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The Curse of Frankenstein [Blu-ray]
(Terence Fisher, 1957)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions
Video: Lions Gate / Icon
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 37,660,424,469 bytes
Feature Size: 14,389,690,368 bytes X 2
Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps (same for both ARs)
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 15th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 / 1.33:1
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: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• Commentary by Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby
•Frankenstein Reborn: The Making of a Hammer Classic (32:53)
• Life With Sir (12:05)
• Four Sided Triangle (1:17:59)
• Tales of Frankenstein (27:26)
The World of Hammer with Roy
Skeggs - The Curse of Frankenstein (24:54)
2 DVD included
Description: Baron Victor Frankenstein was the archetypal aristocrat, well-read, cultured and arrogant. Beyond the sophisticated veneer existed a cruel, utterly unscrupulous man, obsessed with ambition. Determined to realise his greatest dream to create life, he had assembled a creature from organs gathered from various unwilling donors. The creature is successful brought to life but the instability of the brain, damaged during surgery, causes uncontrollable violent spasms that result in indiscriminate murder... and it is the Baron to whom the blame is laid with fatal consequences. The Curse of Frankenstein is a classic 1957 British horror film by Hammer Film Productions, based on the novel Frankenstein (1816) by Mary Shelley. It was Hammer's first colour horror film, and the first of their Frankenstein series. Its worldwide success led to several sequels, and the studio's new versions of Dracula (1958) and The Mummy (1959) and established "Hammer Horror" as a distinctive brand of Gothic cinema.
Curse of Frankenstein was the "breakthrough" picture for the fabled Hammer Studios. Told in flashback, the story centers around Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), a dangerously arrogant scientist who takes it upon himself to play God. Using portions of dead bodies, Victor fashions a synthetic monster (Christopher Lee) with a bad attitude. In a radical departure from the Frankenstein canon, it is the imperious Victor who orchestrates the film's two murders by "borrowing" the brain of a learned professor, then leaving his next victim at the mercy of the monster. In 1958, the film spawned the sequel Revenge of Frankenstein.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
The first of the Hammer Frankensteins, bringing blood and amputated limbs to the story but cursed with an inept make-up for Lee's monster (Jack Pierce's Karloff creation was copyright). The whole thing in fact looks surprisingly tacky for a film which sparked a box-office bonanza. Fisher's voluptuous use of colour was much more assured in the following year's Dracula.Excerpt from Timeout located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Of all the Hammer Blu-rays we've reviewed (Horror of Dracula, Dracula, Prince of Darkness, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Mummy, Paranoiac, The Reptile, The Mummy's Shroud, The Brides of Dracula, Twins of Evil, Quatermass and the Pit, The Vampire Lovers) The Curse of Frankenstein has the weakest image. It is very soft and flat. It looks more like video than film. Colors are flat and seem to waver while contrast is unremarkable. The transfer is 1080P but unfortunately, like The Mummy, they have been non-committal on the aspect ratio - offering separate transfers for both 1.66:1 and 1.33:1. Both are almost the exact same, technically, and share the disc and both producing a less-than-ideal bitrate. With the source (or original production) being so inferior, visually, it would have been a better idea to stick with one (the 1.66:1 composition looks fine to me) and try to bring out the best in the transfer. It's reasonably clean showcasing some infrequent hi-def detail in close-ups. This gave me a pleasurable 1080P presentation although it lacks the crispness of the other Hammer Blu-rays.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More 1.66:1 Blu-ray Captures
Lions Gate utilize a linear PCM mono track at 1536 kbps. It is clear, flat but has a modicum of punch. The score is by James Bernard (Dracula Prince of Darkness, These Are the Damned, Across the Bridge) and is highly supportive creating some desirable Hammer-style atmosphere. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Lions Gate offer multiple supplements starting with an informative commentary with Marcus Hearn (author of The Hammer Vault) and Jonathan Rigby (author of American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema.) We get Frankenstein Reborn: The Making of a Hammer Classic - a half-hour Making of... offering further details on production and background on Hammer. Life With Sir is a dozen minutes on Peter Cushing from people like his secretary Joyce Broughton. The Four Sided Triangle is a 1953 sci-fi romance also directed by Terence Fisher. It runs 1 1/4 hours and was a precursor to cloning. Tales of Frankenstein is a short directed by Curt Siodmak - actually a pilot for a series that was never picked up, where Dr. Frankenstein has just finished rebuilding his creation, however the monster is unresponsive. We get another episode of The World of Hammer with Roy Skeggs - this one about The Curse of Frankenstein and runs 25-minutes. There is also a gallery and the package has 2 DVDs (feature in both aspect ratios) and the extras.
February 18th, 2014
Revival Hammer Productions on Blu-ray
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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