Overall | And Soon the Darkness (1970) | The Mind Benders (1963)

And Soon the Darkness/The Mind Benders (Double Feature) (1963)

And Soon the Darkness/The Mind Benders (Double Feature) (1963)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

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Overall Package

    Universal have or are about to release a brace of British double-features at a low price, with no extras or frills. Of the two films on this disc one is a good semi-science fiction thriller in glorious black and white, the other a not so good colour chiller set in France. There does not seem to be a common theme between these two films. They were made 7 years apart and there is a considerable gap in style and appearance between them. So, what is the connection? One possible link is that And Soon the Darkness was co-written by Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, and The Mind Benders features an appearance by Roger Delgado, the original The Master in the long-running Doctor Who series.

    So that's it...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, September 17, 2004
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Overall | And Soon the Darkness (1970) | The Mind Benders (1963)

And Soon the Darkness (1970)

And Soon the Darkness (1970)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 94:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Fuest
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Pamela Franklin
Michele Dotrice
Sandor Elès
John Nettleton
Claude Bertrand
Hana Maria Pravda
Jean Carmet
John Franklyn
Clare Kelly
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Laurie Johnson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Jane and Cathy (Pamela Franklin and Michele Dotrice) are two English girls taking a cycling holiday in the French countryside. After an argument by a particularly deserted stretch of road, Jane storms off and leaves Cathy basking in the sun. While Jane ends up in the next town, where the café owner's only two words of English are "bad road", spooky things start to happen to Cathy. When Jane returns to the spot she left Cathy, there is no sign of her. Jane enlists the aid of motorscooter-riding and English-speaking Frenchman Paul (Sandor Elès) whom they had passed earlier in the day, and who turns out to be from the Sureté, but following some erratic behaviour Jane soon suspects that Paul is somehow involved in Cathy's disappearance. However, none of the other characters speak English, so Jane is unable to get anyone to take her plight seriously.

    This is a disappointing thriller with little in the way of thrills and plenty of long boring patches. I think the basic fault lies with the script, as the acting is reasonable and the direction of Robert Fuest makes something of the available material, with a few scary moments of the brooding horror kind. The problem is that while the situation is believable and some of the usual pitfalls of this type of film are avoided, the secondary characters act inexplicably and their motivations are undeveloped. It is pretty obvious what is going to happen and I guessed the outcome long before the end, with the obvious red herrings telegraphing the final revelation. The script was written by Brian Clemens (The Avengers) and Terry Nation (Doctor Who), who have both done better work than this.

    The film is being released on a single disc that also contains the complete feature The Mind Benders, which is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, close to the original 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a sharp transfer, quite clear and detailed. Visually, it probably does not look much different than it did in the cinema, taking into account the film artefacts present. Both contrast and shadow detail are good and the lighting is natural-looking, even though almost the entire film is shot out of doors and in daylight, which can often cause problems. There were some sequences that looked just about perfect, with no visible issues whatsoever, but unfortunately this does not extend throughout the entire feature.

    Colour is also fine, with natural flesh tones and some vibrant colours. Black levels are good, though there is not really much of this colour in evidence.

    There are some minor cases of aliasing at times, but these are very low grade. Grain levels are reasonable, but there were a couple of times that the grain was excessive, such as at 6:29. Edge enhancement is visible at 9:06.

    Film artefacts are omnipresent, with small white flecks and spots visible in nearly every shot. There are also some yellow scratches on the film at 0:25.

    This is a dual-layered disc with each entire feature on its own layer, so there is no layer change during either feature. No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, in a mixture of English and French.

    The audio transfer is pretty good, with clear dialogue and no hiss or distortion. While the audio is of course not as good as one might expect of a recent film, there is nothing here to distract the viewer from the matters at hand on screen.

