The Brides of Dracula Blu-ray Review

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"Have you heard of the cult of the undead?"

Beautiful young French tutor Marianne Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) is travelling to the Lang Academy for Girls through the rather treacherous environs of Transylvania when she is waylaid at a little isolated hamlet, her coachman having left without her. With uncanny timing, the Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) joins her at the inn and insists that she come and spend the night up at the chateau in the hills. Once there, she discovers that the Baroness has her son (David Peel) chained-up and held as a veritable captive. Informed that this is because of some mental illness he suffers from, but smitten by his melancholia and sad attractiveness, she frees him from his shackles and unwittingly unleashes terror upon the neighbourhood. The young Baron, it transpires, was actually a vampire, a former disciple to the cult of Count Dracula. The baroness had been procuring young ladies upon which he could...

Read the full review...written by Chris McEneany
 
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The causes that drew complaints in regard to previous Hammer Blu-ray releases I could live with and in some cases I thought they were unwarranted, but this compromised aspect ratio which chops off about a large chunk from the bottom of the frame I can't live with. It ruins the film for me to the same degree that any cropping of an aspect ratio does and is as unacceptable as fitting a 2:35.1 film for a 16:9 image by loosing the image on the sides. Shame as this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I've now sold it on, preferring to stick with the Universal International DVD, which features a superior transfer in every respect (ratio, colour, grain) to the Blu and even holds up reasonably well when projected. Hopefully we'll get a better Blu-ray release of what is my favourite Hammer film in the future.

Here is my original comparison of the DVD and the Blu-ray:
http://www.avforums.com/forums/19519736-post482.html
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Todd, I agree. But I'm going to tell you how I mentally get round it.

I just think like this. Like me, I bet you've had a few personal favourite films which have never had a home video release, maybe you only saw it once in BBC2 late night or something.

Then you get a chance to see it at the local rep cinema. It's maybe an old crap print someone has discovered. You think to yourself it's great, but wouldn't it gave been great to see it back in (insert year of release) when you'd have seen a great print.

But back in (insert year of release) it would appear they regularly used to fowl up the masking.

So I think what I'll do is eat h it, and tut quietly to myself that they've cropped it too much, and enjoy the film as much as I can, whilst hoping for a better viewing experience sometime in the future.

That's just my way of doing things, but it helps me maximise my enjoyment if films over time.

You know I have a personal favourite film (well, in my top 200), called Paperhouse. For years I'd only ever seen it once at the cinema. Then I only had it on 4:3 VHS. Now I have it on 16:9 DVD, but still no Blu-ray Disc.

You can't have everything. I'm afraid I'm a typical "mustn't grumble" Brit.

Steve W
 

John Hodson

Well-known Member
...this compromised aspect ratio which chops off about a large chunk from the bottom of the frame I can't live with. It ruins the film for me to the same degree that any cropping of an aspect ratio does and is as unacceptable as fitting a 2:35.1 film for a 16:9 image by loosing the image on the sides. Shame as this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I've now sold it on, preferring to stick with the Universal International DVD, which features a superior transfer in every respect (ratio, colour, grain) to the Blu and even holds up reasonably well when projected. Hopefully we'll get a better Blu-ray release of what is my favourite Hammer film in the future.

That reflects my feelings, down to selling the damn thing on. I still think the colours are out of whack (honestly, all that brown/orange in the latter half of the film), that the framing, all that is missing from the bottom of the frame, is totally *fatal*. And that it's possibly a tad dark here and there (though one might argue that the R1 DVD is a tad bright).

It's a travesty; that 1.75:1 frame that I spoke about in the other thread would have been perfect. But then there's so much else that's wrong...
 
Todd, I agree. But I'm going to tell you how I mentally get round it.

I just think like this. Like me, I bet you've had a few personal favourite films which have never had a home video release, maybe you only saw it once in BBC2 late night or something.

Then you get a chance to see it at the local rep cinema. It's maybe an old crap print someone has discovered. You think to yourself it's great, but wouldn't it gave been great to see it back in (insert year of release) when you'd have seen a great print.

But back in (insert year of release) it would appear they regularly used to fowl up the masking.

So I think what I'll do is eat h it, and tut quietly to myself that they've cropped it too much, and enjoy the film as much as I can, whilst hoping for a better viewing experience sometime in the future.

That's just my way of doing things, but it helps me maximise my enjoyment if films over time.

You know I have a personal favourite film (well, in my top 200), called Paperhouse. For years I'd only ever seen it once at the cinema. Then I only had it on 4:3 VHS. Now I have it on 16:9 DVD, but still no Blu-ray Disc.

You can't have everything. I'm afraid I'm a typical "mustn't grumble" Brit.

Steve W

Having turned 50 this year, I too remember the times when the only way of seeing a favourite classic film was a scratchy, faded print at a repertory cinema or a TV showing and in many ways we do have it much better now.

There are a lot of issues in terms of transfers that I can live with and I don't buy into whatever pre-release hysteria the Internet whips up. I didn't think the digital improvements to the effects on The Devil Rides Out were a problem, Dracula may have had a more blueish colour palette but the restoration still looked beautiful to me and even the application of DNR doesn't necessarily make me run for the hills if it's done with restraint.

I could just about live with that this transfer is far more grainy than it should be and that the colours are off, but needlessly tampering around with the aspect ratio is a big no-no, especially for a film like The Brides of Dracula whose main pleasures are its visual qualities for me. Even in the days of VHS I would generally avoid pan & scan jobs for 2.35:1 films and rather wait for another cinema showing. The way a cinematic frame is composed is sacrosanct to my eyes and it's cropping will always be aesthetic vandalism for me. Everybody has their own limits of where they draw the line with a presentation. This is mine and I refuse to get mentally around that one.
 
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gitsurfer

Well-known Member
Pretty even-handed review, I'd say. Far too much room for improvement to call the BD a success but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the film. I don't have any of the DVD releases so will keep this and consider myself OK with it until (hopefully) something better comes along.
 

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