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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Terence Fisher
U
K 1961

After injecting new life into classic movie monsters Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer Studios apply their Gothic touch to another monster genre with this excellent, stylish piece -- probably the best of the old school (i.e. pre-Rick Baker) man-to-wolf transformation films in the mold of Universal's The Wolf Man. The title curse surfaces when a mute servant girl bears a child on Christmas day after being raped by a bestial madman and first shows itself at the infant's christening, whereupon the holy water begins to boil. Things go downhill from there, as young Leon's development is marred by savage, violent behavior during a full moon. Upon adulthood, Leon's (Oliver Reed) only relief from his murderous impulses comes from the love of Christina (Catherine Feller)... but he soon begins to fear that this cannot contain the beast within. Liberally based on Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris (here relocated to Spain), this film represents Hammer at their early best, building tension through mood and character (Reed turns in a bravura performance) and saving the effective monster transformation for the climax.

Posters

Theatrical Premiere:  June 7th, 1961

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Comparison:

Universal (Hammer Horror Series) -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. i-catcher Media (Anolis) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Universal (Hammer Horror - 8-Film) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) i-catcher Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Also available in a Blu-ray Steelbook:

Coming out on Blu-ray by Final Cut Entertainment in the UK in September 2015:

Distribution Universal - Region 1- NTSC i-catcher Media
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Universal
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:39  1:32:39.541 1:32:46.561
Video 1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.69 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 44,929,142,764 bytes
Feature: 25,964,433,408 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 31.86 Mbps
2.0:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 48,199,150,004 bytes
Feature: 24,650,833,920 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 31.99 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: i-catcher Media Blu-ray

Bitrate: Universal Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio German 1567 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1567 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1609 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1609 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1571 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1571 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English (SDH), Spanish, French, None German, None English (SDH), Spanish, French, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal
 

Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1



Edition Details:
• none)

DVD Release Date: A
pril 27th, 2005
Custom Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: i-catcher Media

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 44,929,142,764 bytes
Feature: 25,964,433,408 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 31.86 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Audio commentary from Dr. Rolf Giesen and Volker Lange (German language only - no subtitles)
Making Of The Curse Of The Werewolf (English with optional German subtitles) (46:06)
Lycanthropy Featurette (3:27)
The Props that Hammer Built: The Kinsey Collection (23;31)
Comic book adaptation (German text - 16:48)
Trailer (English - 2:21 and German - 1:59)
Press kit (4:00)
Alternate German end credits sequence (2:35)
Stills Galleries with posters etc (3:46 + 3:29)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: August 29th, 2014
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

 

2.0:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 48,199,150,004 bytes
Feature: 24,650,833,920 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 31.99 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
None
 

Blu-ray Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Universal - Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection Blu-ray - September 16':  Firstly, I note  the aspect ratios of these three releases. The 2005 DVD (as part of The Hammer Horror Series) was in 1.85:1, the German Blu-ray from 2014 is also in 1.85:1 and the newest - from the 2016 Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection Blu-ray is in 2.0:1.

The initial complaints of this 2016 Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection Blu-ray set is that The Phantom Of The Opera, The Brides Of Dracula, The Curse Of The Werewolf, and Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg) are all presented at the aspect ratio of 2.0:1, when they should be, as they were theatrically, in 1.66:1 to 1.85:1 (depending on the film). This boxset is presented as follows:

Blu-ray Disc 1 - "The Brides Of Dracula" & "The Curse Of The Werewolf"
Blu-ray Disc 2 - "Night Creatures" & "The Phantom Of The Opera"
Blu-ray Disc 3 - "Paranoiac" & "The Kiss Of The Vampire"
Blu-ray Disc 4 - "Nightmare" & "The Evil Of Frankenstein"

So far, the image quality look to be from the similar source as the European transfers in terms of color, detail, grain, brightness etc. And three of those are in 2.0:1 as well (Final Cut - UK's The Phantom Of The Opera, The Brides Of Dracula and Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg)). We will get to comparing all of them eventually.