    The music score is by Laurie Johnson, and between the opening and closing credits the score is a typical thriller effort, with the usual sinister-sounding chords indicating where the suspense should be. The music over the credits is another matter. It sounds like it should have been used for one of those groovy Swinging Sixties films, and seems completely out of place here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Apart from this being a double-feature DVD, there are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 comes from those American specialists in British horror Anchor Bay, and has a swathe of extras (though not with the complete additional feature film that comes with the Region 4). The following is included on the Region 1:

    If you want the best edition of this film, the Region 1 is recommended.

Summary

    A tedious and obvious thriller, with a few spooky moments.

    The video quality is pretty good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | And Soon the Darkness (1970) | The Mind Benders (1963)

The Mind Benders (1963)

The Mind Benders (1963)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 8-Sep-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 104:58
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Basil Dearden
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Mary Ure
John Clements
Michael Bryant
Wendy Craig
Harold Goldblatt
Geoffrey Keen
Terry Palmer
Norman Bird
Roger Delgado
Edward Fox
Terence Alexander
Georgina Moon
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Georges Auric


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Professor Sharpey is en route to a lecture when he mysteriously jumps from the train to his death. His associate Hart (Michael Bryant) is unable to prevent his leap of death despite a glaring continuity error (after the jump, the body is on the wrong side of the tracks). Hart discovers that Sharpey's briefcase contains a considerable sum of money, and he has been followed by Major Hall of MI5 (John Clements), who suspects Sharpey of selling secrets to the enemy.

    It turns out that Sharpey and his two associates had been working on 'isolation' experiments, what we would now call sensory deprivation. Both of his associates, Hart and Longman (Dirk Bogarde), had left the project when they felt the effects of long-term isolation. In order to demonstrate that Sharpey was behaving erratically due to the experiment and not because he was a traitor, Longman agrees to undertake the isolation again. After eight hours Hall recognises Longman's behaviour as that of a subject who has been prepared for brainwashing, and he persuades a reluctant Hart to brainwash Longman, a decision that will have far-reaching effects on Longman and his relationship with his wife Oonagh (Mary Ure).

    This is an intelligent film about what was then a new subject, and the opening credits refer to recent experimentation in the field as being the basis for the screenplay. While this is essentially a science fiction film, it differs from a lot of films in this genre at the time in using the science fiction as the basis for an emotional story, much like a lot of science fictional writings of the 1960s. The experiments are shown in great detail, but the meat of the story is the relationship between the characters, particularly Longman and his wife. The film actually comes across as quite believable, thanks to good performances from the ensemble cast (also including Geoffrey Keen, Wendy Craig and a young Edward Fox), a sensible script by James Kennaway and undemonstrative direction from Basil Dearden.

    This is a fascinating film of its era, and is worth the cost of the disc alone. It comes paired with And Soon the Darkness on the same disc, which is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a nicely sharp black and white transfer with a good level of detail. The print material looks like it was in good condition, possibly a first generation print. Contrast and shadow detail are fine. Blacks and whites are generally pure, though this could not be said of the several pieces of inserted stock footage, where blacks tend to have a white sheen to them.

    There are a few mild instances of aliasing, and edge enhancement is visible throughout, for example at 6:42 and 7:12. Otherwise the transfer is free of film to video or MPEG artefacts.

    There are numerous small white spots and flecks visible, but I did not find myself overly distracted by them.

    No subtitles are provided.

    The film is contained wholly on one layer of this dual-layer disc, with the other feature on the other layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    This is a very good audio transfer, with clear dialogue, no noticeable hiss or distortion, and relatively lifelike sounds (taking into account the age of the original mono recording). It is certainly all that the film needs to be presented effectively.

    The music score is by Georges Auric, the French composer of Les Six who wrote a lot of film scores. This is a fine score, with non-intrusive music complementing the action and adding to the tension. There is also a brief excerpt of the finale of Brahms' Symphony No. 1 presumably conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent as is mentioned in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    No extras, apart from the additional feature.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only extra on the US Region 1 release from Anchor Bay is an original trailer. Not enough in my opinion to sway the potential purchaser.

Summary

    An interesting and mostly engrossing film.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
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