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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Orchard End Murder [Blu-ray]

 

(Christian Marnham, 1981)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Marnham & Harvey Productions

Video: BFI

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 0:50:43.166

Disc Size: 36,860,799,456 bytes

Feature Size: 13,190,995,968 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.35 Mbps

Chapters: 6

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 24th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

The Showman (Christian Marnham, 1970, 25:46): Short documentary about fairground Wild West showman Wally Shufflebottom
Christian Marnham on The Orchard End Murder (2017, 37:26)
Christian Marnham on The Showman (2017, 4:40)
From Melody to Orchard End Murder: An Interview with Tracy Hyde (2017, 11:19)
An Interview with David Wilkinson (2017, 12:28)
Illustrated booklet with new writing by Josephine Botting and Vic Pratt, along with full film credits

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: This latest release from BFI Flipside is the newly remastered rarity - one of a series of British mini-features that shocked UK cinema audiences during the 1970s and early 1980s

Set in an idyllic Kent village one balmy summer during the 1960s, this obscure British oddity is a macabre tale of murder and mischief

A young woman from the suburbs (Tracy Hyde), bored by a countryside tryst, wanders off to explore her surroundings. When she meets a gnome-like stationmaster and his towering, half-witted railway-worker friend (played by Casualty's Clive Mantle), an initially strange encounter turns sinister among the trees of a nearby orchard.

Written and directed by Christian Marnham and shot by Pete Walker's regular cameraman Peter Jessop, The Orchard End Murder is a violent, darkly humorous thriller, unseen since it originally shocked UK cinema audiences as the supporting feature to Gary Sherman's Dead and Buried.

 

 

The Film:

But every now and then a film would appear that defied expectations. The Orchard End Murder (1980) is one such title. The press notes describe it as “A ‘chiller’ set in the fecund Kent countryside: a macabre tale of a bizarre encounter between a cunning hunchback, a demented giant, a naughty little Red Riding Hood from suburbia – and death.” Set in 1966, it tells of a young woman bored of watching her boyfriend play cricket who wanders off to see what other diversions the countryside has to offer.

The Orchard End Murder wasn’t financed by GTO; instead the company purchased it outright and it was released in a particularly gruesome pairing with Dead & Buried (1981), a tale of a necrophiliac mortician who reanimates corpses. This US film was directed by Gary Sherman, who, 10 years earlier, had subjected audiences to cannibals terrorising the London underground in Death Line. According to the publicity material, this double bill opened in 50 cinemas on Sunday 1 November 1981 in the north-east of England via the ABC chain; Film Review Annual, however, records the release date as 11 July 1982, its appearance perhaps delayed in the south.

Excerpt from BFI.org located HERE

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

The Orchard End Murder gets a strong transfer to Blu-ray from BFI.  It's in dual-layered territory and has a high bitrate for the 50-minute feature. It looks a bit dull and thick but it wouldn't be accurate if it was glossy and crisp. The 1080P supports reasonable contrast and some minor depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail in close-ups and there are really no heavy flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray is probably a strong replication of the theatrical version of the film The Orchard End Murder. Which is all we ever ask.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

BFI use a linear PCM 2.0 at 1536 kbps (16-bit) transfer for the audio. There are some piercing screams and a chugging train but not much more in the way of aggressive effects. There is an unremarkable score by Sam Sklair exported by the uncompressed. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified this 'Flipside' Blu-ray release it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

BFI add plenty of extras - since the feature is only 50-minuites long. The Showman is a 25-minute documentary short directed by Christian Marnham from 1970 and centers around fairground Wild West showman Wally Shufflebottom. Marnham discusses The Orchard End Murder in a new interview for almost 40-minutes covering his memories of the production. He also, briefly talks about The Showman in a separate video piec for less than 5-minutes. From Melody to Orchard End Murder: is a new 11-minute interview with Tracy Hyde discussing the film and her career. Plus we get an interview with David Wilkinson (who played the batsman) from 2017 running shy of 13-minutes. The package has an illustrated booklet with new writing by Josephine Botting and Vic Pratt, along with full film credits and this is dual-format containing a second disc DVD.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There is something very enjoyable about these 'short-features’ often accompanied the main feature in cinema programming up until the early 1980s. The Orchard End Murder is an example of one of the positive surprises you might get as opposed to today's 1/2 hour of commercials before a cinema movie showing. Yes, The Orchard End Murder had a very 'Pete Walker' feel and was quite adult in its portrayal of the crime.  The BFI Blu-ray provides the ability to see the film in 1080P and it's a cracking crime-drama thriller. Nice to have the extras as well and for those keen - this is a very pleasant surprise in terms of a riveting short programme film experience. Keep'em coming! 

Gary Tooze

July 28th, 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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