't want to miss.

THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE -- is an unjustly forgotten Disney adventure film about heroic Yankee soldiers trying to bring about an early end to the Civil War by crippling the Southern railroad network, and was originally released by Anchor Bay in a better than average, but regrettably non-anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, a situation I had every hope would be corrected in this second Disney release. No such luck ---- there is no difference that I can see between this transfer and the original one, a fact that completely baffles me, as Disney's recent release of the equally obscure (but just as good) THOSE CALLOWAYS was an absolutely gorgeous anamorphic transfer. As it is, those of you who don't have the Anchor Bay version will be missing a ripping good Civil War adventure if you don't purchase this new Disney dvd. As for those of you who own the  original -------- leave well enough alone.

--DICK DINMAN                  

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