Blu-ray: Recommended
3 Stars out of 5
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List Price $54.96
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Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Movie Release Year: 1959
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

Hammer Horror Classics: Volume 1

Review Date October 20th, 2015 by
Overview -



Dracula Has Risen From The Grave

A village trembles in fear. A priest forsakes his vows in the service of evil. Young beauties fall victim to a mysterious seducer. And each night brings the threat of death. Because Dracula Has Risen from the Grave.

In his third incarnation as Bram Stoker's infamous vampire, horror great and 55-year movie veteran Christopher Lee goes fang to cross with the forces of good in this atmospheric Hammer Studios film directed with stylish menace by two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis. He and Lee see to it that just as the undead rises in terrifying fashion so will your goosebumps.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Baron Frankenstein's experiment went wrong, dead wrong. Thus, another victim lies in a makeshift grave. Suddenly, a water main bursts, forcing the dead man's arm to the surface. Next the torrent heaves the body upward. Frankenstein's panicked accomplice tries to reconceal the body... but corpses can be so unwieldy.

This creepy scene is a highlight of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, horror great Peter Cushing's fifth Hammer Studios Frankenstein saga. Other cast members of note include film-debuting Simon Ward (Young Winston) and Freddie Jones (The Elephant Man) as the scientist's pitiable new creation. Frankenstein pioneers research in brain transplants - but the procedure is imperfect. Which is just perfect for horror fans!

The Mummy

In Hammer Studios' vivid 1959 Technicolor reincarnation of The Mummy, screen horror icon Christopher Lee wraps on the moldy gauze bandages and emerges as the tormented Kharis, an avenger stalking the hills and bogs of Victorian England to track down archaeologist John Banning (Peter Cushing) and other desecrators of his beloved Princess Ananka's Egyptian tomb.

"Lee looks tremendous, smashing his way through doorways and erupting from green, dreamlike quagmires in really awe-inspiring, fashion" (David Pirie, Time Out Film Guide). Awe-inspiring, too, was the box-office success of this third Hammer reinvigoration - after The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula - of a classic screen monster.

Taste the Blood of Dracula

It's the boys' night out, time for bawdy fun. Yet revelry alone can't satisfy these community leaders out on a lark. There's still an adventure they can be duped into trying, one that will transform a certain Count from moldering dust into blood-lusting flesh.

Taste the Blood of Dracula, the fourth film in Hammer Studios' cycle of hemogobbling Victorian -Era horror, is a showcase of why Hammer became the name in Gothic terror. The solid cast and rich production design raise goosebumps to real-life fear and otherworldly dread. And Christopher Lee dons his red-lined cape again to become Evil Incarnate. He's Count Dracula, a being neither dead nor alive... but his movies are livelier than ever.

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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: Four-Disc Box Set
    4 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:372
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.66:1
    1.78:1
    English Descriptive Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
    French Dolby Digital Mono
    Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
    Subtitles/Captions: English SDH
    French
    Spanish
    Special Features: Trailers
    Movie Studio: Warner Brothers
    Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

The Mummy

After finding some international success with 'The Curse of Frankenstein' and 'The Horror of Dracula,' Terence Fisher gave the British production company Hammer Films another hit with 1959's 'The Mummy,' an amusingly stylish, atmospheric telling of a familiar tale. While the title brings to mind Universal's 1932 classic with Boris Karloff and in many ways, Fisher's film is a reimagining of John Balderston's original screenplay, essentially borrowing the plot about a high priest's attempt to resurrect his love from the dead turning into a fatal curse. Interestingly, even the music of Franz Reizenstein is vaguely similar to James Dietrich's score, with a few motif tunes practically sounding as if they were taken directly from it. Also, both films commence much in the same way with archeologists digging at a site despite the warnings of local naysayer Mehemet Bey (George Pastell), but the notable difference is that this vengeful mummified corpse is named Kharis and played by the always menacing Christopher Lee. 

