DirectorJames Whale, Joe May, A. Edward Sutherland, Edward L Marin, Ford Beebe, Charles Lamont
Release Date(s)1933-1951 (August 28, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Universal)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C-
- Overall Grade: B
Universal first began releasing its Classic Monsters titles on DVD starting in 1999 with the original films, James Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933) among them. The Invisible Man: The Legacy Collection followed on DVD in 2004, featuring the original film and its four sequels. Then in 2014, The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection was released on DVD, including the original and all of its sequels and related films. Complete though it was, however, the set was still somewhat frustrating, as Universal had already begun to release the originals in HD in 2012, as part of the studio’s 100th Anniversary celebration, with the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box set (see our review here). Fans made their feelings clear; they wanted all the films in that level of quality.
Frustrating or not, the DVD version of The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection included The Invisible Man (1933), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), Invisible Agent (1942), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), plus extras.
The good news is, following the success of Universal’s 2012 4K restorations of Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Bride of Frankenstein, the studio began restoring the other Monster films in 2015. The first fruits of this work were released starting in 2016 in the form of Blu-ray upgrades of the Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection (see our review here) and The Wolf Man: Complete Legacy Collection (see review here), then again last year with Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here) and The Mummy: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here). Now they’ve followed up this year with the final two volumes, including The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection and the Creature from the Black Lagoon: Complete Legacy Collection (reviewed here), as well as the Universal Classic Monsters: Complete 30-Film Collection (review coming soon).
Here’s what’s included in the new The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection Blu-ray set:
Disc One – The Invisible Man (1933) – This is essentially the same disc that was released in 2012. It includes the film in HD, along with Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed (SD – 35:21), Production Photographs (SD – 4:30), audio commentary with Rudy Behlmer, trailers for The Invisible Man Returns and Invisible Agent (SD – 3:47 in all), and 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters (HD – 8:18)
Disc Two – The Invisible Man Returns (1940) and The Invisible Woman (1940) – includes both films in HD with no extras
Disc Three – Invisible Agent (1942) and The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) – includes both films in HD, along with the trailer for Invisible Agent (SD – 1:42)
Disc Four – Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) – includes the film in HD, along with the film’s trailer (SD – 1:58)
As you can see, 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. If you already own the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray box, there is obviously a bit of duplication in that The Invisible Man is included in both sets. However, all of the other films here are new to the format in HD.
The new HD presentations are very good looking, especially considering the age of the films in question. All are presented in their original 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratios. The original film was remastered from a 4K element scan in 2012 and it appears that the rest of these films have been given 4K restorations too. The A/V quality really just depends on the condition of the original elements. The Invisible Man Returns features generally good detail and texturing, though its optical transitions are a bit rougher. The Invisible Woman is a little better all around, and Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man’s Revenge, and Abbot and Costello are each a little better still. Contrast is excellent on each, with nice deep blacks. There’s no doubt these films have never looked this good at home before.
The sound for the original film is available in both English and French 2.0 Mono in DTS-HD Master Audio format, with subtitles available in English SDH and Spanish. The rest of the films have audio in English 2.0 Mono only in DTS-HD Master Audio format, with subtitles available in English SDH, Spanish, and French. The quality is quite solid for old mono presentations. Dialogue is generally clear and clean, though there is the occasional bit of recording distortion. But fidelity is nice on the whole and the uncompressed nature of the tracks offers a somewhat fuller sound than has been available on DVD previously. Rest assured, every bit of quality possible from the original audio elements is here.
On the whole, this set represents a solid Blu-ray upgrade of the previous DVD release. However, its value to you personally will depend on just how much you love these films, which ones you’ve purchased previously on either Blu-ray or DVD, and what kind of sale price you can get. At just $19 on sale at Amazon for five films new to HD though, that’s not bad at all and the price may get sweeter with time. In any case, as a Universal Classic Monsters fan, it’s a thrill to finally have all of these films available in such high quality. Better still, it’s enormously reassuring to know that they’ve been newly restored and preserved for the future. This set is definitely recommended.
- Bill Hunt
QUALITY RATINGS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO/EXTRAS):
The Invisible Man (1933): A-/B+/A-/C+
The Invisible Man Returns (1940): B-/B-/B/F
The Invisible Woman (1940): C+/B/B/F
Invisible Agent (1942): C+/A-/B/D
The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944): C/B+/B-/F
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951): B/A-/B/D