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The Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray]
(Roger Corman, 1960)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Alta Vista Productions / AIP
Video: Arrow Video / Shout! Factory
Region: 'B' /Region 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:19:08.744 / 1:22:23.980 (includes 3-minute Overture)
Disc Size: 48,697,205,908 bytes / 46,989,531,688 bytes
Feature Size: 23,974,969,344 bytes / 19,524,784,128 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 24.00 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 12
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case / Vincent Price Collection comes in a thick Blu-ray case (6 films / 4-discs)
Release date: August 26th, 2013 / October 22nd, 2013
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1958 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1958
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
•Audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman
• Interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante (26:47)
• Fragments of The House of Usher: a specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman's film in relation to Poe's story (10:47)
• Jonathan Rigby
• Vincent price Introduction (4:10) and final words (2:47) on The Fall of the House of Usher
• Audio commentary by producer/director Roger Corman
• Vincent price retrospective commentary with Lucy Chase Williams
• Audio interview with Vincent Price (41:05)
• Theatrical Trailer (3:32)
• Photo Gallery
Description: When exploitation maestro Roger Corman decided to raise his game by hiring Vincent Price to star in an adaptation of a classic tale by Edgar Allan Poe, he set in train a series of Poe adaptations that would redefine American horror cinema. When Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) visits his fiancée Madeleine Usher (Myrna Fahey) in her crumbling family mansion, her brother Roderick (Price) tries to talk him out of the wedding, explaining that the Usher family is cursed and that extending its bloodline will only prolong the agony. Madeleine wants to elope with Philip, but neither of them can predict what ruthless lengths Roderick will go to in order to keep them apart. Richard Matheson's intelligent, literate script is enhanced by Floyd Crosby's stylish widescreen cinematography, but it's Vincent Price's anguished conviction in one of his signature roles that makes the film so chillingly memorable over half a century on.
The first of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films, Fall of the House of Usher was originally released as simply House of Usher. Vincent Price stars as the foredoomed Roderick Usher. Living in his decaying family mansion with his young sister Madeline (Myrna Fahey), Roderick does his best to shoo away Madeline's fiancé Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon). He tells the young swain that Madeline suffers from the family curse of encroaching madness, and thus cannot be permitted to bear children. After a series of suspicious, near-fatal accidents, Phillip insists that Madeline be allowed to leave with him at once. But Roderick sadly announces that this is impossible: Madeline has died, and is slated to be entombed. Informed by the family butler that Madeline has previously been prone to near-catatonic spells, Phillip angrily insists that the girl may very well have been buried alive. The climactic conflagration would be recycled as stock footage in future Corman/Poe efforts, as would the set representing the Usher home.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
The first of Corman's eight-film Poe cycle, and one of his most faithful adaptations. Price is his usual impressive self as the almost certainly incestuously inclined Roderick Usher who, having buried his sister alive when she falls into a cataleptic trance, becomes the victim of her ghostly revenge; but it is Corman's overall direction that lends the film its intelligence and power. The sickly decadence and claustrophobia of the Usher household - which is both disturbed and temporarily cleansed by the fresh air that accompanies Damon's arrival as suitor to Madeline Usher - is admirably evoked by Floyd Crosby's 'Scope photography and Daniel Haller's art direction, the latter's sets dominated by a putrid, bloody crimson. But Richard Matheson's script is also exemplary: lucid, imaginatively detailed and subtle.Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guidelocated HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Fall of the House of Usher gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films. There is softness here but it seems totally in-line with the production not the max'ed dual-layered transfer with high bitrate. The DVD has similar and the visuals will probably never be pristine or crisp. There is some grain, a bit clunky at times, but colors (notable crimson, reds) are very rich and impressive. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor, infrequent, depth in the 2.35:1 frame. It's really clean and makes some of the limited effects a bit transparent. This only adds to the flavor, IMO. This Blu-ray provides a wonderful presentation in a pitch-black home theater room. Thumbs up!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio comes via a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps. Effects come through well - adding responsively. The 'gothic' atmospheric score is by Les Baxter (notable for the salaciously titled US version of Summer with Monika aka Monika, the Story of a Bad Girl, The Young Racers and other Corman, or Corman-esque pulpy 'B' films). Audio is essentially subtle with some dramatic surprises - benefitting from the lossless. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Arrow add some great supplements. We get the audio commentary with director and producer Roger Corman - that I first heard on MGM's Midnite Movies DVD from 2001. He comes across as friendly, charismatic and points out some interesting tidbits from the production. We get a 27-minute interview with director and former Corman apprentice Joe Dante who extols the low-budget B movies filmmaker and adds an anecdote or two. Fragments of The House of Usher is a specially-commissioned video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns examining Corman's film in relation to Poe's story. It runs about 11-minutes to specific scenes of the film. Jonathan Rigby (author of American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema) discusses the film, AIP's involvement and Corman for an additional 1/2 hour. He is quite excellent and brimming with knowledge. We get a 12-minute archival interview with Vincent Price with burned in French subtitles and an original trailer. The package contains a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Tim Lucas and an extract from Vincent Price s long out of print autobiography, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
August 12th, 2012
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 5000 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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