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Dracula: Prince of Darkness [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: VC-1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Run time: 87 Mins.
  • Studio: Arrow Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 5, 2012
  • RRP: £22.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

StudioCanal launches their series of classic Hammer releases with this Double Play release of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. After two films, Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula, the film marked Christopher Lee’s return to the role for Hammer for the first time in years, making it to many horror fans the true sequel to the original in the series.

The story finds two British couples, the two brothers Charles and Alan Kent (Francis Matthews and Charles Tingwell) and their wives Diana (Suzan Farmer) and Helen (Barbara Shelley) vacationing in the Carpathian mountains. A stop off in a local tavern brings them an encounter with the rifle toting abbot Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) who warns them to stay away from the castle at Karlsbad. Ignoring his admonitions, the travelers venture forth towards Karlsbad where they are eventually lured to the infamous castle by a driver-less horse and carriage. Upon arrival, they find they are expected guests and encounter a mysterious manservant named Klove (Phillip Latham) who tends to their every need. Things very soon turn dangerous as Klove slaughters one of the travelers to bring his true master, Dracula, back to life for to feast once more upon the unsuspecting living. Trapped in the isolated castle, the travelers become prey for the Prince of Darkness and must find a way to escape.

At the time of its release (1965), Hammer was digging its way out of financial troubles and the once shocking horror of the studio had already become rather tame by popular standards. Prince of Darkness was one of several films that helped reestablish the studio, not only financially, but also at the forefront of shock cinema. The resurrection scene in particular would garner much attention as being quite grotesque, though it would still be rather mild to today’s audiences.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Dracula: Prince of Darkness was scanned at 2K resolution from the original negatives stored at Pinewood studios. It arrives on Blu-ray from StudioCanal in a VC-1 1080p/24 encodement at its original 2.35:1 framing. On their blog, Hammer states “no blanket noise-reduction filters used at any point during restoration” and that “the DNR used on the restoration was very light indeed, only on a handful of scenes, and only when absolutely necessary.” They also go on to suggest that “when you see the film in motion you will definitely see plenty of grain!” While there is a noticeable layer of grain throughout that often jumps a bit, making for an inconsistent presentation. I can’t say that the picture looks completely natural to my eyes either, as skin textures tend to look just a bit waxy. Blacks seem to crush most of the time. While this does give the impression of wide contrast, there is lost detail in the shadows. Colors are bold, however, which is one of the strengths of the transfer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The original monaural soundtrack is provided in a LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) configuration. The sound is clean and intelligible with little in the way of hiss or crackle.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The extras consist of a mixture of interviews and featurettes on the film, the history of Hammer, trailers, and an audio commentary with the stars. They are offered in SD and HD in European scan rates.

The supplements:

  • Commentary featuring Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews, & Barbara Shelley
  • Back to Black (1.78:1; HD; 00:29:34) – A discussion of the rebirth of Hammer from 1965 onward includes interviews with film historians and famous Hammer talent.
  • World of Hammer – Episode “Hammer Stars: Christopher Lee” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:24:48) – A profile of Christopher Lee.
  • Behind the Scenes: Super 8mm Footage (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:04:39)
  • Restoration Comparison (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:57)
  • Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Double Bill Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – Dracula Prince of Darkness and Frankenstein Created Woman double bill trailer
  • Original USA Titles (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:24)
  • UK Theatrical Titles: Original Print (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:00:31)
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

StudioCanal has a winner straightaway with the first in their series of Hammer releases with the classic Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Here’s one that fans of B-movie horror should be happy to pick up and keep in their collections.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B007OUXJCK[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B007OUXJCK[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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