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Phantom of the Opera (1962) Blu-Ray
Phantom of the Opera (1962) Blu-Ray
Dvd ~ Herbert Lom
Price: 12.51

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One for Hammer Film fans only, 26 July 2014
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I cant go on about aspect ratios etc. as I'm not an expert, but for me IMO the picture quality is acceptable when you consider its a 50+ year old film, I bought the Blu-ray version on pre-order because it was actually cheaper than the DVD version. Yes there is visible graining on show BUT as I've already said this for me didn't ruin my viewing pleasure. (I do wonder sometimes what people expect of these old films that are transferred onto modern formats, most of the original film stock by now will have (if available) severely degraded and unless an absolute fortune is spent on a full restoration nothing can be done about it)
Now to the film itself Phantom is strangely a lesser seen film out of the Hammer stable, never gets put on compilation discs or best of collections either, which is a shame as the basic story line is very good, its probably because this film was panned by the critics when it originally came out in 1962 and its always compared to the earlier Universal releases, now if you consider the 1943 version also suffered in this way WHY because it too was always compared to the 1925 Silent original starring silent screen legend Lon Chaney (This 1925 film remember is one of the greatest silent movies(if not movie full stop) ever made).
It also suffered, probably, because it doesn't have any of the Main Hammer Stars in it.( Although IMO it is great to see Herbert Lom star in something other than the foil to Peter Sellers comedy in the Pink Panther films)
For me though the main problem with Hammers version is they build the story line up really well and then rush the ending off in about 5 minutes and this to me makes the whole thing seem disjointed and a big let down.

Lastly as nice aside this Final Cut edition comes with some nice extras including a very informative "Making of" feature.


Terror Of The Tongs
Terror Of The Tongs
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee

4.0 out of 5 stars A real shame as it may not be the best offering Hammer ever made BUT it is certainly NOT ..., 19 July 2014
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This review is from: Terror Of The Tongs (DVD)
TERROR OF THE TONGS:
This is a rarely seen on TV film from Hammer studios, I can only guess because of the PC brigade getting hot under the collar over white English actors being made up to look Chinese. A real shame as it may not be the best offering Hammer ever made BUT it is certainly NOT the worse, and has the destinction of being the first film from Hammer studios to give Christopher Lee top Billing (hard to believe I know but even in Dracula he had been second billing to Peter Cushing's Van Helsing) he pays the part of the Red Dragon Tongs leader Chung King - he would of course a couple of years later play the more famous Oriental Villain Dr Fu Man Chu.

SPOILER ALERT:
The film itself is set in 1910 Hong Kong, where the daughter of a British steamer Captain Jackson Sale is murdered by members of the Red Dragon Tong he vows to track down her murderers and later on to crush the whole corrupt Tong organisation in Hong Kong.
He wins the devotion of Lee a Tong collectors 'bond slave' and tracks down the Red Dragon Tongs leader Chung King,
Sale is captured and subjected to agonising torture by having his 'Bones scraped' he is eventually rescued by a beggar who is the leader of a organisation trying to bring down the Red Dragon Tong. They now use Jackson as a means to topple the Tongs influence as his every move is now dogged by traitors.
Chung King orders that Sale must now die in a ceremonial killing to reaffirm Tong Terror among the Chinese population. Lee tries to warn him but the process gets killed herself instead of Sale. The Chinese population now rise up against the Tongs and Sale leads them to Chung Kings lair where the Tong leader is killed.

DVD:
The picture and sound quality is fine considering the age of the film and the fact that it has not had any major restoration work done to it.
Extras include English subtitles and a Audio commentary with screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, assistant editor Chris Barnes and Hammer film historian Marcus Hearn.
It also comes with a very informative 24 page illustrated booklet all about the making of the film.

