Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Hammer Horror: The Blu-ray Collection (Blu-ray) (2015)

Hammer Horror: The Blu-ray Collection (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 2-Dec-2015

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Overall Package

     Hammer produced in the order of 150 titles over the decades but the high point for Hammer Horror was the late 1950s and 1960s. Various distributors now have the rights to different titles so any “collection” cannot help being a bit patchy, thus this Hammer Horror Blu-Ray Collection does not include classic Hammer titles such as Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) or The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). However the 15 Blu-ray titles, all restored, are a fantastic sample of Hammer with some fabulous classic titles included, some lesser well known gems and only a couple that are lesser Hammer, although still interesting. Extras are impressive; a number of the 15 titles include audio commentaries, most have documentaries and featurettes of some kind. This collection also includes two DVDs of the 1994 World of Hammer TV series narrated by Oliver Reed. The series titles are:

     Hammer Horror: The Blu-ray Collection is a great sampler of Hammer titles. I picked up from JB Hi-Fi for rather less than $100 which is fabulous value.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960)

Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960)

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Released 3-Jul-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1960
Running Time 85:30
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Peter Cushing
Yvonne Monlaur
David Peel
Martita Hunt
Fred Johnson
Henry Oscar
Mona Washbourne
Miles Malleson

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Malcolm Williamson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 mono (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.00:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is on her way to a teaching position at a school for ladies in Transylvania when her coachman is paid by a mysterious man to abandon her at a small village inn. The innkeeper and his wife know what is happening; they are afraid and try to get Marianne away but before they can a coach arrives carrying the Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) who invites Marianne to spend the night at her nearby castle. Marianne agrees and during the night discovers the Baroness’ son, the young, blonde and very handsome Baron Meinster (David Peel), shackled by his mother with a silver chain. Marianne frees the Baron; of course he is a vampire and his release starts a series of deadly events as the Baron seeks young women to feed upon and Marianne as his bride. Luckily, vampire hunter Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) has already been summoned by the village Cure (Fred Johnson) and is on the Baron’s trail.

     The Brides of Dracula was Hammer’s follow up to their successful 1958 film Dracula (which in the US was called Horror of Dracula to distinguish it from the 1931 Bela Lugosi film). The Brides of Dracula has the same director, Terence Fisher, and cinematographer, Jack Asher, as the earlier film as well as Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but the Dracula of the first film Christopher Lee declined to reprise the role so rather than cast someone else as Dracula the vampire becomes the young and blonde Baron Meinster, in which role David Peel does a decent job without setting the house on fire. Yvonne Monlaur is also not particularly charismatic but Peter Cushing is solid and some of the bit parts are very entertaining, including Freda Jackson as the Baroness’ servant, Henry Oscar and Mona Washbourne as the proprietors of the school for ladies while Miles Malleson has a whale of a time as a doctor.

     The Brides of Dracula is a great example of the horror films Hammer was turning out in the 60s. Director Terence Fisher and cinematographer Jack Asher know what they are doing so The Brides of Dracula is well made and atmospheric with some tense moments while, after 50 years, the film still looks fabulous with rich colours, great production values and costumes and sets which are detailed and elaborate. The Brides of Dracula looks anything but cheap, except for the dodgy looking bats, and it is still, over 50 years after being made, a very entertaining and rewarding film to watch. Dracula, what Dracula?

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Transfer Quality

Video

     According to the IMDb The Brides of Dracula was shot in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Universal released the film in America and this Blu-ray preserves the Universal 2.0:1 aspect ratio. While some slight information is lost at the top and bottom of the frame this is not a problem as the screen captures provided by the DVDBeaver site here show. The Blu-ray is in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     As noted in the plot summary above, The Brides of Dracula looks marvellous. I did not see any marks or scratches and the costumes and sets are lavish and finely detailed. Colours are deep and natural, without that modern digital glossy look, and while there was grain evident it was well controlled. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones natural while brightness and contrast are consistent.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English LPCM 2.0 mono at 2304 Kbps.

     Dialogue is always clear and effects such as thunder and galloping horses have a nice resonance, while a ticking clock in one scene nicely added to the creation of tension. The original score by Malcolm Williamson in the manner of 1960s horror films can be somewhat strident and lavish. There is no surround or subwoofer use.

     I noticed no hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was off on some occasions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:01)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The only other Blu-ray of The Brides of Dracula at present is the Region Free UK release which includes as extras a making of (31:07) and stills gallery as well as the film’s trailer we have. The extras would give this release the advantage.

Summary

     Hammer horror cult classic The Brides of Dracula makes a welcome appearance on Blu-ray. The film looks marvellous and remains, after over 50 years, entertaining and fun to watch. I had a great time and fans of Hammer or English 1960s horror should not hesitate. It misses out on Dracula, of course, but also the making of available in the UK which, perhaps in this case, is a greater loss.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974)

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974)

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Released 5-Mar-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Interview-Cast
Audio Commentary
Alternative Version-Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter : 1.37:1 full frame
Featurette-Kronos Reunion Featurette (25:42)
Gallery-(8:48)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 91:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Clemens
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Horst Janson
Caroline Munro
John Carson
John Cater
Shane Briant
Lois Daine
Wanda Ventham


Case ?
RPI ? Music Laurie Johnson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Captain Kronos (Horst Janson), ex-Imperial Guardsman and master swordsman, travels the land with his hunchback assistant Grost (John Cater) and gipsy girl Carla (Caroline Munro) hunting vampires. He is called in by Dr Marcus (John Carson), an old army friend, when young women in the doctor’s village are being killed, not by being drained of blood but by being drained of their youth and life, turning them into crones. Soon after his arrival, when more young women are turned into hags, it becomes clear to Kronos and Grost that vampires are indeed in the area and they turn their attention towards the aristocratic, and very youthful looking, Durward family; Paul (Shane Briant), his sister Sara (Lois Daine) and their unseen mother Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham, mother of Benedict Cumberbatch in her only Hammer role). But catching the vampire in the act proves difficult despite the traps set by Kronos and Grost and so Carla becomes live bait to draw the vampire out.

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was made in 1972 but not released until 1974. This was at the end of Hammer’s golden era when things were not going well for the studio so while Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was intended to be the start of a series of films indifferent box office, and indeed indifferent marketing by Hammer, put paid to that idea. Which is a pity for Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is a rollicking adventure with vampires, a sense of humour, colourful sets, decent acting, a twist at the end, the most athletic swordfight ever filmed by Hammer and a rousing score by Laurie Johnson, known for The Avengers TV theme and Doctor Strangelove (1964).

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was written and directed by Brian Clemens. This was his only feature film as director although he had extensive writing credits on his resume, including The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and the perhaps best forgotten Highlander II: The Quickening (1991). For Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter however he is in good form both as writer and director; the plot is tight, there is some amusing dialogue, the twist is decent and the film is shot with some clever angles and a nice amount of tension. The duel at the climax may owe homage to other swashbuckling films, with shadows on the wall, crashing furniture and a sequence on top of a table, but it is athletic and well executed by Horst Janson and William Hobbs doing their own stunts. Indeed, German actor Janson with his slim build looks the part although his accent was such that Hammer hired Julian Holloway to loop all his dialogue. This does feel somewhat clumsy in places although lip synchronisation is fine. Elsewhere John Carson and John Cater are excellent, Caroline Munro in the second film of her two film deal with Hammer (the first being Dracula AD. 1972) looks earthy and beautiful while Shane Briant, who in this period also made Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell for Hammer, looks the epitome of the ephemerally beautiful young man.

    Indeed, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter deserved a better fate. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is very entertaining; it is an old fashioned adventure, the sets in the Hammer way are detailed and colourful and Kronos is an interesting character and a swashbuckling hero figure. It is a great pity that no more Kronos pictures were made.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 1.85:1 which I am not sure is correct. In any case, the film framing looks fine.

     Some of the exterior wide shots look soft and quite grainy but otherwise detail is strong. The colours are pastel in some of the exteriors, which gives a nice feel; the interiors, such as the Durward house, are bright and vivid. Blacks and shadow detail are very good, skin tones fine. Other than the grain and an occasional tiny mark there were no marks or artefacts.

     There are no subtitles provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such as horses’ hooves, carriage wheels, the thunder and the clash of swords have a nice depth. The score by Laurie Johnson is rousing and suits the film well.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Despite Horst Janson being totally looped, lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Alternative version of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

     The film can be watched in a 1.37:1 full frame version, with bars each side. This hardly seems essential, but it is an option.

Audio Commentary - Cast

     Recorded in 2011 with Hammer film historian Marcus Hearn, cast members Shane Briant, John Carson and Caroline Munro and writer / director Brian Clemens, this is an engaging and chatty commentary. Hearn coordinates and asks questions as the group talk about their experiences on set, other cast members, the locations, the dubbing of Janson, other films and Hammer in the 1970s.

Audio Commentary – Crew

     Recorded in 2011 (before the above commentary), Hammer film historian Marcus Hearn, writer / director Brian Clemens and DP Ian Wilson sit together and watch the film. A bit more information oriented than the other commentary, they talk about influences, including John Ford, reinventing vampire lore, the score, lighting, composition of shots and the sets, other films or TV they did, innovations and challenges.

Kronos Reunion Featurette (25:42)

     In 2008 cast members Horst Janson, John Cater, Caroline Munro, John Carson, Lois Daine and William Hobbs plus writer / director Brian Clemens got together to watch Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter with an audience and to chat about their experiences in making the film. Light hearted and good fun.

Stills Gallery (8:48)

     Upwards of 100 colour film posters, black and white and colour film stills, on set photographs and storyboards. The stills advance automatically, with film music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our release of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter seems to be the only Blu-ray of the film currently available anywhere.

Summary

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is an underrated Hammer film. In fact Michael Carreras at Hammer did not rate the film at all, thinking it did not feel like a Hammer film, delaying release for two years then dumping it into the bottom half of a double bill without fanfare. Indeed, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter does not feel like a Hammer film but more like a western; it is fast paced and Captain Kronos could be any wandering gunslinger / swordsman who rides into a small town, saves the girl, gets rid of the bad guys and puts things to right before riding out into the sunset. And there is nothing wrong with that!

     The film looks great on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are very good.

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection, which also adds two DVDs of Hammer shorts. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same, though without the DVD of course. Great value for Hammer fans!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, February 13, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961)

Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961)

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Released 3-Jul-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 92:37 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Clifford Evans
Yvonne Reed
Oliver Reed
John Gabriel
Hira Talfrey
Catherine Feller
Warren Mitchell


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Benjamin Frankel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     A mute servant girl (Yvonne Reed) is raped in a dungeon. She flees into the woods where some months later she is discovered by the kindly Don Alfredo (Clifford Evans) and taken to his home to be cared for by his servant Teresa (Hira Talfrey). Later, on Christmas Day, the girl dies after giving birth to a son, Leon. Don Alfredo becomes Leon’s adopted father but as Leon grows up strange things start to happen in the village around the full moon: animals, including goats and cats, are found with their throats ripped open. Don Alfredo knows something is wrong and consults the village priest (John Gabriel); they realise that Leon is a werewolf but believe that with the proper love and care the beast within can be contained.

     This seems to work; the attacks stop and when Leon (played as an adult by Oliver Reed) becomes a man he moves to an adjoining village and finds work in an inn, where he and the innkeeper’s daughter Cristina (Catherine Feller) fall in love. But it seems that her love cannot quell the beast and during the full moon Leon transforms into a werewolf once again and goes on a killing spree. Sad, ashamed and guilty, Leon begs his adopted father to kill him, but the full moon provides one further twist.

