Overall | The Reptile (1966) | The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Plague of the Zombies, The/The Reptile (Double Feature) (1966)

Plague of the Zombies, The/The Reptile (Double Feature) (1966)

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Released 8-Sep-2004

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Overall Package

    This disc of Midnight Movies presents two Hammer films from director John Gilling, made around the same time, with similar plots and sets. The Reptile is an enjoyable little horror film which could have done with some tightening up. The Plague of the Zombies is somewhat better, but also needed a bit more money spent on the production. At the price, this is certainly worth picking up.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, October 04, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | The Reptile (1966) | The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

The Reptile (1966)

The Reptile (1966)

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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 PG
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 86:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Gilling
Studio
Distributor
Seven Arts
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Noel Willman
Jennifer Daniel
Ray Barrett
Jacqueline Pearce
Michael Ripper
John Laurie
Marne Maitland
Harold Pinter
Charles Lloyd Pack
Harold Goldblatt
George Woodbridge
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Don Banks


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

    Charles Spalding dies mysteriously, apparently from the local version of the Black Death. His brother Captain Spalding (anyone for a Marx Brothers reference?), better known as Harry (Australian ex-pat Ray Barrett), arrives in the small Cornish village with his wife Valerie (Jennifer Daniel). They move into Charles' cottage, but the natives are unfriendly, filing out of the local tavern whenever Harry walks in. This causes some consternation to the local innkeeper Tom (Michael Ripper), who despite this befriends Harry.

    Local loon Mad Pete (John Laurie) tells Harry that some mysterious "they" killed his brother, then shortly after Mad Pete also dies, complete with blackened face and frothing at the mouth. Harry and Tom discover two puncture marks on Mad Pete's neck, so they decide to dig Charles up. They find the same puncture marks. Meanwhile the local Doctor (top-billed Noel Willman) behaves oddly and his daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce) seems to be somewhat distracted. Both are being terrorised by a mysterious Indian (Marne Maitland). Harry thinks that the appearance of the corpses suggests a King Cobra, but in Cornwall?

    This is a pretty good Hammer horror film, played with straight faces by the good cast. Michael Ripper not only gets a sizeable role but also plays a sympathetic character for once. Jacqueline Pearce is pretty good as Anna but does not get enough screen time, unfortunately: a decade later she would be the object of many adolescent male fantasies when she played Servalan in the TV series Blake's Seven. John Gilling directs well, and the film is quite enjoyable and entertaining, if a little measured in pace.

    The film is paired with another John Gilling film The Plague of the Zombies on this double-feature disc, and that is not the only similarity between the two films. See the separate review for more information.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    The film is reasonably sharp without being exceptionally so. There is sufficient detail present to make the film watchable, but I could not describe it as being of reference quality even for a film of this era. Shadow detail is satisfactory.

    Colour is reasonably good, with some vivid hues on display. Flesh tones are realistic, but blacks suffer from some low level noise and a lack of richness and depth.

    Some edge enhancement is visible, and there is some minor aliasing as well, but neither in sufficient quantities to distract from the film. There are a couple of examples of excessive noise reduction, but fortunately not many.

    Film artefacts are present in the form of occasional white flecks.

    No subtitles are provided.

    This is a dual layer disc with each feature contained on a single layer, so there is no layer change during either film.

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.

    Like other releases in this series, the audio is workmanlike with clear and distinct dialogue, a reasonable level of bass and a slight thinness at the top. There is nothing in this mono transfer to object to, nor nothing especially praiseworthy either. In essence, a satisfactory transfer.

    The music score is by Don Banks, and is another fine score that underlines the suspense without drawing attention to itself. Jacqueline Pearce even gets to play the sitar, though her finger movements do not match the notes.

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

Extras

    No extras are included.

R4 vs R1

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

    The alternative US Region 1 release comes from Anchor Bay, who have released a lot of Hammer films. Their release of this film includes the following extras:

    Not enough to sway the potential buyer perhaps, but this release is also available in a two-disc set with another Hammer film, The Lost Continent, which might be the best in terms of value.

Summary

    A reasonable if undistinguished monster film from Hammer.

    The video quality is satisfactory.

    The audio quality is likewise satisfactory.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, October 02, 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 | The Reptile (1966) | The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

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
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 86:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Gilling
Studio
Distributor
Seven Arts
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring André Morell
Diane Clare
Brook Williams
Jacqueline Pearce
John Carson
Alexander Davion
Michael Ripper
Marcus Hammond
Dennis Chinnery
Louis Mahoney
Roy Royston
Ben Aris
Tim Condren
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music James Bernard


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

    This film comes paired with another Hammer film, The Reptile, on this double-feature disc, and there are considerable similarities between the two films, both in story structure and in the productions.

    Following the mysterious deaths of a number of villagers, Sir James Forbes (André Morell) and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) are summoned to a remote Cornish village by the local GP, Peter (Brook Williams), who happens to have been Sir James' best pupil. Peter's wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) also was a school friend of Sylvia's. Arriving in the village, the funeral of the latest victim is interrupted by some fox hunters, and the coffin is overturned, revealing the twisted face of the victim.

    Arriving at the GP's home, the pair find that Alice is behaving oddly and has a mysterious cut on her wrist. While out following Alice when she leaves the house at night, Sylvia is monstered by the fox hunters, but saved at the last minute by the local squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson), who himself seems to be a nasty piece of work. Meanwhile, having been refused permission to perform autopsies on any of the victims, Sir James and Peter engage in some grave robbing, only to find the coffin empty...

    Like The Reptile, this John Gilling film is a good example of second-tier Hammer films. It moves quickly, is played without any knowing winks towards the audience and is reasonably short. It seems to have been shot on the same sets as The Reptile, and features a similar script and a couple of actors (Pearce and Michael Ripper, this time as a policeman). Morell is quite good as the eminent physician, but again Jacqueline Pearce does not get enough screen time. Brook Williams is recognisably the son of playwright-actor Emlyn Williams, but is basically not distinctive as the bewildered local doctor.

    One thing I liked about this film was that the reason that the zombies were being created was not explained verbally. The audience is expected to put two and two together to get the answer, and while the answer is pretty obvious , it is still a better option than movies of recent vintage where every plot point is explained in triplicate.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented slightly windowboxed in an aspect ratio of 1.80:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. 1.85:1 appears to have been the original aspect ratio.

    The video image is sharp with a reasonable level of detail. Shadow detail is average but this is not an issue in terms of seeing what is going on. Contrast levels are fine.

    Colour is quite good, although there are few rich colours on display. Black levels are average and there are a few instances where shadows have a pale sheen over them.

    There is some faint aliasing at times, but the only film to video artefact of any note is edge enhancement, which is very noticeable in some sequences, especially those showing the mine machinery against the sky.

    Film artefacts are limited to some small specks and blemishes, and there are scratches visible on the film at the very start, and also at 26:26.

    No subtitles are provided.

    There is no layer change, although this is a dual-layer disc, as the film is contained wholly on one layer.

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.

    Dialogue is clear and distinct. The audio is a reasonable mono mix, with no audible hiss or distortion. Bass levels are good, but there is some thinness at the top of the frequency range.

    The music score by James Bernard is very good, with some atmospheric passages adding to the spookiness of the proceedings.

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.

    The US Region 1 release is naturally from Anchor Bay, and contains the following extras:

    The film is also available in Region 2 but only in a boxset of Hammer films, and the transfer sounds as if it is the same as the Region 4.

    The extras marginally tip the balance in favour of Region 1.

Summary

    Not a bad Hammer horror film, this one gets a reasonable video and audio transfer.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, October 03, 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