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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Curse of Frankenstein [Blu-ray]

 

(Terence Fisher, 1966)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions

Video: Lions Gate / Icon

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:23:11.708

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)

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 15th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 / 1.33:1

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: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• 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)
• Gallery (2:02)

2 DVD included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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.

 

1) 1.33:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.66:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

The Film:

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

 

1) 1.33:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.66:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) 1.33:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.66:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) 1.33:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.66:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More 1.66:1 Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Curse of Frankenstein is a very strong Hammer classic helping continue the studios justified reputation for leaders in the genre in the late 50's and 60's. Despite my reservation on the image quality - I thoroughly enjoyed the film experience - not as much as The Brides of Dracula, but still a great night in the home theater being wrapped in Hammer's cinematic horror cocoon. The Lions Gate Blu-ray provides a lot - although I found the dual-ratios a waste of space, probably hindering the visuals - still, the commentary. and extras. hold a lot of value. The Four Sided Triangle may be a poor film but is an interesting effort by Fisher. It was also cool to see Siodmak's Tales of Frankenstein. I'd like to see Region 'A' put Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein out to compare the quality - but as it stands this has enough to indulge and enjoy! 

Gary Tooze

February 18th, 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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