     In the late 1950’s and early 1960s Hammer was at its peak with franchises based around Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy. Thus it is rather surprising that The Curse of the Werewolf is Hammer’s only werewolf film. The Curse of the Werewolf is based upon a novel by John Elder, The Werewolf of Paris, transposed to Spain because apparently Hammer had built a set for a film set during the Spanish Inquisition. It is well directed by Terence Fisher who had helmed the successful Dracula and The Brides of Dracula for Hammer.

     The Curse of the Werewolf has a languid pace: the backstory of the rape and flight of the servant girl occupies over 15 minutes and after that the clues to Leon’s behaviour as a boy are gradually revealed. The pace is not aided by Clifford Evans who receives top billing. He had 94 credits listed on the IMDb but is very bland and is outacted by a young and charismatic Oliver Reed who does not appear until almost 50 minutes have elapsed. Yet, from that time, the gradual set–up pays off as the final third of the film is exciting, sad and poignant as Leon realises what he is and what he has done. Like most good horror films, The Curse of the Werewolf delays revealing its cards and Leon’s full transformation into werewolf is not shown until the climax, and is certainly well worth waiting for. The other interesting casting is an almost unrecognisable Warren Mitchell (the one and only Alf Garnett) as Pepe the hunter.

     The Curse of the Werewolf is another example of the good horror films Hammer was turning out in the 60s. It takes its time to set the scene, but is well made and, after 50 years, still looks great with rich colours, great production values and costumes and sets which are detailed and elaborate.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Curse of the Werewolf is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a nice print considering the age and budget of the film. Colours are deep and rich, without that digital glossiness. Exteriors do look soft and some shadow detail is lost in dark sequences, but interior scenes are solid with good detail. Grain is evident, but nicely controlled. Blacks are solid, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones natural.

     There are no subtitles.

     Slight ghosting against broken surfaces, such as the trees, is evident.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono, which is the original audio.

     Dialogue is clear and easy to hear. The effects are flat but acceptable. The original orchestral score by Benjamin Frankel is overly lush. There is no surround or subwoofer use.

     I noticed no hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is not currently a Region A US Blu-ray release of The Curse of the Werewolf. There is a Region B German release that includes an audio commentary (in German, no subtitles) plus a making of (English 46 minutes) and lycanthropy featurette (3 minutes). The Region B UK Blu-ray is due at the end of September and is advertised as including the above making of and featurette, a stills gallery and a featurette on Censoring the Werewolf (13 minutes). If this is correct, when released this would be the preferred version, although I do not know which cut of the film it will contain.

Summary

     1961 Hammer horror cult classic The Curse of the Werewolf makes a welcome appearance on Blu-ray. The film builds to its climax slowly, it looks marvellous and stars a young and charismatic Olive Reed but it seems to be a censored version.

     The video and audio are fine, a trailer is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
UK disc - REPLY POSTED

Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968)

Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Marcus Hearn, Christopher Lee, Sarah Lawson
Featurette-Making Of-Black Magic: The Making of The Devil Rides Out (33:37)
Featurette-The Power of Light: RestoringThe Devil Rides Out (11:34)
Featurette-Dennis Wheatley at Hammer (12:44)
Gallery-(4:58)
Trailer-Hammer Trailers including The Devil Rides Out
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 95:41
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Christopher Lee
Charles Gray
Leon Greene
Patrick Mower
Nike Arrighi
Paul Eddington
Sarah Lawson
Rosalyn Landor

Case ?
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex van Ryn (Leon Greene) flew together in WW1 with Simon Aron’s (Patrick Mower) father. When Simon’s father died the two undertook to look after Simon so, years later, meeting for a reunion, they are aghast to discover that Simon has fallen under the spell of a cult of devil worshippers led Mocata (Charles Gray) and is about to be initiated into the coven. De Richleau and Rex rescue Simon and another young women, Tanith (Nike Arrighi), and take them to the home of de Richleau’s nephew Richard Eaton (Paul Eddington), his wife Marie (Sarah Lawson) and their young daughter Peggy (Rosalyn Landor). But Mocata is not prepared to let them go and unleashes the powers of darkness, including the Angel of Death, to get them back. It becomes a battle between Mocata and de Richleau, between the Lord of Darkness and the Lord of Light, good and evil, the prize being the souls of all involved.

     Based on the popular novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley, for The Devil Rides Out Hammer pulled out all their big guns in an attempt to start a new franchise based on the Wheatley “Black Magic” novels and break into the American market. Thus it stared Christopher Lee, was directed by Hammer’s go to director Terence Fisher, who directed 29 Hammer films in total including kicking off most of Hammer’s successful horror franchises, had superior production values and a score by Hammer stalwart James Bernard. The fact that the film was not as successful in the US as Hammer had hoped does not mean that The Devil Rides Out is poor; on the contrary, it is top notch Hammer horror and a film which Christopher Lee had said was his favourite Hammer film.

     It is not hard to see why Lee liked The Devil Rides Out for his de Richleau is a fascinating character that Lee plays to perfection. In a film about darkness and light, good and evil, de Richleau is not your whiter than white hero figure; he has knowledge of and skills in the black arts which he uses, in the interests of good of course, but he is by no means always on top of things. And every good film needs a powerful adversary and the charming yet malevolent Charles Gray is every bit Lee’s match. Nike Arrighi is also very good; she has screen presence but, as far as I can tell, she only appeared in one other Hammer film, Countess Dracula (1971), in a small part before marrying a Prince in Italy in the early 1970s and retiring from filmmaking.

     The plot of The Devil Rides Out is pretty straightforward although it is interesting that the resolution comes about as a result of the intervention of the female participants, rather than the males. This gives the film a modern feel although some sequences do look rather quaint, such as the back-projection during car sequences or the rather mild Satanic orgy in the woods. Some special effects were apparently not completed because of budgetary issues before the film had its theatrical run; during restoration these have been “enhanced” (details are in the extras and alternative version sections of this review). However Fisher directs with his usual aplomb, building tension out of things heard but not seen, while sequences such as the attack by the powers of darkness in the Eaton house are tense, atmospheric and well lit, nicely supported by James Bernard’s score. The production values in the sets, in the usual Hammer style, are detailed and beautiful to look at and the between the wars period cars are delightful. The result is a film that looks great, is well-acted, with a tight script and a good score.

     Some of the fun of Hammer films is watching actors who later become very prominent. In this case it is Paul Eddington, of Yes, Minister fame! Another thing to watch for in Hammer films is continuity errors. In this film, Rex is watching the coven in the woods in darkness, rings du Richleau who answers in broad daylight, but when he arrives at the woods it is dark again. Nothing vital, but fun to spot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Devil Rides Out is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using MPEG-4 AVC.

     The British ratings code screen which starts the film shows how the film might have looked before restoration with scratches and dirt. Restored, the film looks wonderful. I did not notice any marks or artefacts, detail on faces is great, the sets have superb detail and the colours are strong and bright. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural. Grain is present but nicely controlled.

     English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are available is a clear white font. In the portion I sampled they missed only an occasional word.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 1.0 at 640 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. While this is a mono lossy audio, effects such as engines, the hooves of the Angel of Death and the score are crisp enough. The music by James Bernard is another atmospheric score, nicely aiding the visuals.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Marcus Hearn (Hammer Film historian) plus cast members Christopher Lee and Sarah Lawson watch the film. There are some gaps but this commentary is humorous as they make some scene specific comments, talk about the occult, Wheatley’s book and changes made in the film, the dubbing of Leon Greene’s Australian voice by Sarah Lawson’s husband, the score, the cast, the directing style of Terrence Fisher, the sets, the cars and the effects. Good fun and worth a listen.

Black Magic: The Making of The Devil Rides Out (33:37)

     Made in 2012 this is an excellent look at the film using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn (who also directed this extra), screenwriter Richard Matheson, writer and actor Mark Gatiss, authors Jonathan Rigby (English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema), Phil Baker (The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley) and David Huckvale (James Bernard, Composer to Count Dracula), original cast member Patrick Mower and Kiffy and Dan Stainer-Hutchins (children of special effects supervisor Michael Stainer-Hutchins). Matters discussed include the renewed interest in the occult and the “Black Magic” books of Dennis Wheatley in the mid-1960s, adapting the book for the screen, the special effects, director Terence Fisher, the cast, including Christopher Lee and Charles Gray, Hammer’s issues with the American distributors who renamed the film The Devil’s Bride as they thought the original title made the film sound like a western and James Bernard’s score. Interesting and informative.

The Power of Light: Restoring The Devil Rides Out (11:34)

     Also produced in 2012, Kiffy and Dan Stainer-Hutchins (children of special effects supervisor Michael Stainer-Hutchins) plus the owner and digital restoration artists at Cineimage talk about how they restored the optical effects of The Devil Rides Out with examples. It raises the interesting question of restoration vs improvement. For details of scenes affected see the alternative version section below.

Dennis Wheatley at Hammer (12:44)

     Authors Phil Baker, Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby provide information about the life and times of Wheatley and his relationship with Hammer. In the late 1960s Hammer produced two very different films based on Wheatley books, The Devil Rides Out (which Wheatley liked) and The Lost Continent; neither did as well as Hammer had hoped, especially in America so Wheatley adaptations were shelved for a while until in 1975 Hammer filmed To the Devil . . . a Daughter, which Wheatley hated as his book had been changed so much. An interesting featurette, also produced in 2012.

Gallery (4:58)

     Approximately 80 black and white posters, film promotions, film stills and on set photographs. They advance automatically, with music.

Hammer Trailers

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not seem to be a Region A US release at the moment of The Devil Rides Out. Our version is the same as the Region B UK release, although that has lossless LPCM 1.0 audio and includes an additional extra; a World of Hammer featurette entitled Hammer.

Summary

     The Devil Rides Out is not, despite what the American distributor thought, a western. Instead it is Hammer Horror at its best. With an excellent cast including Christopher Lee and Charles Gray, assured direction by Terence Fisher, quality production values and another excellent score by James Bernard, The Devil Rides Out is a treat not to be missed by fans of Lee or Hammer Horror.

     The film looks very good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are excellent, making for a very good Blu-ray package.

     The Devil Rides Out is still available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. That collection also adds two DVDs of World of Hammer featurettes produced in 1990, including the Hammer featurette that is included as an extra on the UK Blu-ray. Wonderful value for Hammer fans!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, December 30, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966)

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 12-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Making Of-Back to Black (29:17)
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (3:58)
Trailer-Restored Original Trailer (0:37)
More…-Behind the Scenes Footage (10:14)
Audio Commentary-Cast
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 90:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor
Hammer Productions
Shock Entertainment
Starring Christopher Lee
Andrew Kier
Francis Mathews
Barbara Shelley
Charles Tingwell
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness starts with a precredit sequence taken from the climax of Dracula (1958) where Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) is turned to ash by Van Helsing (Peter Cushing). Then the film moves forward ten years to two English couples travelling in the Carpathian Mountains: Charles Kent (Francis Matthews), his wife Diana (Suzan Farmer), his brother Alan (Australian Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell) and Alan’s wife Helen (Barbara Shelley). At an inn they meet Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) who is horrified when he learns they are intending to travel to Carlsbad, warning them against going there, especially the castle nearby.

     Of course the Kents ignore the warning (there would be no film otherwise) and they travel towards Carlsbad. But, with dusk approaching, their coachman refuses to go any further and abandons them in the woods. Almost immediately a coach, without a coachman, appears. The Kents climb on board and are whisked to the castle on the hill. They enter, to discover that a table has been laid for dinner for four and that their luggage has been placed into bedrooms. Only Helen feels frightened and wants to leave; the others, especially Charles, are for staying, especially after a manservant Klove (Philip Latham) appears to welcome them and to serve dinner. But it seems that Klove has only been waiting for a living person as a blood sacrifice to resurrect his master. Dracula, Prince of Darkness is revived and is hungry for human blood; only Father Sandor may be able to save those Kents still living.

     Eight years after appearing in Dracula Christopher Lee returned in the role, again for Hammer’s go to director Terence Fisher, who directed 29 Hammer films in total including kicking off most of Hammer’s successful horror franchises. Lee had declined to appear in Hammer’s follow up to Dracula, The Brides of Dracula (1960), in which Dracula does not actually appear, and after Dracula: Prince of Darkness he went on to reprise the role another six times, the last in The Satanic Rites of Dracula in 1973. Dracula: Prince of Darkness was by no means his favourite and he says not one word of dialogue in the film. Lee maintains that his dialogue in the film was so awful he refused to say it, but screenwriter Jimmy Sangster has said that Lee’s memory is at fault and that no lines were written for Dracula; the shooting script apparently backs up Sangster.

     Although Lee does not get anything to say, some of the other dialogue is delicious. I particularly liked this deadpan exchange:

Charles: Isn’t your master joining us for dinner?
Klove: No, sir, I’m afraid not.
Charles: Is he indisposed?
Klove: He’s dead.

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness is an unusual film. We know, or think we know, that Dracula is there somewhere because of the title, if only because Lee features prominently in the credits, but for over 45 minutes he does not appear. That does not mean that director Fisher does not lay on the atmosphere and palpable tension supported by composer James Bernard’s eerie cues: in one extended sequence a shadow on the wall and a black clad figure we think will be Dracula turns out to be Klove! This first half of the film is slow, but effective in its suggestion of evil lurking somewhere near, and the sequence where a Kent is sacrificed is dramatic, forensic and quite bloody. But, in a way, once Dracula appears the film follows a more predictable path although with the excellent Andrew Keir as the “Van Helsing” type role it is never dull. Barbara Shelley, who gets the best character arc in the film, is also very good although the two male Kents are rather wishy-washy.

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness was shot by DP Michael Reed in Techniscope in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, an unusual ratio for Hammer. The result is a beautiful looking film with more space in the frame which is used to good effect in the exterior locations, especially in the forest. The ratio also gives a depth to the interiors, showing off the usual impressively detailed Hammer sets.

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness reunites Christopher Lee as Dracula, director Terence Fisher and composer James Bernard for another go at the Dracula myth. Some of the parts of the film are very good, especially in the atmospheric first half of the film, the second half of the film is rather predictable.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the lesser VC 1 code.

     As the restoration comparison extra shows, the colours and detail of the unrestored print were very dull. Restored, the colours are now bright and vibrant; the trees are a nice green and the blood, especially in the sacrifice sequence, a brilliant red. A few scenes appear soft, but close-ups are good. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, while skin tones look a bit bright. Grain is nicely controlled; there are occasional small marks and some noise reduction, but on the whole this is a very good looking print.

     English subtitles are available and are not burnt in.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such carriage wheels and horses’ hooves, shots and the score have some depth. Indeed, the score by Hammer stalwart James Bernard is very good, eerie when it needs to be and loud on occasion.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Cast members Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley sit together and watch the film. This is entertaining, amusing and light-hearted as they chat, sometimes cutting across each other, about their memories of the filming, the locations, other actors, the director and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Especially Lee tells some very funny stories, usually not related to this film, about his experiences and people he has known during his long career.

Back to Black: The Making of Dracula Prince of Darkness (29:17)

     Made in 2012 this is an excellent featurette using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn (who also directed this extra), writer and actor Mark Gatiss, authors Jonathan Rigby (English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema) and David Huckvale (James Bernard, Composer to Count Dracula), original cast members Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews and Jon Mann (Pinewood Studios). Hearn maintains that Dracula Prince of Darkness was certainly not the best Hammer horror film, but that it was the quintessential Hammer horror film as it put together many of the elements of a Hammer film: English people abroad in Europe, a coachman who abandons them, a castle on a hill, a loyal manservant, bloodsuckers and Christopher Lee! He also puts the film into the context of the period and Hammer’s troubles, such as shooting four films back to back using the same sets and cast to save money. Other things discussed include the cast, director Terence Fisher, the score and the film’s restoration. Definitely worthwhile.

Restoration Comparison (3:58)

     Silent, split screens showing various before and after restoration examples.

Restored Original Trailer (0:37)

Behind the Scenes Footage (10:14)

     Actually three separate sections. The first, of about 4 minutes, is 8 mm footage shot on set by Francis Matthews’ brother. This is a very entertaining 4 minutes as in 1997 Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Suzan Farmer and Francis Matthews sat down to watch the footage together and recorded their comments, which is a fun listen. The second part is an extended trailer for the film, the third a trailer for the Dracula Prince of Darkness / The Plague of the Zombies double bill; at the theatre we are told boys would get free vampire fangs and girls zombie glasses! Interesting gender roles!

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Region A US Blu-ray uses MPEG 4 AVC code and has an addition World of Hammer featurette on Christopher Lee. Our version technically is the same as the Region B UK; that has the same VC1 code, LPCM audio and extras but also includes the Hammer short.

Summary

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness reunites director Terence Fisher, star Christopher Lee and composer James Bernard for another go at the Dracula myth eight years after making Dracula. The film, now 50 years old, has not dated as well as some Hammer films but it has its moments and is an eerie and atmospheric entry into the Hammer Horror canon that fans will enjoy in this good Blu-ray release.

     The film has been restored and looks very good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are excellent.

     Dracula: Prince of Darkness is still available as a stand-alone Blu-ray release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection which I picked up from JB Hi-Fi for rather less than $100. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. Good value for Hammer fans!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967)

Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Jonathan Rigby, cast Robert Morris, Derek Fowlds
Featurette-Hammer Glamour (42:30)
Gallery
More…-DVD of the film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 92:02 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Peter Cushing
Susan Denberg
Thorley Walters
Robert Morris
Peter Blythe
Barry Warren
Derek Fowlds
Alan McNaughton

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     As a boy Hans saw his drunken father guillotined for murder. About two decades later Hans (Robert Morris) works as the assistant of Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters), and witnesses Hertz unfreeze and bring back to life the corpse of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) who had frozen himself as part of an experiment to prove that when a physical body dies the soul lives on for an hour and can be captured and transplanted into another body, thus defeating death itself. Now all he needs is a fresh corpse, and a body.

     Hans is in love with Christina (Susan Denberg), the disfigured and lame daughter of the village innkeeper Kleve (Alan McNaughton). He is present when three wealthy and obnoxious fops, Anton (Peter Blythe), Karl (Barry Warren) and Johann (Derek Fowlds), enter the inn and make fun of Christina’s deformities. Hans fights the men, cutting Anton in the process, but the police arrive and take him away. After he is released, he climbs into Christina’s bedroom, declares his love and the two sleep together. Later that evening, however, Anton, Karl and Johann break into the inn and when they are discovered by Kleve they attack and kill him. The Police discover Hans’ coat at the scene and he is arrested. Charged with murder, he will not disgrace Christina by telling the police where he spent the night. He is tried, condemned and executed on the same guillotine as his father; Christina witnesses his death and, mad with grief, drowns herself.

     Dr. Hertz acquires Hans’ headless corpse less than 60 minutes after his execution and Frankenstein quickly sets up his apparatus to capture his soul. Then, when Christina’s body is brought in, Hans’ soul is transferred into her body and surgery is undertaken to repair her deformities. Approximately six months later a new, beautiful Christina awakes, without memories, asking “please, who am I?”, a question the Baron is disinclined to answer. But gradually Hans’ soul takes possession of Christina, and what he wants is revenge upon Anton, Karl and Johann, a revenge the newly beautiful Christina can deliver.

     In the late 1950’s and early 1960s Hammer was at its peak with franchises based around Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy, many directed by the accomplished Terence Fisher who had helmed, among others, the successful Dracula (1958) and Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) as well as The Mummy (1959). He also kicked off the studio’s Frankenstein franchise with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), both starring Peter Cushing, and although he did not direct Hammer’s third Frankenstein film The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), he was back on board for this fourth film Frankenstein Created Woman and his expertise shows as he delivers a well-crafted yet different and intriguing type of Hammer horror film.

     This is because Frankenstein Created Woman delivers a story that is more a macabre psychological horror story than straight out horror and one without bare breasts, despite starring Playboy Playmate of the month for August 1966 Susan Denberg. The film also has a sense of humour, with the priest running late for the execution at the beginning or the bumbling of Dr Hertz, an interesting script which asks the question which is often associated with the monster canon “who am I?”, Peter Cushing in fine form as the Baron, great production values and sets which are detailed and elaborate. Denberg, born in what is now Poland, also does an good job in her two very different incarnations of Cristina, although it is not her voice we hear, her dialogue provided by Nikki Van der Zyl (the voice actress who also dubbed Ursula Andress in Dr No). It is also interesting to see a baby faced Derek Fowlds, who later appeared in the Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister series; he looked so sweet I found it hard to take him as a fop and a cad!!

     Frankenstein Created Woman does have its macabre elements, such as Cristina talking to the severed head of her lover, a couple of beheadings and murders with a cleaver and a knife, plus sequences such as the capture of Hans’ soul in the Baron’s laboratory that is colourful and has an excellent sound design for a mono track. While not an out and out horror film, and with little tension and no real scares, Frankenstein Created Woman is still fascinating to watch due to an intelligent script, Peter Cushing and great sets. In 1956 Roger Vadim may have decided And God Created Woman, but Hammer, and Baron Frankenstein knew better!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Frankenstein Created Woman is presented in the 1.77:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. The original theatrical ratio was 1.66:1, although some sites give it as 1.85:1, which may be the US release version.

     In any case, the film looks great in this HD print. Colours are beautiful, deep and natural. Detail is very good showing off the sets, especially Frankenstein’s laboratory where the lamps are a brilliant red, while faces, costumes, and the green branches in the forest are finely detailed. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good. Grain is evident, especially in the opening exterior scene, but is elsewhere nicely controlled, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones natural.

     There are some tiny marks on the print and minor motion blur against mottled surfaces such lace curtains or branches, but generally the print looks lovely.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand, Cushing’s distinctive voice coming across nicely. While this is a mono audio the effects such as carriage wheels, the thud of the guillotine, or the sequence where Hans’ soul is captured have some depth. The score by Hammer stalwart James Bernard is not overstated and adds nicely to the visuals.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was occasionally off, not only Susan Denberg’s overdubbed dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Recorded in 2013, Hammer expert Jonathan Rigby moderates an entertaining and light-hearted conversation with actors Robert Morris and Derek Fowlds who laugh and chat about their memories and anecdotes of the filming, including identifying other cast members, locations, the censor, working at Hammer and biographical details of Susan Denberg. Well worth a listen.

Hammer Glamour (42:30)

    Made in 2013 this is a fun extra looking at some of the women who appeared, dressed or barely dressed, in Hammer productions. The featurette starts with some of the women who appeared in early Hammer films before Hammer was producing horror, such as Diana Dors, Raquel Welch and Ursula Andress, before visiting the heyday of Hammer Horror in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The featurette uses film footage, stills and recent interviews with some of the women who starred for Hammer, including Valerie Leon, Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Madeline Smith, Vera Day and Jenny Hanley who talk freely and humorously about their roles, other Hammer stars, being typecast and taking their clothes off for the cameras. Very entertaining!

Gallery 6:48)

     Promotional materials and posters from around the world, film stills and on set stills advance automatically while snatches of the film’s dialogue and score play. Some of the materials show Susan Denberg with far less clothing on than she wears in the film.

DVD

    A DVD of the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     In the US the Region A Blu-ray of Frankenstein Created Woman has Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and the same extras as ours, although it adds two World of Hammer featurettes from the 1990s, one on the Curse of Frankenstein (25:56) and one on Peter Cushing (24:54). These would give that release the edge I suppose, although our release is still pretty good as we get the recently made extras.

Summary

     Frankenstein Created Woman is Hammer director Terence Fisher and star Peter Cushing in fine form. Fifty years on, Frankenstein Created Woman is possibly better regarded now than it was in 1967 as it is not really an out and out horror film as much as a metaphysical and intellectual drama with macabre and horror elements. It is intriguing and entertaining and Cushing is always worth watching.

     The film looks great on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are good and worthwhile, although we do not get everything available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, December 07, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974)

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Author Marcus Hearn, cast Madeline Smith & Shane Briant
Featurette-Making Of-Taking over the Asylum (24:51)
Featurette-Charming Evil: Terence Fisher at Hammer (12:56)
More…-DVD of the film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 90:37 (Case: 99)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Peter Cushing
Shane Briant
Madeline Smith
David Prowse
John Stratton



Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Dr Simon Helder (Shane Briant) is a young surgeon who has followed the experiments of Baron Frankenstein with interest and is himself trying to create a human from corpses obtained from grave robbers. However, he is caught, convicted of sorcery and sentenced to be incarcerated in an asylum for the insane. There he is surprised to find that the asylum doctor is no less than Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), who was believed to be dead. Frankenstein has a hold over the asylum director Adolf Klauss (John Stratton) and, assisted by the mute girl Sarah (Madeline Smith), he has been assembling a man using the body of a violent maniac who had committed suicide. Utilising Helder’s skill as a surgeon, the three graft onto the body the hands of a craftsman and the brain of a professor, both inmates who had died. When the monster (David Prowse) comes to life it seems that Frankenstein’s experiments have succeeded, but of course these things never go according to plan.

     Made in 1974, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is the last of Hammer’s seven Frankenstein films (six if you count only those which starred Cushing) and was the last film directed by Terence Fisher before his death in 1980. Fisher directed 29 Hammer films in total including kicking off most of Hammer’s successful horror franchises; he directed Dracula (1958), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), The Mummy (1959) and also The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). Fisher went on to direct five of the Frankenstein films, all starring Peter Cushing, concluding with Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.

     In the 1970s censorship was being relaxed in the UK and Hammer started to spice things up a bit with buxom females and nudity in films such as The Vampire Lovers (1970) (which also starred Madeline Smith showing rather more than she does here). Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is, however, a deliberate throw-back to earlier Hammer horror films; it has no nudity, or indeed cleavage of any sort, and there are few outright scares. Instead the film is atmospheric and bleak: there is a quite a lot of dialogue and the film is set, except for the opening, entirely within the gloomy walls and cells of an insane asylum, although the set direction and colours of the Baron’s room and the asylum director’s office are beautifully detailed. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is also gory in places, especially the brain surgery sequence, although the head looks very fake. The monster’s hairy body suit is also less than convincing. Yet the film does have a good sense of black humour running through it and, again looking back at earlier films, the monster is far more tragic than evil, with aspects of beauty and the beast. And of course Peter Cushing is excellent as always as the Baron.

     Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell may be lesser Hammer but it is still a well-crafted and appealing horror film. Another part of the fun is watching to see which well-known faces appear in supporting roles and in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell we get both Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton, and “M” from James Bond, Bernard Lee.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDB gives 1.85:1 as the aspect ratio, which could be for the US release.

     The film looks pretty good in HD. The colour palate is dull, the film being set inside an asylum, with browns and greys dominating except in the interiors of the Baron’s rooms as the asylum director’s office which are much brighter and beautifully detailed with colours which are deep and natural. A few scenes appear soft, but close-ups are good. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, grain nicely controlled, although brightness can vary.

     There is aliasing against bars and grills and some minor motion blur against mottled surfaces such as walls. I saw one frame jump and an instance of what looked like macro blocking at 54:41 but otherwise I saw no other marks.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand, Cushing’s distinctive voice coming across nicely. While this is a mono audio effects such as the crash when the monster is loose or the score have some depth. Indeed, the score by Hammer stalwart James Bernard is very good, eerie when it needs to be, loud on occasion but quite sad and poignant when the monster’s theme occurs.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Recorded in 2011, Hammer expert and author Marcus Hearn (who directed both the featurettes included as extras on this Blu-ray) moderates an entertaining and light-hearted conversation with actors Madeline Smith and Shane Briant. Hearn is extremely knowledgeable about Hammer and the production of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell and discusses the various cast members, the script, censorship, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, the critical reaction to the film and draws memories and anecdotes from the others about the filming. This is interesting and entertaining so well worth a listen.

Taking Over the Asylum: The Making of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (24:51)

     An entertaining look at the film using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with authors Denis Meikle (A History of Horrors), Jonathan Rigby (Studies in Terror) and David Miller (The Complete Peter Cushing) plus original cast members Madeline Smith, Shane Briant, Philip Voss, Janet Hargreaves and Dave Prowse. They talk about the period the film was being made, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, using real out of date blood, the monster’s suit, Hammer and the critical reaction to the film. A worthwhile extra.

Terence Fisher: Charming Evil (12:56)

     A short but interesting look at the life and filming style and methods of Terence Fisher using still photographs and recent interviews with author Denis Meikle, Micky Harding (Fisher’s daughter) and Sue Cowie (Hammer Convention Organiser). It is certainly not a puff piece as Meikle especially points to some negatives aspects of Fisher’s films.

DVD

    A DVD of the film.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no US Region A Blu-ray of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell listed. The Region B UK release is a 3 disc set. One disc is a DVD of the film but I cannot find any reviews, so cannot say what the extras are or if the Blu-ray is 1080p. See also the censorship section.

Summary

     Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is the final Hammer Frankenstein film. It may be lesser Hammer but with director Terence Fisher, star Peter Cushing and another excellent score by Hammer stalwart James Bernard it remains a well-crafted and appealing horror film that is well worth revisiting by any fan of horror, Hammer or Peter Cushing.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are very good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Which version? - REPLY POSTED

Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray)

Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray)

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Released 2-Jul-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Featurette-Andre Morell: The Best of British (18:57)
Gallery-(3:52)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 86:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Fisher
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Peter Cushing
André Morell
Christopher Lee
Marla Landi
David Oxley
Francis De Wolff
Miles Malleson
Ewen Solon
John Le Mesurier
Helen Goss
Sam Kydd
Michael Hawkins
Judi Moyens
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Generations previously the evil Sir Hugo Baskerville had murdered a young girl on Dartmoor before having his throat torn out by a massive hound. Since then the curse of the Baskervilles, a hound from hell, has plagued the moors and the Baskerville family. So when the current incumbent of Baskerville Hall dies mysteriously on Dartmoor, Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) and Dr Watson (Andre Morell) are hired by Dr Mortimer (Francis de Wolff), the Baskerville’s doctor, to investigate the mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles and to protect the last surviving member of the family, Sir Henry Baskerville (Christopher Lee), who has inherited the Hall and the title. As Holmes has business in London, Watson accompanies Sir Henry down to Dartmoor. There he meets the Baskerville’s servant Barrymore (John Le Mesurier) and his wife as well as the Baskerville’s neighbour on the moor, Stapleton (Ewen Solon) and his beautiful daughter Cecile (Marla Landi). With a dangerous escaped convict, mysterious lights and the haunting cry of a hound on the moors, Watson has his hands full pending Holmes’ arrival. Can the mystery be solved before the hound strikes again?

     Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Holmes is now the most portrayed movie character in history; The Hound of the Baskervilles, serialised from August 1901, is rated in many lists as being the top Holmes story. The book has been filmed over 20 times, movies and TV, in various countries, the first apparently in 1914! This 1959 version from Hammer is a fairly traditional telling of the story although it does take some liberties; for example, the Stapletons were married in the book, not father and daughter, and the fate of some of the characters are different. Nevertheless, for the film Hammer put together many of their best cast and crew, including Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Andre Morell, director Terence Fisher and composer James Bernard who individually or collectively were responsible for many of Hammer’s best films.

     The Hound of the Baskervilles certainly qualifies as among the best of Hammer. Cushing, as Holmes, is mesmerising to watch; he is rude and petulant, with steely eyes, wearing the deerstalker and saying “elementary, my dear Watson” with aplomb, but as he disappears for 30 minutes or so it is up to Morell as Watson to carry the film. His Watson is no fool, but an intelligent man in his own right and our entry into the story. He does not have Holmes’ powers of observation or deduction, of course, but who does! Christopher Lee’s Sir Henry is a flawed man; he is somewhat smarmy with some inherited Baskerville flaws about women but he is also charming and humorous. Indeed, The Hound of the Baskervilles is very funny in places with a delightful scene when Holmes and Watson first meet Sir Henry as well as the scenes involving Miles Malleson as the Bishop, which are a hoot.

     Terence Fisher, who directed 29 Hammer films including kicking off most of Hammer’s successful horror franchises, delivers a stylish film. The scenes on the mist covered moor are tense and atmospheric, only spoiled slightly for being so obviously day for night shooting but the interior sets of The Hound of the Baskervilles, filmed in Bray studios, are highly detailed, up to Hammer’s usual great standards; some of the exteriors were shot on set as well but the moors, shot in Surry, look suitably spooky. James Bernard’s score was good although somewhat strident to my mind.

     The Hound of the Baskervilles may look and feel old fashioned, given more recent depictions of Holmes on the big screen and TV, but it is beautifully directed by Terrence Fisher and remains a wonderfully entertaining film, atmospheric, funny and mysterious, with red herrings and Peter Cushing and Andre Morell in top form.

     Part of the fun of Hammer films is watching actors who later become very prominent. In this case it is John Le Mesurier who 10 years after this film found lasting fame in Dad’s Army!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Hound of the Baskervilles is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using MPEG-4 AVC.

     Colours are deep and rich, detail very good: the checked suits are no problem to the print! The night scenes were filmed in the day, so shadow detail is fine, blacks solid. Skin tones are natural, brightness and contrast consistent. The print does show a number of speckles throughout, but they are small and otherwise artefacts are not present. Grain is nicely controlled so this over 55 year old film looks very good.

     There are no subtitles available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     The audio does what is required. Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. There are few Foley effects but the howls of the hound in the distance are spooky and the music by James Bernard comes over clearly.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Andre Morell: Best of British (18:57)

     Made in 2014 and using black and white photographs, Jason Morell (son of Andre Morell) and authors Jonathan Rigby (Studies in Terror), David Miller (The Complete Peter Cushing) and Denis Meikle (A History of Horrors) discuss the life and career of Andre Morell including his early work in theatre, his war service, TV work including Quatermass, his Hammer films, especially his interpretation of Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles, his relationship with Hammer, subsequent career and death from lung cancer. A good informative extra.

Gallery (3:52)

     Approximately 60 film posters and black and white film stills. They advance automatically, with music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Unlike many of the Shock releases here in Australia of Hammer films, unfortunately in this case The Hound of the Baskervilles misses out on most of the extras available in other regions.

