The Boris Karloff Collection (Tower of London / The Black Castle / The Climax / The Strange Door / Night Key)
In short, a DVD collection of Boris Karloff’s B-movies. Some are quite excellent 🙂
Editorial review of The Boris Karloff Collection courtesy of Amazon.com
The gaunt face, the large eyes and elegant hands, the rich voice with a touch of menace (and more than a touch of lisp): Boris Karloff had the tools of a genuine movie star. He also had a deeply sensitive understanding of flawed creatures, which made his best roles–including the Frankenstein monster and the Mummy–weirdly sympathetic. His profitable employment in those Universal monster movies is filled out with the release of The Boris Karloff Collection, a grouping of non-classics from his Universal jobs.
These are the kind of movies that would show up with great promise on your local “Nightmare Theater” or “Creature Feature” late-show slot: Hey, Boris Karloff in something called Tower of London? Sounds scary! And you’d watch in bewilderment as the film would turn out to be a historical drama with a few grisly touches. Universal perpetuates this misunderstanding with this DVD release, which declares “The Master of Horror in His Most Frightening Roles!” Which is quite a stretch. (Some of Karloff’s best horror stuff is on the Bela Lugosi Collection, a superior DVD package.)
Still, for fans, there’s much to enjoy here. Tower of London is a thoroughly entertaining tale of Richard III’s bloody rise to power, with Basil Rathbone as Richard and Karloff as his bald, beetle-browed executioner (definitely one of Boris’s best looks). Two early-1950s films are great fun: The Strange Door has Charles Laughton doing one of his modern-Nero roles as a perverse nobleman with a really cool torture dungeon (Karloff is his servant), and The Black Castle lays on the wolf howls and creaking doors in a tale of revenge. Juicy performances by Richard Greene and Stephen McNally gives this oomph, even if Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr., are peripheral. McNally’s castle is equipped with an excellent secret room with swarming alligators.
Night Key (1937) isn’t horror, but a perfectly OK B-movie about inventor Karloff and his revenge on the businessman who stole his electrically charged idea. 1944’s The Climax was made to capitalize on the lavish sets Universal made for The Phantom of the Opera, and director George Waggner (The Wolf Man) seems far too enamored of costumes and arias. Even when it’s dull, which is frequently, the film has gorgeous Technicolor to look at, and Karloff is suitably obsessed as a doctor messing with a promising soprano. In short, the DVD set may disappoint the unwary, but Karloff devotees will enjoy the icon, and the occasional alligator pit. –Robert Horton
No other name is as synonymous with screen terror as Boris Karloff. After skyrocketing to international stardom in Universal’s Frankenstein and The Mummy, this film icon continued to break ground in an electrifying slate of popular horror classics. Now see this unrivaled movie legend in five of his most spellbinding and memorable roles in this collector’s set that cements Boris Karloff’s status as a true giant of American cinema.
- Night Key (1937): Karloff ignites the screen as the ingenious inventor of a security system who is kidnapped by a gang of burglars and forced to help them commit robberies.
- Tower of London (1939): Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff star in this horrifying true tale of a ruthless king’s rise to power with the help of his mad and murderous executioner.
- The Climax (1944): In his first color feature, Karloff is terrifying as a mad doctor whose insane jealousy over a beautiful opera singer may once again drive him to murder.
- The Strange Door (1951): As the servant of an evil nobleman, Karloff plots to free the madman’s helpless prisoners but finds himself facing the horrors of the dungeon’s deathtrap.
- The Black Castle (1952): Karloff is mesmerizing as a doctor who risks his own life to save the captives of a mad count in this gripping tale of betrayal and revenge.
Disc 1 – Night Key: