Icons of Horror - Hammer Films

 

   The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)       The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)


The Gorgon (1964)       Scream of Fear (1961)

 

Though perhaps not as iconic as their Dracula and Frankenstein pictures, this quartet of fright flicks from England's Hammer Films deliver enough Saturday afternoon creature feature thrills to please devotees of the legendary studio's output and vintage horror fans alike. 1964's The Gorgon will be the title to attract the most immediate attention due to the presence of Hammer's biggest stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, in its cast, and its most celebrated director, Terence Fisher, behind the camera. It's an atmospheric and offbeat entry in the Hammer canon, with one of its most unusual villains: a snake-haired fiend from Greek mythology who turns men into stone. Cushing and Lee are typically fine (both are on the side of the angels for once), and the picture's sole stumbling block is the lackluster makeup for its monster. Lee is also present in supporting roles in two other films in the collection: Scream of Fear (1961), one of several competent psychological suspense features made by Hammer in the wake of Psycho, with Susan Strasberg as a fragile young woman plagued by terrible visions and a house full of suspicious types; and Fisher's The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), a revamp of the Stevenson story with Paul Massie as the dour scientist whose personality experiments unleash a virile but unhinged alter ego. Hardcore Hammer aficionados will be thrilled to discover that the DVD version is uncut and preserves much of the (mildly) salacious material trimmed for its release in America under the title House of Fright. The final film on Icons of Horror is Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, with Hammer exec Michael Carreras (son of company founder James Carreras) behind the camera for a featherweight monster romp that doesn't hold a candle to Terence Fisher's Mummy in 1959. Unlike previous Icons of Horror DVDs, the supplemental features here are slim--just the theatrical trailers for each film--though they do offer their own degree of charm, especially the ballyhoo-heavy tone of Mummy and the oddly elegant and unnerving preview for Scream of Fear, which is centered solely around an image of Strasberg's face.

--Paul Gaita review at Amazon located HERE

 


Titles

 


 

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
When European Egyptologists Dubois, Giles and Bray discover the tomb of the Egyptian prince Ra, American entrepreneur and investor Alexander King insists on shipping the treasures and sarcophagus back to England for tour and display. Once there, someone with murderous intent has discovered the means of waking the centuries dead prince...

The Gorgon
In early-twentieth-century middle-Europe, villagers are literally becoming petrified. Although the authorities try to hush the matter up it is apparent that at the full moon, Medusa leaves her castle lair and anyone looking on her face is turned to stone. When this fate befalls a visitor, experts from the University of Leipzig arrive to try and get to the bottom of it all.

Scream of Fear
After narrowly surviving an accident in which she nearly drowned, the wheelchair bound Penny Appleby returns home to live with her widowed step-mother Jane on the French Riviera. She begins to question her sanity after several times seeing her father's corpse around the house and its grounds, and enlists the help of the friendly chauffeur Bob while attending Doctor Gerrard acts in a suitably sinister manner. No one is who they seem in this tale of intrigue and suspense.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1960 - 1964

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:28:06, 1:20:06 + 1:23:15 + 1:21:18

Bitrate:

Disc with The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll + The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb

Bitrate:

Disc with The Gorgon + Scream of Fear

Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Sony

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 2:35:1 for The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) + The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)
1:66:1 for The Gorgon (1964) + Scream of Fear (1961)

Edition Details:
trailers


DVD Release Date: October 14th, 2008

One Keep Case
Chapters: 12 X 4

 

Comments:

Much in the vein of Sony's Icons of Horror - Boris Karloff or Sam Katzman collections, the four feature films of this boxset are shared, two each on two dual-layered, progressive DVDs with all 4 widescreen features being anamorphically enhanced. All have original aspect ratios - 2:35:1 for The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) + The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), 1:66:1 for The Gorgon (1964) + Scream of Fear (1961). Each disc is coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. They have original mono audio (or 2.0 channel stereo) and the dialogue is supported by optional English subtitles. The 2 DVDs are housed in one keep cases and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe these particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Sony's Icons of Horror - Hammer Films collection at present.

 

Image quality: The three color features look quite strong and fairly consistent. Scream of Fear seems the weak link with a strange softness at times that may very well be part of the original presentation. But the prevalent noise I'm sure is nt and contrast can be a bit muddy. I have no adamantly strong complaints with the way these, essentially single-layered, transfers look as my expectations were not astronomic.  There is some minor digital noise throughout but, except for Scream of Fear, nothing distracting. There are no overt damage marks - just some minor light speckles here and there. I think the captures below give a fair representation of how the DVD package looks. They are certainly very watchable.

Audio was acceptable if unremarkable. It was consistent and clear enough and the dialogue is supported with optional English subtitles.

 

Unfortunately there are no extras save some trailers which are both intense and amusing!

 

I love sinking into these genre efforts - no matter the 'cheese factor' - Hammer always had a slight edge in quality over a lot of similar, more exploitation based, horror films. This package is fun but I'd recommend Universal's The Hammer Horror Collection over it by a mile (8 super Hammer Horrors in one package for about $2 each). Still for new fodder, I immersed myself in this one and admit to enjoyment. Fans have an idea what they are in for - and this package shouldn't disappoint despite the lack of supplements. The Gorgon was especially pretty cool!

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


Disc 2


 

 

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 
Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Gorgon (1964)

 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 

 

Scream of Fear (1961)


 

Subtitle Sample
 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC




 

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