Horror hounds and fans of the Universal classics will probably be quick to also point out that Jimmy Sangster's script borrows more from the sequels, particularly that of Lee's mummified priest, Princess Ananka (Yvonne Furneaux) being reincarnated as Isobel and the swamp-burial conclusion. But this isn't an entirely bad thing since many of these productions revived certain plot points for their nefarious purposes. Nevertheless, where Fisher's film comes into its own is largely thanks to the sumptuously animated and colorful photography of Jack Asher. The two filmmakers collaborated on several of the early Hammer horror films, designing the uniquely spooky atmosphere and supernaturally gothic visuals that would soon become the staple commonly associated with the studio company and eventually be the influence behind the Corman-Poe-Price film series of the early 1960s. Starring Peter Cushing as archaeologists John Banning, 'The Mummy' is a fun mashup of its predecessors rolled into one. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Much like the above, this next Hammer horror feature, also directed by Terence Fisher, is connected to its original source in spirit only, retaining the name of the troubled scientist Frankenstein created by Mary Shelley over a hundred and fifty years earlier but little else remains. And again, for moviegoers at the time, the title immediately evokes memories of James Whale's 1931 immensely influential classic and its sequels, a fact which the British film company was meticulously careful to avoid. Nevertheless, Fisher and Hammer Films went on to great success with a mad-scientist themed franchise that was uniquely theirs and distinctly different from Universal's beloved favorites. Once again, Fisher, this time working with Arthur Grant ('The Tomb of Ligeia,' ' Paranoiac'), brings his peculiar brand of darkly brooding atmosphere, generating a thickly ominous tone that amusingly puts viewers in an uneasy state and gives audiences a more sinister, frightening vision of Frankenstein than had ever been seen before.

In fact, Peter Cushing's performance as the disturbed doctor obsessed with conquering death is one of the film's most memorable aspects. Unlike Shelley's victim of circumstance and arrogance, this Frankenstein is a proudly sinister, malignant villain capable of harming those who try to stop him from transplanting the brain of a fellow scientist to a recently deceased corpse. He even enlists the help of Dr. Karl Holst (Simon Ward) and his young fiancé (Veronica Carlson) to assist in his diabolical plot. As the fifth entry in the series, which started with 'The Curse of Frankenstein,' each following a larger narrative arch that ultimately connects all seven movies of the franchise, the character grows more menacing and fiendishly fixated with each consecutive film. And by the time we arrive at this story, he's practically a serial killer evading capture who performs some relatively gruesome surgeries while the police conduct a citywide manhunt. 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' is a wildly entertaining blend of stylish cinematography and a darkly moody tone with a few surprisingly shocking bits of violence and implied gore. (Movie Rating: 3.5/5)

Taste the Blood of Dracula

Love is in the air in Peter Sasdy's 'Taste the Blood of Dracula,' the third sequel in Hammer Films' vampire series that started with 1958's cult classic 'Dracula' — known in the U.S. as 'Horror of Dracula.' A pair of young lovebirds, Alice (Linda Hayden) to Paul (Anthony Corlan) and Jeremy (Martin Jarvis) to Paul's younger sister Lucy (Isla Blair), play the usual dance of Victorian courtship — dates that consist of horseback riding, a local dance or innocent, cutesy chats outside the church when the parents are not looking. Unfortunately, Alice's uptight and harsh disciplinary father William Hargood (Geoffrey Keen) doesn't approve of Paul or their public display of affection, which amounts to nothing more than a courteous good morning after Sunday mass. This may all seem a bit much for a simple horror tale involving the return of the vampire icon, but it amazingly works at engaging viewers early on while also establishing character personalities, particularly in justifying Mr. Hargood's eventual comeuppance.

Picking up precisely where 'Dracula Has Risen from the Grave' ends — and presented out of order in this boxset — the triangle subplot with Hargood, Alice and Paul grows in importance as the story continues. From a script that interestingly wants to expose the hypocrisy of high society and so-called upper-class propriety, Hargood enforcing arbitrary rules of social conduct on his daughter is little else than a façade when he and two friends, Samuel (Peter Sallis) and Jonathan (John Carson), travel to the seedier side of town in search for more exotic thrills to combat the monotony of their aristocratic existence. Their search finds them participating in a black magic, blood-drinking ritual to resurrect Dracula (Christopher Lee in the role he is arguably most famous for). Things grow juicer — or rather, blood-splattering delightful — when the vengeful Prince of Darkness seduces the men's own children to murder them. It's a brilliant twist to the horror legend that makes this one of the better sequels in the franchise. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

After two successful takes on the Dracula mythology with Hammer Films, Christopher Lee returned as the king of the bloodsuckers for this third outing. From notable Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, what marks this vamp flick unique from others in the series, of which there are seven featuring the inimitable Lee but nine entries total in the franchise, is the screen legend testing the faith of those he encounters. The first is the cowardly priest (Ewan Hooper), whose belief in a higher power was apparently not strong enough to save him from Dracula's seductive, hypnotizing glare. After inadvertently awakening his new master from the icy grave he was imprisoned in at the end of 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness,' they travel to a quaint German town where Dracula could unleash his vengeance upon Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies). The high-ranking cleric's faith, of course, is resilient, but he ultimately pays the price for not respecting the powers of darkness with its proper due.

Best part — or rather, most curious and peculiar feature — is an eventual confrontation between the glowering Count, affirmation of God's existence if ever there was one, and the straight from the shoulder, blunt atheist Paul (Barry Andrews), boyfriend of Monsignor's niece, Maria (Veronica Carlson). It's an intriguing twist to the usual horror fare with Paul declaring his lack of faith during a dinner date with the whole family, making for a very uncomfortable night. Seeing an outspoken atheist take the role of hero is a rare treat not only for this particular genre but all of cinema in general, giving this production a bit of a pass for its daring uniqueness. And yet, the narrative somewhat drags its feet in the middle and the pace noticeably slows. Thankfully, things pick up once Drac finally initiates his revenge by taking Maria as his undead bride, thrusting Paul and his man-perm into action. It all sadly leads to a flimsy clash that has the vamp meeting his fortuitous doom and Paul rediscovering his faith. (Movie Rating: 3/5)

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings 'Hammer Horror Classics: Volume One' to Blu-ray in a handsome and sturdy four-disc box set. The package is shaped and opens much like a book with each page showing artwork and pictures for each film. Those same pages also serve as sleeves for each disc which slide out by placing some slight pressure to the top and bottom, widening the mouth only a little. The inside is smooth and glossy to prevent the discs from scratching.

All four films are contained on separate Region Free, BD50 discs and found inside each of the pages, and the book comes with a side-sliding slipcover made of a hard cardboard material with glossy artwork. At startup, each disc goes straight to a static menu screen with music playing in the background.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Four-Disc Box Set
    4 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:372
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.66:1
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
    French Dolby Digital Mono
    Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    French
    Spanish
    Special Features:
    Trailers
    Movie Studio: Warner Brothers
    Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Video Review

3.5 Stars out of 5

The Mummy

The withered, rotting corpse of Kharis is raised from the dead and avenges the desecration of his love's final resting place on Blu-ray. The ritual is performed on a gloriously clean and attractive 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that shows excellent definition and clarity. Background information, from the smallest, faded etchings along the walls of the Egyptian tombs to the intricate design of the wallpaper in the Banning mansion, is plainly visible, and close-ups reveal the fine threading in the mummy's wrapping and pores in the faces of the cast. A couple sequences, of course, are a tad blurrier than others; however, they're easily excused as the result of age and the condition of the elements. Still, the 1.66:1 image is a lovely sight to behold, awash with a visible but very fine layer of natural grain, and thanks to the Technicolor photography, the presentation comes with a brilliant array of primaries and cleanly rendered pastel hues. With well-balanced contrast and deep, accurate blacks throughout, the movie has never looked better. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Frankenstein schemes and conceals his heinous, experimental crimes with a strong and often attractive AVC MPEG-4 encode. Of the four films, this one is arguably the weakest of the bunch, but that's not to suggest that it disappoints. On the contrary, the high-def transfer is quite lovely and satisfying, showing plenty of sharp details in nearly every scene, from the small bottles and wooden shelves in the doctor's underground laboratory to the individual bricks and the tiniest pockmarks in the concrete walls. Medium to close-ups are particularly revealing, making the scars of the monster appear that more gruesome. The 1.78:1 image is awash in deep, opulent blacks throughout and a very fine layer of grain, providing the picture with an appreciable cinematic quality. Yet, the presentation comes with rather average contrast, though whites appear crisp and clean, and that familiar yellowish hue that develops with age. Still, the color palette is cleanly rendered with accurate primaries. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)

Taste the Blood of Dracula

Dracula's blood drips a vivid, crimson red thanks to a great looking AVC-encoded transfer that surpass previous home video editions. Of course, the condition and age of the elements introduce a few blurry moments worth noting while several other sequences seem poorly resolved. Still, the picture is bright and colorful throughout, particularly in the primaries, making blues and greens pop from the screen. Contrast is well-balanced with crisp, clean whites that never bloom, and blacks are accurate from beginning to end, providing some visible dimensionality and strong detailing along the darkest shadows. Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the image rises from the dead with great definition and detailing in the clothing, furniture and the gothic architecture. Flesh tones appear natural with excellent detailing and revealing textures during close-ups. Considering its age, this cult classic looks fantastic! (Video Rating: 3.5/5)

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

The legend terrorizes this neck of the Blu woods with a fantastic and often highly detailed 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that will restore your faith. Of course, it's far from perfect, coming with a few less than satisfying moments, but considering the film is shy of its 50th birthday, the source appears to be in excellent condition. With spot-on contrast and crisp, brilliant whites throughout, the picture displays sharp, resilient lines in the costumes and the turn of the century German architecture, exposing every thread in Maria's lace collars and the tiniest feature in the wood furniture of the Muller household. Close-ups of faces reveal the smallest blemishes, pores and individual hairs, along with it making obvious the cast wore a thick layer of makeup. Secondary hues seem a bit subdued but nonetheless well rendered while primaries appear full-bodied and vivid, and the reds, especially, look intense and animated. A fine layer of grain consistently washes the 1.78:1 image, giving it an attractive film-like quality, and black levels are true and accurate without harming shadow delineation. (Video Rating: 3.5/5)