     The Region B UK Blu-ray includes as extras:

    The Region A US Blu-ray has the following extras:

Summary

     The Hound of the Baskervilles is a wonderfully entertaining Sherlock Holmes film, Hammer at their very best. It may be a traditional telling of the story but with an excellent cast, assured direction by Terence Fisher, quality production values, humour and a score by James Bernard, The Hound of the Baskervilles remains a classic and loses nothing in comparison to more modern treatments of the book.

     The film looks very good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras, sadly for such a film, are minor compared to the commentaries and featurettes available on releases overseas.

     The Hound of the Baskervilles is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. If you only want the film, the Australian releases are fine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967)

Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Making Of-The Beat Goes On (22:04)
Featurette-Remembering David Buck (5:40)
Gallery-(6:07)
Trailer-Hammer Trailers including The Mummy's Shroud
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 90:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Gilling
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Andre Morell
David Buck
Maggie Kimberley
John Phillips
Elizabeth Sellars
Tim Barrett
Roger Delgado
Catherine Lacey
Michael Ripper

Case ?
RPI ? Music Don Banks


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Mummy’s Shroud starts with an eight minute precredit sequence; in a palace revolt in Egypt 2,000 BC the Pharaoh’s brother kills the Pharaoh and usurps the throne. The Pharaoh’s young son is spirited away into the desert by Prem, a faithful servant, but when the boy dies Prem places him in a secret tomb. The film, after the credits, then moves forward to 1920; an expedition led by Sir Basil Walden (Andre Morell) is looking for the boy Pharaoh’s tomb but they have been abandoned by their porters and are lost in a sandstorm. Other than Sir Basil, the remaining members of the expedition are his assistant Claire (Maggie Kimberley), photographer Harry (Tim Barrett) and Paul Preston (David Buck), the son of Stanley Preston (John Phillips), the wealthy industrialist who financed the expedition. Nevertheless, the party believe that they are very close to finding the tomb.

     When the expedition was reported lost, Stanley Preston, an arrogant, overbearing bully, and his wife Barbara (Elizabeth Sellars) came to Egypt to organise a rescue party, although another motive is that Stanley wants to take the credit for any major find. Reluctantly, Stanley is pressed into joining a rescue party himself and, as it happens, they arrive at the expedition’s camp just as Sir Basil has discovered the tomb and the tomb’s deranged guardian Hasmid (Roger Delgado), who predicts a nasty end to anyone who desecrates the grave. Of course, the warning goes unheeded, and the boy’s mummy, covered by a shroud on which are hieroglyphs that Claire is too horrified to translate, is exhumed and taken back to Sir Basil’s research facility in the city.

     Already in the facility is the mummy of Prem. Hasmid is able to steal the shroud found with the boy Pharaoh. With the help of the clairvoyant Haiti (Catherine Lacey) and the shroud Hasmid is able to invoke the spell which brings Prem’s mummy to life to exact revenge upon those who had desecrated his master’s tomb. As the body count increases, can the surviving members find a way to stop the rampage of the vengeful monster?

     To kick off their Mummy franchise in 1959 Hammer put together a decent budget, go to director Terence Fisher and major Hammer stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. None of them were involved in the underwhelming sequel The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb in 1964 and for this third mummy film Hammer turned to writer / director John Gilling, who had just finished The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile (both 1966).

     The Mummy’s Shroud is very much an ensemble piece with, except for Morell, none of the main Hammer stars although familiar Hammer players, such as Michael Ripper, who usually played landlords or policemen, gets a lot more to do this time, and very effectively, as a sycophantic toady to Stanley Preston. Other roles are done less well, especially Maggie Kimberley, who is not convincing, although Catherine Lacey, as the clairvoyant Haiti, gives a delightful, cackling over the top performance. The sets, especially ancient Egyptian and the desert are cheap looking, the exception being the wonderfully detailed den of Haiti. The score for The Mummy’s Shroud was composed by Australian born Don Banks, who did a handful of impressive scores for Hammer including Nightmare (1964), Hysteria (1965) and, indeed, The Reptile with Gilling. His music for The Mummy’s Shroud is a highlight of the film, avoiding stock sounding Egypt themes for something altogether more complex, such as the memorable opening music, used as a theme throughout the film.

     Gilling tries hard in The Mummy’s Shroud to inject some tension into what is essentially a film about a man in a suit lumbering around killing people. For example, in most of the murders the mummy is not seen clearly but reflected in fluid, a crystal ball or blurred when a character has broken his glasses. Unlike most Mummy films, this is not about a Mummy searching for a lost love, which dilutes any love interest or compassion for the monster! The result is a competent film although it is nothing special; it added to Gilling’s fractious relation with the Hammer executives and The Mummy’s Shroud was his last film for Hammer, a film that Gilling had no time for, considering it one of his worst films. I think he was being a bit hard on himself as the climax is well staged and the dissolving of the Mummy into sand and bone an effective special effect in the days before CGI that still stands up very well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Mummy’s Shroud is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The print is pretty good for a 50 year old film. Exteriors, especially in the desert and establishing shots, look soft although close-ups of faces are nicely detailed. Colours are natural, although not vibrant, the exception being the wonderful deep reds in Haiti’s den. Blacks are solid and shadow detail good, while skin tones varied from very light to very ruddy. Grain is nicely controlled; there are occasional small marks.

     White English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 1.0 at 448 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue was easy to understand. While this is a lossy mono audio, effects such the wind were decent enough. The excellent score by Don Banks also comes across nicely.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The Beat Goes On: The Making of The Mummy’s Shroud (22:04)

     Made in 2012 this is a good featurette using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with authors Jonathan Rigby (Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror Cinema), Denis Meikle (A History of Horror), and David Huckvale (Ancient Egypt in the Popular Imagination) plus John Johnston (Vice-chair: The Egypt Exploration Society). They discuss the film’s use of ancient Egyptian myth and the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, the strength of the ensemble cast, the score and director John Gilling. Informative and interesting.

Remembering David Buck (5:40)

     Actress Madeline Smith, who appeared in three Hammer films, remembers with affection actor David Buck to whom she was married when he died of cancer in 1989.

Gallery (6:07)

     Approximately 120 black and white and colour posters, film promotions, film stills and on set photographs. Advance automatically, with music, film dialogue and effects.

Hammer Trailers

     My set up had problems with the Blu-ray authoring of the trailers menu. First The Devil Rides Out trailer is on a loop and repeats while after The Mummy’s Shroud trailer the Blu-ray returns to the front menu screen but the options are not shown. I had to hit “Home” on my remote to get out.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no Region A US Blu-ray of The Mummy’s Shroud listed. Our release is the same as the Region B UK except that gets a lossless LPCM 1.0 audio.

Summary

     Without a love interest and sets not up to Hammer’s usual standards, writer / director John Gilling and an ensemble cast struggle to make any advance to the Mummy monster genre. While the climax is impressive and the film does have its moments, The Mummy’s Shroud is lesser Hammer which marked the end of director Gilling’s association with the company.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are decent and well worth a look.

     The Mummy’s Shroud is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. Good value for Hammer fans!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
"Beware the Beat of the Cloth-wrapped Feet!" - REPLY POSTED

Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Making Of-Raising the Dead (33:57)
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (3:38)
Trailer-Restored Original Trailer (1:56)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 89:53
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Gilling
Studio
Distributor
Seven Arts
Shock Entertainment
Starring André Morell
Diane Clare
Brook Williams
Jacqueline Pearce
John Carson
Alexander Davion
Michael Ripper
Marcus Hammond
Dennis Chinnery
Louis Mahoney
Roy Royston
Ben Aris
Tim Condren
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In London circa 1860 Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell), Professor of Medicine at London University, and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) receive a letter from Dr Peter Thompson (Brook Williams), a former student of Sir James who had moved to a small village in Cornwall with his wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce). Dr Thompson writes that disturbing deaths have been occurring in the village which he cannot understand or explain, and asks for help. As Alice is a school friend of Sylvia’s, father and daughter travel to Cornwall and arrive in the midst of another funeral that has the villagers very much on edge. They also discover that Alice is anaemic, lethargic and defensive, while Peter is depressed with his inability to discover the cause of the deaths in the village.

     As a rational, scientific man, Sir James is determined to solve the mystery; exhuming the grave of the villager who had just died with Peter they find that the coffin is empty. Then Alice is found dead on the moors and a villager lurking nearby is arrested but he is almost incoherent, claiming he had seen his dead brother walking on the moors. Sir James is convinced that witchcraft is involved, which is confirmed when Alice arises from her grave. What is the connection between local squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson), recently returned from the Caribbean, a deserted tin mine and a plague of the walking dead? And can Sir James discover what is happening before his daughter becomes the next victim.

     Released in 1966, The Plague of the Zombies is a good Hammer production directed by John Gilling, who had a reputation for being difficult but who did a handful of films for Hammer including The Pirates of Blood River (1962), The Reptile (1966) and The Mummy’s Shroud (1967). It stars neither of the two men synonymous with Hammer productions, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing; instead The Plague of the Zombies is headlined by another excellent actor, not unknown to Hammer fans: Andre Morell.

     Veteran actor Morell appeared in big budget epics including The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and Ben-Hur (1959) as well as a number of Hammer films, including The Camp on Blood Island (1958) and The Mummy’s Shroud (1967), but he is probably best remembered for his excellent Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). In The Plague of the Zombies his Sir James is pitch perfect; he is controlled, rational, witty, with some wonderful humorous interplay with Diane Clare as his daughter, and with just the right amount of control and gravitas to be totally believable. A smarmy John Carson and doomed Jacqueline Pearce are also excellent, as are the bit parts including Michael Ripper as the village police sergeant. Diane Clare is acceptable as the maiden in peril and wears some stunning dresses; Brook Williams however is wooden and unconvincing.

     Zombies are so popular on film at the moment that for some years now one could not turn around without finding another zombie film being released, from big budget Hollywood extravaganzas to very low budget independent films, in a wide range of genres including horror, comedy, science fiction or thrillers. Victor Halperin’s White Zombie, released in 1932, to which The Plague of the Zombies is rather indebted, is considered the first zombie film and there were others down the years but in 1966 zombies were still unusual before George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead reanimated the genre in 1968. In one sense it could be said that The Plague of the Zombies is rather old fashioned; the build-up is gradual, the first zombie is not revealed until after 40 minutes and the make-up is neither gruesome nor gory. There is also no doubt from the beginning just who the villain is. However, Gilling has delivered some impressive horror sequences, such as the scene in the dark in the tin mine workings where Alice is taken or the scene where she arises from her grave to menace her husband and Sir James. These are beautifully constructed, filmed and lit sequences, as effective today as when they were filmed.

     Despite being old fashioned, or maybe because of it, The Plague of the Zombies has aged rather well, better than a number of other Hammer Horror productions that feel dated. The Plague of the Zombies still works because there is plenty to enjoy; it is well made, well-acted, atmospheric, humorous and scary, with another great score by James Bernard and a satisfying, fiery climax.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Plague of the Zombies is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The restoration comparison extra shows that the colours and detail of the unrestored print were not too bad but that the print suffered from a range of big and small scratches and marks. These have been repaired and the print is pretty much artefact free, with only a few minor marks and some noise reduction. The colours are bright and vibrant, especially the yellows and reds. A few scenes appear soft, but close-ups are good. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good. Grain is nicely controlled.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a clear white font, although this is not noted on the menu.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such carriage wheels, horses’ hooves, footsteps and the fire are crisp and pleasing. Hammer stalwart James Bernard delivers another effective score.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss and only some slight distortion to the drums at the beginning.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Raising the Dead: The Making of The Plague of the Zombies (33:57)

     Made in 2012 this is an entertaining look at the film using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn (who also directed this extra), writer and actor Mark Gatiss, authors Jonathan Rigby (English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema), David Huckvale (Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde) and Wayne Kinsey (Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years), original cast members John Carson and Jacqueline Pearce, Don Mingaye (art director) and Jon Mann (Pinewood Studios). Matters discussed include director John Gilling and his reputation for being difficult, zombies, influences on the film, the cast, including Andre Morell, James Bernard’s score, shooting at Bray Studios and the restoration of the film. The two cast members add anecdotes about the shoot and their impressions of the film. An informative and interesting extra.

