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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Rasputin the Mad Monk [Blu-ray]
(Don Sharp, 1966)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions
Video:Studio Canal / Shout! Factory
Region: 'B' / 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:32:22 / 1:32:44 / 1:32:00.598 / 1:32:00.598
Disc Size: 48,462,254,453 bytes/ 48,785,451,974 bytes
2.35:1 Feature Size: 21,027,495,936 bytes / 24,768,718,848 bytes
2.55:1 Feature Size: 19,607,199,744 bytes / 13,097,164,800 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.33 Mbps / 32.01 Mbps / 16.26 Mbps
Chapters: 13 / 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside paper slipcase / Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 22nd, 2012 / February 18th, 2020
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (2.55:1 option)
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Master Audio English 1582 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1582 kbps /
24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1582 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1582 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Commentary featuring Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews & Suzan Farmer
• Two brand new documentaries: 'Tall Stories: The Making of
Rasputin the Mad Monk' (24:21) and 'Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations'
• Presented In Two Aspect Ratios – 2.35:1 And 2.55:1
• NEW Audio
Commentary With Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman,
Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr, And
Filmmaker/Film Historian Ted Newsom
Hammer Films' dual reputation for screen shock and
flamboyant costume adventure meld in this tale of the
real-life "holy man" whose evil charm held the fate of an
entire nation in its grip.
Beware his deathly gaze for it will render you powerless! Beware his mystic touch for you will never be free from his evil grasp!
In pre-revolution St Petersburg, Russia, sinister monk Grigori Rasputin proves that he has the unearthly power to ease the deranged and heal the sick, but at what price? Aided by his hypnotic powers Rasputin begins his ruthless and depraved pursuit of power and wealth, determined to give God sins worth forgiving. He must be stopped, but how do you rid the world of a man who defies death?
Horror legends Christopher Lee (Dracula Prince Of Darkness) and Barbara Shelley (Quatermass And The Pit) star in a controversial film about one of history’s most notorious figures.
Rasputin the Mad Monk (or, as the hilariously tasteless American television promos for the film pitched it: "Ras-poo-tin! The Maaaaaad Monk!") depends quite heavily on a fine central performance by Christopher Lee, this time in basso-profundo evil mode as the infamous, social-climbing Russian pseudo-monk, a turn-of-the-century Czarist Eve Harrington.Excerpt from Slant Magazione located HERE
By 1966, Hammer films and Christopher Lee had a rock-solid relationship.
Lee was recognized as the greatest Dracula since Bela Lugosi (and
even better than Lugosi in the opinion of some fans), and Hammer was a
company devoted to turning out period horror films with an intriguing
mix of camp and polish. It was, quite honestly, a match made in heaven.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Firstly, on the ability to watch the film in either 2.35:1 or 2.55:1 there is a text screen that states: 'Rasputin the Mad Monk was shot in 4-perf CinemaScope with anamorphic lenses, "squeezing 2.55:1 picture into a standard 35mm (1.37:1) frame. The film was always intended to be matted down to 2.35:1 and this was achieved by losing detail at the left (more) and right (less) of the picture. Studio Canal have restored the film 'open gate' at its entire shooting ratio, so that we can show more of the picture, as filmed. Although the film was never intended to be screened at the 2.55:1 aspect ratio, this version serves as a fascinating insight into both the composition of the original frame by cinematographer Michael Reed, and the overall production design (by Bernard Robinson) of Don Sharp's film, as often an almost perfectly symmetrically composition emerges when seen at 2.55:1 which is absent from the 2.35:1 matted version. The anamorphic lenses used to create a concave effect at the extreme left of the picture, which is sometimes clearly visible in the 2.55:1 version. The credit sequence of the 2.55:1 version has a vertical space at the left-edge, the credits being within the 2.35:1 frame.'
Rasputin: the Mad Monk gets a reasonably strong transfer to Blu-ray from Studio Canal in the UK. Both ratios offer similarly robust transfers and they are, predictably separate (not seamlessly branched). The disc is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. It is very inconsistent with impressively rich colors and appealing textures. There is surprising clarity and depth. I saw no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports acceptable contrast adding some minor depth in the frame(s). There are no signs of manipulation and the source seems very stable. It's also quite clean with damage or speckles I found no unforgivable flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray gave me an adept and pleasurable 1080P presentation.
Shout! Factory also offer the two ARs (2.35:1 and 2.55:1) and have improved on the 2.35:1 1080P presentation, with a much higher bitrate, looking superior in contrast... but have a less-effectual 2.55:1 presentation with a low bitrate and less impressive image in-motion. So, to be clear, the best presentation is the Shout! Factory 2.35:1 transfer, and the worst is the Shout! Factory 2.55:1. Personally, I'd rather have them scratch the 2.55:1, if they weren't going to transfer it adequately.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Studio Canal utilize a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. It is clear, flat but has minor punch sounding tinny with some echo - it can be a bit irritating. Don Banks (The Evil of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Shroud, The Reptile) score adds to the historical Russian village atmosphere and benefits from the lossless transfer. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Shout! Factory use a 24-bit DTS-HD Master but it still sounds flawed with some scratchy echo-like audio at times. I can only assume, as it was also on the Studio Canal transfer , that this is inherent in the best source. It could be restored if someone was enthusiastic enough. It's audible, just a shade distracting and essentially imperfect. There are optional English subtitles on Shout!'s Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.
Studio Canal add the commentary from the US DVD of a few years back featuring Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews & Suzan Farmer - light, a group affair with some interesting reminiscences. More appealing are two brand new documentaries: 'Tall Stories: The Making of Rasputin the Mad Monk' runs just shy of 25-minutes with Hammer historians Denis Meikle and Jonathan Rigby as well as Andrew Cook author of To Kill Rasputin: The Life and Death of Grigori Rasputin. 'Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations' is 15-minutes of looking at the paperback adaption initially seen as films. There is also another World of Hammer Episode 'Costumers' running about 25-minutes and looking at the wardrobe of various productions. There is a running gallery of posters and stills and the dual-format package contains a DVD of the feature.
Shout! include the previous audio commentary with Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews, and Suzan Farmer found on the Studio Canal (and previous US DVD) - as well as the two documentaries: 'Tall Stories: The Making of Rasputin the Mad Monk' and 'Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations' plus a World of Hammer Episode on the studio's 'Costumers'. But they add a new commentary with author/film historian Steve Haberman, filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr, and filmmaker/film historian Ted Newsom having fun and discussing this misunderstood Hammer effort, identifying scenes that were cut or amended, how Lee's stature, power and presence made him the perfect candidate to play Rasputin. It's very informative especially the discussion of sequences that were cut. Shout add a second World of Hammer Episode - on Christopher Lee. There are also theatrical trailers (that reference a free blue beard to movie go'ers), TV Spots and a still gallery.
Studio Canal Blu-ray
Shout! Factory - Blu-ray
I dunno, I still really like Rasputin the Mad Monk. It's such different Hammer fare. Allegedly, Christopher Lee wasn't all that impressed with the script so he opted to give a "larger-than-life" performance to compensate. It works for me as it is filled with the studio's charm. The Shout! Factory gets the nod with the superior 2.35:1, second commentary and additional extras. The audio weakness is inherent in both but only those keen to have a better 2.55:1 should opt for the Studio Canal. This is definitely a title I will cherish and revisit. Recommended!
April 7th, 2014
February 8th, 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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