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

The Mummy

The shocks and screams are heard with outstanding clarity thanks to a highly enjoyable DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack that gives the cult Hammer classic a new lease on life. Most impressive is the music of Franz Reizenstein, taking full advantage of the extra space with detailed separation between the brass and string sections of the orchestra. Listeners can distinctly hear the pluck of the violins, the sudden bombast of the trumpets and other horns, and the menacing sounds in the percussion section. Along with excellent dynamic range, this provides the film with a great sense of presence that's terrifically welcoming and engaging, allowing the tiniest sound to be heard. Low bass could be a tad stronger, but it's nonetheless appropriate with a few appreciable moments. With precise, intelligible vocals in the center, this lossless mix is more than satisfying for a cult horror favorite. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

The monster grunts, lumbers and groans its way to Blu-ray with a strong and generally satisfying DTS-HD mono track. Much like the video, the soundtrack is arguably the weakest of the set, but that doesn't mean it's a complete disappointment. James Bernard's score enjoys the extra breathing room of high-resolution audio, delivering plenty of warmth and fidelity in the orchestration, which in turn gives the presentation a welcomed sense of presence. Background activity is detailed and terrifically intelligible, making the brain transplant when Frankenstein saws open the skulls all the more intensely repugnant to hear. Meanwhile, vocals are distinct and well-prioritized from beginning to end. Bass, however, is notably lacking except for a few mildly palpable moments towards the end. The mid-range is not very dynamic or extensive, but it's also not weak or deficient. Yet, at around the 91-minute mark, the lossless mix suddenly goes flat and seems noticeably limited. It also suffers from a great deal of audible hissing and minor noise that appears consistent to the end. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

Taste the Blood of Dracula

The count comes to life with an excellent DTS-HD MA soundtrack that's sure to have fans begging to please their master. Dialogue is well-prioritized and distinct, making every bit of corny dialogue and whispered command intelligible. Although tightly focused on the center channel, as it was originally recorded and presented, the presentation displays a great sense of presence with a fairly spacious and welcoming soundstage. Thanks to a clean and detailed dynamic range, music and effects come across with outstanding separation between the various sounds, full of warmth and fidelity. Towards the end, there is a bit cracking and hissing during the loudest moments, but there are really only one or two instances of this worth noting. Otherwise, the lossless mix arrives with welcomed bass that adds some appreciable punch to the music and action, making it a great listen on Blu-ray. (Audio Rating: 4/5)

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

The Prince of Darkness awakens from his icy grave and makes the ladies shutter in his presence with a terrifically enjoyable DTS-HD mono soundtrack. Dialogue reproduction is excellent, delivering every melodramatic line and wonderfully stagy conversation with superb, well-prioritized clarity. The mid-range is surprisingly extensive, reaching the upper ranges, for the most part, with clean, detailed separation. The score takes advantage of this, as each instrument can be distinctly heard and individual notes appreciated from the rest. It also allows for background activity, which amazingly there is a plethora of, to come in discretely, providing the lossless mix with outstanding presence. Sadly, towards the end of the film, the track wavers just a tad. As the action, the final battle between Paul and the Count, intensifies, the loudest segments come off ear-piercingly bright with some very minor distortion. Still, the rest of the high-rez presentation is consistently stable with a palpably throaty low-end. (Audio Rating: 3.5/5)

Special Features

0 Stars out of 5

Sadly, other than the original theatrical previews for each film, the boxset doesn't come with any special features.

Final Thoughts

Warner Bros. brings four Hammer horror favorites to Blu-ray in an attractive box set, starting with a reimagining of sorts of the 1932 classic 'The Mummy.' They're each from a larger franchise that nicely demonstrate the British film house's unique gothic visuals commonly associated with the studio company. Also, they each arrive in their own separate BD50 discs, showing excellent picture quality for their age and strong audio presentations. Sadly, the box set doesn't come with any special features, yet no respectable genre fan should be without this small collection of cult favorites in their horror library. 

Sale Price $42.99
List Price $54.96
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3rd Party $42.99
Usually ships in 24 hours
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Four-Disc Box Set
    4 BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs
    Region Free
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:372
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.66:1
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
    French Dolby Digital Mono
    Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    French
    Spanish
    Special Features:
    Trailers
    Movie Studio: Warner Brothers
    Release Date: October 6th, 2015