Restoration Comparison (3:38)

     Silent, split screens show various before and after restoration examples.

Restored Original Trailer (1:56)

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not seem to be a Region A US release at the moment. Our version is the same as the Region B UK release, although that includes an additional extra; a World of Hammer featurette entitled Mummies, Werewolves, and the Living Dead.

Summary

Made before zombies became the force on film that are they today, so Hammer’s zombies look rather different and, in fact, are not really the focus of the film. Instead The Plague of the Zombies is a well-made, old fashioned mystery anchored by a wonderful performance by Andre Morell, some excellent horror set pieces and another good score by James Bernard.

     The Plague of the Zombies is still available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection which I picked up from JB Hi-Fi for rather less than $100. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. That collection also adds two DVDs of World of Hammer featurettes produced in 1990, including the Mummies, Werewolves, and the Living Dead featurette that is included as an extra on the UK Blu-ray.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967)

Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-Director Roy Ward Baker and writer Nigel Kneale
Interviews-Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1967
Running Time 97:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roy Ward Baker
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring James Donald
Andrew Keir
Julian Glover
Barbara Shelly
Bryan Marshall
Duncan Lamont


Case ?
RPI ? Music Tristram Cary


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Workmen excavating for an extension of the London Underground discover prehistory human like remains in the clay so archaeologist Dr Mathew Roney (James Donald) and his team, including his assistant Barbara (Barbara Shelly), are called in to investigate. They find parts of the skulls and bones at least six humanoid, ape-men which, to their surprise, are dated to 5 million years ago, earlier than other humanoid finds. Digging further into the clay they find a large metal object which they suspect may be an unexploded bomb so the army is called in. When the team lead by bomb disposal expert Captain Potter (Bryan Marshall) realise that the object is made of an unknown metal that cannot be cut by any of their tools, higher authority is called in and Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) arrives with Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) of the Space Research Centre.

     When the metal object is fully uncovered it is obvious it is some sort of capsule; inside is a sealed compartment they are unable to open. However, later the compartment opens by itself to reveal a number of huge, dead, locust type creatures. Quatermass becomes convinced that these are alien creatures, Martians, who came to Earth 5 million years ago when their own planet died and attempted to colonise Earth using the ape-men. Breen, however, scoffs at that explanation and manages to persuade the Government that the capsule was a German propaganda stunt from the war, that everything is now safe and that the press can be allowed into the site. Of course, he is proved horribly wrong when the capsule reactivates with disastrous consequences.

     The original The Quatermass Experiment was a popular BBC serial in the early 1950s created by Nigel Kneale. The serial was so successful the BBC produced two further Quatermass serials, including Quatermass and the Pit in 1958. Hammer acquired the rights, making The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and a sequel Quatermass 2 (1957) before, 10 years later, returning with this big screen version of Quatermass and the Pit (called Five Million Years to Earth in the US), with a screenplay by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale. The IMDb says that Hammer stalwart Andre Morell, who played Quatermass in the 1958 BBC serial, was offered the part in the film but declined but in the interviews included as extras on this Blu-ray two of the interviewers who should know are unable to explain why he did not get the part. Andrew Keir got the role; he is excellent, giving Quatermass a measure of humanity he lacked when played by American Brian Donlevy in the first two feature films; Kneale also thought Keir a far better Quatermass. Julian Glover is also good as the bumptious idiot army man, as is James Donald and Barbara Shelly, tackling a different era after appearing in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin: The Mad Monk the year before. Also of interest is Duncan Lamont who plays Sladden; Lamont was the doomed astronaut Victor Carroon in The Quatermass Xperiment and he at least in this film gets to say a few lines of dialogue.

     Quatermass and the Pit was directed by Roy Ward Baker, probably best remembered as the director of that other, more dramatically satisfying, Titanic picture A Night to Remember (1958). He did an effective and stylish job of Quatermass and the Pit, building the film to an exciting and explosive climax. Most of the film takes place in the Underground tube station but it seems clear that for Quatermass and the Pit Hammer provided a large effects budget by their standards as in the climax buildings are destroyed and crash to the ground, water from broken pipes cascades and fires burn. It is true that some of the Styrofoam debris bounces and the effects may not be to modern standards, especially the Martian memory sequence which has rightfully been heavily criticised, but in the days prior to CGI most of the effects are fine and add to, rather than detract from, the tension on screen.

     Quatermass and the Pit relies on human drama and a touch of scientific gobbledegook delivered absolutely straight rather than gore or excessive effects, and its themes of racial intolerance and ethnic cleansing remain all too relevant in today’s world. Thus it has aged well and, almost 50 years after being made, it is still an effective, intelligent and very enjoyable sci-fi thriller.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Quatermass and the Pit is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     While some of the exterior London footage looks a bit soft and grainy, the interiors are sharp, with deep colours; the mud in the pit looks as if it could be squelching between your toes. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural. I saw no marks or artefacts, except the deliberate ones during the Mars memory sequence.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a clear white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 at 2304 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such as the hiss of an oxyacetylene torch, the spurting water, explosions and the crash of buildings had pleasing depth. The score by Tristram Cary (who scored 27 Dr Who episodes in 1964-66) is fine although not used a lot.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary

     Recorded in the late 1990s, director Roy Ward Baker and writer Nigel Kneale sit together and talk about the film. Neither are sparkling communicators and there are a number of gaps and silences although they do warm up as they go along (and there is another unidentified voice asking questions). They do comment on how the movie was condensed from the three hour TV series, the casting, actors and the sets, the genesis of the Quatermass character, the BBC serials, actors who had played Quatermass, Baker’s previous career and subsequent Hammer films, Hammer itself, the special effects and Quatermass 4. Interesting in parts.

Interviews

     Extensive interviews, approximately 2 hours in total, filmed in 2012. The subjects answer questions posed by a text screen, although there are errors in the text: for example we get Colonel Green instead Colonel Breen and Neal for Kneale. The interviews are fascinating and well worth watching. Strangely, at the end of each there is about 30 seconds of blank screen, after which most interviews loop back to the start of the same interview so you need to use the Popup menu to navigate to the next interview. The interviews are:

     Judith Kerr (17:41): Kerr was the wife of screenwriter Nigel Kneale. She talks about how they first met, the writing and live filming of the first Quatermass, the special effects, why the films are still appealing today and why The Pit was Kneale’s favourite.

     Julian Glover (29:57): Glover is very amusing as he remembers how he got and played the role of Colonel Breen, recalls stories about the director and other cast members of Quatermass and the Pit, the stunts and special effects on set. He also talks about the themes of the film, good v evil, the social context and working on Hammer films as opposed to other films he has been cast in.

     Mark Gatiss (19:44): Author and actor Gatiss talks about discovering Hammer films and Quatermass, Quatermass and the Pit, the Quatermass franchise and possible remakes. However, in the majority of the interview he talks about the ideas, skills and the reputation of Nigel Kneale, including Kneale’s dissatisfaction with Hammer and the BBC.

     Joe Dante (11:35): Film director Dante talks about discovering Hammer and Quatermass, the impact and legacy of the Quatermass films, Kneale and the special effects.

     Kim Newman (30:00): Novelist and film critic Newman talks about his first exposure to the Quatermass franchise, the inspirations for and power of Quatermass and the Pit, the social context, director Roy Ward Baker, Nigel Kneale, the cast and the lasting influence of the film.

     Marcus Hearn (12:54): Hammer film historian Hearn (misspelt Hern in the menu) talks about the importance of the Quatermass films to Hammer, the reason for the nine year delay between Quatermass 2 and Quatermass and the Pit, the director and casting, the shooting of the film in the MGM British sound stage and the score.

Restored Original Trailer (2:36)

     The US trailer, thus the title is Five Million Years to Earth.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no Region A US Blu-ray of Quatermass and the Pit. Our release is the same as the Region B UK although that adds the alternative US credit sequence and a World of Hammer short “Sci-fi”. A slight win to the UK.

Summary

     Quatermass and the Pit is another satisfying Hammer sci-fi thriller. Hammer splurged on the effects budget for this one resulting in a good looking, destructive and explosive climax but the effects are used to augment the human drama not overwhelm it. Andrew Keir is an excellent Quatermass and he receives good support from James Donald, Barbara Shelly and Julian Glover. The film is still an effective and very enjoyable sci-fi thriller fifty years after it was made.

     The film looks very good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are excellent.

     Quatermass and the Pit is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection, which also adds two DVDs of Hammer shorts, including the one on “Sci-Fi” included in the UK Blu-ray of Quatermass and the Pit. The specifications and extras on both Australian releases are the same, though without the DVD of course.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955)

Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction More…-Additional Film: X The Unknown (1956): 76:25
More…-Additional Film: Quatermass 2 (1957): 81:08
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 78:38
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Val Guest
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Brian Donlevy
Margia Dean
Jack Warner
Richard Wordsworth
David King-Wood
Gordon Jackson


Case ?
RPI ? Music James Bernard


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Quatermass Xperiment starts with a large rocket crashing into a farmer’s field in southern England. We quickly learn that this was the rocket with three men on board that Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) and his team had sent far into space without the knowledge or approval of the British Ministry of Defence. They had then lost contact with the rocket until it crashed back to Earth and when they are able to access the interior they can find one man, Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth), who is disoriented and unable to speak. There is no sign of the other two crew members.

     Victor, along with his wife Judith (Margia Dean), is spirited away to Quatermass’ research facility where he is examined by Dr Briscoe (David King-Wood), who finds physical changes in Victor he cannot explain. Quatermass wants to keep Victor away from the Ministry of Defence and the police until he can discover what had happened in space but Inspector Lomax (Jack Warner) of the Metropolitan Police insists on investigating the disappearance of the two other astronauts. As Victor is not improving he is moved to a hospital from where Judith is able to engineer his escape. But it becomes clear that Victor has been exposed to a space organism which is taking over his body; Victor is now a carrier for the organism and is gradually transforming into a creature that, unless it can be found and destroyed, has the potential to destroy humanity.

     The original The Quatermass Experiment was a popular BBC serial in the early 1950s created by Nigel Kneale. The serial was so successful the BBC produced two further Quatermass serials. Hammer became involved and made The Quatermass Xperiment, which is basically a big screen version of the first BBC serial although with one eye on the US market (where the film was retitled The Creeping Unknown) two Americans, Brian Donlevy and Margia Dean, were cast in leading roles. Neither does particularly well: Donlevy makes his Quatermass a dour, self-centred and humourless man, focussed on knowledge and his scientific experiments whatever the human cost, while Dean looks uncomfortable. Better are Jack Warner, with a nice sense of humour, and Richard Wordsworth, who has no dialogue but is convincing as the human being gradually absorbed by an alien organism until he becomes a Frankenstein’s monster like creature, lurching through the darkness. Also of interest in the cast is Gordon Jackson, who later became a familiar face in TV series such as Upstairs, Downstairs and The Professionals, while, for curio value, the little girl playing with her doll who encounters the monster is Jane Asher, later fiancée of Paul McCartney.

