|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Mark of the Devil [Blu-ray]
(Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven , 1970)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Aquila Film Enterprises
Video: Arrow Video (same in both UK and US)
Region: 'A' + 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 47,378,682,984 bytes/ 47,378,682,996 bytes
Feature Size: 30,526,983,744 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 29th, 2014/ March 17th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio German 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
•Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
• Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies, featuring contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman (47:37)
• Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas (12:12)
• Interviews with composer Michael Holm (24:19) and actors Udo Kier (10:46), Herbert Fux (23:06), Gaby Fuchs (10:26), Ingeborg Schöner (9:05) and Herbert Lom (4:40 - audio only)
• Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today (7:06)
• Outtakes (3:03)
DVD of the feature (PAL in the UK, NTSC in North America)
Bitrate (exact same):
Description: Once proclaimed as “positively the most
horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil finally
arrives uncut in the UK.
A gory exploitation fave that doesn't disappoint. Aided by assistant
Kier, Inquisition master Cumberland (played expertly by screen vet Lom)
arrives in a small Austrian village with his mind intent on a wee bit of
witchhunting...and scads of bloody torture!
Released theatrically in 1970, Michael Armstrong’s film Mark of the Devil is essentially remembered for two things: a U.S. marketing campaign that championed the film as ‘rated V for violence’, and theaters passing out barf bags emblazoned with the film’s name to each and every paying patron to see it. While this is one more example of the great marketing afforded to exploitation and horror films in decades past, the shame of it is that this film can easily stand on its own merits. It is, after all, arguably the best witch-hunter film out there (right up there with Vincent Price’s classic Witchfinder General aka Conqueror Worm).Excerpt from Epionions located HERE
Rural Austria, early 18th Century: Local witchfinder Albino (skull-faced Reggie Nalder, in his most notorious role) has quite a racket going... Anyone who crosses him is conveniently denounced for worshipping Satan; women he lusts after are branded as witches and imprisoned just so he and his pals can rape and torture them at will. Albino's victims — those that survive 'interrogation', that is — are then silenced by being burnt alive. The townspeople live in constant fear of him, dreading that they themselves might be arbitrarily singled out, but at the same time take a perverse delight in the public executions he stages. Thus news that a professional witchfinder, one appointed by the crown, is coming to assume Albino's duties is greeted with a measure of relief by the populace. Fewer citizens will be unjustly accused and they'll still have the occasional execution to keep 'em entertained.)Excerpt from Eccentric Cinema located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Mark of the Devil gets a very impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films. It is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. There is a bit of softness in the opening title sequence but once it settles down the colors (reds) are brighter and truer than SD could relate and there is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor depth in the 1.66:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail in close-ups and it looks significantly better than I was anticipating. This Blu-ray provides a solid presentation. Thumbs skyward!
This appears to be the exact same disc (or as close as 'dammit' is to swearing.) Same menus, extras, audio, video quality and subtitle option. As Michael reminded us about Day of Anger - There are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos. Ohhh, although I don't have the included DVD yet - I presume it's NTSC - rather than PAL.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Arrow go with a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in both English and the option for German. Not much to say - the soundstage is flat and authentically represented by the lossless track. Everything is consistent and dialogue audible. It hints at some depth in the various scream/torture sequences. The score is composed by Michael Holm - pretty much only know for Mark of the Devil and its sequel. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' and 'B'!
Arrow really went to town on the supplements. Foremost is an audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell. It follows hidden attributes of production, challenges as well as addressing the film's latter following. Mark of the Times is a new 47-minute documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies, featuring contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren, David McGillivray, Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman. It gives a wonderful perspective on Mark of the Devil and the varied inputs are revealing. Hallmark of the Devil gives us a dozen minutes with author and critic Michael Gingold who looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas. There are over an hour's worth of Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and 5-minutes of audio-only with Herbert Lom. Mark of the Devil: Now and Then visually looks at the film’s locations, over 7-minutes, and how they appear today. There are brief Outtakes, a Gallery and a trailer. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork. being Dual-Format a DVD of the feature is also included.
Released for the US Blu-ray purchase - another strong Arrow product - as good as the film will ever likely get. No reason not to have this gore-filled relic of the European demon-possession subgenre!
September 24th, 2014
March 10th, 2015
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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