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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 October 2012
Christopher Lee gives a bravura performance, which should please both his, and Hammer film fans, however, after the rather disappointing recent BD releases of The Curse of Frankenstein, the much criticised CGI "enriched" version of The Devil Rides Out, and the original problems with Dracula Prince of Darkness, you would have thought Hammer would have ensured that this transfer would prove totally uncontroversial - and on my initial scan of the disc it seemed to be. However...

Although the sound is the original mono audio, and is theoretically presented in uncompressed PCM - there may be coding problems as several people have felt that it does not have the depth of the original DVD audio. I did not really notice this initially as I was more concerned with the image quality, but have now had a proper listen and they are absolutely right. The dynamic range seems faulty with weak base elements, particularly in the early sections of the film. So beware, in case there is a product
re-call. However the video at least is a clean and detailed transfer, with good depth of colour etc presented in an unmatted 2.55:1 version - although it was actually designed to be shown in the 2.35 CinemaScope format. Shame about the sound. It's weird that Hammer seem to have shot themselves in the foot four times in a row.

Extras include:
Tall Stories: The Making of Rasputin The Mad Monk with Denis Meikle, the author of A History of Horrors and Jonathan Rigby, author of Christopher Lee: The Authorised Screen History and Andrew Cook, author of To Kill Rasputin. The legendary Barbara Shelley, and Francis Matthews, also provide some background together with David Huckvale, author of Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde who discusses the music.

Brought to Book: Hammer Novelisations discusses the Hammer book tie-ins with Rigby and Mark Gatis

World of Hammer Episode "Costumers" is the weakest item and does not really add much to the package as it gives very limited information on its subject just lots of extracts and unnecessary plot detail.

However all is redeamed with the Stills Gallery of posters, lobby cards etc and behind the scenes shots and information on the Rasputin "free beard" marketing gimmick !

The Audio Commentary features Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley
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on 4 April 2015
"Rasputin the mad monk" is another glorious effort from Don Sharp, who in my view was carrying the torch left abandoned by Terry Fisher after "Phantom of the Opera". All the movies made by Sharp for Hammer were great artistic successes, starting with "Kiss of the Vampire", which rejuvenated the Hammer Horror genre, swiftly followed by "The Devil-Ship pirates", one of the best pirate movies of Hammer at the time, followed again by this "Rasputin", a grand-scale epic that is a thousand times better than the film it was shot back-to-back with: Dracula, Prince of Darkness.
The BluRay offers the opportunity of watching the unique 2:55:1 version of the film, and I would recommend watching it in this format to appreciate the scope of the effort, one of the most brilliant-looking Hammer films at the time.
Credit for the success of the film, apart from Sharp's precise direction (this would be his last effort for Hammer), have to go to two people: the first one is Bernard Robinson, legendary Hammer set designer. The sets on "Rasputin" are gob-smacking, lavish, ample and feel like they were much more expensive than they really were.
The second of course if Christopher Lee, making quite an incredible character study, and resurrecting Rasputin in front of our eyes.
To be fair the cast (largely similar to "Prince of Darkness") is much more exciting in this movie: Francis Matthews shows a neat evolution from loyalist to conspirator, Barbara Shelley is very erotically-charged, and Richard Pasco is simple genius.
Overall this is a great film, served by a very beautiful BluRay. I personally did not feel the sound was a problem. The documentaries are fascinating as always, while the commentary is still dominated by Lee but stays pleasant.
An absolute triumph.
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on 26 November 2012
The audio on this Blu-ray/DVD combo is just terrible. To lessen noise, Hammer exsanguinated the audio on this release to the point of it sounding like it's being played out of a tin can. The video is just beautiful, but the sound is by the far the most anemic on home video to date.
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on 1 January 2013
After being completely bowled over by the wonderful work afforded the AV transfer of John Gillings 1966 Plague Of The Zombies which was my first Studio Canal/Hammer Blu ray release I yearned to see more of the great British studio's classic horrors in the higher resolution of 1080p, perfect for their wonderful set designs, costumes and old fashioned English charm. Although they are still few and far between with many of my favourites still languishing in the softness of standard definition DVD hell, slowly but surely Studio Canal and Lionsgate are bringing these to hi-def for their many fans and although I have seen mixed reviews for two of the three following Blu ray titles I have decided to upgrade them anyway and make my own judgement. So added to my ever expanding Blu ray collection are Dracula Prince Of Darkness, The Mummy's Shroud and the title under review here Rasputin The Mad Monk.
Shot back to back with Christopher Lee's famous comeback as the caped count in Dracula Prince Of Darkness with which it famously shares exact sets, locations and cast members Rasputin has definatly got the same feel and atmosphere as its production brother but can hardly be thought of as a horror film per se despite its monsterous central character and splashes of violence and indeed in the hands of any other 60s studio other than Hammer this could have been a completely different style of film. Its hard to believe how Rasputin would have turned out if Hammer hadnt produced it and injected their lurid but still classical charm and I also couldnt imagine anyone else apart from Christopher Lee with his imposing stature, classical persona and hypnotic stare in the role of the mad monk which he plays perfectly. All the other elements that make up the experience of Rasputin The Mad Monk are pure Hammer from the rich orchestral score by Don Banks(The Reptile) through to the sumptuous set designs and in the case of Rasputin and Dracula Prince Of Darkness Michael Reed's ultra wide scope cinematography which lends these relatively low budget productions a grand and rather epic feel. The remainder of the cast also work very well with the red headed Barbara Shelly perfect as the lovely Sonia and Hammer fans will have fun looking out for the many crossover cast members from Prince Of Darkness. Ok so im not going to say this is the best that came out of Bray Studio and for non Hammer devotees this could come across as slow moving and uninteresting plus just not at all scarey or gothicly atmospheric as what you would expect from a Hammer production. Also despite the fact you should never ever think of these films as anything other than pure fantasy I do think that some viewers may have a problem with the over all English tone and dialogue despite supposedly being set in Czarist Russia and also that unlike all of Hammers other literary monsters Rasputin was based on a real person and more of an historical fugure than an outright creature of evil. But foregoing all of this I have a fondness for this movie which I maybe see through rose tinted glasses as this was one of the first Hammer titles I can remember watching and as a change of pace from the usual undead vampires, stakes through the heart, shambling mummys and lumbering Frankensteins Monsters fans of British horror should get something from this decent Blu ray release .
Now I have seen Rasputin far more times than I care to remember and on many different formats from panned and scanned TV airings and VHS tapes through to various DVD releases which although were presented in the widescreen format were always slightly cropped down from the intended theatrical presentation of 2.35:1 to 2:10:1 for the reason that the wider aspect ratio showed slight cirvature at the edges of the frame due to the camera lenses used during shooting. For this Blu ray premier Studio Canal have gone one better by not only presenting Rasputin in its intended 2.35 ratio but also giving fans a chance to see the movie as it was originally shot. When both Rasputin and Prince of Darkness were photographed the much wider ratio of 2.55:1 was utilised with the intention of matting it down to the 2.35 format for theatrical screenings. Prince Of Darkness was originally released in this ultra wide format once in the early days of DVD from Warner in a soft non anamorphic transfer with all subsequent versions being the 2.35 version but this framing of Rasputin has never been seen on any home viewing format making it rather special so with this in mind and the fact I had never seen it presented this way(nor had I seen the 2.35 version for that matter) this is what I'll be basing this review on. Of course all of this would be superficial if the transfer was of bad quality but I'm happy to report that this is most definatly not the case here as this looks rather sumptuous especially in this grand and epic wide ratio. The opening credits did look a little soft but as the film opened I was amazed at how good this looked. Detail across the board was extremely impressive from a busy tavern through to Boris's dingy apartment and of course the close ups of faces especially Lee's mesmeric eyes which all came across perfectly and like the transfer of Plague Of The Zombies this looked incredibaly fresh and new without ever loosing its vintage charm and character. Depth is suprisingly apparent from the matte paintings seen through windows and open doors through to detailing on the intricate set designs. Black levels are also strong with the exception of a few early shots namely the fight in the barn and Rasputins escape through the forest on horseback which come across as slightly grey and lacking in shadow detail but later scenes look perfect and appropriatly inky. Colours are vivid when called upon despite an at times subdued pallette and as a poisoned Rasputin crawls across a deep green coloured tiled floor in his bright red tunic you know a low budget mid 60s title could not look anymore spectacular than it does here . The print is also in great shape with little to no damage and a decent amount of natural film grain resulting in a very solid and extremely filmic image that rises head and shoulders above any other release I have seen. As for the curvature at the frame edges which caused so much concern for past DVD distributors yes this is apparent but never once did I find it in anyway distracting and I would much rather have it than a cropped and compromised image. Strangely despite both films being shot back to back on presumably the same equipment Rasputin looks far better in HD than Prince Of Darkness of which the latter is only available in the theatrical 2.35 format too.
The audio for this Blu ray has caused more than a little debate since its release and like the syncing problems on the original pressing on Prince Of Darkness has promted a lynching of Hammer on a number of internet forum sites. At least I knew that this LPCM mono track wasent going to be perfect and as such because I was fully aware of this before hand I avoided disappointment. The title music and 20th Century Fox fanfare sounded as abysmal as I had read about on other reviews. I likened this to listening to the soundtrack through an old 14inch television with a built in mini amp speaker and not a modern good quality AV reciever. There was a complete lack of any low end and the highs were thin and tinny. Even with the bass set to +10 and the sub in action I couldnt hear a single low frequency note. There just wasent anything there. But as many other reviews fail to note once the titles are over the problem does seem to improve slightly. This doesent mean that this is a good track, far from it especially when compared to the wonderfully robust offering on The Plague Of The Zombies Blu, it just simply isnt as bad as I had expected. Although low frequencies had returned the track exhibited little to no depth and viewer involvement. A busy tavern scene complete with fast paced Russian music fails to display any vigor or excitment. Foley effects sound a little cruncy and undefined lacking the crispness and punch of similar lossless mono soundtracks and dialogue can often get lost in the louder scenes. On a slight plus note the classic Hammer soundtrack sounds ok if abit flat and lacking in detail and there doesent appear to be any distracting hiss or pops. The standard Dolby Digital mono on the DVD does indeed sound fuller than this but as the two picture transfers are in no way comparable the georgous looking Blu ray wins hands down for me.
In terms of extras this Blu ray really shines with a feature long commentry track with input from Christopher Lee and Barbara Shelly, two brand new documentaries, another episode of the world of hammer narrated by Oliver Reed this time concerning costumers and as with all of Studio Canal's Hammer titles a restoration comparison.
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on 9 June 2015
I love Hammer films, but a few scenes into this and I was thinking about hitting the eject button and consigning this to the car boot pile. Thank heavens I stuck with it.

I know zilch about Rasputin, but I am reasonably sure fact and this film never once smiled at each other, but it is Lee's booming "I am not Dracula" voice, his annoyingly over the top wig and false beard and a performance that initially seemed to be seriously lacking in anything much to get excited about.

We're treated to a bit of fisticuffs (and a trade mark "youch" moment that Hammer do so well - no spoilers but....youch!) but then there really was little to get me excited. And when Rasputin is being told off for his misdemeanours and he holds his hands out proclaiming them to be a gift from God then I was actually cringing.

How lovely that I found myself warming hugely to this film, not least when Richard Pasco enters the movie as a struck off drunken doctor that blunders into the life of the omnipresent Lee. Their chemistry enlivens the film and once the sexiness starts then the whole thing is taken off into new realms of fun.

But it is the ending that is the crowning glory of the film. A superb performance from Lee left me realizing that I was a moron for thinking him to be hamming it up earlier in the film. I was just indoctrinated to seeing him as a vampire and more fool me. No spoilers here but in those last few moments I was, for the first time since I was a kid, spooked by a Hammer film and yeah I admit it, it did make me jump (just a wee bit, but enough).

If you've never seen it, then get it and bear with it because the rewards pay dividends in the end. Great film.
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on 7 May 2011
For a keen horror fan, I have seen precious little of the Hammer horror universe. You can imagine my delight when I was gifted the Hammer DVD Collection for Christmas which consists of 21 films from the vault of the great British institution. I felt spoiled for choice. When opening the box I was greeted by the mad eyes of Christopher Lee, gazing out from amongst a gigantic beard and El Topo-esque haircut. I felt obliged to choose this as my introduction to what will no doubt become a fixation with Hammer, and the film I will remember years into the future when I'm no doubt walking the Earth, trying to find all the tiny forgotten films Hammer produced before they became famous.

For those of you who don't know, Grigori Rasputin was a real-life Russian mystic/hypnotist/con-artist who had a heavy influence on the Tsarist government of Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra, after apparently healing their son Alexei as he lay dying from haemophilia. The film is less concerned with the politics of the time, and instead focuses on Rasputin's love for drinking, women, and generally being a bit of a bastard, as he hypnotises and heals his way through society and into the bed of lady-in-waiting Sonia (Barbara Shelley).

The film wastes no time introducing Rasputin's maverick attitudes to monkhood, as he heals a saloon owner's wife on her death bed so he can get served a drink, and proceeds to sing and drink the night way before hacking a man's hand off in a fight. Fleeing to Moscow after being hauled in front of the bishop for his unorthodox ways, he gains influence over a disgraced doctor and begins to plan his rise to power.

The film's main strength is undoubtedly Lee's performance as the mad Russian, as he dominates every scene with his intense, piercing eyes and booming voice, with his towering frame overshadowing everyone that comes across his path. The scene in which he does a celebratory dance after beating a challenger in a drinking contest only to mistake some onlookers for laughing at him is both weird and intimidating as he demands an apology. It is a great mix of thespian presence and Gothic camp that makes the Hammer films, and more notably Christopher Lee's performances for the studio, that extra bit special.

Rasputin The Mad Monk is a thoroughly enjoyable film, anchored by Lee's performance and Hammer's usual beautiful Technicolour cinematography, and is made all the better by leaving out the politics and concentrating on creating a memorable film character.
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on 2 December 2012
I was greatly looking forward to getting " Rasputin- the mad monk" on blu-ray/dvd. It's good to see more and more of the old Hammer films being released with decent extras. The extras on this are entertaining and informative and having watched these first I sat back to enjoy the movie. I can't comment on the blu-ray ( not having a blu-ray player!) but I have to say I was greatly disappointed with the dvd. The film looked great, no complaints about the picture quality, but it sounded as if the whole film had been recorded at the bottom of a tin bucket. There was absolutely no depth to the sound at all. It really does sound "tinny". I'm glad I hadn't thrown out my previous Studiocanal version of this film. There may not be any extras and the picture may not be quite as sharp, but at least I can sit and listen to it without having to switch it off after 10 minutes!
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on 9 January 2011
Most certainly not a work of perfection by any means, but a fine performance by Christopher Lee as Gregori Rasputin the would-be monk who infiltrated the Romanovs prior to the Russian revolution. Knowing full well the devout religious beliefs of the Tzarina Alexandra, who came under the spell of the hypnotic monk and who saved the life of her young son and heir Alexi who suffered from a blood disorder. Rasputin, a heavy drinker, womaniser and a conniver, while out of sight of the Romanovs continued his wild life.

When reports came to the Alexandra of Rasputin's double life she dimissed these stories out of hand as the rumours of jealous courtiers and doctors. She was totally dependent on Rasputin to be with her son when required, to make matters worse rumours were circulated of an adulterous affair between Alexandra and Raspsputin. (not proven)

Such events and rumours reaching Rasputin's enemies resulted in a plot to kill him, and by now he had almost complete control of the the royal palace. The Monk had only to make a suggestion to the royal family with sheepish eyes and his will was granted. Rasputin's reign in the palace of the Royal Family, played its own part in the downfall of the Romanovs.

This movie made back to back with Dracula Prince Of Darkness using the same sets and some of the same actors, was in itself a good budget saving idea, but it was made cheaply...and looks it. There is no depth to the story, and Hammer decided to add the slogan " The Mad Monk" after its title 'Rasputin' obviously to make it more appealing as a horror movie. Rasputin was anything but mad...conniving, clever and even dangerous is what he was.
The two movies were released several years later as a double bill. Christopher Lee's performance as Rasputin was flawless and most certainly one of his best roles ever.

The only problem was Hammer decided on a 'quick flick' rather than a good detailed story of Rasputin, it could have been a classic. When 'Nicholas and Alexandra' was made some years later, Tom Baker Played the part of Rasputin in the lavish production. He was excellent in the part, but somehow I think, had Lee been offered the role, he would have pipped him at the post. My final word: a bit of a 'mish mash' when you consider all the material Hammer had at their disposal, just about saved by Lee's performance
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on 30 October 2012
Yes, I agree with the previous customer regarding the poor audio for this otherwise fine release of Rasputin The Mad Monk by Studio Canal. The picture quality is great, certainly the best I've ever seen for this awesome Hammer Film, but the audio, well it gets NO stars, which reduces my rating of the overall package to three stars. It sounds like they did nothing to the audio in the remastering process! It sounds bland, two much treble and no bass. Of course this is most noticable with the musical soundtrack. What can be done to improve the audio is limited with these 1960's films, but this one falls way short of the work that went into Canal's blu ray releases of Dracula Prince of Darkness and Plague of the Zombies. From the very opening of the 20th Century Fox fanfare, this one sounded like something was very wrong. It, of course, sounds worse playing through a full theater system.

I can't believe Canel carelessly released it this way. There are even very noisy parts [like an old 78 rpm record] noticable here and there throughout the disc; and in writing this review I haven't yet listened to the audio commentaries or other extras. As for a replacement release--well I hope so. I've never been involved in having to request one. By the way this audio problem exists, to a lesser extent, on their same day release of The Mummy's Shroud.
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Christopher lee's performance on Rasputin is a wonderful actment of his craft, excellent portrayal no other actor could do Rasputin as good as Christopher's acting role.
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