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House of a Thousand Dolls aka "La Casa de las mil muñecas" [Blu-ray]
(Jeremy Summers, Hans Billian, 1967)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Constantin Film Produktion / American International Pictures
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 20,605,993,153 bytes
Feature Size: 19,586,949,120 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.80 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 21st, 2015
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1570 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1570 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / Dolby Surround
Description:Newly Re-mastered in HD! Two professional illusionists Felix Manderville (Vincent Price, House of Wax) and his wife Rebecca (Martha Hyer, First Men in the Moon) help abduct unsuspecting female victims with their magic tricks for an international ring of white slave traders. While vacationing in Tangiers, American businessman (George Nader, The Unguarded Moment) and his wife (Anne Smyrner, Reptilicus) are drawn into a kidnapping plot when their friend (Maria Rohm, The Secret of Dorian Gray) becomes the underground ring's latest victim. Running against time, they only have a couple of days to find her before she's gone for good. Harry Alan Towers (Ten Little Indians) under his usual pseudonym Peter Welbeck wrote the screenplay for this top-notch thriller directed by Jeremy Summers (The Vengeance of Fu Manchu).
Felix Manderville (Vincent Price) is a traveling magician who manages to make young women disappear in this exploitation thriller. The trouble is, Felix drugs the femmes and sells them to white slave traders with the help of his mind-reading assistant Rebecca (Martha Hyer). Marie Armstrong (Anne Smyrner) and her husband Stephen (George Nader) are American tourists who fall into the trap of the felonious flesh pedlars. Price plays the part with his usual suave and sinister manner in this routine production
While there’s nothing remotely risqué about it, House does have a few surprises up its sleeve; not least an impressive opening boasting so much macabre promise. After a hearse pulls up outside an exotic mansion, the coffin is delivered inside and opened by a sneeringly suave Vincent Price, to reveal a beautiful blonde who awakens with a fright. With this opening you’d be forgiven for expecting a morbid little mystery thriller to unfold. From here though the plot becomes quite bogged down with myriad characters and subplots and it takes a while to pull everything together. Meanwhile much camp amusement ensues. When it gets going though, it’s all really quite riveting; the gently simmering plot eventually boiling into life with a lively denouement.
One of the less-discussed and seen Vincent Price films, Jeremy Summers’ House Of 1000 Dolls (1967) is an uneven tale of a couple (George Nader and Ann Smyrner) visiting Tangiers for a fun, pleasant vacation, only to run into a frantic old friend whose girlfriend (Maria Rohm) has been abducted. Turns out she is being added to a brothel of forced labor and stage magician Price may know more about it that he lets on.Excerpt from FulVueDrve-in located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of House of a Thousand Dolls comes from a new Master print and is the 96-minute cut (the theatrical was 17 minutes shorter which affected the film's flow). Unfortunately, I see a few issues - in a few sequences colors appear to misalign and things like skin tones alter mid-scene. Actually, there are some inconsistencies with the 1080P visuals. Most of the presentation looks fine with some reasonably crisp detail. I wouldn't say it overly affected by viewing but it was very noticeable. Looking the screen captures below they seem to do the film image quality some favors. My notes from, a few days ago - seem like I must have been kind of cranky. I guess we can say the digital film appearance is imperfect but I'll guess it was the source not the transfer. This Blu-ray is watchable, but finicky purchasers should be aware of the anomalies.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1570 kbpsin the original English language. There are some modest effects in the film and some healthy screaming etc. and they come through flat but with a smidgeon of depth. The score is by Charles Camilleri and although seems to work for the film, I didn't find it especially memorable. It all sounds acceptable, if not particularly strong, with some infrequent scattering of dialogue. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Kino Lorber give a good attempt with an educational audio commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCoteau sharing details of the production history etc. Aside from that there are only trailers (Madhouse - 1:48, Tales of Terror - 2:21, More Dead Than Alive - :59).
July 7th, 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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