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The last great Hammer film gets the deluxe treatment from Shout! Factory,
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This review is from: The Vampire Lovers [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Although I'm a little too young to have enjoyed "The Vampire Lovers" during its theatrical release, I have a long history with the film on video. I bought the bargain-priced VHS tape in the mid-90's, the MGM "Midnite Movies" DVD release in the early 2000's, and now I'm delighted to have it in HD on Blu-ray. What can I say. . .I'm a fan. :-)
And as such, I'm happy to report that this is a first-class presentation of this terrific vampire movie. As my subject line suggests, I think it's the last truly great horror film the venerable studio put out (although there were a couple of more decent 70's releases like Vampire Circus and Twins of Evil). And the transfer used here is very good, though not quite flawless. As with many low-budget films of this vintage, the print was probably never intended to be scrutinized in high definition on a 60" plasma screen in the comfort of one's home. Some of the nighttime scenes are a bit grainy, although it's still an improvement over the MGM disc. Day shots and close-ups are mostly excellent. A few of the colorful outfits worn by stars Ingrid Pitt and Madeline Smith really pop out. On the downside, the enhanced resolution does betray the limits of the low-budget effects now and then (e.g., one can easily make on the lines around the makeup appliances used for bite marks).
Bonus features: "Femme Fantasique: Resurrecting The Vampire Lovers" is a brief (10 min.) featurette, largely composed of comments from Hammer historians and fans. My personal favorite is a comment that I myself have made many times over the years, that Pitt, despite her looks and talent, was far too old for the role of Carmilla. Pitt also strongly (but let's face it, erroneously) denied the film's sapphic content until her death. There's a 20 minute interview with the charming Madeline Smith, who plays Emma in the film. Her memories are mostly fond, although it's enlightening to learn that she was basically tricked by the producers into disrobing in the film ("those scenes will only appear in the Japanese release". . .ha, welcome to show biz!). There's a nice photo gallery set to music, the film's theatrical trailer, and a radio spot. There are also two holdover features from the DVD: An audio commentary with Pitt, director Roy Ward Baker and screenwriter Tudor Gates, and Pitt reading an excerpt from "Carmilla" (upon which the film was loosely based). If you're already a fan of the film, like I am, you'll appreciate how the extras really enhance the film.
If you're a fan of the movie already, or Hammer horror in general, this is certainly a must-have. For those who prefer more modern horror films--more gore, hyperactive editing, hot young stars, etc., this probably isn't for you. If you have the DVD and are considering an upgrade, it's definitely worth it.
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Initial post: May 1, 2013 4:19:00 PM PDT
JOANNE CATHERINE says:
As always, it's a pleasure to read a review by A. Gamill. I usually either buy the movie based on his/her recommendation, or seek it out online and have been rarely disappointed.
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