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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Vampire Bat [Blu-ray]

 

(Frank R. Strayer, 1933)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Larry Darmour Productions / Majestic Pictures

Video: Film Detective

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:03:18.711  

Disc Size: 21,797,358,302 bytes

Feature Size: 19,429,601,280 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 7

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 24th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1790 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1790 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

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)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Sam Sherman

Becoming the Son of Melvyn Douglas (7:03)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: An excellent cast featuring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, and the immortal Dwight Frye headline this macabre tale of vampire attacks in a small village. Does a troubled man-child with an affection for bats have something to do with it? Or is it a local scientist who appears to know quite a bit about vampirism? Director Frank R. Strayer spins a thrilling tale from Hugo nominated screenwriter Edward T. Lowe (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula) and will have you craving more films from the first golden age of horror!

 

 

The Film:

When corpses drained of blood begin to show up in a European village, town elders suspect a vampire on the loose. Policeman Karl Brettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) doubts the existence of vampires, but Dr. Otto von Niemann (Lionel Atwill) argues to the contrary. Fingers point at the village idiot, Herman Gleib (Dwight Frye), but after local vigilantes get him out of the picture, the killings continue. Brettschneider then tries to keep a cool head as he searches for possibly supernatural answers.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

As creaky as an old church door, but with some of the same antique charm, this is a B horror picture shot on the village sets of Universal's Frankenstein (1931), and using the interiors from The Old Dark House (1932). Bat-loving village idiot Frye is suspected of a series of vampyric murders, but when obsessive doctor Atwill's soon-to-be-married assistant (Wray) stumbles on the truth, she's menaced by the real culprit.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

The Vampire Bat is set in the fictitious European village of Klineschloss, where many residents have been killed - their bodies drained of blood and puncture wounds found on their necks. The Burgermeister (Lionel Belmore), as well as most of the townspeople, fear that the killings mark the return of an outbreak of vampirism; their historical writings tell of an epidemic of death accompanied by giant bats visiting the town in 1643. Police inspector Karl Brettschneider (Melvyn Douglas) doesn't believe the vampire myth, but he is keeping a watchful eye on the town loon, Herman Gleib (Dwight Frye). Herman, you see, is very fond of bats and even takes to carrying them around in his jacket pockets. The town doctor, Otto Von Niemann (Lionel Atwill) is kept busy examining all of the bodies that are piling up around the village. His lovely assistant Ruth (Fay Wray) is also romantically involved with Inspector Brettschneider.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

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

Less frequent Blu-ray producer Film Detective have released 1933's The Vampire Bat with Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, and Dwight Frye. It has a 'restoration' in conjunction with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. It looks quite inconsistent with the restoration softening the visuals, waxy, where, when left alone, are quite scratchy and dark (which I don't mind). I love older films of this nature but purchasers should be aware of a widely varying image quality. This Blu-ray, I believe is from the only existing negative (or at least the best one) and without spending a lot of money - this is the best we are likely to get. NOTE: The, original, hand colored torches (see below) look great!

 

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

 

 

1) Unrestored TOP

2) Restored BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visible Cue Blip

 

 

Audio :

Film Detective use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1790 kbps in 24-bit! The film's audio, especially in the beginning, with the main title music by Charles Dunworth, is extremely scratchy - almost painful during the credits. There are only two music cues used in the film - including 'The Ghost Walks' (a popular piece for horror films of the 30's.)But it does settle down and the dialogue is scattered but fully audible. There are optional English subtitles (see sample) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

We get an audio commentary by writer, producer and distributor Sam Sherman. It was quite different - more akin to a kindly grandfather telling a bedtime story. He details quite a lot about individuals involved in horror films of the past - like, the producer, director Phil Goldstone, who was also the founder of the Motion Picture Relief Fund. It's unique but I enjoyed his lengthy stories including meeting Fay Wray. he has a wealth of knowledge although not so specific to The Vampire Bat, although he does discuss the plot and music cues etc. There is also a new 8-minute, Film Detective-produced, featurette entitled Becoming the Son of Melvyn Douglas with the actor's son, Gregory Hesselberg who gives his perspective on relating to his father onscreen.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Vampire Bat has the strong nostalgia and is one of those innocent productions that also has bona-fide appeal for those keen on this era's horror efforts. It is, of course, a bit hokey, but I loved the atmosphere and, relatively, quick development. The Film Detective Blu-ray is a BD-R and despite the adept the transfer has, acceptable, source imperfections. But I enjoyed the Sherman commentary and I will definitely watch this little popcorner again! 

Gary Tooze

May 4th, 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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