• Hammer Films Double Feature: The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll/The Gorgon



    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: September 6th, 2016.
    Director: Terence Fisher
    Cast: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Norma Marla
    Year: 1960/1964
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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 Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960):

    First up, directed by Terence Fisher, it 1960’s The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll. Here Paul Massie plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, a scientist married to his promiscuous wife Kitty (Dawn Addams) who just can’t seem to tear himself away from his lab. His work is to explore the duality of man and the intricacies of multiple personalities. He spends more time with his lab animals than with his wife, however, so it’s not such a shock to find out that she’s running around behind his back with his best friend, Paul Allen (Christopher Lee).

    When Henry tests a certain serum on himself, he changes from a nerdy, bearded scientist he’s known as into the dashing and handsome Mr. Hyde. He and Paul, unaware of his true identity, hit it off at first and have a great time hitting up the whorehouses and opium dens of London, but there’s more here than Paul or Kitty is aware: Henry/Hyde knows about their affair. While Hyde is playing around himself, with an exotic dancer named Maria (Norma Marla), things quickly get out of hand when he tries to make moves on Kitty himself…

    This is a fairly dark picture with a bit more going on in terms of sexual overtones than you might expect for a film of this vintage, but it works. The makeup effects that turn Massie into the nebbish Henry Jekyll aren’t so hot but the story moves at a good pace, the lab sets are neat to see and the scenes where Hyde and Paul go gallivanting around town are fun to watch. Dawn Addams and Norma Marla add some welcome sex appeal and there are plenty of go-go dancers on hand throughout the movie too! Look for a young Oliver Reed in a small but important supporting role as well. Lee’s in fine form here, playing the arrogant, self-entitled swindler well, but Massie’s performance here isn’t all that invigorating. Still, it’s an entertaining mix of horror and drama with enough going on to definitely make it worth a watch, despite some predictability in the story department and some pacing issues.

    The Gorgon (1964):

    Terence Fisher directed this period piece set in and around the German village of Vandorf. Here a monster of some sort terrorizes the village population, turning anyone that sees the thing into stone. Doctor Namaroff (Peter Cushing) and Inspector Kanof (Paul Troughton) hope to sort all of this out, and initially a young man named Bruno Heitz (Jeremy Longhurst) is suspected. His father vows to clear the boy’s name, and he heads to the nearby castle to do just that, but things do not go as planned for him and he writes to his son Paul (Richard Pasco) for help.

    As it turns out, Maguera has taken on a human form – chiefly, the very fine form of Carla Hoffman (Barbara Shelley), a woman that Namaroff is quite enamored with. His friend, Professor Karl Meister (Christopher Lee), is aware of how grievous this situation is and he tries to talk some sense into his friend, but it’s of no use… he’s madly in love with her, no matter her true identity.

    Clearly based on Greek mythology, this is an absolutely gorgeous looking film that’s ripe with gothic atmosphere and some stunning visuals. The sets for the castle are fantastic and the use of color that Fisher and his associates employ throughout the film really helps keep our eyes darting from one fantastic looking shot to the next. Those who complain about the effects employed to create the Gorgon at the film’s finale aren’t seeing the forest through the trees, as while they may be obviously just that – effects – they’re fine for their time and don’t feel out of place here at all.

    As much a gothic romance as it is a traditional horror film, the movie gives Cushing ample opportunity to play the type of tortured character he was always so good at. He’s fantastic here, giving his all as was so often the case, and he’s great in the part. Lee, who looks like Albert Einstein here, plays the more stalwart, practical friend of the doomed romantic as well as you’d expect, while the gorgeous Barbara Shelley is a great choice as the subject of Cushing’s affection. The film also features an excellent score from composer James Bernard.

    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 2.35.1 and The Gorgon at 1.78.1. 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, while skin tones look more natural and less ruddy which is a good thing, but sometimes they look a little less defined as you might hope. Colors generally look pretty good here, though black levels are occasionally closer to dark grey. There’s very little in the way of print damage to complain about for either picture, and detail and texture are okay, sometimes even quite impressive. However, a bit more breathing room for each feature would have been appreciated. Even if this is being put out at a more than fair retail the compression artifacts are a strike against the image quality here. The image for both films is quite clean, there’s very little print damage to note, and grain seems fine, not blasted away with noise reduction. Some crush occurs in darker scenes, though this is more common in The Gorgon than it is in Jekyll.

    The audio on the disc seems to match the quality of Mill Creek’s DVD release from 2015. 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 Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll and The Gorgon is a no frills affair, offering the two films in transfers that are imperfect but noticeable upgrades over the past DVD editions available here in North America. The lossy audio sounds identical to past DVD issues, and there’s no supplemental material here at all, but the movies are both a lot of fun and the disc is offered for sale at a very fair price.

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








































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      I watched TWO FACES last night and thought it looked pretty good. If THE GORGON is a step up from the dvd it should really be a feast for the eyes.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      THE GORGON looks good (a slight improvement over the DVD), though not as detailed as TWO FACES.