All in all a must for any Hammer film collector


Captain Clegg (Night Creatures) (1962) [Blu-ray]
Captain Clegg (Night Creatures) (1962) [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Price: 12.51

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for a 50 year old film, 8 Jun 2014
I do wonder sometimes what people expect, This is an over 50 year old film remember.
Enjoy it for what it is the only UK release on Bluray or DVD for that matter available, just bask in fact this was Sir Peter Cushing's favourite role he ever played for Hammer films.
Although I did pre-ordered I was away on holiday when it was delivered so have only just got to watch this a week later (today 5th July) seeing other peoples reviews I was a bit worried, well I shouldn't have been IMO the picture quality is fine and the sound was crisp (I view via a Panasonic Bluray player, 42" PlasmaTV and Soundbar system) and as previously stated when considering the age of the film I had no major issues to spoil my viewing pleasure, its a 100% improvement on the old VHS tape I have - and its better than the Spanish release DVD version I also have.
Indeed I think my only big gripes are maybe subtitles would have been nice so I could watch the film with sound off so as not to disturb rest of family when I put one of my "old out of the ark films on" and it would have been a nice touch it they had printed a information booklet. Maybe even a double side printed the case sleeve with the 'American' title release "Night Creatures" on it like Final Cut did with the other months release of "The Shadow of the Cat"


Hannibal Brooks (1969) Michael Winner - [DVD] UK FORMAT
Hannibal Brooks (1969) Michael Winner - [DVD] UK FORMAT
Offered by MagicoClassicMovies
Price: 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great family entertainment, 8 Jun 2014
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Hannibal Brooks is a 1969 British war film about a prisoner of war attempt to escape from Nazi Germany to Switzerland during World War II, accompanied by an Asian elephant. It stars Oliver Reed, Michael J. Pollard and Wolfgang Preiss. It was directed by Michael Winner. The beginning is based on the experiences of the writer Tom Wright, who whilst a prisoner of war, worked at Munich Zoo to care for their elephant "Lucy". Some attribute it to the true story of Olga the elephant rescued from Vienna Zoo in 1944. The title is a reference to the Carthaginian military commander Hannibal who led an army of war elephants over the Alps.

SPOILER ALERT what follows is a basic plot synopsis:

Stephen "Hannibal" Brooks (Oliver Reed) is a British prisoner of war officer put to work in a Munich zoo, looking after an Asian elephant called Lucy. When the zoo is bombed by the Americans the zoo's director (Eric Jelde) determines it is unsafe for the elephant to remain there. So he sends Brooks along with hostile German soldier Kurt (Peter Carsten), a friendly German soldier named Willy (Helmut Lohner) and Vronia (Karin Baal), a female cook to accompany the elephant to Innsbruck Zoo via train.
They are forced to walk when an SS commander (Wolfgang Preiss) tells Brooks that the elephant is not allowed on the train. In Austria, Kurt threatens to shoot Lucy whilst drunk and Brooks accidentally kills Kurt. Brooks, Lucy, Willy and Vronia are forced to run towards the Swiss border. They are helped along the way by an American escapee named Packy (Michael J. Pollard) who has formed a group of partisans to fight the Germans in Austria and have many run-ins with the Nazis.
Half way there, Lucy gets mumps, so Brooks has to get an Austrian doctor (Ralf Wolter) to look after her, whilst Vronia and Willy run to Willy's parents house. Vronia and Willy are captured, and later are joined by Brooks. Brooks and Willy are rescued by Packy and continue to race towards Switzerland with Lucy. Unfortunately, along the way Willy is shot by the Nazis whilst helping Brooks to escape.
When Brooks gets close to the border with Lucy, he is met with German Col. von Haller (Preiss), the SS commander who told him to walk to Switzerland and Vronia, who has changed sides after being captured. After another long fight with the Germans, Brooks and Lucy eventually make it to Switzerland with Packy and his partisans.

I remember seeing this film a few times on the TV as a child (I'm now in my 40's) strangely it's not shown nowadays, which is a great shame, as IMO its a brilliant film to stick on a Sunday afternoon and keep the whole family entertained.

