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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Kiss of the Vampire aka "The Kiss of the Vampire" aka "Kiss of Evil" [Blu-ray]

 

(Don Sharp, 1963)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hammer Film Productions

Video: Final Cut Entertainment / Universal (part of the Hammer Horror 8 Film Collection Blu-ray set)

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:28:13.871 / 1:28:16.291

Disc Size: 21,308,993,985 bytes / 45,737,254,425 bytes (shares disc with Paranoiac)

Feature Size: 20,177,350,656 bytes / 23,684,849,664 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.00 Mbps / 31.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Custom Digipak

Release date: December 1st, 2014 / September 13th, 2016

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

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:

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)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

English (SDH), Spanish, French, None

 

Extras:

• Commentary with Edward De Souza & Jennifer Daniel - Moderated by Peter Irving

Stills Gallery (1:32)
• Alternate US Trailer (1:31)

 

None

 

Bitrate:

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

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.

 

 

The Film:

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.

The Hammer stroke of genius was to take well-worn themes and give them a modern (for the time) twist, so after decades of exponentially-degrading Universal garbage, Curse Of Frankenstein and (Horror Of) Dracula were like a bolt from the blue (or more appropriately, red). But the Hammer team didn't rest on their laurels following these successes - not for them a load of inferior sequels. They kept reinventing their own genre, so (ignoring the odd misfire) every couple of years they produced a film which improved on the formula. Kiss Of The Vampire, coming before Dracula's legitimate sequel (Dracula - Prince Of Darkness), actually went into pre-production as Dracula III. It's bursting with unused ideas from Brides, and as such goes to show that whatever modern film makers might like to think (every couple of years you get a film which claims to have a "new spin" on the myth), the re-invention of vampires was going on as early as 1962 (when the film was shot). 

Excerpt from British Horror Films located HERE

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.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

 

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 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"

The image quality look to be from the similar source as the Final Cut transfer in terms of color, grain, however the Universal, with its higher bitrate, shows a darker - and I believe, more accurate, image. I can even notice a few artifacts on the Final Cut when directly comparing.
This would be one of the more notable differences in comparing the individual films in Universal set to their UK counterparts.

 

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

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

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.

 

Extras :

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.

 

Final Cut - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Kiss of the Vampire is a bit different from some of the other classic Hammer Horrors - perhaps more small-story 'Gothic' than mainstream Vampirism. But I thought it was just very entertaining with the same suspenseful atmosphere as seen through this Studio's genre films. The film has a well paced build and remains fairly grounded. It exports the Hammer charm that makes these films so special. The Final Cut Blu-ray provides a decent a/v presentation and includes a valuable commentary. Fans of the Studio's work should probably indulge. I will revisit this as a Hammer double feature in the future. Recommended!

 

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. 

Gary Tooze

January 12th, 2015

October 5th, 2016

 

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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