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Man Who Could Cheat Death / The Skull [Blu-ray] [Import]

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • Release Date: May 3 2011
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B004W6JJXC
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Customer Reviews

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Man Who Could Cheat Death / The Skull [Blu-ray] Classic horror cinema. The Skull is the stronger story. Based on a story by Robert Bloch, the screenplay is spell-binding and the acting is first-rate. Dr. Chris Maitland (Cushing) purchases the infamous skull of the Marquis de Sade despite a warning from his friend who previously owned the skull, Mathew Phillips (Lee). Will Maitland live to regret this decision?

The director, Freddie Francis presents the skull as a character. The shots that appear to come from inside the skull give the viewer the impression the skull thinks and the resulting mayhem leads us to believe it is still alive and dangerous. Death follows the skull.

The Man who could Cheat Death (Hammer film) stars Anton Diffring as Dr. Georges Bonnet who wants to live forever no matter the cost. Christopher Lee co-stars as a surgeon recruited to operate on Bonnet. Hazel Court plays Bonnet's girlfriend. Will she disappear like many of Bonnet's female companions? Great acting creates a thrilling atmosphere.

The Skull (1965) colour. 83 mins. Man ... Death (1959) colour. 82. min. Both widescreen and digitally remastered.
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This set would make a nice addition to any horror fan's library. The Man Who Could Cheat Death is from Hammer and The Skull is from Amicus. Each film is on a single disc with standard English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and pretty good transfers are used for both films - I think The Skull looks somewhat better than the other. Neither film has any extras, subtitles or close captioning. Both films are in colour.

Disc 1 - The Man Who Could Cheat Death - 1959, widescreen 1.66:1, 82 mins. Stars: Anton Differing, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee. Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster. Director: Terence Fisher.

Disc 2 - The Skull - 1965, anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1, 83 mins. Stars: Peter Cushing, Patrick Wymark, Christopher Lee. Screenplay: Milton Subotsky. Director: Freddie Francis.
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The best part of this disc is that it is a double offering a hammer film with a fair entry in the horror genre from Freddy Francis, The Skull. Again, being one of the few Blu Ray DVDs it is in my collection, but not much more than that.
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le tilm the skull est très bon mais je n'ai pas encore visionné le premier
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b6f9570) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b819480) out of 5 stars Hammer and Amicus horror films on Blu-ray for the first time May 3 2011
By Wayne Klein - Published on
Terence Fisher's "The Man Who Could Cheat Death" made in 1959 is one of Fisher's lesser films. A remake of "The Man in Half Moon Street" it stars Anton Diffring as Dr. Georges Bonnett a talented surgeon who likes to sculpt in his spare time. Evidently he must have had plenty of spare time to learn how--he's over 100 years old yet looks like he is in his late 30's-early 40's. Jimmy Sangster's screenplay based on Barré Lyndon ("War of the Worlds")play tends to be heavy on the melodrama and short on the thrills. It's not a bad movie as there's some stylish direction from Fisher and Christopher Lee in a supporting role and good acting on hand from Hazel Court and others. The film just lacks the thrills so central to early Hammer films.

"The Skull" starring Peter Cushing and directed by Freddie Francis (who photographed "The Innocents" and "The Elelphant Man")is a very clever Amicus production based on a short story by Robert Bloch (author of the novel PSYCHO and a respected screenwriter as well). Featuring Christopher Lee and the late Michael Gough in suppporting roles "The Skull" Cushing stars as Christopher Maitland who collects "odd" objects such as...the skull of de Sade which exerts an evil influence on Maitland to do REALLY bad things.

The script by Amicus co-founder and producer Milton Subotsky helps raise the second feature on this set above the Hammer film.

Both films receive nice looking transfers to Blu-ray although the edge goes to "The Skull". "Death" doesn't look quite as "lively" as some of the more color saturated 50's transfers of Hammer films from Warner or Sony. For "Death" blacks aren't quite as solid as I had hoped and there are some minor digital artifacts that crop up now and again(no doubt due to the transfer). "The Skull" probably could have used a bit more restoration but looks pretty good over all. I suspect that the high def masters used for the 2008 DVD releases were probably recycled here.

The one area that Legend Films could improve on its releases is to include commentary tracks from either Hammer/Amicus/horror historians and/or a retrospective featurette on both films. That would cost money of course and given that Legend has probably licensed these and put them out at a decent price probably makes it prohibitive (although if they had contacted me I would gladly have done it for free--:) ).

If you're a fan of "Death" you won't feel cheated by the Blu-ray release of this Hammer film. "The Skull" from Hammer rival Amicus is a fun mid-60's horror film although it doesn't quite match the best that Amicus (or Hammer) could do in their prime. Nevertheless, this is a good set and fans of either film will be happy to have them on Blu-ray.

