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The Doctor And The Devils [Blu-ray]

3.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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(Nov 04, 2014)
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Editorial Reviews

Based on Dylan Thomas’ original screenplay, this shocking horror-thriller stars Timothy Dalton as Thomas Rock, a brilliant young anatomy professor in 1820s Edinburgh. At first accepting only the cadavers provided him for study, those of a few hanged criminals per year, Rock eventually recruits two grave robbers (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea) to secure a better supply of corpses. Coming to the gory conclusion that they will earn more the fresher the corpses, the two begin committing murder and delivering warm bodies to the doctor’s lecture chambers. Also starring Julian Sands, Patrick Stewart and Twiggy, The Doctor and the Devils brings classic chills from start to finish.

Special Features

- Commentary With Author and Film Historian Steve Haberman
- New Interviews With Executive Producer Mel Brooks, Producer Jonathan Sanger And Former Brooksfilms Development Executive Randy Auerbach
- Theatrical Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Dalton, Jonathan Pryce, Twiggy, Julian Sands, Stephen Rea
  • Directors: Freddie Francis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00MIA0HM6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,138 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2014
Verified Purchase
A gem of a film that has been missing and forgotten for far too long "The Doctor And The Devils" is based on an unproduced Dylan Thomas screenplay focusing on the infamous killers Burke and Hare. Burke and Hare provided bodies to a medical college at a time when these bodies were restricted only to executed prisoners. At first they dug up bodies but discovering they could make more money with fresh bodies, they began killing people in the slums.

Here Burke and Hare are called Fallon (Jonathan Pryce) and Broom (Stephen Rea)and the bodies are supplied to Dr. Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton). Rock's assistant (Julian Sands) suspects that something isn't right with the bodies they are being brought to them for study. Featuring a terrific supporting cast including Patrick Stewart ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Twiggy and Siân Phillips ("I, Claudius"), the direction by the late great two time Oscar winner (Cinematography for "Sons and Lovers" and "Glory")Freddie Francis (best known as a director for his work for Amicus and Hammer Films).

Screenwriter Ronald Harwood ("The Dresser") adapted Thomas' original screenplay. Produced by Mel Brooks with Jonathan Sanger, the film received a very limited release and distribution by 20th Century Fox which was curious given Brooks success with the studio. It led to the estrangement of Brooks from the company where he had directed ("Young Frankenstein")and produced many hits.

The blu-ray looks quite nice. There are a couple of speckles here and there but, on the whole, this is a exceptionally good transfer of the film. The film has always looked grainy and the gritty look of the slums of London are nicely captured by Gerry Turpin and Norman Warwick.
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For all intents and purposes, “The Doctor and the Devils” is a Hammer horror film. It might be produced by comedian Mel Brooks and his Brooksfilms imprint, but all signs point to this being made by the British house of terror had it been conceived during the 1960s or 1970s. A strong English cast directed by Freddie Francis while surrounded by a period piece atmosphere completes the successful formula for such a film. Scream Factory gives the long forgotten cult classic an overdue facelift that will no doubt expose it to thousands more genre fans.

Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton) is a young anatomy professor who feels his hands are tied to make new discoveries for the advancement of science. Rigid moral laws of the day limit him to the amount of cadavers he can research on. He receives the rotting bodies of a few hanged criminals every year to work with. Rock needs fresher specimens to work with, and two grave robbers (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea) will do what it takes to provide fresher corpses for the professor – at a hefty cost.

“The Doctor and the Devils” is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) with 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The picture perfectly displays all the beauty of a dark and sinister 19th Century England. The Blu-ray transfer did nothing to diminish any of its Gothic flare. It’s a bit disappointing we only get a 2.0 mix given that the bustling streets in the movie are full of tantalizing chatter and distracting noises. However, the balance between dialogue, musical score, and environmental sounds is strong throughout.

While it’s not quite as jam-packed full of bonus material as some Scream Factory releases, “The Doctor and the Devil” still boasts some entertaining surprises. Commentary is provided by author Steve Haberman.
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It would be interesting to see the early pages of Dylan Thomas's original screenplay--allegedly the only one that the great Welsh poet and author ever wrote--but what cultural historians are left with now is a copy of the Freddie Francis film "The Doctor and the Devils", a devil-may-care production that looks pretty decent on the Blu-Ray format. I enjoy hearing about what Brooks has done to contribute to the history of the genre horror film--he, I believe, convinced Fox to take the risk on a director named David Cronenberg, and the unforgettable 1986 film "The Fly" was born. Brooks, while having produced some silly comedy films over the course of his career, also has an intellectual side to him, and I suspect that this side-enthusiasm led him to work on "The Doctor and the Devils".
It is important to note that the Val Lewton classic "The Body Snatcher" is much similar to the Burke and Hare caricatures who are on display in this Brooksfilms production as well, and this time the results are a bit mixed, but I enjoyed seeing this title on Blu-Ray nonetheless. This is not your typical slasher movie at all; most, today, would label it "slow" and "dull". But if you stick with it and pay attention to individual scenes, there is some payoff to partake of, particularly during the film's ending. Dalton and his co-stars make the most of their entertaining performances, and kudos too must be given to cinematographers Gerry Turpin and Norman Warwick who truly lend this picture the stuff of fine art-style photography, which helped to elevate viewers into a world that had not yet been experienced before on the big screen at that time.
Extras on this Scream Factory release are quite good if slightly inconclusive.
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