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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Evil of Frankenstein [Blu-ray]

 

(Freddie Francis, 1964)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions

Video: Final Cut Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:40.195

Disc Size: 31,223,730,423 bytes

Feature Size: 21,991,182,336 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 26th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

The Making of The Evil of Frankenstein (28:27)

A Moment With Caron Gardner (2:17)
Stills Gallery (4:56)
• Trailer (2:28)

DVD available

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Hardly the best of Hammer Studios' Frankenstein epics, The Evil of Frankenstein is too much the mixture as before to be truly memorable. Back in business once more is Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), who finds his fabled monster (Kiwi Kingston) frozen in a block of ice. Once the creature is thawed out, the Baron, worried that the big lug might develop a mind of his own, engages the services of a hypnotist (Peter Woodthorpe). Instead of keeping the monster docile, the hypnotist decides to use old "Frankie" for his own evil designs, and we're off and running again. At 84 minutes, Evil of Frankenstein was too short for a two-hour network TV slot, so Universal (the film's American distributor) tacked on 13 minutes of pointless additional footage, featuring timorous villagers Steven Geray, Maria Palmer and William Phipps. The film was followed by a vastly superior sequel, Frankenstein Created Woman.

 

 

The Film:

The Evil Of Frankenstein again features the always-professional Peter Cushing as the eponymous aristocratic scientist.

Originally up for direction by Terence Fisher, to follow his Curse Of Frankenstein (1957), and Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958), the directorial duties for The Evil Of Frankenstein fell to cinematographer Freddie Francis, when a car accident ruled Fisher out.

Cinematic versions of the Frankenstein story, even those purporting to be faithful to Mary Shelley's almost unreadable book, lay heavy emphasis on the actual creation of the creature, a relatively minor part of the literary original, and one heavy with philosophical and spiritual debate. Grave robbing, storms, and dusty basement laboratories have come to dominate the narrative on the big screen.

In the opening to this particular outing, Frankenstein, and his faithful assistant Hans (Sandor Eles, Surviving Picasso), purchase a corpse in order to revivify the still warm heart; they are successful but the local priest interrupts their experiments and destructively sets about their equipment. Frankenstein rails against the continual interference that hampers his work. Seriously skint, the Baron proposes that the pair return to his family seat at Karlstaad, scene of his original experiments, where the family home will supply them with artefacts to sell to fund further research. Hans points out that the Baron has told him he would never be able to return to Karlstaad because of earlier events, but with typical arrogance Frankenstein reassures him that if they are careful any unpleasantness will be avoided.

Excerpt from VideoVista located HERE

Francis never had the same flair for the genre as Fisher, but he did bring a more robust style of visual storytelling to bear. Fisher’s films tended to favor a more austere approach, working miracles within an often static frame, while Francis favored more over the top visual motifs. His lack of affection for the genre notwithstanding, he was still sufficiently motivated to deliver a good film at this stage in his career, and he approached this particular assignment with a desire to pay homage to the expressionist stylings of the original James Whale Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). As such, he insisted upon a more elaborate “mad lab” set, replete with copious machinery generating electrical sparks, which stood in contrast with the more pared down and realistic approach of Fisher in the first two films. Francis also indulges himself in the film’s major tour de force sequence, a lengthy, dialogue-free flashback scene which allows the director to convey a lot of background in purely visual terms. The end result may not be so inventive and thought provoking as the Fisher films which flank it, but it’s stylish, well paced and very entertaining.

Excerpt from AVManiacs located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, this came out in the US, on SD, in the excellent Hammer Horror Series from Universal, back in 2005. The Evil of Frankenstein gets a reasonably strong transfer to Blu-ray from Final Cut in the UK. It is dual-layered with a high bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. It has some inconsistency but the visuals are generally quite pleasing with a few exceptional scenes showing great clarity and depth. Colors have some impressive brightness without extending beyond normalcy. There is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports decent contrast adding some minor depth in the 1.85:1 frame. It's quite clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are no unforgivable flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray gave me a pleasurable 1080P presentation, certainly a leap ahead of my old DVD, and I was appreciative.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Final Cut Entertainment utilize a linear PCM mono track at 2304 kbps. It is clear, flat but has a some surprising depth. Don Banks (The Evil of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Shroud), score adds to the deserted-castle + extravagant-laboratory atmosphere and benefits from the lossless transfer sounding decently crisp. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

The Making of The Evil of Frankenstein runs about 1/2 hour and is narrated by Edward De Souza and features interviews with Wayne Kinsey, Caron Gardner, Hugh Harlow, Pauline Harlow, Peter Cushing, Don Mingaye. There is a extra 2-minutes with Caron Gardner, a, fairly extensive, stills gallery and a trailer. The package is Dual-Format with a DVD of the feature (and extras) included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Evil of Frankenstein has classic Hammer atmosphere, but wasn't well-received by some (ex. "Reviled by Hammer fans as a cheap knockoff of the Universal Frankenstein films".)Personally, I loved it in spite of its detractions. The film was well-paced although some of the supporting cast may have been suspect. I agree that it is not the best of the Cushing Frankenstein's but I still enjoyed it curled-up in the basement home theater. The Final Cut, Region FREE, Blu-ray provides a very solid a/v presentation and includes worthwhile supplements (although no commentary). Fans of the Studio's work may wish to indulge.

Gary Tooze

April 21st, 2014


 

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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