Today: April 17, 2024

Karloff Universal Terror

According to his daughter, he was “the least scary human being in the world”. But to fans, William Henry Pratt—AKA Boris Karloff—was the undisputed king of horror.

The veteran actor had already appeared in 80 films when Frankenstein made him an overnight success.  Eureka’s latest release, Karloff Universal Terror, spotlights a trio of post-Frankenstein Universal dramas, covering the actor’s prolific career, between 1937 and 1952.

In the pulse-pounding crime thriller, Night Key, Karloff plays the eccentric inventor of a high-tech security system who is kidnapped by thieves and forced to help them carry out their plans. The film represents a foray for Karloff into the realm of science fiction, with Flash Gordon’s Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) in a rare co-starring role.

1944’s The Climax was originally intended as a sequel the hugely successful Phantom Of The Opera, which had been made the previous year. Both The Climax, and 1943’s The Phantom used the same lavish sets as silent version of Phantom Of The Opera, which had made Lon Chaney a star. However, The Climax featured new characters and storyline, with Karloff playing the part of an obsessed doctor, driven to murder. Sadly the film failed to do the business at the box office but it did bag an Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction. 

The final film of the three is The Black Castle—a slightly creaky, if charming horror which is enlivened by the presence of both Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.

Make no mistake: this release is a genuine fan-pleaser. It’s always a joy to see some of a star’s lesser-known work finally getting the love and attention it deserves, but Karloff Universal Terror marks the first time that Night Key and The Climax have ever been available to buy on DVD in the UK, and the first time that all three films have appeared on blu-ray.

Two-Disc Special Edition includes:

  • Limited Edition slipcase (2000 copies).
  • 1080p presentation of all three films across two Blu-ray discs.
  • Night Key and The Black Castle presented from 2K scans of fine grain film elements.
  • The Climax presented from a 2K scan of the interpositive.
  • Optional English SDH.
  • Brand new audio commentary tracks on Night Key and The Climax with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby.
  • Brand new audio commentary track on The Black Castle with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman.
  • Stills Galleries.
  • Trailers.
  • A limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Karloff expert Stephen Jacobs (author of Boris Karloff: More Than A Monster) (2000 copies)

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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