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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Fall of the House of Usher [Blu-ray]

 

(Roger Corman, 1960)

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 

Also available in a limited edition steelbook:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Alta Vista Productions / AIP

Video: Arrow Video / Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

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

 

Video (same):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1561 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1561 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1963 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1963 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles (same):

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

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 (32:59)
Archival interview with Vincent Price (11:46)
Original Trailer (2:30)
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

 

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

 

Bitrate:

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

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 Film:

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

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

1) Arrow - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Fall of the House of Usher has some of the best atmosphere in horror. The decaying house is one of the characters and the iconic Corman created a real gem. The trifecta of Poe/Corman and a Richard Matheson screenplay is rich and juicy for the genre film buff. This is a film you can revisit your entire life. The Arrow Blu-ray provides excellent a/v and wonderful supplements. The 1080P presentation is a memorable one and this Blu-ray is strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

August 12th, 2012

 

 

Also available in a limited edition steelbook:


 

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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