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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake [Blu-ray]

 

(Edward L. Cahn, 1959)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: United Artists Corporation

Video: Shout! Factory

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:09:57.860 

Disc Size: 20,248,788,871 bytes

Feature Size: 19,647,363,072 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.94 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 27th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1578 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1578 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Trailer (1:42)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: He was the custodian of the icebox that kept the skulls crisp and fresh! The sins of the fathers rest heavily on the heads of the sons (literally) in this fun-filled fright-fest that’ll keep you "awake and screaming through many a traumatic night", (Variety)! Faced with an age-old family curse that beheaded their forefathers, two brothers attempt to unravel the family plot...even as sinister forces attempt to put them into it.

***

Anthropologist Jonathan Drake (Eduard Franz) believes that the men of his family have been cursed for generations by the native South American tribe he studies. Shortly after his brother, Kenneth (Paul Cavanagh), discovers one of the tribe's shrunken heads in his house, he's found murdered and his head goes missing. In pursuit of the tribesman Zutai (Paul Wexler) and a rival scientist (Henry Daniell) who has become a part of the tribe, Drake attempts to end the curse once and for all.

 

 

The Film:

An angry head-shrinker (not a psychiatrist) puts a curse upon a family of white traders in this well-wrought low-budget horror film. It must have been a doozy for 200 years later it is still going strong. The story opens as the eldest male descendant of the cursed Drake family finds himself on the brink of losing his head at the hands of a strange witch doctor and his spooky-looking servant. Fortunately his daughter and a detective show up in time to save his noggin from a fate too horrible to disclose here.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

The film is meant to be a moral horror. It begins with a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "The evil that men do lives after them." It then goes into a yarn about Professor Jonathan Drake, a voodoo scholar. A long time ago, an ancestor of his massacred an African tribe, one that, unfortunately for the line of Drakes, were adept practicers of voodoo. The professor believes that there is a curse on his family, as all of the males since then have died suddenly and mysteriously, though they have been written off by the doctor as heart failure each time, a hereditary problem.

Excerpt from Classic-Horror.com located HERE

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

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake looks very good on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.  This is single-layered with a max'ed bitrate. Contrast is well-layered and there is frequent depth. It's clean in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There are no flaws - the video is consistent and produces a very pleasing 1080P visual presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1578 kbps (24-bit). It handles the film's surprising effects with ease - adding some depth. We get an original score by Paul Dunlap (Shock Corridor, Shack Out on 101, Cry Vengeance, Portland Expose, Big House U.S.A., Target Earth, Park Row) which supports the film reasonably well with some aggressive drama and suspenseful atmosphere. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

A trailer is the only supplement. Some form of commentary discussing this and similar films of the era would have been appreciated.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake isn't particularly effective but has
plenty of horror conventions from shrunken heads, desecrated corpses, Voodoo, a mad doctor and unusual occult characters. It's short and this 'B' popcorn'er could initiate a double-feature night in the home theater. It's no prize but the atmosphere can carry it to completion.  The, essentially bare-bones, Shout! Factory Blu-ray produces a fine presentation - just make sure to get it cheap.

NOTE: At the writing of this review the Pre-order price is at a 41% discount at Amazon. 

Gary Tooze

June 20th, 2017

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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