So, how do you feel about the 2.0:1 framing? it looks tight and I am especially displeased with cropping some of Yvonne Romain's ample cleavage. But it is what it is and purists may be, justifiably, bothered. These are dual-layered disc (essentially single-layered transfers as there are 2 films per disc) and the bitrate is very high. It looks solid in-motion. Visual quality - detail, depth - are strong in Universals 1080P.

As far as the audio - I can repeat what was said about the German Blu-ray - the original English audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master stereo at 1571 kbps . It sounds adept with a rousing score by Benjamin Frankel (notable for composing the music for the British version of Night and the City, plus some Noirish titles like Libel and Footprints in the Fog as well as The Iron Petticoat and The Importance of Being Earnest). There is some pleasing depth and plenty of suspense built. There are optional English (see sample), Spanish or French subtitles offered and the Blu-ray disc is Region FREE.

I'm still wading through the boxset but have found no extras - certainly there are none on this disc.

The AR issues is disappointing - that, and the lack of extras indicate the little concern Universal has for fans of these Hammer gems. But, on the other hand, the price is excellent at about $7.50 per film at the writing of this review. It's hard to say no to this Blu-ray set as there is still immense value here. Stay tuned for further comparisons...

***

Final Cut Entrainment Blu-ray (September 2015): We've been told that the UK Blu-ray will have a similar transfer and the following supplements: The Making of Curse of the Werewolf with interviews with Catherine Feller, Yvonne Romain, Mike Hill, Don Mingaye, Margaret Robinson Jimmy Sangster, Lycanthropy:The Beast in All of Us, Stills Gallery and Censoring the Werewolf - a new 13-minute documentary directed by Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn.

ADDITION: i-catcher Media Blu-ray - October 14': We reviewed the excellent Hammer Horror Series DVD boxset (Brides of Dracula / Curse of the Werewolf / Phantom of the Opera (1962) / Paranoiac / Kiss of the Vampire / Nightmare / Night Creatures / Evil of Frankenstein) from 2007 HERE. Short story is that this new 1080P Blu-ray out of Germany is very strong. It is transferred to a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. It is authentically darker, in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and looks very impressive in-motion. The SD shared the disc with The Brides of Dracula (and was also a flipper with two titles on the other side - a 'DVD18') and hence there are some compression artefacts. Colors are richer and darker and the visuals are clean. It will probably never look any better than this for home theatre consumption.

There is a German DUB and optional German subtitles - both fully removable. The i-catcher Media (Anolis Entertainment) Blu-ray disc is Region 'B'-locked.

Extras consist of a German-only audio commentary from Dr. Rolf Giesen and Volker Lange. Unfortunately no English subtitles, but there are some English-friendly supplements including the 45-minute Making Of The Curse Of The Werewolf that was originally on the Final Cut DVD out of the UK. Also included are a brief 'Lycanthropy' Featurette focusing on Werewolf mythology and a fairly interesting piece on The Props that Hammer Built: The Kinsey Collection which is also found on the Synapse Films, Region 'A', Twins of Evil Blu-ray reviewed HERE. It runs shy of 35-minutes. The 15-minute Comic book adaptation is very cool but only has German text. Finally we have trailers (both German and English), what appears to be some form of Press kit, the alternate German end credits sequence and 2 lengthy slideshow Stills Galleries with posters etc. Overall very impressive collection of extras.

Wow - another favorite, and early, Hammer Studios effort - now in HD. It is quite a different presentation from the old SD and establishes further appreciation of this wonderful Horror gem. Strongly recommended!  

Gary W. Tooze





Menus

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2) i-catcher Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

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1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) i-catcher Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) i-catcher Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

   

   

Also available in a Blu-ray Steelbook:

Coming out on Blu-ray by Final Cut Entertainment in the UK in September 2015:

Distribution Universal - Region 1- NTSC i-catcher Media
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Universal
Region FREE -
Blu-ray



 

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Gary Tooze

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