     The Quatermass Xperiment was a success for Hammer and is said to be the film which launched Hammer horror. Sixty years after it was made the film is still a tense and taut horror / thriller, with nice touches of black humour, well directed by Val Guest and with an eerie score by James Bernard, who went on to score many of Hammer’s best horror films. Some of the effects are a bit indifferent, such as the rocket, but they are acceptable for 1955 and the creature is interesting while the climax, filmed in Westminster Abbey, is a lot of fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Quatermass Xperiment is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb gives the original aspect ratio as 1.66:1, which is the ratio of the Region A release (see below). However, I have seen screen dumps of both releases and it does not look as if much is lost from this release.

     This is a black and white film that, generally, looks very good. Blacks are solid, grey scales and shadow detail excellent. Some exteriors / stock footage look a bit soft as might be expected, but otherwise detail is firm. For most of the picture marks and artefacts are absent but in about 3-4 scenes there are lots of small white artefacts. There are also a couple of vertical scratches, the most obvious at 52:07. But, as stated, the majority of the print is very good. Grain is nicely controlled.

     There are no subtitles available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such as the fire engine bells were quite crisp. The eerie score by James Bernard was also clear.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no film relevant extras with this Australian release. However, included on the Blu-ray are two Quatermass sequels so we get three films in this one package. Both sequels have the same technical specifications as the The Quatermass Xperiment: aspect ratio 1.33:1, 1080i, LPCM 2.0 audio at 1536 Kbps, no subtitles. The two films are:

X The Unknown (1956): 76:25

    When a fissure opens in the earth during an army exercise in Scotland and a soldier is killed by radiation and another badly burned, Dr Adam Royston (Dean Jagger) from an atomic research facility is called in to investigate. Something which seems to be energy from the earth is feeding on radiation and people are dying. Can Dr. Royston find a way to stop it? Also staring a very young Leo McKern, William Lucas, Edward Chapman and singer / composer Anthony Newley. Director Leslie Norman, score James Bernard.

     There are some scratches, marks, reel change markers and flicker but this is a pretty good black and white print for its age. Audio is also good, with nice Geiger counter effects, although sometimes the score drowns out the dialogue.

     X The Unknown is a nice, if a bit melodramatic, story. It was going to be the sequel of The Quatermass Xperiment until the Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale objected to his characters being used by another writer. So Quatermass became Dr Royston.

Quatermass 2 (1957): 81:08

     The radar at the research facility of Professor Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) picks up strange objects falling to earth about 90 miles away. When Quatermass and his assistant Marsh (Bryan Forbes) investigate they find meteorite like debris on the ground, one of which breaks open and burns Marsh. They also see an extensive industrial plant before armed guards take Marsh away and force Quatermass to leave. No-one is prepared to talk about the plant, so Quatermass turns to his old friend Inspector Lomax (this time played by John Longden) of the Metropolitan Police for help. Quatermass discovers that the meteorites are, in fact, spores for alien life that are arriving on Earth and infecting every human they come in contact with, turning humans into their slaves, and that the research facility is a plant used for the aliens’ feeding and propagation. Can Quatermass and Lomax destroy the plant before the aliens take over life on the Earth. Also staring William Franklyn and Sidney James, as a drunken reporter. Director Val Guest, score James Bernard.

     The blacks are OK but shadow detail is indistinct at times. There are also some scratches, marks and aliasing but this is an acceptable black and white print for its age. Audio is decent; the gunshots and explosions sound flat but the score comes over nicely.

     Quatermass 2 (also called Enemy From Space), written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale and director Val Guest, is the first official Quatermass sequel. It is a decent sci-fi film.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray of The Quatermass Xperiment is in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, in 1080p, with DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio and the following extras:

     If you only want The Quatermass Xperiment itself the Region A is obviously the preferred option. However, the three complete films of our release represent a decent package.

Summary

     The Quatermass Xperiment is entertaining and fun and looking at 1955 science, fire engines and ambulances is fascinating. For a film that is 60 years old it holds up pretty well; as a starting point for Hammer Horror it is well worth a look.

     The film looks pretty good on Blu-ray, with only some scenes showing marks, the audio is the original mono. No extras as such, but the two additional films are certainly decent value.

     The Quatermass Xperiment is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same, but no DVD of course.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966)

Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Alternative Version-Rasputin The Mad Monk 2.55:1 version
Audio Commentary-Cast
Featurette-Making Of-Tall Stories (24:24)
Featurette-Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations (14:35)
Gallery-(3:14)
Trailer-Hammer Trailers including Rasputin: The Mad Monk
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 92:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Don Sharp
Studio
Distributor
Seven Arts
Shock Entertainment
Starring Christopher Lee
Barbara Shelley
Richard Pasco
Francis Matthews
Suzan Farmer
Dinsdale Landen
Renée Asherson
Derek Francis
Joss Ackland
Robert Duncan
Alan Tilvern
John Welsh
John Bailey
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Don Banks


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In Rasputin: The Mad Monk we first see the uncouth peasant monk Rasputin (Christopher Lee) cure the wife of an innkeeper by using his hands to draw the sickness from her body. He then gets drunk at the inn and attempts to rape the innkeeper’s daughter. This is Rasputin in a couple of scenes; a healer, a drunk and a womaniser.

     Rasputin then travels to St Petersburg. In a tavern he outdrinks Boris (Richard Pasco), a struck off doctor, when a group from the Russian court consisting of Ivan (Francis Matthews), his sister Vanessa (Suzan Farmer), Peter (Dinsdale Landen) and his sister Sonia (Barbara Shelley), arrive. Sonia is mesmerised, hypnotised and later seduced by Rasputin, becoming his mistress, and through her Rasputin gains access to the Tsarina (Renee Asherson) and her son. Rasputin hypnotises the Tsarina, gaining wealth and fame, but along the way he discards those, like Sonia, who are no longer of use. But Rasputin has made enemies who are determined that he must be killed.

     In the 1960s historical epics were a popular art form; think Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Cleopatra (1963), Doctor Zhivago (1965) or any number of films starring Charlton Heston. With Rasputin: The Mad Monk Hammer had a go at a historical epic of their own, delving into history and real people for one of the few times they did. Hammer did pull out all the stops; Rasputin: The Mad Monk was shot in glorious widescreen Cinemascope, the sets are large, set direction detailed, the costumes lavish, the music by Don Banks swells and there is a larger than life performance by Christopher Lee. Other characters played by Lee, such as Count Dracula, required a controlled performance but Rasputin with his long hair, wild beard and piercing eyes allows Lee an opportunity to be boisterous, loud, energetic and mesmerising, an opportunity he takes with both hands to deliver a wonderful over the top but still nuanced performance. This is Lee at his best as he owns the character totally. The scene where he is visited by a foppish Matthews is great, amusing for what is not said and the expressions on the face of both actors.

    Indeed, Rasputin: The Mad Monk was shot at Bray Studios back to back with Dracula: Prince of Darkness and featured many of the same cast, Lee, Francis Matthews, Suzan Farmer and Barbara Shelley, although with a different director, Don Sharp. Tasmanian born Sharp had directed his first Hammer film in 1963 (The Kiss of the Vampire) and went on to direct Lee in six films, including The Brides of Fu Manchu made in the same year as Rasputin: The Mad Monk. Sharp is at home with the epic aspects of the story but he also shows a firm grip on the tense and horror sequences, such as when Peter comes to kill Rasputin, a sequence replete with darkness, shadows and briefly lit faces in a sea of black.

     Rasputin: The Mad Monk was released by Hammer with the disclaimer "this is an entertainment, not a documentary. No attempt has been made at historical accuracy... all the characters and incidents may be regarded as fictitious." Although this disclaimer was for legal reasons, it is fair to say that Rasputin: The Mad Monk is more salacious myth than history; as is discussed in the making of extra on this Blu-ray, Rasputin was neither mad nor a monk, while the published version of his death, based upon the book written by one of his aristocratic killers years later, was a fabrication. So history Rasputin: The Mad Monk may not be but fabulous entertainment it certainly is, and it remains so 50 years after being made.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Rasputin: The Mad Monk is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC code.

     In a word: gorgeous! Shot in Cinemascope on film, detail is astounding. The lavish sets and costumes are beautiful, the close-ups show in fine detail every hair in Lee’s unkempt beard and hair, every wrinkle or bead of sweat on his face, his mesmerising eyes and gnarled hands. The colours, whether exteriors or interiors, are deep and vibrant, including Rasputin’s red satin costume. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good. Grain is nicely controlled; I saw no marks or artefacts.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a clear white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono at 448 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Despite being a lossy track, dialogue is always easy to understand with Lee’s unique voice clear. While this is a mono audio, effects such footsteps and carriage wheels are crisp. The epic score by Don Banks avoids clichéd Russian cues and is perfect for the film.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did notice slight hiss occasionally.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Rasputin The Mad Monk 2.55:1 version (92:44)

     A screen text appears before this version of the film which pretty much explains everything:

     “Rasputin: The Mad Monk was shot in 4-perf CinemaScope with anamorphic lenses, “squeezing” a 2.55:1 picture into a standard 35mm (1.37:1) frame. The film was always intended to be matted down to 2.35:1 and this was achieved by losing detail at the left (more) and right (less) of the picture. We have restored the film 'open gate' at its entire shooting ratio, so that we can show more of the picture as filmed. Although the film was never intended to be screened at the 2.55:1 aspect ratio, this version serves as a fascinating insight into both the composition of the original frame by cinematographer Michael Reed, and the overall production design (by Bernard Robinson) of Don Sharp's film, as often an almost perfectly symmetrically composition emerges when seen at 2.55:1, which is absent from the 2.35:1 matted version. The anamorphic lenses used create a concave effect at the extreme left and right of the picture, which is sometimes clearly visible in the 2.55:1 version. The credit sequence of the 2.55:1 version has a vertical space at the left-edge, the credits being created within the 2.35:1 frame.”

     This version is technically the same; 1080p using MPEG-4 AVC code, Dolby Digital 1.0, English subtitles.

Audio Commentary

     Cast members Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley sit together and watch the film. This is entertaining and amusing as they chat, sometimes cutting across each other, about their memories of the filming, the cast and crew, the set direction, cut scenes and Hammer. Lee has read about Rasputin a lot and is very knowledgeable about the real events and the myths surrounding Rasputin’s murder. He also talks about meeting the killers of Rasputin when he was about 9.

Tall Stories: The Making of Rasputin The Mad Monk (24:24)

     Made in 2012 this is a fascinating featurette using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with authors Jonathan Rigby (Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History), Denis Meikle (A History of Horror), David Huckvale (Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde) and Andrew Cook (To Kill Rasputin), plus original cast members Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews. Cook argues, based upon recent discoveries including Rasputin’s autopsy records and autopsy photographs (some of which are shown), that Rasputin was neither mad nor a monk, that the accounts of his murder are myth and that he was most likely killed with the assistance, or contrivance, of British intelligence! Other things discussed include the genesis of the film, the cast, including Christopher Lee, the score and scenes that were cut to reduce the running time, including a major fight between Lee (or more precisely his double) and Matthews, who is still not happy about it!

Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations (14:35)

     Author Jonathan Rigby (Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror Cinema), author and publisher Johnny Main and writer and actor Mark Gatiss provide an interesting insight into the history of the tie ins between Hammer films and their novelisations by various publishers and writers including John Burke; pulp fiction in a period before video allowed people to revisit the films themselves.

