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Kiss of the Vampire aka "The Kiss of the Vampire" aka "Kiss of Evil" [Blu-ray]
(Don Sharp, 1963)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions
Video: Final Cut Entertainment / Universal (part of the Hammer Horror 8 Film Collection Blu-ray set) / Shout! Factory
Region: 'B'/ Region FREE / Region 'A'
Runtime: 1:28:13.871 / 1:28:16.291 / 1:28:15.957 / TV Version: 1:32:45.660
Disc Size: 21,308,993,985 bytes/ 45,737,254,425 bytes (shares disc with Paranoiac) / 48,663,431,296 bytes
Feature Size: 20,177,350,656 bytes / 23,684,849,664 bytes / 20,819,570,688 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.00 Mbps / 31.99 Mbps / 27.99 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 18 / 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Custom Digipak
Release date: December 1st, 2014 / September 13th, 2016 / July 14th, 2020
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1/ 1.85:1 / 1.85:1 / 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
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1920 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1920 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1565 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1565
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), Spanish, French, None
English, none (only on 1.85:1 version, the other two have 'none')
• Commentary with Edward De Souza & Jennifer Daniel - Moderated by Peter Irving
• Stills Gallery (1:32)
• Alternate US Trailer (1:31)
NEW Audio Commentary With
Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman And Filmmaker/Film
Historian Constantine Nasr On The 1.66:1 Version
Description: Honeymooning in Bavaria, Gerald and Marianne Harcourt experience car trouble and are forced to spend a few days in a small remote village. Soon Doctor Ravna, owner of the impressive chateau that sits imposingly above the village, invites them to dinner and the couple are persuaded to go. Their association with Ravna and his charming beautiful family is to prove disastrous as they become unwittingly embroiled with this company of vampires who seek to initiate them into their diabolical creed. When the pair attend a masked ball at the chateau a few days later things start to go eerily wrong when Gerald begins to feel faint and Marianne disappears only to later return in front of a ceremony of gowned vampires and announced as their new disciple.
Widely regarded as Hammer's other attempt at putting Dracula on-screen
without resorting to the (much simpler, surely?) act of actually having
the count in the story (the other being the inappropriately-titled
Brides Of Dracula), Kiss Of The Vampire is the kind of
full-blooded 60s Gothic that gives you a healthy reminder of just why
you love these films so much, and why Hammer are rightly regarded as one
of the best things to ever come out of the British film industry.
A beautifully photographed film in which an English honeymoon couple are lured towards a fate worse than death by a Bavarian disciple (Willman) of the late Count Dracula. The main trouble is that some of the acting, especially from de Souza and Daniel as the young couple, is terribly stiff (against which must be set Isobel Black, playing a very fetching vampire). The use of scenery is particularly superb, giving it an almost Dreyerian quality. Ironically, the film's release was delayed until 1964 because the distributors thought that the bat-infestation climax (one of the best scenes) flew dangerously close to The Birds, even though it was made quite some time before Hitchcock's film.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Kiss of the Vampire gets a decent, but not stellar transfer to Blu-ray from Final Cut Entertainment in the UK. It is single-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. It has some inconsistency at around the 42-minute mark, appearing frail with light artifacts but straightens up after that looking improved throughout the rest of the feature. The visuals can exhibit some thinness and has very minor edge-enhancement but this may be more a factor of the source than a flaw in the 1080P rendering. Colors are notable - bright and true (reds and greens) and it is transferred at the 1.85;1 aspect ratio with occasional depth. There are a few speckles but nothing untoward. Not an incredibly dynamic Blu-ray appearance but acceptable for watching the film.
The initial complaints of this 2016 Hammer Horror 8-Film
set is that
The Phantom Of The Opera,
The Brides Of Dracula,
The Curse Of The Werewolf,
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
While I LOVED the commentaries (Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr, actors Edward De Souza and Jennifer Daniels moderated By Peter Irving plus Troy Howarth + Nathaniel Thompson on the TV version) why is Shout! Factory, again, messing with multi-aspect ratios - sacrificing the disc space for a higher bitrate of the preferred AR feature? This is silly, imo. The 1.66:1 transfer is 12 Gig with an 18 Mbps bitrate, lossy Dolby and no subtitle option. Both of those are cited as "2K Scan Of The Interpositive". The TV version takes up 7.5 Gig/ MPEG-2 Video / 1080i / 10 Mbps, lossy Dolby and no subtitle option. **I think the Universal, with the highest bitrate looks the best.**
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Captures
Final Cut utilize a linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track at 1536 kbps. It is clear, flat but has varying degrees of depth (screams). India-born, Hammer regular, James Bernard (The Plague of the Zombies, Dracula Prince of Darkness, These Are the Damned, Across the Bridge, The Curse of Frankenstein) score adds a tight, creepy, atmosphere that definitely benefits from the lossless transfer. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Universal use a DTS-HD Master in 24-bit. My ears couldn't detect much of a difference, if any, in the sound exported by the two Blu-rays. The Universal audio may be marginally deeper in exporting the bass. There are optional English - SDH (see sample), Spanish or French subtitles offered and the Universal Blu-ray disc is, also, Region FREE.
The technicals are above - the 1.85:1 version has DTS-HD Master (24-bit) but less robust than the Universal. It has optional English subtitles. India-born James Bernard (Plague of the Zombies, Dracula Prince of Darkness, These Are the Damned, Across the Bridge, The Curse of Frankenstein) does the score - and it's a good one. The 1.66:1 and TV versions (1.33:1) have lossy Dolby and no subtitle options. The Blu-ray disc is Region 'A'-locked.
Included is a commentary with Edward De Souza (played Gerald Harcourt in the film) & Jennifer Daniel (Marianne Harcourt) moderated by Peter Irving. It's a good one - worth listening to and there is also a stills gallery and the alternate US Trailer.
No extras that I have found on the Universal Blu-ray Boxset.
As stated, I LOVED the commentaries (kudos to Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr on the 1.66:1 version, and I always enjoy Troy Howarth + Nathaniel Thompson - here on the longer TV version with blood etc. removed, but additional sequences.) The 'Edward De Souza, Jennifer Daniels commentary moderated by Peter Irving is repeated from the Final Cut UK Blu-ray. After the commentaries are two new featurettes: The Men Who Made Hammer: on composer James Bernard running 17-minutes and another episode in that series on production designer Bernard Robinson just shy of 20-minutes. There is a original theatrical trailer and Radio Spot, a Kiss Of Evil TV trailer and a 1/4 hour of additional scenes that were added to the TV Version Kiss Of Evil for those curious who don't watch the included SD version.
Final Cut - Region'B' - Blu-ray
Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
This is a classic Hammer Horror and in some ways way remind you of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. The Final Cut's commentary is appreciated and fans may wish to indulge who enjoy the supplements. But, on the other hand, the price of the Universal Box 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 immense value here.
I do really like this Hammer entry. For this labeled "Collector's Edition" though Shout! Factory shouldn't 'scatter their forces' and, simply, provide a second disc - DVD if necessary for the TV version and remove the superfluous 1.66:1 version shifting that Haberman / Nasr commentary to the 1.85:1 and making the 1080P image more robust. The commentaries are gold but for those who just want Hammer films, the Universal is a great price for eight of them on Blu-ray including 'Kiss of the Vampire'.
January 12th, 2015
October 5th, 2016
July 15th, 2020
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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