Now onto the DVD itself it is a region free format so shows perfectly on UK players, but be aware it is a Korean import so the packaging is half English - half Korean AND there are NO English subtitles (Korean only from the menu page) There is however the original trailer also on menu page as a nice little extra.
From what I can tell and remember nothing has been cut, and it seems to be from an original print so the picture and sound quality is as good as your going to get without someone doing a full restoration job on it. (Again IMO its a shame MGM or someone hasn't done this) BUT there was nothing on the copy I received that spoiled my viewing pleasure especially when you consider the age of the film.
Bought via Amazon Prime no problems (ordered on a Saturday and it arrived before 10.00 on Sunday morning)


The Ultimate Hammer Collection [DVD]
The Ultimate Hammer Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Lee
Offered by ahughes008
Price: 79.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to hammer, 31 May 2014
Although I didn't buy this thru Amazon I have owned this set for a couple of years now,
There are some truly great Hammer films on here, including Dracula: Prince of Darkness, She, One Million Years BC, Quatermass and the Pit, The Devil rides out.
Unfortunetly it also contains some stinkers too Prehistoric Woman and The Revenge of She to name two.
Its a shame they didn't put some other titles on here too or instead of: so a definitive collection this is not.
But for anyone interested in starting a collectionup of Hammer or indeed Classic British Horror films from years gone by you can't go far wrong getting this set. Unless/Until the reformed Hammer decide to bring out a complete boxset of there back catalogue (which is probably doubtful in the near future at least with all sorts of legal issues regards publication rights)
Several of the DVD's come with extra featurettes on and commentaries from actors/production staff involved to give you a good background knowledge to work produced by Hammer Film Studios.


The Hound Of The Baskervilles [DVD] [1959]
The Hound Of The Baskervilles [DVD] [1959]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: 4.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two firsts for this Hammer classic, 31 May 2014
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Made by Hammer in the late 1950's this was the first time one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories was made in glorious colour and what a fine job they did of it too. Although it is interesting to note if you watch the original theatrical trailer for the film (also on this DVD) it is shown in B&W.

This was also I believe the late great Peter Cushing's first portrayal on screen anyway of the great detective and what a solid performance to, as you would expect from one of this countries finest actors. He would go on to play Holmes several times later on in his career for the BBC. Its just a shame this is the only outing of the detective Hammer attempted. (even though NOT a true Horror story Doyle did write some other Holmes stories with a distinct macabre feel to them -'Case of the Sussex Vampire', springs readily to mind or even 'The adventures of the five orange pips' - which set in an "old dark house" scenario)
Indeed Peter Cushing I feel is up there with the other two great acting portrayals in the pantheon of The Great Detective, Basil Rathbones depiction in B&W by Universal in the late 30's and 40's, and Jeremy Brett's version for Television in the 80' and 90's.(Although you could argue/add the modern day version excellently performed by Benedict Cumberbatch again for the BBC)

Of course the other great thing about this film is, it also stars Hammers other Great in Christopher Lee, although both actors are synonymous with the legendary Bray Studios and were great friends off screen, strangely they only starred together in around 6 or 7 films for the studios. Although it has to be said his character portrayal on Sir Henry Baskerville in this film is of a man that in the my view you end up wishing was killed by the demon hound.

Add to this that it was directed by Terence Fisher and you have the Holy Trinity when it comes to Hammer Film Productions.

IMO this is one of 8 must haves for any person wanting to get any Hammer films ( the others being 'The Curse of Frankenstein', 'Dracula -aka The Horror of Dracula', 'The Revenge of Frankenstein', 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Rasputin, the Mad Monk', 'Quatermass and the Pit' and 'The Devil Rides Out'


Vampire Circus [DVD] [1971]
Vampire Circus [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Adrienne Corri
Price: 6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Hammer in the '70s, 31 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Vampire Circus [DVD] [1971] (DVD)
I wont go on about the plot as other reviewers already done so:
Suffice it to sat that IMO this is the Best Hammer Films production to come out of there later work in the 1970's
The transfer quality on this DVD is first rate no obvious fading or distortion (and I'm playing via a Panasonic DMP-BD77 Bluray player & a Panasonic 42" Plasma Screen)
Sound is not bad for its age (even when put thru my Soundbar system) a few distortions BUT not enough to upset my viewing pleasure.
It would have been nice to have had some extras.(No Theatrical trailer, Stills gallery or even sub-titles) But all in all for just over a fiver great value none the less.
Another must for any fan of Hammer Films or British Horror in general and as already stated easily the best film produced in the 1970's by Hammer.


