Thursday, October 13, 2016

HAMMER FILMS DOUBLE FEATURES FROM MILL CREEK - The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Gorgon, The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb


I'm a bit of a Hammer Horror nut. I can appreciate almost any title from the immense library from across the pond. I typically don't discriminate. I'll just as soon watch The Snorkel as a I will enjoy Curse of Frankenstein. The Two Faces of Jekyll and The Gorgon as a double feature release by Mill Creek puts me in a unique position. One of the films is done to perfection. I was happy with movie, transfer and despite the lack of extras any Hammer Blu-ray a choice opportunity. The other film... is a rarity; a Hammer film a truly did not enjoy and found minimal redeeming quality in. Let's dig in.

The Gorgon is one of my favorite Hammer Horror pictures. I first encountered it on Turner Classic Movies some years back and was particularly taken by its color, creature creation and quality of story. it's nice that a story taken from Greek mythology can translate into a Horror tale quite easily without feeling like you're watching a sword and sandal picture.

On the other hand, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll was a first time watch for me. It's not a particularly strong story that simply regurgitates the Jekyll myth without strong cast, director or aesthetic that many of the Hammer Horror releases carry as their signature. As a pairing with The Gorgon, it works solely to balance out the strength of one half of the bill.

I can't help but feel that The Gorgon should be listed on the left hand side of the Blu-ray cover to give it "top billing".

The quality of The Gorgon is strong. It's a good transfer. Jekyll is so so, but it truly could be because of the actual original film itself being less visually impress that I'm not particularly impressed with the look. Both releases look clean without dust or scratching. Black levels seems fine especially for someone who isn't exactly a snob for such things. The double feature cover art is fitting, but that's all you're going to get. No extras. Not alternate cover. This is a bare bones Mill Creek release that has quality on its side, but doesn't go the extra mile as a fan favorite release.

My advice? Pick it up for The Gorgon. Tolerate Jekyll so you can call yourself a completist when watching Hammer Horror.

Order your copy now:

From Mill Creek:

For more than four decades, Hammer Films’ unique blend of horror, science fiction, thrills and comedy dominated countless drive-ins and movie theaters. Enjoy this impeccable collection from the darkest corners of the Hammer Imagination!

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
(1960) – Color – 89 minutes – Not Rated
Starring: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Norma Marla, Francis De Wolff

Absorbed in research directed towards freeing the two natures of man, Dr. Jekyll degenerates in to Mr. Hyde, a vengeful maniac. While Hyde wants revenge against a gambler whom his wife is in love with, Dr. Jekyll, takes steps to do away with his evil self.

The Gorgon
(1964) – Color – 83 minutes – Not Rated
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Richard Pasco, Barbara Shelley, Michael Goddliffe, Patrick Troughton

In a rural village, a series of murders have been committed where each victim was turned into stone. A local professor investigates and finds an evil Gorgon haunting a nearby castle and in search of more victims.


Two of the classic monster revivals spawned by Hammer Studios yielded sequels and now they join forces on Blu-ray from Mill Creek. We are always lucky to have Blu-rays have Hammer titles and the gap is steadily closing as to which releases from that Silver Age of Horror have not been released on the format. I collect them all. I even go across the pond to pick up Studio Canal releases when they are available. For these two titles, we have a fitting pairing in that they are the immediate followups to the initial revivals in both the Frankenstein and Mummy stories. Just like our previous look at another set in the Mill Creek double feature releases of Hammer titles, one of these is strong and one is weak. To my surprise, the weak title starred Peter Cushing!

The Revenge of Frankenstein looks... well... bad. I didn't want to believe it to be true, but after scanning through the  web a bit, the general opinion is that it lacks umfph. The black level look mildly desaturated, color not vibrant. There even appears to be mildly distracting digitization. If I had to guess it would be that the print provided wasn't exactly in great condition. It needed fixing. It may even have been mildly damaged, though not overly scratched or incomplete. The subsequent correcting and fading of the print, didn't give it that contrasty, pop that I love to see in Hammer Horror.

The Revenge of Frankenstein has never been a particular favorite of mine save for some of the "gory bits". The third act saves the whole picture and Cushing is Cushing. I could watch him read on film and be satisfied with his performance. After the strength of the initial Frank picture, The Revenge tried to bring back the Doc and the Monster in a way that would near mirror the original story. Luckily the films that would follow became completely bat shit crazy, adopting stories that were original, filled with fresh monster imagery and violence as well as more Cushing. They're over the top, Revenge is more subdued. I think if the transfer was better I might be able to forgive that glaze that falls over my eyeballs through the second act, but I had higher hopes.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb not only has an almost comical, self parodizing title, but it's story is cookie cutter monster. You'd think that I would find that boring especially since I was just laying into Revenge for being a regurgitation of Curse of Frankenstein, but I find Curse of the Mummy's Tomb hilarious and fun. I expect nothing from it and it brings a story that can be tolerated with classic Hammer overacting, Mummy look and back story. Michael Carreras had directed some of the less popular Hammer titles from the mid 60's, but he is also known for having produced some of the biggies. He's no Terence Fisher or Freddie Francis, but he does a competent job. This is the second movie in the Mummy revival from Hammer.

The transfer of Curse is just fine. Not complaints. No extras either as is the case with both features on this release and is simply the Mill Creek way. The artwork is preserved in standard double feature presentation. There is no reverse artwork.

Order your copy now:

From Mill Creek:

For more than four decades, Hammer Films’ unique blend of horror, science fiction, thrills and comedy dominated countless drive-ins and movie theaters. Enjoy this impeccable collection from the darkest corners of the Hammer Imagination!

The Revenge of Frankenstein
(1958) - Color - 90 Minutes - Not Rated
Starring: Peter Cushing, Eunice Gayson, Francis Matthews, Michael Gwynn

Peter Cushing reprises his famous role as Baron Victor Frankenstein in this horror classic. Rescued from the guillotine by his devoted crippled assistant Fritz, the Baron relocates and becomes Dr. Stein. Under the guise of charity work, he continues his gruesome experiments, this time transplanting Fritz's brain into his latest creation: a normal, healthy body.

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
(1964) - Color - 81 minutes - Not Rated
Starring: Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Fred Clark, Jeanne Roland, George Pastell, Jack Gwillim

An American showman and financier disrupts the coffin of a mummified pharoah and finds it empty. The mummy has escaped to fulfill the dreadful prophesy and exact a violent and bloody revenge on all those who defiled his final resting place.

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