ICONS OF HORROR
THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL
THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL is premiere Hammer director Terence Fisherís take on the old Robert Louis Stevenson classic. Highly entertaining, this rather loose adaptation of the Stevenson novel skews the story to make evil Edward Hyde (Paul Massie) the pretty face, while the good, but middle-aged Dr. Henry Jekyll (Massie again) is far from the head turner or lady killer that his other half proves to be. Of course, the kicker is the fact that Hyde decides to frame Jekyll for his crimes. The cast of THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL also features Christopher Lee, Dawn Addams, David Kossoff and Oliver Reed.
SCREAM OF FEAR
Written by Jimmy Sangster and directed by Seth Holt, SCREAM OF FEAR is one of Hammerís best psychological horror movies, one that arrived on the heels of PSYCHO. SCREAM OF FEAR stars Susan Strasberg as wheelchair bound Penny Appleby, who returns to her fatherís home after a decade long absence. Greeted by her stepmother Jane Appleby (Ann Todd), Penny is informed that her father is presently away on business. However, Pennyís sanity comes into question, when she begins seeing her fatherís dead body in various places within the family home. Eventually, Penny takes the sympathetic chauffer Bob (Ronald Lewis) into her confidence by advising him that she suspects her fatherís extended business trip ended at the bottom of a murky swimming pool. The cast of SCREAM OF FEAR also features Christopher Lee, John Serret, Leonard Sachs, Anne Blake and Fred Johnson.
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB
While not exactly the best Hammer mummy film, writer/director Michael Carrerasí THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB does prove to be fairly entertaining and delivers sixties era thrills. Like so many other movies of the same ilk, THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB finds that a guy wrapped in bandages can be very cranky when awakened from three thousand years of slumber. The premise finds an American showman financing a successful archeological dig, which uncovers the tomb of Ra-Antef, an Egyptian prince murdered by his brother. The showmanís intentions to take Ra-Antef and his artifacts on a worldwide tour are cut short, when the mummy begins stepping out at night and killing those who desecrated his tomb. The cast of THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB features Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland, George Pastell, Jack Gwillim, John Paul, Dickie Owen, Jill Mai Meredith and Michael Ripper.
Director Terence Fisherís THE GORGON is a personal favorite amongst Hammer films and something of a modest classic, as it is amongst the movies that feature the combined talents of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Set at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the small village of Vandorf, THE GORGON tells a tale in which victims of an unseen monster are being turned to stone. Paul Heitz (Richard Pasco) comes to Vandorf after both his father and brother fall victim to the same stony fate. However, Paulís inquiries only serve to stir up anxiety amongst the locals, as well as the animosity of Inspector Kanof (Patrick Troughton) and the indifference of Dr. Namaroff (Cushing), who has been falsifying the death certificates of the victims. During his investigation, Paul finds Carla Hoffman (Barbara Shelley) to be the only sympathetic Vandorf resident, but she also seems to be in need of rescuing, so Paul is forced to turn Professor Karl Meister (Lee) to solve the deadly mystery, which seems to point to a creature from Greek mythology. The cast of THE GORGON also features Michael Goodliffe, Jack Watson, Joseph O'Conor, Redmond Phillips and Jeremy Longhurst.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made all four films contained in ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION: HAMMER FILMS ($25) available on DVD in their proper widescreen aspect ratios and all four have been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL and THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB are 2.35:1, while SCREAM OF FEAR and THE GORGON are 1.66:1; kudos to Sony for providing each of the films with an excellent looking presentation. The three films produced in color are the best looking, and deliver the crispest images, while the black and white SCREAM OF FEAR seems a little non-descript in places, but that may be intentional. The color films all have good saturation and attractive hues. Contrast is also quite good. The blacks, whites and grayscale all seem appropriate on SCREAM OF FEAR. Film elements are generally well preserved across the board. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern.
All four films contained in ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION: HAMMER FILMS feature Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks. Sony has done a fine job cleaning up most of the background hiss and other audible anomalies during the mastering process, leaving each of these sixties era films with smooth, pleasant sound. Fidelity has all the expected limitations, but holds up well enough with modest amplification. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue is always easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included, but English subtitles are provided. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, although no supplemental content has been provided.
Sony has done a fine job with their ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION: HAMMER FILMS release. The presentations are great, as is the price. Highly recommended.
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