• Hammer Films Double Feature: The Revenge Of Frankenstein/The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb



    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: September 6th, 2016.
    Director: Terence Fisher/Michael Carreras
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Eunice Gayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn
    Year: 1958/1964
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    The Movies:

    Two Hammer Films from Sony's library make their domestic Blu-ray debut on this double feature from Mill Creek Entertainment.

    The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958):

    In this second chapter in the Hammer Films Frankenstein series directed by Terrance Fisher, we find Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) at the guillotine about to be executed for his crimes committed in the first film, ‘he Curse of Frankenstein. His devoted assistant, Fritz (Oscar Quitak), a cripple, rescues the Baron from death and together they flee to Carlsbruck, where he sets up a new medical practice as Dr. Stein. He quickly becomes the most popular doctor in the town, both because of his skills as a physician and because of his charity work at the poor hospital.

    What the townspeople don’t know, however, is that he’s using his work at the hospital to gather new body parts so that he can continue his grisly experiments in re-animation, as he plans to transplant Fritz’s brain into a healthier body (Michael Gwynn) and take him on tour as a successful medical experiment. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Although the experiment with Fritz’s brain transplant goes better than could ever be expected, Fritz, now in his new and improved body, learns of the Doctor’s plans to show him off, and seeing as he’s been stared at all his life, he’s none too happy about this.

    When he flees the secret room that Frankenstein and his protégé, Dr. Kleve (Francis Matthews), have set up to help him heal in private, he runs off and hides in a barn, while the two doctors search for him, hoping to find him and get him under control before they’re found out by the medical council.

    Cushing delivers another solid performance as the most famous doctor in horror movie history, and the supporting cast is great in their respective roles. As he did in the first picture, Cushing brings a sense of inner conflict to the character – we know what he’s up to is wrong, but we can’t help but like him, even if we probably shouldn’t. Fisher’s direction is spot on and the film is full of gothic atmosphere, crazed laboratory equipment, tombstones, and creepy graveyards.

    Although the movie is well over fifty years old, it still holds the viewer’s attention and stands as a testament to both Fisher and Cushing’s respective careers. This is vintage Hammer, the kind that made the studio’s output as beloved as it is amongst horror fans, a great sense of dread but not without a sense of odd humor and an eye for style. There’s obvious dedication, creativity and purpose on display here, more so than some of the studio’s latter output, not just in front of the camera but behind it as well. It holds up as well as the first in the series from Hammer, and it’s a movie well worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.

    The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964):

    Last but not least, is the 1964 film the Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb, directed by Michael Carreras. The film introduces us to a pair of Egyptologists - Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) and John Bray (Ronald Howard) – who is joined by the latter’s fiancée Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland) on a dig. They manage to uncover the tomb of an Egyptian prince named Ra-Antef (Dickie Owen). The locals warn them not to tamper with it, but of course, they ignore those warnings and bring the sarcophagus and its contents back to England, along with some valuables of course.

    Alexander King (Fred Clark), a promoter, helps them set up a touring exhibit and things are going well enough at first. Soon enough, all involved meet a man named Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan), who easily talks his way into their group and winds up catching the eye of Annette. There’s more to Adam than any of them suspect, however, and soon the mummy Ra-Antef is rampaging about killing off all who stand in his way.

    This is a pretty standard mummy movie that doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from similar films that mine the same territory. It’s a bit on the talky side and not really all that remarkable, but at least the pace picks up in the later half once the mummy starts going about his business. The murder set pieces are absolutely the highlight of the film and what lays in between them isn’t particularly interesting but the sets look cool and the film has nice colorful camerawork to its benefit. It’s fun to see Michael Ripper show up in a supporting role here and Jeanne Roland is rather fetching, the rest of the cast fail to impress though. This one doesn’t hold a candle to the first Hammer entry, The Mummy from 1959, and it would be followed by two more marginally interesting entries – The Mummy’s Shroud in 1967 and Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb in 1971.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Mill Creek presents the films in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, both movies on a single 25GB Blu-ray disc, with the first feature framed at 1.66.1 and second at 2.35.1. Both transfers offer an upgrade over past DVD releases while still leaving some obvious room for improvement. Compression artifacts are noticeable if rarely as severe as you might expect given the low bit rate, and there is some crush in darker scenes. Having said that, yes, these look better here than in the past. Skin tones look more natural where, particularly in regards to Mummy, they seem a little too orange in spots. Detail is definitely better and texture as well while depth is stronger here than we’ve seen prior. Both transfers are quite clean, there’s very little print damage at all. Mummy looks a little brighter than it has in the past without it appearing to have been contrast boosted. Again, these are imperfect, but welcome upgrades.

    The audio on the disc seems to match the quality of Mill Creek’s earlier DVD releases of these movies. Each film is presented in English language Dolby Digital Mono. Clarity is generally fine here, with Return sounding a little more stagey and flat than the other movies but only because it’s quite a bit older. Dialogue is clean and clear and easy to follow and when hiss or distortion pops up, it’s never a serious problem and not particularly distracting. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided here.

    There are no extras on the disc, though static menus and chapter selection are provided.

    The Final Word:

    Mill Creek’s Blu-ray release of Hammer Films’ The Revenge Of Frankenstein and The Curse Of The Mummy gives Hammer fans a chance to own two films in HD at a very reasonable price. The presentations are not reference quality – there are no extras and the audio is lossy – but the transfers offer a decent picture quality upgrade, even if they’re not perfect.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!