When this collection of gothic horror films was announced for release, both excitement and apprehension went through my mind. The first appearance of The Golem in a quality home-video edition was certainly something to be excited about. But both The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu had already been released on DVD, and in respected high-quality editions. How would these DVDs from Elite Entertainment compare?
The Golem is a film well known to horror enthusiasts. It is a film that follows not only the traditional Jewish story of a magical clay man but also Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a tale of a mysterious showman who arrives in a small European town at the time of their annual fair. He intends to amaze the crowds with a genuine somnambulist who knows the past and sees the future. Immediately a series of murders are committed in the town.
Nosferatu is the second film adaptation in cinema history of the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. Max Schreck makes a creepy vampire and, for many, the standard against which all other film vampires are judged. — Carl Bennett
2000 DVD edition
The Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema (1920-1922), black & white, 175 minutes total. not rated,
including The Golem (1920), black & white, 68 minutes, not rated, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), black & white, 51 minutes, not rated, and Nosferatu (1922), black & white, 64 minutes, not rated.
Elite Entertainment, EE 4376, 7-90594-43762-6.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one double-sided, single-layered DVD disc and one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 6 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, two-disc DVD keepcase, $54.95 (reduced to $49.95).
Release date: 22 February 2000.
Country of origin: USA
We commend Elite Entertainment for providing source material information on the packaging exterior to aid consumers in their purchasing decisions. The Golem is listed on the box as being without a music soundtrack. We do want to know ahead of time that we are getting a DVD product transferred from either 16mm reduction prints or substandard 35mm materials. At least, consumers can make informed decisions and there won't be any surprises.
We liked the Elite Nosferatu for its picture detail, but wish it had been transferred at a slower, more naturally-paced speed. As a set, only the Caligari DVD is a nearly-complete disappointment. Until the Shepard/Image Caligari was released, collectors had to settle for the early Kino on Video edition (and before that, they had to settle on budget-line editions transfered from the same low quality 16mm prints that Elite’s has been taken from). The Golem DVD is fair but has been surpassed by the Kino International edition, and the Nosferatu DVD can augment a collection that already contains the Image edition. This set can no longer be considered a value for the cost. On quality issues alone, all three films are better served in DVD editions from Image Entertainment and Kino International.