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The Oblong Box [Blu-ray]
(Gordon Hessler, 1969)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: American International Productions
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,997,599,500 bytes
Feature Size: 20,345,499,648 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.71 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 20th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1671 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1671 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
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Steve Haberman
Description:Newly Remastered in HD! Coffins, blood and live corpses! A gasping, gnawing, heart stopping evil lies buried in The Oblong Box. Do you dare unearth its wrath? Vincent Price (Madhouse, Twice Told Tales) and Christopher Lee (The Crimson Cult, House of the Long Shadows) are at their terrifying best as a plantation owner with a shocking family secret and a wealthy doctor desperate to continue his morbid experiments on human flesh in this Edgar Allan Poe s (Tales of Terror) classic tale of the living dead! Price returns to his English manor from an African trip with his mad, mutilated brother and buries his chained up sibling alive. When the body is exhumed, the madman somehow still alive begins a systematic search for vengeance. Co-written, produced and directed by horror great, Gordon Hessler (Catacombs, The Spanish Moss Murders episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker) with top-notch cinematography by John Coquillon (Straw Dogs, Cross of Iron).
When Sir Edward Markham (Alastair Williamson) is horribly disfigured by African natives, he is kept chained and out of sight by his brother Julian (Vincent Price). When Sir Edward escapes, he goes on a killing spree in a desperate attempt to get even with the society that has made him a monstrous outcast. Julian enlists the help of African witch doctor N'Galo (Harry Baird) for medicine to make Sir Edward appear dead so he can be evicted from the house. Dr. Neuhardt (Christopher Lee) attempts to help the hideous human. There are plenty of female corpses around to drip rivers of fresh, hot blood in this feature, the 13th Edgar Allan Poe story in which Price has appeared.
AIP’s next project envisaged for Michael Reeves after Witchfinder General found the British and American producers once again mining Edgar Allan Poe’s seemingly inexhaustible literary supply for the low-key The Premature Burial. The depressive Reeves was rumoured to be dismayed by Huntington’s script and the decision to shoot at Shepperton rather than his proposed Ireland, and subsequently backed out of the project. However, when Reeves subsequently committed suicide during production the project had to be placed in the hands of a new director. Gordon Hessler stepped in and redrafted the screenplay in association with Christopher Wicking. The script wasn’t very good so Hessler developed character and added to the narrative by padding out the story with an imperial exploitation subtext. Of the cast, Vincent Price is well used to hamming up such dialogue in clichéd horrors but Christopher Lee is sadly wasted in a bewigged role. The acting honours are taken by Williamson’s crimson-hooded avenger, who cuts a well-spoken but genuinely menacing figure.Excerpt from BritMovie 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 The Oblong Box looks quite strong in 1080P. Crisp details are helped by solid contrast and even colors (reds + greens!) seem to have pleasing richness. There are a few light scratches/speckles but really on the low end. I imagine the source was in pretty good shape and the transfer is surprisingly strong. There is no noise in the film's many dark sequences. This Blu-ray gave me an above-average presentation in comparisons to similar genre and late 60's - 70's flics. All good.
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 1671 kbpsin the original English language. There are effects in the film - but less of an aggressive nature than you might expect - but shrieks come through with a modicum of intensity. The score is by Harry Robertson (Jane and the Lost City, Twins of Evil) and you'll also hear some of Straus' Tales from the Vienna Woods if you keep your ears perked. It all sounds quite solid with clear consistent dialogue. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Excellent supplements starting with an audio commentary by film historian Steve Haberman (author of Chronicles of Terror: Silent Screams). He certainly knows his stuff and it's enjoyable listening to him. We also get the 1969 short Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee narrated by Vincent Price plus some trailers for The Oblong Box, House of the Long Shadows, Tales of Terror, Madhouse, and Twice Told Tales.
October 6th, 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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