Boris Karloff: Master of Horror - 20 Movie Classics (4 Discs) product details page

Boris Karloff: Master of Horror - 20 Movie Classics (4 Discs)

Boris Karloff: Master of Horror - 20 Movie Classics (4 Discs)
Zoom is not available for this image.
$6.39 list: price $9.98 (save 36%)

delivery service options available in cart

learn more about delivery service options

not available - shipping

not available

not available - order pickup

not sold in stores

Product Information

  • overview overview
  • q&a q&a
  • reviews reviews
  • expert reviews expert reviews
  • shipping & returns shipping & returns

Usually dismissed as a poor man's Charlie Chan and a blot on the career of Boris Karloff, the opener of the 1938-1940 Monogram series is actually a well-acted and quite suspenseful whodunit. Only this time around, the "who" is not nearly as important as the "how" and the denouement proves startlingly simple and logical, at least if one is willing to employ "pulp fiction logic." Although made up to look vaguely Asian (not too difficult a task), Karloff eschews the stereotypical cadences and cute sayings of those rival Asian sleuths Mr. Moto and Charlie Chan and is thus rather more believable than either. The rest of the cast behaves as you would expect, including Grant Withers, who appeared in five of the six films as the ubiquitous dumb police detective. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

The first of many feature film versions of the James Fenimore Cooper novel about the travails of the American Mohican Indians during the French and Indian Wars was characterized by its innovative use of color and its brutal battle scenes. The Native American parts are all played by Caucasians, as was the custom in those days. The great silent film star Wallace Beery plays a traitor to his own people, the villain Magua. Barbara Bedford is the fetching female lead. Director Maurice Tourneur was incapacitated after three months on the set and turned over the reins to the younger Clarence Brown. Color tints enhanced the film's photographic quality, especially during the bloody, unflinching scenes from the climactic fight at Fort McHenry. Though the film has its share of stereotypes, it's generally sympathetic to the plight of the Native Americans, who were used by both sides in the war. This American classic was filmed again in 1932, 1936, 1960, 1977, and 1992. Michael Betzold, All Movie Guide

In cheap pulp fiction, characters with names like Hardway Harry are usual just red herrings whereas distinguished-looking pillars of society remain at all times deeply suspicious. Not by the usually dense policeman in charge, though, who never fails to point his finger at the most likely candidate. Hardway Harry Frank Puglia, for example. Happily, these little films also employed more contemplative sleuths like Charles Chan or Mr. Moto or, as in The Fatal Hour, Boris Karloff's Mr. Wong. The case of the dead police detective is not too taxing for Wong, who not only catches the culprit almost in the act but also demonstrates how a seemingly airtight alibi may be produced by the use of a newfangled remote-controlled radio. All very ingenious but when all is said and done also a bit dull and by the numbers. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

If you're a film buff, a quick glance down the cast list will reveal the identity of the mystery killer in Doomed to Die. Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff) is apparently no film buff, however, and it takes the charming British-accented detective 68 minutes or so to reach the same inescapable conclusion. 68 minutes spent mainly skulking about waterfront houses and listening to the endless bickering of no-nonsense police captain Grant Withers and ditzy cub reporter Marjorie Reynolds. Truth be told, even Mr. Wong appears a bit bored by the whole thing but if Karloff himself knew not to beat a dead horse, Monogram obviously didn't and Doomed to Die was followed by Phantom of Chinatown (1940), quickly revamped to fit the much younger Keye Luke. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