Gallery (3:14)

     Approximately 60 black and white and colour posters, film promotions, film stills and on set photographs. They advance automatically, with music and film dialogue.

Hammer Trailers

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no Region A US Blu-ray of Rasputin: The Mad Monk. Our release is the same as the Region B UK although that uses a LPCM 1.0 audio and adds a World of Hammer short on Costumers.

Summary

     It is probably true to say that they don’t make them like Rasputin: The Mad Monk any more, which is a pity. Hammer did not do many historical epics and Rasputin: The Mad Monk may not be very good history but, with lavish sets and costumes, a swelling and dramatic score by Don Banks and Christopher Lee in a role he was born to play, it remains wonderful entertainment fifty years after it was made.

     The film looks splendiferous on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are excellent.

     Rasputin: The Mad Monk is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection, which also adds two DVDs of World of Hammer shorts, including the one on “Costumers” included in the UK Blu-ray release. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same, though without the DVD of course.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, January 30, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 6-Mar-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Featurette-Making Of-The Serpent’s Tale (33:57)
Featurette-Restoration Comparison (3:38)
Trailer-Restored Original Trailer (1:56)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 90:05
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Gilling
Studio
Distributor
Seven Arts
Shock Entertainment
Starring Noel Willman
Jennifer Daniel
Ray Barrett
Jacqueline Pearce
Michael Ripper
John Laurie
Marne Maitland
Harold Pinter
Charles Lloyd Pack
Harold Goldblatt
George Woodbridge
Case ?
RPI ? Music Don Banks


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In a five minute precredit sequence a man enters the house of Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman) where he is attacked by something barely seen and bitten on the neck. The man froths at the mouth, his face swells and turns black and he dies, crashing down the stairs. An oriental man (Marne Maitland), who appears to be a servant of Dr. Franklyn, appears and takes the corpse away, leaving it in the village graveyard. After the credits the scene changes to the office of a lawyer in London. The dead man was Charles Spalding and his brother Captain Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) has inherited Charles’ cottage in a remote, small village in Cornwall.

     Harry and his new wife Valerie (Jennifer Daniel) travel to Cornwall, but when Harry walks into the village pub to ask directions everyone leaves; only the landlord Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper) is at all helpful. Harry learns that there have been a number of mysterious deaths in the village and the villagers are scared. Tom urges Harry to sell up and leave, but Harry and Valerie are determined to stay, ever after another of the villagers, Mad Peter (John Laurie), dies in the same mysterious way. Harry, with Tom’s help, is convinced there is a rational explanation to the deaths which revolves around Dr. Franklyn and his beautiful daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce), but can they discover the truth before they too fall victim?

     Released in 1966, The Reptile was made directly after The Plague of the Zombies with the same director, John Gilling, the same sets at Bray Studios, the same costumes and two of the cast from the earlier film: Jacqueline Pearce and Michael Ripper. The Reptile is not a mystery as such; we are aware from the beginning that Dr. Franklyn (who incidentally is a Doctor of Theology, not medicine) knows what is happening but is powerless to prevent further deaths and that his oriental servant, known only as the Malay in the credits, has some kind of hold over both Dr. Franklyn and his daughter. The real mystery is just what this hold is and how is Anna involved.

     John Gilling had a reputation for being difficult but he did a handful of good films for Hammer including The Pirates of Blood River (1962), The Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Mummy’s Shroud (1967). I think that The Reptile is close to his best at Hammer. He directs with style and a firm control of the material; the scenes in the woodlands are atmospheric, the Gothic House of Dr. Franklyn is spooky, there are some decent scares along the way, the creature is not revealed until more than 60 minutes into the film and the explanation for the events is left until the climax. The score by Don Banks is excellent and some scenes build a palatable tension, such as the fabulous set piece scene without dialogue where Anna plays the sitar for her father and the Spaldings, taunting her father with her glances.

     Jacqueline Pearce, who was great in a small part in The Plague of the Zombies, is excellent here in a bigger role, but again we see too little of her. She is beautiful and charismatic on screen and while I am unsure if she did any more Hammer, she did become familiar later in her role in Blake’s 7. Noel Willman is also very good and elicits our understanding, if not our sympathy, in a role that is on the surface harsh and unbending. Jennifer Daniel and Australian Ray Barrett are adequate and it is great to see Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper in a bigger role than usual as he assists to resolve the mystery.

     I feel The Reptile is rather underrated Hammer. It has none of the major Hammer stars and director John Gilling fell out with Hammer the next year, but The Reptile is a lot of fun; it is well made, well-acted, atmospheric and scary with a satisfying, fiery climax.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Reptile is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The restoration comparison extra shows that the colours and detail of the unrestored print were dull, which has been corrected. The print is still not perfect, but the film is 50 years old and looks pretty good! The start of the film looks the worst, with the outside location looking indistinct and small marks evident, but it soon settles down. The interiors are colourful and highly detailed in the Hammer manner, the village set, reused from The Plague of the Zombies, looks great. Blacks are solid and shadow detail very good, contrast and brightness consistent. Grain is nicely controlled.

     English subtitles are available in a clear white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such the thunder and rain, plus footsteps, are crisp. The score by Don Banks is atmospheric and comes across nicely.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

The Serpent’s Tale: The Making of The Reptile (33:57)

     Made in 2012 this is an entertaining featurette using film footage, still photographs and recent interviews with Hammer Film historian Marcus Hearn (who also directed this extra), writer and actor Mark Gatiss, authors Jonathan Rigby (English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema), David Huckvale (Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde) and Wayne Kinsey (Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years), original cast member Jacqueline Pearce, Don Mingaye (art director) and Jon Mann (Pinewood Studios). Matters discussed include the uncomfortable make-up, director John Gilling, the sets, the cast, Don Bank’s score, shooting at Bray Studios and the restoration of the film. An informative and interesting extra.

Restoration Comparison (3:38)

     Silent, split screens show various before and after restoration examples.

Restored Original Trailer (1:56)

    With soft colours and scratches, it does not look restored!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not seem to be a Region A US release at the moment. Our version is the same as the Region B UK release, although that includes an additional extra; a World of Hammer featurette entitled Wicked Women.

Summary

     The Reptile is a well-made Hammer Horror film which is a lot of fun; it is atmospheric and scary, the creature and the explanation are left until the end maintaining some mystery, there are some good, tense set pieces, Jacqueline Pearce steals the show and there is an atmospheric score by Don Banks. What’s not to like?

     The Reptile is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same. That collection also adds two DVDs of World of Hammer featurettes produced in 1990, including the Wicked Women featurette that is included as an extra on the UK Blu-ray.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Brides of Dracula, The (Blu-ray) (1960) | Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974) | Curse of the Werewolf, The (Blu-ray) (1961) | Devil Rides Out, The (Blu-ray) (1968) | Dracula: Prince of Darkness (Blu-ray) (1966) | Frankenstein Created Woman (Blu-ray) (1967) | Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (Blu-ray) (1974) | Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) (Blu-ray) | Mummy's Shroud, The (Blu-ray) (1967) | Plague of the Zombies, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Quatermass and the Pit (Blu-ray) (1967) | Quatermass Xperiment, The (Blu-ray) (1955) | Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Blu-ray) (1966) | Reptile, The (Blu-ray) (1966) | Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

Witches, The (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 87:05
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Cyril Frankel
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Joan Fontaine
Alec McCowan
Kay Walsh
Ingrid Brett
Martin Stephens
Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies
Leonard Rossiter


Case ?
RPI ? Music Richard Rodney Bennett


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine), a middle aged teacher in a mission school in Africa, suffers a nervous breakdown when she is targeted by a witchdoctor and forced to leave Africa. Later, back in England and still recovering, Gwen is hired by Alan Bax (Alec McCowan) to be head teacher in the private school financed by himself and his sister Stephanie (Kay Walsh) in the small English village in which they live. Gwen jumps at the chance, relishing the tranquillity and peace of the countryside and its friendly and welcoming inhabitants.

     The reality is somewhat different and Gwen is soon unsettled by some strange behaviours by Alan and by a young girl in her class, Linda Rigg (Ingrid Brett). Linda is friends with a young boy in class, Ronnie (Martin Stephens), who warns Gwen that Linda is being harmed by her grandmother (Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies), a strange old woman. Soon afterwards Ronny mysteriously collapses into a coma and is taken to hospital, where he does not improve. Gwen later finds a male doll that has been beheaded and stuck with pins and begins to suspect witchcraft is occurring in the village. Her suspicions are strengthened when Ronny’s father is found drowned after going to visit Granny Rigg; Gwen also starts to believe that Linda is going to become a virgin sacrifice. But before Gwen can act on her suspicions reminders of her time in Africa planted in her room induce another breakdown; she loses her memory and she is placed in a clinic run by Dr Wallis (Leonard Rossiter). Can she regain her memory in time to follow up on her suspicions that Linda is in grave danger?

     The Witches is based on the novel The Devil’s Own by Norah Lofts (writing as Peter Curtis). Apparently Oscar winner Joan Fontaine (for Suspicion back in 1941) bought the rights to the book and brought it to Hammer. The result is lesser Hammer; there are none of the main Hammer stars, it was directed by Cyril Frankel, who made only one other Hammer film, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960), and the score was by Richard Rodney Bennett who, although a talented composer with three later Oscar nominations, including for Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and Nicolas and Alexandra (1971), was by no means a Hammer regular. The screenwriter who adapted the novel was Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, but apparently he was dissatisfied with the film as the producers removed all the black comedy elements in the script to make the film very serious.Which is a pity.

The Witches (the film was exhibited as The Devil’s Own in the US) is very leisurely paced and contains little by way of tension or scares. The plotting is quite convoluted and, despite some meaningful stares by various characters who all obviously know what is happening, and one red herring, with a film called The Witches the audience knows what is the cause of the trouble and, indeed, can pick out who the main witch is easily enough. None of the acting, including by Fontaine, whose last feature film this was, is particularly convincing and the dancing (or gyrating) of the initiates during the climax in the coven is 1960s ludicrous and about as sinister as a church social.

     The Witches is a curio; for an occult horror film it is neither tense nor scary, as a psychological thriller / mystery it is languid and obvious. However, the sets are impressive and, as usual in Hammer films, part of the fun is seeing performers who later became well known; in this case it is Leonard Rossiter from the hit TV show Rising Damp.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Witches is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i, MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Despite being an interlaced presentation, The Witches looks good in HD. Detail is strong and the village exteriors, filmed in Buckinghamshire, look great. Colours are deep and rich, blacks and shadow detail are both very good. Contrast does vary, however, and sometimes skin tones came over as very pale. Grain is nicely controlled; I saw no obvious marks or artefacts except for one slight frame jump.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such footsteps or the rain are crisp enough and the score by Richard Rodney Bennett sounds fine.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailer (1:34)

     The US trailer, thus titled The Devil’s Own.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is no Region A US Blu-ray of The Witches. The Region B UK is in 1080p and adds the “Hammer Glamour” featurette (which, in Australia was on the Frankenstein Created Woman Blu-ray release).

Summary

     It seems that Joan Fontaine was the one who wanted to make The Witches. Hammer went along with a star of her quality but did not commit any of their stalwarts to the project. The result is a languid picture without much in the way of scares or tension and with an unintentionally silly climax. Lesser Hammer, of curio value.

     The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. A film trailer is the only extras.

     The Witches is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same, though without the DVD of course. The “Hammer Glamour” featurette included on the UK release of The Witches is on the Frankenstein Created Woman disc in the box set.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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