Synapse Blu Ray DVD. I very much enjoyed this vampire movie. If you enjoy the great horror movies that Hammer Productions put together then I recommend this movie. I'm no expert on the difference between regular DVD and Blu ray but I was not very impressed with the transfer of this movie.
As a long time fan of Hammer Films, this was one of their few later movies that I missed the first time around (HANDS OF THE RIPPER was another). I guess it never came to a drive-in near me. After 1970 I only saw Hammer Films at the drive-ins which I now know was because they had lost their major American distributors and rarely played first run houses outside of the big cities. I never caught it on cable and after having heard about it for years I finally obtained an all region DVD copy from Asia which looked like it was copied from a worn drive-in print but at least I finally got to see it. It is truly unlike any other Hammer film from that time thanks to the long prelude, surreal circus settings, and the fact that many of the victims are children. Now Synapse Films, with this Blu ray/DVD combo release, has rectified the situation by presenting the film the way it originally appeared along with a ton of bonus features.
The first thing I noticed was the improved picture quality and color saturation which made for an especially vivid viewing experience. Next up was the fact that this version was 4 minutes longer (87 vs 83) than my Asian copy. While there don't appear to be any missing scenes, some of them such as the invisible voices at the circus, the demonic panther attack, and the silhouette sequence run longer and make more sense. I had heard that Hammer had run out of time and money with only about 75% of the planned film completed but through clever editing and skillful transitions it hangs together very well. The film has old favorites Adrienne Corri, Thorley Walters, and David Prowse (6 years before Darth Vader) to give it added appeal. I also finally figured out where I had seen Emil, the panther man, before. Here he's billed as Anthony Corlan but many years later he would play Moriarty in YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES as Anthony Higgins.
If you are familiar with the post-Anthony Hinds Hammer Films (the 1970s) such as the Karnstein trilogy or HANDS OF THE RIPPER then you know what to expect. More flesh, more violence, and a lot more Kensington Gore (Hammer's fake blood mixture). THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and COUNTESS DRACULA have already been issued as a quality double bill on Region 1 DVD. Now it's time for TWINS OF EVIL and HANDS OF THE RIPPER to join VAMPIRE CIRCUS in quality American releases. Synapse Films says nothing about it on their website so hopefully somebody will do the honors soon. Now that the ressurected Hammer Films has released LET ME IN (to critical raves but poor U.S. box office) and the soon to be released WOMAN IN BLACK with Daniel Radcliffe, it's time to consolidate the back catalogue and offer an officially sanctioned Hammer Films collection, everything from THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT through the 1979 remake of THE LADY VANISHES.Read more ›