As a cinematic experience, The Terror is third-rate at best, a long-winded fable that limps in circles, too haphazard to be great art and not outrageous enough to be great trash. Still, the true student of B-movie mythology may want to spend an hour with it anyway, notorious as the film is for being one of low-budget director Roger Corman's classic rush jobs. After wrapping up his humorous horror free-for-all The Raven early, Corman had two extra days left of Boris Karloff's contract that he was loathe to waste. So, instead of tearing down the sets, Karloff was walked through a series of hastily prepared scenes with co-stars Jack Nicholson and Richard Miller. Corman then subcontracted the direction of remaining exteriors and connecting sequences to various assistants, including Francis Ford Coppola and future cult filmmakers Jack Hill and Monte Hellman, with even Nicholson helming a few shots. With more directors than some omnibus films and no time for a proper script, The Terror was bound to baffle, and its slippery story eventually becomes too sluggish to bother deciphering. While the film is worth little more than an amusing anecdote in Corman's colorful legend, he got lots of mileage out of this patchwork monster. Five years later, Corman again found himself owed two days' work by Karloff, so neophyte director Peter Bogdanovich was offered 20 minutes worth of footage from The Terror to use if he could incorporate it into a new feature for the horror icon. The result was the taut, fascinating Targets, which cast Karloff as an aging horror star whose personal appearance at a drive-in is interrupted by a deranged sniper; of course, The Terror is the program onscreen during the mayhem. Corman productions continued to cannibalize chunks of The Terror in years to come, usually in self-referential spoofs like the silly but enjoyable 1976 comedy Hollywood Boulevard, which featured Richard Miller relaxing at a drive-in and enjoying his own performance from 13 years earlier. Fred Beldin, All Movie Guide

Although lacking the ingenuity of the first Mr. Wong whodunit, Mr. Wong, Detective (1938), The Mystery of Mr. Wong remains an above-average B-thriller anchored by Boris Karloff's relaxed rendering of pulp writer Hugh Wiley's Oxford-educated Chinese sleuth. Although experienced armchair detectives may not find the solution to the riddle all that taxing -- after all, how many "Dr. Watsons" does Mr. Wong really need? -- the soft-spoken investigator performs his duty with a meticulousness lacking in some of his more outrageous colleagues and plot holes are few and far between. But why the title The Mystery of Mr. Wong? Wong himself is not at all mysterious; in fact, except for no-nonsense Detective-Sergeant Street (Grant Withers), he remains the least enigmatic of all the inhabitants, permanent or otherwise, of star-crossed Brandon Edwards Mansion. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

A kindhearted and highly cultured gentleman, the Oxford-educated James Lee Wong was probably closer to the real Boris Karloff than any other character he was given to play and certainly closer than the hideous monsters that made his career. With careful and deliberate consideration, Mr. Wong always managed to trap the killer but in this entry the careful deliberation became almost as dull as watching paint dry. Director William Nigh was never more listless than here; people talk s-l-o-w-l-y and events unfold with an almost funereal pace. Nearly all the red herrings have been killed off by the time Mr. Wong is ready to unmask the killer, whose identity therefore comes as no big surprise. Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Horror icon Boris Karloff ended his career by appearing in four Mexican genre films which reached American audiences several years after his death and were seen primarily on TV late-late shows. 80 years old and suffering from arthritis and emphysema, the ailing actor's scenes for all four features were shot in 1968 over a two-week period in Los Angeles by exploitation director Jack Hill. The films were finished in Mexico by director Juan Ibanez, with Mexican casts that only occasionally interact with the old master. La Muerte Viviente (known in America under a plethora of other titles including The Snake People and Cult of the Dead) was the first finished product of this bizarre international horror series, and despite sensual snake dances, cannibalistic zombie girls, and genuine chicken decapitations, it remains the most sedate entry. This can be said only because each of these patchwork wonders is a masterpiece of schlock cinema, and the following three (which include Chamber of Fear, House of Evil, and Alien Terror) up the ante in terms of outrageous set pieces, insane action, and utter confusion. Karloff is a good sport, lending an air of class and sophistication to a movie that deserves none, and aside from a few obvious stand-ins, the integration of his scenes with the remainder of the production isn't bad. La Muerte Viviente won't scare anyone, but the sweaty, hallucinogenic voodoo of this sleazy horror show is fun and undeniably weird. Fred Beldin, All Movie Guide

Boris Karloff's unforgettable visage was always larger than life and his stalking appearance in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome remains very much in the spirit of Chester Gould's comic strip. Gone, however, are most of the noir touches that lifted the three previous films out of the rut. Like Karloff's presence, the freezing gas is much in line with Gould's latter-day story-telling but that too is more mindful of action serials than hard-boiled detective fiction. The climax, where Boris Karloff almost becomes the victim of a runaway conveyor-belt, also points in that direction. By 1947, a bit of mental fatigue had set in and instead of fully developed supporting villains, RKO made do with punning character names such as Dr. A. Tomic, Dr. I.M. Learned, L.E. Thal, and Y. Stuffum. The last appears on a sign advertising a taxidermist Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide