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The Leopard Man (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory is showing no limits this year to the eras with which they are bulking out their library in 2019. Coming July 15th is a the 1943 horror film The Leopard Man. Its a film notable for being the first with which to appropriately or not be afraid to tackle the subject of serial killers (And so ahead of that, the term “serial killer” hadn’t been coined yet). This release boasts a new 4K transfer from the original negative and a brand new commentary to go with a previous one done by director William Friedkin. The Leopard Man looks to be as solid a package as you could put together for a cult film of its age. You can check out the review and/or pre-order yourself a copy by clicking on the Amazon link following the review.

Film 

Is it man, beast or both behind a string of savage maulings and murders? An escaped leopard provides the catalyst for a foray into fear in which a cemetery is the rendezvous for death and love, and a closed door heightens rather than hides the horror of a young girl’s fate. The Leopard Man once again teams producer Val Lewton with director Jacques Tourneur (Cat People). This thriller stars Dennis O’Keefe (T-Men, Raw Deal), Margo (Lost Horizon) and Jean Brooks (The Seventh Victim).

The Leopard man is a solid little mystery noir with a brush of horror. It has a notable place in horror history with its roots in being the first serial killer movie. However, going to it today, one might bring about a slightly off expectation, expecting something more in the traditional lines of horror or a monster movie, given the title and the brand releasing the film. Putting that aside, its a well made and unique little jaunt into a slightly more vile noir.

Val Lewton definitely puts forth another unique and well crafted tale in the horror genre with The Leopard Man. It really evokes a great sense of dread, mood and haunts in the shadows. It also has a nice misdirect of wanting you to believe the killings are something else and then believing they are someone else. This one isn’t just for the horror nuts, the noir crowd and murder mystery lovers might very well get a kick out of this film as well.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Leopard Man comes with Blu-ray with a brand new 4k scan of the original nitrate camera negative. This is a pretty sound looking image given the age of the film and it comes with a pretty crisp, detailed image. There’s a nice dose of grain in the picture and the overall presentation is a cozy looking classic brand of 1940s horror.

Depth:  Depth is actually pretty impressive here. There was a scene with someone inside home talking to a woman outside with a rear projection background and it look surprisingly 3 dimensional given the look of it. The whole film isn’t like that, or course, but it is impressive enough. Motion is cinematic and smooth with no distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide good tones to the overall picture and keep up a surprising amount of fine details. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones feature your typical white/gray and is consistent from start to finish. Facial features are pretty solid in closer shots given reasonable expectations.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: This is a pretty solid track with good blending of the music, effects and vocals here in the mix with a solid analog foundation which to bring an ambient charm. Its plenty loud and decently effective as much as it can be.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and contain a backing up analog hiss as mentioned about.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • By Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr
  • By Filmmaker William Friedkin

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:05)

Still Gallery (HD, 8:36) 

Summary 

The Leopard Man is a pretty interesting film for the genre nut or film junkie to go back and take a look at. Scream Factory as put forth a good effort here with a pretty terrific audio and video presentation to give this 76 year old film a new life. In a terrific gesture there are two commentaries available (One with Oscar winner William Friedkin even) to have a bit extra insight and study on the legacy and production of the film. A solid pick up for classic horror collectors.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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