Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2

Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2
Somebody at the Fox marketing department needs a stern talking to. Of the three films in Fox Horror Classics, Vol. 2, only one (Dr. Renault’s Secret) could even liberally be considered a horror movie. Come to think of it, none of the movies are exactly "classics” either but this collection is generally enjoyable for fans of genre pictures from the studio era. Chandu the Magician stars the decidedly un-charismatic Edmund Lowe as Frank Chandler, a Brit who learned the powers of hypnosis while in India. Based on a then-popular radio show, Chandu is innocuous Saturday matinee entertainment made memorable by a hilariously overdone performance by the great Bela Lugosi. According to Gregory Mank’s commentary, poor Bela was paid only $2,500, and this was just a year after Dracula. Ironically, his face now dwarfs Edmund Lowe’s on the box. Dragonwyck is a boring period drama with some mild suspense elements that’s notable only as the directorial debut of Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) and for co-starring a young Vincent Price. Dr. Renault’s Secret is a campy mad scientist quickie and my favourite of the three films, not least for the weird performance by J. Carrol Naish as a half-man, half-ape, and for its trim 58 minute running time. Despite the questionable "horror” label, Fox has done right by these potboilers, offering spiffy restored transfers and a generous amount of extras, including trailers, commentaries, radio broadcasts and documentaries. Perhaps the most valuable extra is "Masters of Magic: The World of Chandu,” which goes a long way in explaining how a white guy in a turban could have been so popular in the ’30s. (Fox)