Overall | Demons of the Mind (1972) | Fright (1971)

Demons of the Mind/Fright (Double Feature) (1971)

Demons of the Mind/Fright (Double Feature) (1971)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

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Overall Package

    Included on this double-feature disc is a pair of British horror films from the early 1970s, a period when the horror film in that country was in decline. Fright is not really a horror film, more a thriller. It is put together with a slight lack of sophistication and the performances are a little dated. Demons of the Mind is an attempt at something a bit more substantial, but is defeated by poor acting and an undeveloped script.

    Despite the problems I have with the films, Universal is to be congratulated on bringing out more obscure fare on DVD, especially with the good transfers that most of these double-feature discs have. While they are devoid of extras in comparison to their Region 1 counterparts, the price is low and if you only want the films, there is no excuse not to buy these editions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
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AllZone4DVD - RobertW

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Overall | Demons of the Mind (1972) | Fright (1971)

Demons of the Mind (1972)

Demons of the Mind (1972)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 85:37
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Sykes
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Paul Jones
Patrick Magee
Yvonne Mitchell
Robert Hardy
Gillian Hills
Michael Hordern
Kenneth J. Warren
Virginia Wetherell
Shane Briant
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Harry Robertson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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

    By the time this film was released in 1972, Hammer productions were in a downward spiral that led to the end of their involvement in the production of films. And the problems with their product shows in this film. While outwardly handsome, it suffers from a half-developed script and some terrible performances, both by the seasoned professionals and the non-actors in this film. It is quite a disappointment as there was the germ of an interesting idea in there that was strangled at birth. Set sometime in the early nineteenth century in the standard European Gothic milieu of the Dracula and Frankenstein films, the story concerns two siblings, Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) and Emil (Shane Briant), who are locked up by their father Baron Zorn (Robert Hardy), because he believes that the insanity of his dead wife has been passed down to them. He brings in the mesmerist Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) to remove the demons from their minds. It turns out fairly quickly though that the real insanity lies not in the young people nor in the deceased wife, but in the Baron himself. Local women are being murdered in the woods (the same woods that appear in most Hammer films of this period) and the local peasants blame demons. A wandering and quite loopy priest (Michael Hordern) appears on the scene, but (quite rightly in my opinion) everyone ignores him. Cue much violence, gore and unnecessary nudity.

    It is hard to know where to begin to critique this film. The direction is not bad and the production values are okay. The location settings help enormously. The script though has little depth or sense to it, and this seems to have encouraged the actors to ham it up badly. Robert Hardy gives a woeful performance as the deranged Zorn, and Michael Hordern must have thought he was appearing in a comedy rather than a horror film. The youthful leads are no better, with Gillian Hills and Paul Jones wooden and Shane Briant looking out of his depth. Australian actor Kenneth J. Warren, who plays the bald-pated Karl, seems to have trouble with his lines. The only saving grace is Patrick Magee, who presents one of his usual nasty turns as the duplicitous Falkenberg.

    Overall this film is a disappointment to say the least. It is presented on a single disc with Fright, another feature film which is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Despite the poor quality of the film itself, the video is excellent. This is a very sharp and clear transfer with plenty of detail and lots of clarity. Contrast is just about right and shadow detail is very good.

    Colours are rich and vibrant, with no hint of bleeding. Flesh tones are accurately portrayed. I noticed some sequences where blacks had a whitish sheen to them, but for the most part blacks are solid and clean.

    The only significant film to video artefact is a slight blockiness that occurs when the camera quickly pans through the forest when the village wenches are attacked. There are also some comet trails from the Baron's white shirt showing on his dark suit in the indoor sequences.

    Film artefacts were very rare, with some dirt visible and infrequent white spots.

    No subtitles are provided.

    This is a dual-layered disc, with this feature entirely contained on one layer and the second feature on another, so there is no layer change during the film.

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.

    Like other recent releases in this series, this is a good audio transfer. Dialogue is clear and I did not notice any hiss or distortion. Naturally it is not a high fidelity recording, but it is as good as you could expect for this film.

    The music score by Harry Robinson is idiomatic and suits the material, though there is not much to distinguish it from other Hammer scores that he wrote.

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

Extras

    No extras, apart from the presence of another feature film on the same disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    If you are a fan of this film, then you would probably prefer to acquire the Region 1 DVD which comes from Anchor Bay, who have released a large proportion of Hammer films in digital format. This release includes an audio commentary with director Peter Sykes, screenwriter Christopher Wicking and actress Virginia Wetherell, plus a theatrical trailer and talent biographies. It does not have the film Fright which is included as the second feature on this disc, so if you want both at a bargain price, the Region 4 might be preferable.

