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(aka "The Hammond Mystery")

Directed by John Brahm

USA 1942

 

A curse hangs over the ancestral home of the Hammonds. These English toffs are all destined to die at the claws of the hairiest monster the make-up department can cobble together. Fox made a foray into Universal territory with this admirably eerie werewolf pic. Lucien Ballard, one of Sternberg's protégés, provided the gloomy chiaroscuro photography. The story's a howler, but direction and performances have plenty of bite.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

With its history of murder and suicide, the affluent Hammond family is seemingly cursed. When deaths on the British clan's estate draw the involvement of Scotland Yard, investigator Bob Curtis (James Ellison) arrives to look into the mysterious matter. Oliver Hammond (John Howard) and his sister, Helga (Heather Angel), are among the relatives who must contend their family's dark secret, which involves the legend of a werewolf. Can the macabre legacy of the Hammonds be stopped.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: November 27th, 1942

DVD Reviews

Comparison:

 

20th Century Fox (3•disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Box Covers

 

 

   

 

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Time: 1:03:12 1:03:22.465  
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 15,324,098,316 bytes

Feature: 13,555,279,872 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 24.79 Mbps

Bitrate:

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio English (original mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  NOTE: Undying Monster offers a Spanish DUB

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentaries:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

• Concertos Macabre: The Films of John Brahm (15:26)
Restoration Comparison

• Trailer

Advertising Gallery (click thru)
• Stills Gallery (click thru)


DVD Release Date: October 9th, 2007

3 Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box
Chapters: 16, 20, and 12

Release Information:
Studio: Kino
 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 15,324,098,316 bytes

Feature: 13,555,279,872 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 24.79 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Film Historians Tom Weaver & Robert J. Kiss with Sumishta Brahm, daughter of John Brahm
• Audio commentary by Film Historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter
• Concerto Macabre: The Films Of John Brahm Featurette (16:30)
• 2007 Restoration Comparison (3:13)
• Animated Montage of Images (4:14)
• Trailers The Lodger - 2:16, The Black Sleep - 1:36, The Undying Monster - 1:05

Blu-ray Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters:8

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray December 16': Kino's 2016 Blu-ray transfer is pretty easy to identify as superior for this well-crafted little horror. The 1080P does improve over SD - notably contrast layering, looking thicker and more prevalent texture. The Kino image is a shade brighter, and supports the film about as well as could be expected. There are plenty of impressive shots with castles, fog, shadows, and cliffs.

The audio improvement is via a DTS-HD Master (16-bit) 2.0 channel. The dialogue is audible and the score is by the 4-person effort of Arthur Lange (Cry Danger, 99 River Street) and Emil Newman (Hondo) - who also combined on Woman on the Run - plus David Raksin (Laura, Bigger Than Life, The Big Combo) and Cyril J. Mockridge (Where the Sidewalk Ends, Thieves' Highway, Desk Set, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Dark Corner, My Darling Clementine, Nightmare Alley). It adds great atmosphere to this short, but beautifully styled, horror. The Kino offers optional subtitles (see sample) and is region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

The Kino offers two audio commentaries that include film historian Tom Weaver - in the first he is joined by Robert J. Kiss with Sumishta Brahm, daughter of John Brahm and in the second he discusses the film with David Schecter. These are both very informative - plenty of information to fill the hour-long film. We also get the featurette from the Fox Horror Classics Vol. 1 DVD package; Concerto Macabre: The Films Of John Brahm with Mark Vieira, Steve Jones, Drew Casper, Christopher Wicking, Steve Haberman, Kim Newman and Gregory W. Mank sharing details on the underrated expressionistic director John Brahm. There is also the same restoration comparison and an animated montage of images Kino include trailers The Lodger, The Black Sleep and The Undying Monster.

The Undying Monster is so rich, steeped in the most delicious period atmosphere - darkness, shadows, a haunted past, a forbidding mansion, classic maids and butlers. Brahm was quite brilliant and this tastes of his style only whets the appetite for more of his work. The Undying Monster  is kind of a must-own. Absolutely recommended!

***

Comments on the DVD Boxset HERE: The 3 feature films of this boxset are housed in slim individual transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. I believe these particular editions can only be obtained in Fox's Fox Horror Classics package at present.

Each are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. The Undying Monster is single layered and The Lodger and Hangover Square are both on dual-layered discs. The transfers are progressive and in the original aspect ratios (1.33 for all). The audio is original English mono with a 2.0 channel stereo option and The Undying Monster has a Spanish DUB choice. There are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles.

Image quality: Fairly consistent although in descending quality for reverse chronological order with The Undying Monster , the oldest film, looking the best sporting sterling contrast and excellent detail, The Lodger also looking surprisingly strong and Hangover Square bringing up the rear in a slightly weak transfer with what appears to be some edge enhancement. At around 1 hour there is an awkward layer change and a light vertical scratch appears intermittently down the centre of the screen and a few frames of damage are noticeable. The audio also has a few lapses - like it is out of sync.  There is some minor digital noise in all three. There are no distracting damage marks excepting in one segment near the end of Hangover Square but it may have been the shadowy intent of the shot. I re-watched it over and over and couldn't tell. I think the captures below give a fair representation of how the DVD package looks. They are very watchable!

Audio volume was a bit quiet but I noted no significant dropout flaws or excessive background hiss (very minor now and again - unobtrusive). The audio is supported with optional English, Spanish or French subtitles.

 

Supplements, as per usual for Classic Fox releases - are excellent. Each disc has click-thru advertising galleries and stills galleries. The Lodger and The Undying Monster offer trailers and restoration comparisons. The Undying Monster has a 15 minute featurette called Concertos Macabre: The Films of John Brahm concentrating on the neglected director of every feature in this boxset. The Lodger has another excellent commentary by the film historians team of Alain Silver and James Ursini. Most have heard this pair working on notable Film Noirs and I feel quite comfortable listening to them share their encyclopedic knowledge of classic film which is always evident and they genuinely seem to enjoy their work (and each other). Also on The Lodger is a 15 minute featurette - Man in the Attic: The Making of The Lodger. It's a nice overview touching on some production details. The Lodger also offers an audio only segment - The Lodger Vintage Radio Show - performed by Vincent Price's recognizable voice. On Hangover Square there are two strong commentaries - a fairly lightweight -full of gaps - one with film historian/Screenwriter Steve Haberman and co-star Faye Marlowe but I preferred the professional Richard Schickel commentary - like Silver & Ursini - Schickel is a pleasure to listen to - the guy REALLY knows his stuff. Great to indulge in after the film - I strongly recommend it. We also have a 20 minute featurette - The Tragic Mask: The Laird Cregar Story and another half-hour audio only segment with Vincent Price. For the price - these extras are solid gold and the films are three fascinating gems. I found all three films here extremely enjoyable. This would be Feature DVD of the Month if the timing were better. I give it my strongest recommendation!

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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

 

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

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Box Covers

 

 

   

 

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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