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The Brides of Dracula [Blu-ray]
(Terence Fisher, 1960)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions
Video: Final Cut Entertainment / Universal (part of the Hammer Horror 8 Film Collection Blu-ray set) / Shout! Factory
Region: FREE (both) / 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:25:30.792/ 1:25:32.961 / 1:25:34.129
Disc Size: 30,673,429,002 bytes/ 48,199,150,004 bytes (shares with Curse of the Werewolf) / 48,626,792,197 bytes
Feature Size: 21,699,790,848 bytes / 23,044,300,800 bytes / 20,263,950,336 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps / 31.99 Mbps / 27.98 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 18 / 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case/ Custom Digibook inside cardboard slipcase / Standard Blu-ray case inside slsipcase
Release date: August 26th, 2013 / September 13th, 2016 / November 10th, 2020
Aspect ratio: 2.0:1/ 2.0:1 / 1.85:1 and 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2040 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2040 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1669 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1669
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), Spanish, French, None
•The Making of The Brides of Dracula narrated by Edward de Souza and featuring interviews with Yvonne Monlaur, Jimmy Sangster, Hugh Harlow, Pauline Harlow, Don Mingaye, Margaret Robinson and Tony Hinds (31:07 in 1080P)
• The Brides of Dracula Stills Gallery (2:23 in 1080P)
• The Brides of Dracula Theatrical Trailer (1:01 in 720P / 4:3)
DVD of the Feature included
Audio Commentary with Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman
and Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr
Description: Classic horror starring Peter Cushing. A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In doing so she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr Van Helsing (Cushing) is already on his way.
Hammer Films and director Terence Fisher followed the excellent Horror of Dracula with this well-made, richly-colored sequel which suffers only from the conspicuous lack of Dracula himself -- since Horror's Christopher Lee had declined participation in further Dracula sequels for the time being. In his stead, we have young, blond Baron Meinster (David Peel) providing the requisite vampiric threat. Though imprisoned in the family estate by his mother, Meinster is released from his silver chains by an unsuspecting French teacher (Yvonne Monlaur), through which he gains access to a veritable smorgasbord of nubile wenches at a girls' school. Fortunately, master vampire killer Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is on the case. Besides featuring some of the best acting, photography and period detail of the Hammer Dracula series, this is also one of the first to delve into the more sexual aspects of vampirism, with implicit suggestions of incest, sadomasochism and homosexuality.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
"Count Dracula, monarch of all vampires, is dead." So begins The Brides of Dracula, with a stentorian bit of narration that sets the stage for an un-Dracula film while at the same time evoking the immortal opening lines ("Marley was dead: to begin with") of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Before audiences can process the implications of this disclaimer, Terence Fisher slashes the frame with the image of a hackney being driven pell-mell through the mossy, mist-choked Transylvanian countryside. In the driver's seat, Hammer trouper Michael Ripper ignores the entreaties of the sole passenger (Yvonne Monlaur) to slow down as he steers the coach into the main square of a somber Carpathian village. Stranded by her driver in the hamlet's discomfiting inn, our heroine laments that she will arrive too late to accept a coveted teaching position at a girls' academy in nearby Badstein but is rescued through the intervention of a local aristocrat (Martita Hunt), who takes the girl under her wing with the expected disastrous results. As if ripping a page or two from Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) while anticipating Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), The Brides of Dracula has the wizened and witchy Baroness Meinster bringing the girl into her home not for care and comfort but as food for her ravening monster of a son, whom she keeps shackled and safe from the world in the depths of their ancestral manse.Excerpt from TMN located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
On Amazon it is stated that 'Universal has remastered this to the correct 2:1 LB of the original US release.' for this Final Cut Entertainment Blu-ray out of the UK. Appealingly, it is region FREE. It is dual-layered with a high bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. The opening visuals can look a bit crushed but it settles in to be quite consistent after that. There is extensive grain textures. We've compared to the Universal SD transfer from their Hammer Horror package (reviewed HERE). It looks significantly crisper and shows more information on the side edges but, of course, loses on top and bottom for the aspect ratio change from 1.66 to 2.0:1. Aside from reds (blood etc.) colors are not particularly rich and flesh tones gain warmth (as compared to the DVD.) I noted no noise in the darker sequences although the grain can be so thick it can strongly resemble compression artifacts (some have commented that they feel it, actually, IS compression artifacts). The 1080P supports acceptable contrast adding occasional minor depth. I don't see excessive manipulation although there may be some as the image can look frail at times. It's quite clean showcasing some impressive detail and there are no unforgivable flaws, IMO, with the rendering. This Blu-ray gave me an enjoyable presentation - far more film-like than my 2005 DVD. This image is imperfect but the best we are likely to get. Those who project may see the, perceived, artifacts more prominently.
Brian says (on FB): "Looks to me like like the grain suggests it's from a multigen source...internegative perhaps, or possibly separation masters. I believe this was released in dye transfer Technicolor."