Kiss of the Vampire (1963) DVD
Kiss of the Vampire (1963) DVD
Dvd ~ Clifford Evans
Price: 11.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Hammer Vampires without Dracula!, 31 May 2014
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I won't go into the plot, plenty of other reviewers have done a fine job on that.
Suffice to say this is the first time Hammer made a Vampire film with absolutely no reference or connection to Count Dracula indeed we have to wait until the early 1970's and the Karstein Trilogy until Hammer did another non-Dracula vampire flick.
The picture quality on the whole is very good, the colour vibrancy (especially in the ballroom scene is excellent) in the copy I got there is only a couple of times I saw some graining and this in no way detracted from my viewing pleasure.
The only time I saw a really obvious picture flaw was when Professor Zimmer burns his hand in order to cure him from a vampires bite. You can quite obviously see its a fake hand as its virtually Lime Green in colour - in fact I wouldn't be surprised if this is maybe a cut scene(it was 1962 after all) that has been found and re-edited in from a not so good print source.
As other reviewers have also said for the first hour or so it's an excellent film, the story line nicely builds up in tension, only to be horribly ruined in the way the ending was rushed - indeed in some ways the ending reminds me of the much later Hammer Classic that also SUFFERS in the same way "The Devil Rides Out".
But don't let this put you off, this is such a rarely seen Hammer film that for any fan this is still a must to add to your collection.
ONE LAST POINT It's a real shame that Final Cut couldn't bring themselves to find or source any EXTRA's for this DVD, I assume there must be a theatrical trailer out there somewhere, there's not even a stills gallery! Hence only the three stars from me this time (well three and a half really EXTRAS would have definitely put it in the four bracket)


Shadow of the Cat (1961) dvd UK Release
Shadow of the Cat (1961) dvd UK Release
Dvd ~ Andre Morell
Price: 11.84

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last the UK debut of an old classic film, 25 May 2014
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I can only remember ever seeing "Shadow of the Cat" once before, many, many years ago I believe on BBC2.
To my knowledge its never been released in UK format on its own on DVD before (although I have seen it for sale as a double feature DVD with "Cat Girl" by Insignia Films probably as they both had 'Cat' in the title and both starred the 'Queen of Scream' herself Barbara Shelley - Although I think this is actually a US released DVD that was NOT region locked)

Its an interesting ongoing argument as to whether Shadow of the Cat is an official Hammer Films release, at the time Hammer had a distribution agreement with Columbia Pictures - but were allowed to make and release the odd other film thru other distributers. ( Shadow of the Cat was distributed by Universal Pictures) To get around this they created a shell company BHP Films and it is they that appear on the credits and all marketing and NOT Hammer hence why there is the argument that it is not a true Hammer film.
Interestingly and on the side of the argument that this is a 'true' Hammer film Colombia originally commissioned a film about the Spanish Inquisition to be made by Hammer and sets were made in the Bray Studios back lot for this film before Columbia pulled the plug, in an effort to recoup the money already spent Hammer re-used these sets to make TWO films as a double feature release with Universal Pictures, The Curse of the Werewolf ( which was already on the slate as Werewolf of Paris - but name changed and reset in Spain to use the already made sets on the back lot) and a cheap (it only cost 81,000) 'B' movie "The Shadow of the Cat" a entrant in the 'old dark house' genre of films.

The Shadow of the Cat is produced by Jon Pennington, directed by John Gilling and written by George Baxt. It stars a whole host of British actors including:- Conrad Phillips, Barbara Shelley, André Morell, Richard Warner, William Lucas and Andrew Crawford. Music is by Mikis Theodorakis and cinematography by Arthur Grant.

SPOILER ALERT.

