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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock aka "L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock" [Blu-ray]

 

(Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton), 1962)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Panda Film

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:16:22.619

Disc Size: 22,370,850,266 bytes

Feature Size: 22,218,885,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 13th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1817 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1817 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: "From director Robert Hampton, (Lust Of The Vampire) comes The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (L'orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock), the twisted and terrifying tale of Dr. Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng, The Quiller Memorandum) whose secret desires and perverse passions lead to the death of his wife, Margaret (Teresa Fitzgerald, Class of Iron).

Remarrying years later, the doctor s new bride Cynthia (Barbara Steele, Pit and the Pendulum) is unaware that her husband intends to use her blood to reanimate the corpse of his dearly departed Margaret.".

 

 

The Film:

Genre cinema has never suffered from what Harold Bloom likes to call the anxiety of influence. On the contrary, horror filmmakers have taken great delight over the years in pilfering unabashedly from their predecessors. The Horrible Dr. Hichcock is, in many regards, an ideal case in point, though director Riccardo Freda and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi take equal pleasure in delivering their nods with a wink. As its very title indicates, the film engages with Alfred Hitchcock's work in overtly referential manner, but it also explores Hitch's pet themes and obsessions in profoundly disturbing ways.

The story borrows its architecture from Rebecca: In late Victorian London, renowned surgeon Dr. Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) brings his new bride, Cynthia (Barbara Steele), to a lugubrious manse dominated by a forbidding housekeeper (Harriet White-Medin) and haunted by his previous wife, Margaret (Maria Teresa Vianello). But the heart of the narrative comes straight out of Vertigo. Dr. Hichcock's uncontrollable urges are accompanied by washes of deep red that recall Scottie's moments of monochromatic delirium in the earlier film. Where The Horrible Dr. Hichcock moves into unchartered terrain, however, is in its explicit equation of desire and death.

In Vertigo, Scottie's amour fou drives Madeleine/Judy to her doom twice (first by proxy, then directly), but his actions are the stuff of Greek tragedy; for Hitchcock, the wages of desire are as deadly as sin. The Horrible Dr. Hichcock goes further: Only by making the object of his desire into a literal object, an inert thing, can Dr. Hichcock fully possess her.

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

Raptus, the alternative title of Riccardo Freda's L'Orribile segreto del dottor Hichcock (The Horrible Secret of Dr Hichcock, Italy, 1962) is certainly apt, as its effect on individuals attracted to the macabre is not unlike a rapture or delirium of cinematic pleasure. The atmospheric visuals of Riccardo Freda's masterpiece of sexual alienation and necrophilia stands without precedent in the Golden Age of Italian Horror that virtually seized the Roman film industry from 1956 to 1966.

With more than a nod to the literary influences of Ann Radcliffe and the 19th Century that informed them, L'Orribile segreto del dottor Hichcock is a catalogue of Victorian repressions regarding desire and death, the marriage bed and the grave. The perverse behaviour of our "hero," Dr Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) – much like that of Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) in Vertigo (1958) or Verden Fell (Vincent Price) in The Tomb of Ligeia (1965) – results in the creation of a fetish-object of desire and death from each of his wives.

Excerpt from David Del Valle at KinoEye located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered but has a max'ed out bitrate. The print used has plenty of speckles and minor scratches.  There is no real depth but this is all certainly watchable in the bastardized 1.78:1 aspect ratio but the weaknesses are noticeable. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and grain textures are pleasing but the source may be less effective than some might anticiapte.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1817 kbps (24-bit). This is the English version of the film with no option for the Italian language edition. Effects are common place for the genre - screams and an effective score by Roman Vlad (The Law, Beauty of the Devil) but there are audible dropouts and some hiss - in accordance with the weak condition of the source. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I'm always keen to see Barbara Steele. The Horrible Dr. Hichcock is not exceptional but it has much of the appeal of the Gothic, period horrors out of Italy and an unusual appeal and I definitely need to watch it again. There are positives but the weak condition of the source debilitates the a/v to a certain extent - negatively effecting my viewing - and the bare-bones status garners another strike. The Blu-ray is probably more suited to fans of Miss Steele and the genre - others should pass. 

Gary Tooze

September 13th, 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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