The initial complaints of this 2016 Hammer Horror 8-Film
set is that
The Phantom Of The Opera,
The Brides Of Dracula,
The Curse Of The Werewolf,
Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg)
are all presented at the aspect ratio of 2.0:1, when they
should be, as they were theatrically, in 1.66:1 to 1.85:1
(depending on the film). It was less of a concern for me. This boxset is presented as
The Shout! Factory image has a serious problem. It lacks grain texture and appears very soft - losing detail beside both the other two 1080P 2.0:1 releases. It is said to be from a "2K Scan from the Interpositive – in Two Aspect Ratios (1.85:1 and 1.66:1)". Flesh tones cool (perhaps more accurate color reproduction) and the image also lacks depth beside the Universal. Just like The Kiss of the Vampire, they have done this multi-ratio option instead of affirming one and the overall image for both suffer. Yes, 1.85:1 is correct for the US but at what cost? They are sacrificing the disc space for a higher bitrate. The 1.66:1 version is only 12.2 Meg (12,222,511,104 bytes) and a puny 17 Mbps bitrate and lossy audio. What is the point of including it? It only weakens the 1.85:1 file size and bitrate. However, this appears to be from a weaker source than the Universal (and Final Cut) as well as the DNR-like softness. Shameful practices from Shout! Factory - who should cease this and either spread over two discs and/or get the definitive source as this seems compromised.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
Audio is transferred via a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps and it sounds clean and consistent. Malcolm Williamson (The Horror of Frankenstein) did the score and its lavish orchestral flourishes benefit from the lossless rendering. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Universal use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2040 kbps and I couldn't note much difference from the linear PCM of the Final cut unless that it may be slightly deeper. There are optional English (see sample), Spanish or French subtitles offered and the Blu-ray disc is Region FREE.
Audio appears to be the same as the Universal although slightly less technically robust. As noted the 1.66:1 version has lossy Dolby audio and shouldn't have been included in the package, regardless. For both ratio, Shout! Factory offer optional English (SDH) subtitles. The Blu-ray disc is Region 'A'-locked.
Final Cut include a solid 30-minute featurette entitled "The Making of The Brides of Dracula". It is narrated by Edward de Souza and features interviews with Yvonne Monlaur, Jimmy Sangster, Hugh Harlow, Pauline Harlow, Don Mingaye, Margaret Robinson and Tony Hinds. It's very informative hearing the memories of the writer, crew and cast, as well as Christopher Lee did not reprise the title role. It is transferred in 1080P. There is also an HD The Brides of Dracula Stills Gallery and a theatrical trailer. There is also a DVD of the feature included.
No extras that I have found on the Universal Blu-ray Boxset so far.
The saving grace of the Shout! Factory are the incredible supplements. We get an exceptionally prepared audio commentary with Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr who show their appreciation for this Hammer gems ('Terence Fisher's masterpiece') and export impressive knowledge of the production. They cite it as the pinnacle of Hammer's crucial golden age and the entire genre. It's wonderful. There are also two 'The Men Who Made Hammer' episodes with Terence Fisher for almost an hour and Jack Asher for 16-minutes. The Eternal and the Damned has David Huckvale discusses Malcolm Williamson's score on The Brides of Dracula for 15-minutes. There is a half-hour Don Fearney and Jim Groom's 2013 documentary "The Making of Brides of Dracula" narrated by Edward De Souza including short interviews with Yvonne Monlaur, Jimmy Sangster, Hugh Harlow, Margaret Robinson and others. It runs over 1/2 hour and is a duplicate of the one found on the UK Final Cut release. I enjoyed 'The Haunted History of Oakley Court' running 1/4 hour. It is described as the 'real Hammer House of horror. It is a high-gothic mansion built on the banks of the Thames in 1859 by Sir Richard Hall-Say and has quite an interesting history. The extras are rounded out with a theatrical trailer, radio spot and stills gallery.
Final Cut - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Shout! Factory- Region 'A'- Blu-ray
The Final Cut's supplements are appreciated and it is region FREE. But, on the other hand, the price of the Universal Box is excellent at about $7.50 per film at the writing of this review. It's hard to say no to thisBlu-ray set as there is still immense value here. Stay tuned for further comparisons...
Well, it's such a shame that Shout! Factory dropped the ball on the video because their extras are easily the best with excellent Haberman/ Nasr commentary, two 'The Men Who Made Hammer' episodes, the Huckvale piece and "The Making of Brides of Dracula", 'The Haunted History of Oakley Court' etc.. The poor video is exemplified by this being many fans favorite Hammer horror... even if it doesn't have Christopher Lee. Shout! should do one ratio and do it right rather than 'scatter their forces' on one disc. Some may appreciate the 1.85:1 and it's lack of grain but we suggest that purchasers consider this solely for the excellent supplements. The bare-bones Universal Blu-ray package is still a great deal...
February 17th, 2014
September 23rd, 2016
November 25th, 2020
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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