Summary

    A poor effort from Hammer.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, September 20, 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
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Demons of the Mind (1972) | Fright (1971)

Fright (1971)

Fright (1971)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 83:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Collinson
Studio
Distributor
British Lion Films
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Honor Blackman
Susan George
Ian Bannen
John Gregson
George Cole
Dennis Waterman
Tara Collinson
Maurice Kaufmann
Roger Lloyd-Pack
Michael Brennan
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Harry Robertson


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

    This is one of those 1970s British genre films that has eluded me until now, though I thought I had seen just about everything released by Hammer, Amicus and Anglo-EMI. This film was released by none of these, but could easily have been a Hammer film judging by the cast and crew. Reviews of this film tend to be mixed, and mine will be no different.

    The story concerns young babysitter Amanda (Susan George in one of her better performances), who is substituting for the usual sitter of Tara (Tara Collinson), the oddly-named son of Jim and Helen (George Cole and Honor Blackman). Perhaps the director, whose own son plays this role, was a fan of Gone With the Wind. Amanda is a college student whose response to everything seems to be "super". The family house is an old, creaky affair with lots of locks on the doors (the front door has four). Helen seems quite worried and distracted.

    Jim and Helen set off for their meal in the local restaurant, where they meet up with Doctor Cordell (John Gregson), a doctor of sorts. Meanwhile, Chris (Dennis Waterman) turns up, to meet his girlfriend Amanda. When he cheerfully proposes that they consummate their relationship, Amanda chucks him out. While loitering around the house he is beaten to a bloody pulp by a mostly unseen assailant, and is brought in unconscious by neighbour Brian (Ian Bannen). But is Brian what he seems?

    This is one of those frightened-babysitter-harassed-by-homicidal-maniac movies that seem to crop up every so often, like When a Stranger Calls to give one example. You can see a lot of elements that feature in later films, and also some from earlier ones, like the dripping tap from Mario Bava's Black Sabbath which makes a brief cameo appearance. It has some quite effective moments, especially involving creepy sounds, but it also has some significant flaws such as Ian Bannen's over-the-top performance and the implausible ending. The timing of the shocks is a little off as well, as they do not have the impact they should. Short-lived director Peter Collinson appears to have had some talent, but he also seems to been blessed with a cruel streak (perhaps triggered by an apparently difficult childhood) that found its outlet in some quite violent films. The film looks stylish but does not quite gel together as a whole. I must say I was amused to read the opening credit Also starring George Cole and Dennis Waterman, which perversely made me expect Arthur and Terry to crop up at some point.

    There is a companion film of similar quality on this double-feature disc, Demons of the Mind, which is reviewed separately.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Like the other film on this disc, Fright gets a fine transfer. Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is very sharp, and despite the entire film taking place at night, there is a fine level of detail available. Shadow detail is also present to the desired level. Contrast is good as well.

    Colour is very lifelike, and while there are no especially vibrant colours apart from those in the restaurant scenes, the film looks very good. Flesh tones are accurately rendered. Blacks are nicely solid, though occasionally they seemed to have a whitish tinge to them. Whites are quite pure.

    There are almost no artefacts present in this transfer. Occasionally there was a faint shimmer of aliasing or a tiny white spot or two to distract from the film experience, but really this is probably as good a transfer of this film as you would get for DVD.

    No subtitles are provided. This is a dual-layered disc with the entire film contained on one layer, and the companion film on the other, so there is no layer change during either feature.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is, like the video transfer, very good. This is the sort of audio track I like to listen to, but not always to review, as there is generally very little to say.

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, which reflects the original cinema release.

    Dialogue, which consists mainly of shrieks, screams, sobs, mindless gibbering and exclamations of "super", is very clear and easy to understand. There is no noticeable hiss or distortion even in the loudest screams. Sound is used to good effect in this film, though the drip, drip, dripping of the tap sounds more like a tap, tap, tapping.

    The music score is by Harry Robinson, who scored a number of genre films of the era, and is quite effective even though I did not find myself whistling any of the tunes after the film.

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

Extras

    No extras are provided.

R4 vs R1

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

    As you would expect, the US Region 1 release is from Anchor Bay. This time they do not provide an audio commentary, just an original trailer, director biography and replica theatrical poster as an insert card. The transfer sounds like it is the same one released in Region 4, so because of the somewhat meagre extras I will recommend the Region 1 by the slimmest of margins. If you don't need the extras, you will be well served by the local release.

Summary

    An average chiller.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is likewise excellent.

    No extras, though with a second complete film on the disc this is not such a big problem.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, September 21, 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
Comments (Add)
Availability of DVD in R4? - Andrew500 (read my bio, at your leisure) REPLY POSTED
DVD is now available - Andrew500 (read my bio, at your leisure)