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Burn, Witch, Burn aka "Night of the Eagle" [Blu-ray]
(Sidney Hayers, 1962)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Independent Artists
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,464,855,820 bytes
Feature Size: 20,983,425,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 18th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1814 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1814 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1558 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1558 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Commentary by Richard Matheson
• On Camera Interview with Peter Wyngarde (24:26)
• Trailer (2:29)
Description:The powers of dark magic rule the night in this chilling masterpiece of supernatural horror as a college campus turns into a nest of evil. Professor Norman Taylor (The Innocents Peter Wyngarde) has been enjoying unusual success at work lately, but could it be due to the magic his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) practices in secret? A natural skeptic, Norman is infuriated upon discovering her methods, but when he destroys her protective spells, a vindictive force puts both of their lives in mortal danger, leading to a final showdown that ranks as one of the most chilling in horror history. Turn down the lights, curl up tight, and watch this all-time fright classic from legendary Twilight Zone writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson in stunning high definition... if you dare.
Night of the Eagle was the second film version of Fritz Leiber Jr.'s Conjure Wife (the first was Weird Woman, perhaps the best of Universal's low-budget "Inner Sanctum" series of the 1940s.) The film's title was possibly meant to invoke memories of the earlier Night of the Demon (58); both films involve a rational scientist (in the case of Night of the Eagle, Peter Wyngarde) forced to accept the existence of the supernatural. All evidence points to the conclusion that the scientist's American wife Janet Blair is the reincarnation of a witch, and a practitioner of voodoo. The actual villain is supposed to be a mystery, though the identity was made clear in the Leiber original and in both other film versions of Conjure Wife (there was a 1980 parody version titled Witches Brew). The supernatural aspect of Night of the Eagle is convincingly handled, including a knockout sequence with a wild eagle rampaging through the scientist's tranquil study. Adapted by Twilight Zone stalwarts Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, the British-made Night of the Eagle was released in the US as Burn, Witch, Burn.
Made on a comparatively low budget and adapted from Fritz Leiber's novel Conjure Wife, this is about a hardheaded psychology lecturer in a provincial university who gradually discovers that his wife Tanzie and some of his closest colleagues are practising witchcraft (in furtherance of campus politics). From the opening sequences in which Tanzie (Blair) scrambles frantically round her house searching for a witch-doll left by one of the faculty wives, the whole thing takes off into a kind of joyous amalgam of Rosemary's Baby and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There are one or two irritations in the phony Americanised look of the college students, and in the miscasting of Janet Blair; but Sidney Hayers shoots the whole thing with an almost Wellesian flourish, and the script (by Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson) is structured with incredible tightness as the sane, rational outlook of the hero (Wyngarde) is gradually dislocated by the world of madness and dreams.Excerpt from Timeout located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray, with a supportive bitrate, of Burn, Witch, Burn looks very impressive in 1080P. Detail and contrast are at very high levels - I haven't heard but this looks like a recent film-level restoration. Visuals are tight and sharp, black levels rich and deep. Speckles and damage are non-existent and there is plenty of depth. I am also appreciative of the textured grain present. This Blu-ray gave magnificent HD viewing presentation.
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 1814 kbpsin the original English language. There are plenty of external sounds used the film - crackling fire, mini-explosions etc. but the drama comes from the original score by William Alwyn (Odd Man Out, On Approval, A Night to Remember and The Fallen Idol). It sounds exceptionally good and atmospheric via the lossless. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
I'm a big fan of Richard Matheson and I really enjoy the commentary where he is very frank about his involvement (he got $10K for co-writing this with Charles Beaumont) in the film and details on what he remembered about the production, Fritz Leiber Jr.'s novel "Conjure Wife" etc.. I particularly liked it when he talked about himself - moving to California and how he got into screenwriting. The recording is imperfect but always audible but the film's audio is not hushed but totally silent. We also get a 25-minite video with an aged Peter Wyngarde talking about the Burn, Witch, Burn. There is also a trailer.
August 14, 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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