The picture is set in an old creepy mansion full of shadows, rickety floors and creepy cobwebbed attics and cellars etc.
We're introduced in the opening scene to an old woman Ella Venable (Catherine Lacy) reading Edgar Allan Poe to her devoted cat Tabatha, next we see the entrance of her butler Andrew (Andrew Crawford) who brutally clubs Ella to death on the instruction of his master and Ella's husband Walter Venable (André Morell) Andrew helped by his wife the maid Clara (Freda Jackson) disposes of the body by burying the body in the grounds all this is of course witnessed intensely by Tabitha the cat.
Next we meet Inspector Rowles (Alan Wheatley) who is called in by Walter to investigate the disappearance of his wife Ella, and friend of the family, reporter Michael Latimer (Conrad Phillips) BUT more importantly - wouldn't you just believe it - to be informed a new will had only recently been written by Ella making Walter sole inheritor of the family fortune, disinheriting Ella's niece Beth (Barbara Shelley). However Walter promises he will look after Beth and gets Andrew the butler to send for her.
In the meantime Tabatha the cat is set on course of action to revenge the murder of her mistress against the purpertrators of her murder. By the time Beth arrives her Uncle and the two servants are already in a sense of fear against the vengeful cat. So Walter decides reluctantly to send for his estranged son Jacob Venable (William Lucas) and grandson Edgar Venable (Richard Warner) and wife Louise (Vanda Godsall) who we discover are just as crooked as Walter (hence his reluctance to call them) to capture and kill Tabatha the cat.
Now the scene is set for Tabatha to one by one kill off the rotten family and servants to leave the one true good egg Beth.
First to go is Andrew the Butler, then Clara the maid.
Crooked Grandson Edgar aids Tabatha in doing in old boy Walter but to no avail the cat now wants rid of the whole rotten family (who now need to find Ella's real will in order to destroy it to keep Beth from inheriting) so Tabatha conspires to cause the death of Edgar and Jacob just as he discovers the whereabouts of Ella's real will. Strangely and I can't think why Tabatha the cat never goes after Louise strange as she is just as rotten as the rest.
The film concludes with the house being up for sale by Beth who has moved abroad with her love Michael, and a new dysfunctional family moving in and welcomed/welcoming in Tabatha the cat.

It is of course a completely bonkers plot, but John Gilling (The Plague of the Zombies/The Reptile) was a very astute director, and manages to bring much suspense and unease to the story, whilst he's not shy to play up some mild humour and even adds some decent shocks into the bargain. Cast are on good solid form, playing it just the way it should be played, and the surrounding areas of Bray Studios once again are used for locations of all the strange goings on.

Although shot (for the last time by Hammer) in black and white photography, it aids John Gilling in setting a masterful atmosphere. Naturally we have the requisite thunderstorm, but it's the oblique angles and looming shadows that really fill the mood with impending dread. While the use of a stretch screen technique to portray the cat's Point of Vision (Catovision?) is a nice touch that works really effectively.

All in all having watched it a couple of times now, for its age (1961) I really recommend this film. Final Cut have done as good a job on the transfer as it is probably possible to get from the original source material hence it only being brought out on DVD format only.

Extras: There is a nice little. featurette/documentary about the background to the film featuring Alan Barnes, Marcus Hearn, Denis Meikle, Jason Morell and Jonathan Rigby.
Original Movie Trailer.
Stills gallery.
and a Audio only recollection called "CATASTROPHE" from special effects assistant Ian Scoones.

One other nice little touch is the Cover Sleeve is double sided, I believe showing the original British movie poster on one side and the other side showing the U.S. version.
Of course to any Hammer Film or indeed British Horror film buff this DVD is must to add to your collection.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 19, 2014 8:22 AM BST


Skyfall (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
Skyfall (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Daniel Craig
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 50th anniversary and all, 2 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well here it is Daniel Craigs third outing as 007 and the 50th birthday of the Franchise.
So theres lots of subtle and not so subtle winks to the past 50 years in this film.
Shame they destroyed the DB5 but then again they did in its first outing as well - Goldfinger,

I suppose the argument will always rage as to who plays the best Bond, for most it will always be Connery he was after all the first (on the big screen anyway) and therefore has that distinct advantage. But for me Daniel Craig brings a true hard grit no nonscence portrayal to Bond much the way Fleming actually wrote the character.

My one disappointment with Skyfall like some other reviewers have said is the anti-climax at the end an unseen Bond throws a knife into Silva's back surely he (Silva) deserved a better ending than that.

Best of all though as the credits role BOND WILL RETURN


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