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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Mummy [Blu-ray]

 

(Terence Fisher, 1959)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions

Video: Icon Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:27:59.750

Disc Size: 46,297,116,985 bytes

Feature Size: 19,066,208,256 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 5th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1 / 1.37:1

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

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby
Unwrapping The Mummy: The Making of a Hammer Classic (28:40)
The Hammer Rep Company (14:20)

The House of Horror: Memories of Bray (46:40)

Still Gallery (6:58)

The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars Peter Cushing (24:48)

Original Promotion Reel (5:31)
Stolen Face (1:09:40 in 576i)

2 DVDs available (1.33 and 1.66)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: While on a dig in Egypt, British archaeologist John Banning (Peter Cushing) desecrates the tomb of Princess Ananka, awakening her mummified lover (Christopher Lee). With revenge on his mind, the mummy follows Banning and the rest of his group back to England, but becomes quite taken with Banning's wife (Yvonne Furneaux), who resembles the princess quite closely.

***

One by one the archaeologists who discover the 4,000-year-old tomb of Princess Ananka are brutally murdered. Kharis (Lee), high priest in Egypt 40 centuries ago, has been brought to life by the power of the ancient gods and his sole purpose is to destroy those responsible for the desecration of the sacred tomb. But Isobel Banning (Furneaux), wife of one of the explorers (Cushing), resembles the beautiful princess, forcing the speechless and tormented monster to defy commands and abduct Isobel to an unknown fate... Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in their iconic roles in the 3rd Hammer Horror film from 1959. The first ever HD release of Hammer’s classic film. THE MUMMY has been unavailable on any Region 2 home entertainment format since 2004. The previously available DVD was authored at the incorrect aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and widely criticised by fans. The Region 1 edition, still available as an import, is also presented incorrectly at 1.77:1. This new release on Blu-ray and DVD double play presents the film in its original UK theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1 for the first time, as well as featuring a host of brand new extras never seen before and in high definition. Containing 2 x DVD + 1 x Blu-ray.

1) 1.66:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.33:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

The Film:

Baby-boomer horror film fans bear a particular affection for the output of Britain's Hammer Studios, the family-owned facility renowned through the '50s and '60s for delivering tidy-budgeted fear and fantasy forays and reaping equally tidy box office returns. The company's sanguinary takes on a pair of familiar fright figures, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Horror of Dracula (1958), spurred franchises for the British studio in the same manner as these iconic monsters had for Universal a generation before.

Hammer's successes wound up spurring a 1958 agreement with Universal, wherein the American studio granted remake rights to its legendary stable of monster properties. The first production made pursuant to the deal - The Mummy (1959) - stands as one of the most crisply crafted and memorable shockers to emerge from Hammer's heyday.

This remake of the 1932 Karloff opus pulled together the signature talents of the House of Hammer. The leads were assigned to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, already established as a fiend-and-foil tandem through playing the creature and his creator in The Curse of Frankenstein and the vampire and Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula. Director Terence Fisher, the once self-described "oldest clapper boy in the business" who found breakout success with The Curse of Frankenstein, was on board, as were screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and production designer Bernard Robinson.

Excerpt from TMN located HERE

One of the most fetching of Fisher's early Hammer movies, the third in the trilogy which comprises The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula. Its qualities are almost entirely abstract and visual, with colour essential to its muted, subtle imagery. Christopher Lee looks tremendous in the title role, smashing his way through doorways and erupting from green, dream-like quagmires in really awe-inspiring fashion. Yvonne Furneaux plays one of Fisher's most crucial heroines, Isobel Banning, who has let her hair down (literally) and become sensual in order to free her husband (Cushing) from the curse he invokes by opening an Egyptian tomb.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

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

The Mummy gets an unusual option on Icon Home Entertainment's Blu-ray. You can see the film in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio (Warner's DVD was 1.78:1). But as some theatres were not prepared for widescreen - you can also see it in 1.37:1. I only see information gained/lost on the top and bottom of the frame. It is dual-layered with a middling bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. It probably would have been a more robust transfer had they gone only with the 1.66:1. Strangely, both transfer are exactly the same in terms of running time, bitrate and file size. There is some inconsistency but colors are notable with some, brightness in the, fancy dress, flashbacks, eerie green lights in the tombs and Egyptian garb, and deep rich maroons in Mehemet Bey's fez. Generally the visuals are pleasing with a few scenes highlighting impressive depth. Everything looks authentic - but, obviously, not as dynamic as modern films would look in this format. This Blu-ray gave me a pleasurable 1080P presentation, but not one to write home about.

 

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

 

1) 1.66:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.33:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

1) 1.66:1 Blu-ray - TOP

2) 1.33:1 - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More 1.66:1 Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Icon utilize a linear PCM mono track at 2304 kbps. It is clear, flat but has a bit of punch. Franz Reizenstein score adds to the atmosphere but is not particularly memorable. It works in the scope of the film and, presumably, benefits from the lossless. It sounds quite clean. There are optional English subtitles (see sample) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Icon really add a lot in terms of supplements. They include an excellent, new, audio commentary with Marcus Hearn (author of The Hammer Vault) and Jonathan Rigby (author of Christopher Lee: The Authorized Screen History.) It is filled with both commentator's knowledge expanding on significant details of production and performances. Unwrapping The Mummy: The Making of a Hammer Classic runs shy of 1/2 and hour and is also new extending with more data beyond the commentary. The Hammer Rep Company runs 15-minutes with Rigby again detailing the group of character actors that worked in the Hammer system. The House of Horror: Memories of Bray is quite long at over 3/4 of an hour. Bray Studios is a film and television facility at Bray, near Maidenhead, Berkshire, England. It is where Hammer purchased properties on banks of the Thames utilizing them extensively for their films. There is also a Stills gallery, an oft-seen The World of Hammer: Hammer Stars Peter Cushing segment - narrated by Oliver Reed and running 25-minutes. There is a promotional reel and Icon add Terence Fisher's 1952  feature Stolen Face in 576i - that we have compared to other SD versions HERE. The package also contains a 2 DVD of the feature in 1.66 and 1.33.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Mummy is in the very top tier of Hammer Studios efforts. Sure there is some liberal confiscation of the 1932 Universal The Mummy with Boris Karloff. They go right from the haunted archeologist beginnings but Terence Fisher's version adds a "love story" spanning the ages. I'm not overly big on the Blu-ray value of both aspect ratios - but am a fan of the extras. This is a worthwhile release - even beyond the Hammer devotees. This is a solid package. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

February 13th, 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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