S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(Freddie Francis, 1963)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions / Universal
Video: Eureka Video
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 21,555,340,468 bytes
Feature Size: 21,129,609,216 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 26th, 2010
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1578 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1578 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1561 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1561 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Isolated Music and Effects track available in HD!
• Stills Gallery
• Trailer (2:56)
Description: A forgotten gem from the legendary Hammer Studios, available for the first time on home video in the UK, this sinister classic spins a gruesome web of unhappy families. It is three weeks before the Ashby siblings Simon (Oliver Reed), a brutish alcoholic, and Eleanor (Janette Scott), a nervous wreck, are to come into their late parents' inheritance. While Simon plans to have his sister certified insane and locked away, Eleanor keeps seeing the lurking figure of their long-dead brother Tony around the estate. Who or what is this apparition, and does he threaten to reveal skeletons in the closet (and elsewhere)? A massively entertaining horror treat in the best English Gothic tradition, Paranoiac features a superbly oily lead performance from a young Oliver Reed, stunning black & white Cinemascope photography, an ingenious script by Jimmy Sangster, and gripping direction by the great Freddie Francis.
A woman must contend with her family's madness as she finds her own sanity in doubt in this thriller from British horror masters Hammer Films. After the death of her parents, Eleanor Ashby (Janette Scott) would seem a safe bet to inherit their estate, but at the funeral, she's convinced that she has seen Tony (Alexander Davion), her brother who killed himself seven years ago. Eleanor's other sibling Simon (Oliver Reed), who is inarguably alive, uses this as an excuse to contest the will, arguing that Eleanor is mentally unstable and an unfit heir. Simon's claims cause Eleanor to wonder about her sanity, and in a moment of weakness she attempts suicide. Tony rescues her and tells her that he never died but simply went into hiding. He returns to the family's mansion, but soon he and Eleanor become the subject of a number of violent attacks by a masked lunatic before Eleanor learns a surprising secret about Tony. PARANOIAC marked the directorial debut of ace cinematographer Freddie Francis.
In the early 60s, it appeared that Hammer could do very little wrong. They were still riding high on the success of their Dracula and Frankenstein films, and were producing a wide range of other genres too.
One of their most successful was the "They're trying to drive me MAD!" thrillers written by Jimmy Sangster, of which Paranoiac is the best example.
To give any of the plot away would spoil the film for you, dear reader.
Suffice to say there's a character in it who some of the other members
of the cast are trying to drive MAD!
Eureka does Hammer on Blu-ray! Woohoo! Paranoiac has been available in, an essentially single-layered and, less effectual region 1 DVD in the greatly valued 8 film Hammer Horror Series Boxset reviewed HERE. (NOTE: also a lone edition in Germany but I don't own that release.) This UK HD rendering looks quite good. There are some infrequent, light, surface scratches but contrast (a bit green) and detail are consistent showing some suspenseful visuals. It is only a single-layered Blu-ray but the 1 hour 20-minute film has a very high bitrate and I expect this is reasonably faithful to the theatrical appearance. Special effects are weak looking transparent by today's standards but this is not a fault of the transfer. There isn't a lot of grain... or noise to contend with but I don't suspect any DNR as the image retains some depth and detail is too strong without the waxy-softness usually produced by the effect. It gave me a solid and enjoyable presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is offered in two separate 2.0 channel DTS-HD Master tracks - both at around 1500 kbps. The second of these is an isolated music and effects track - and the first covers the feature presentation. It had some surprising moments but predictably flatter without any surround mix. I expect, like video, it does an accurate job of reflecting the original presentation. It is clean with all dialogue audible. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Not much going on with supplements - the aforementioned isolated music and effects track is there - a stills gallery of 56 images (under the menu heading "Ephemera") and a soft 2.5 minute trailer. To be fair the reasonable price reflects the sparse extras.
July 8th, 2010
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze