A trio of 1930s Bela Lugosi horror films based on Edgar Allan Poe stories is coming to Blu-ray on July 20th courtesy of Eureka Entertainment’s The Masters of Cinema Series.
The collection features Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, and The Raven, two of which also star Boris Karloff.
All three are rare examples of Pre-Code studio horror, their sometimes startling depictions of sadism and shock a result of being crafted during the brief period in Hollywood before the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code’s guidelines for moral content.
Director Robert Florey worked with Metropolis cinematographer Karl Freund to give a German Expressionism look to Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), with Lugosi as a mad scientist running a twisted carnival sideshow in 19th-century Paris, and murdering women to find a mate for his talking ape main attraction.
Lugosi and Karloff joined forces for the first time in The Black Cat, a nightmarish psychodrama that became Universal’s biggest hit of 1934, with Detour director Edgar G. Ulmer bringing a feverish flair to the tale of a satanic architect (Karloff) locked in battle with an old friend (Lugosi) in search of his family.
Prolific B-movie director Lew Landers made 1935’s The Raven so grotesque that all American horror films were banned in the U.K. for two years in its wake.
Specifically referencing Poe within its story, Lugosi is a plastic surgeon obsessed with the writer, who tortures fleeing murderer Karloff through monstrous medical means.
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations for all three films, with The Raven presented from a 2K scan of the original film elements
- Uncompressed LPCM monaural audio tracks
- Optional English SDH subtitles
- Murders in the Rue Morgue – Audio commentary by Gregory William Mank
- The Black Cat – Audio commentary by Gregory William Mank
- The Raven – Audio commentary by Gary D. Rhodes
- The Raven – Audio commentary by Samm Deighan
- Cats In Horror – a video essay by writer and film historian Lee Gambin
- American Gothic – a video essay by critic Kat Ellinger
- “The Black Cat” episode of radio series Mystery In The Air, starring Peter Lorre
- “The Tell-Tale Heart” episode of radio series Inner Sanctum Mysteries, starring Boris Karloff
- Bela Lugosi reads “The Tell-Tale Heart”
- Vintage footage
- New Interview With Critic And Author Kim Newman
- PLUS: A 48-PAGE collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film critic and writer Jon Towlson; a new essay by film critic and writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas; and rare archival imagery and ephemera