If you haven't seen either film in a long time you may want to try and see if you can rent them first to see if they are as good as you remember them but if you already have the DVD and want to upgrade these are pretty good upgrades although both could have used a bit more digital restoration.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b0fe960) out of 5 stars Hammer and Amicus fans: more than meets the eye. May 7 2011
By Nicholas J. Faust - Published on
For the first time in years, I just watched a double feature of THE SKULL, directed by Freddie Francis, and THE MAN WHO CHEATED DEATH, directed by Terence Fisher, released on blu-ray this week. THE SKULL has been reviewed ever since it opened without much enthusiasm, and DEATH usually gets mentioned in passing as a lesser Fisher film. Though I am not ready to proclaim the films masterpieces, I am here to urge those interested in Hammer and Amicus productions to take a look.

Fisher works from a highly melodramatic and talky Sangster script (based on a play) that somehow never transcends the boundaries of boulevard melodrama. Fisher, knowing he has a lot of talking to get the viewer through, stages each and every dialogue beat with a choreographer's exactitude, which seems at times more fitting for opera or musical theatre than film. But taking the piece as a whole, realizing the choices Fisher made and stuck with though out, there's an extraordinary sense of directorial craft on display. Typical of Fisher, every shot, camera move, and bit of blocking keeps the action forward moving; nothing is arbitrary, nothing is wasted. Jack Asher's lush photography distills Fisher's heightened dramatic choices with very clever and well placed color diffusions and short lens compositions that at times seem to sizzle in context to the action. And, of course, Robinson's sets utilize, as always, the Hammer stock, with vivid details framing the action, supporting Fisher's storytelling style with the kind of vitality only well chosen and appropriately placed details can. There is more to THE MAN WHO CHEATED DEATH then one might think. If nothing else, it offers us a rather nakedly displayed example of Fisher's directorial sense of craft, which in itself is worth the effort.

THE SKULL is a revelation. Freddie Francis could be a workmanlike director who did not appreciate the flourish of melodrama the way Fisher did. Fisher could take a script filled with narrative inconsistencies and just about any nutty idea Sangster and Elder could throw at him without wasting time on things that might draw our attention to these problems. Fisher, I think, found a way to draw the thematic from his scripts, treating the themes with a straight on seriousness that give his best films a dramatic weight missing from most others -- then and now. Fisher never condescended, whereas Francis unwittingly, I think, did. Fisher found a sense of truth in the themes he extrapolated and explored, whereas Francis merely documented action. That's why THE SKULL is so exciting; at least, watching it on blu-ray, it excited me. Am thinking it may in fact be Francis' best, most sustained work as a director.

Basically a series of long sequences without dialogue, THE SKULL comes to life, first and foremost, as an entirely visual experience. Certainly, there are dialogue scenes, but not many. The idea being, a skull, supposedly that of de Sade, is introduced into the drawing room setting of Peter Cushing's character ( a collector of macabre artifacts used for some sort of research). The skull is possessed by a demon that causes "confusion and murder." The story, then, is how the skull influences Cushing, tricking, manipulating, and even torturing him, until the end. The dialogue does very little to explain what indeed is happening in the film. Francis relies totally on camera moves, color, editing rhythms, dissolves, and music to communicate the film's significant action. A nightmare quality is sustained with a brilliant sense of ironically conceived moments where reality simple melds with hallucination; nightmare comes, then, in a keen and clear light, unannounced and challenging. To "get" the movie, one must really think about what is happening. (The whiff of Resnais in the shadow of each sequence reminded me that LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD is a twist and turn on an old horror movie concept.) Freddie Francis, like Fisher, keeps things moving without making it feel rushed. Each image implies something and inevitably leads to something else. There is never a scene that spells it all out. That becomes the viewers' job. By the time we reach the end, the perceptive viewers realize the story we think we were watching is not really the story Francis and his screen writer have been telling. It is a remarkable film.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0831d4) out of 5 stars The Man Who Could Cheat Death / The Skull (Blu-ray) Oct. 17 2011
By Manny Agah - Published on
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Both of these Blu-ray films are extremely entertaining, with good scripts, fine cast, and decent production--particularly The Skull. The widescreen pictures are clean and pleasant, which are enhanced for 16:9 TVs.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b5d6f48) out of 5 stars Double HD Dose of Solid Brit Shocks! Sept. 12 2011
By mormovies - Published on
Verified Purchase
These two above average British horror films are priced just right and look nice on BD. Not spectacularly restored but a definite upgrade from the SD DVDs. You can never go wrong with Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Terence Fisher and Freddie Francis in hi def!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9b0fe630) out of 5 stars Worth the Price July 5 2011
By Visa - Published on
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This Blu-ray twin bill is worth the price - if for nothing else - for the film - The Skull. The Man Who Could Cheat Death was enjoyable - but I don't know if I would watch it more than two or three times, while The Skull is a film I've seen three four times already and look forward to watching again - in blu-ray. It will be like seeing it for the first time - the colors will be so bright and clear. Get it - you'll enjoy the Skull.


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