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The Reptile (Blu-ray Review)

Releasing alongside Lust For A Vampire this month, Scream Factory also will be dipping into Hammer Horror’s The Reptile. It makes its American debut and brings with it a few new bonus features while keeping true to what has been on the Blu-rays so far with the archival bonus features getting ported over. That seems to be par for the course with the Hammer Horror films from Scream Factory. I’ve never seen The Reptile, but with it including a Doctor Who actor in Jacqueline Pearce in the cast (Sure, “just” The Two Doctors serial but she’s done Big Finish stuff as well), I’m all too eager to check this one out now. You’ll be able to check it out too when it arrives on July 30th. To land yourself a copy of The Reptile, you can pre-order the Blu-ray by going to Shout! Factory’s website, or you can simply scroll down to the Amazon link that follows the whole review and click on that (And help our little site a hair in the process).

Film 

A deadly epidemic is spreading through the remote Cornish village of Clagmoor Heath. As darkness falls, its victims are found foaming at the mouth with savage wounds on their necks. After his brother falls prey to the “black death,” Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett, Terror From Under The House) travels with his new wife (Jennifer Daniel, The Kiss of the Vampire) to Clagmoor to investigate his sibling’s mysterious death. With little help from the unfriendly locals, Harry follows a trail of clues that leads him to the sinister Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman, The Vengeance Of She), the doctor’s strange, but beautiful daughter (Jacqueline Pearce, Doctor Who) … and a horrific family secret.

Hammer’s The Reptile is a pretty awesome haunt and a classic piece of their 1960s output. It features some terrific make-up, good jumps and a pretty game cast to sell this thing. If you’re a fan of Plague of the Zombies, you’ll notice a lot of familiar sets and such as they filmed it back to back with it. However, you couldn’t find a different pair of horror films. The Reptile movies a much more relaxed pace, only tricking the viewer into a sense of comfort before something dreadful occurs.

I mentioned Jacqueline Pearce above, and yeah, she didn’t disappoint. She’s quite stellar in the film. The Reptile occured in the heart of getting the Dracula and Frankenstein movies going forward. Its interesting that they didn’t attempt to make another one of these as this one really works. Yes, its solid standalone, but you could find away to do another. Plus the titular make-up does feel potentially iconic and the beauty of the story would allow you to switch who it is every movie. Anyway, we do have this film and it was quite fun to return to as I hadn’t seen it in a good many years.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 or 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Scream Factory’s transfer of Hammer Horror’s The Reptile does not come with anything in the way of details on the film’s transfer. The transfer has a very organic looks and the print used has been cleaned up in natural looking ways with no post production tampering finding itself evident. There is a nice healthy layer of grain, helping to give great detail and depth to the image.  I can’t speak to the UK release of this film but I imagine the image is similar.

Depth:  This features a surprisingly impressive amount spacing and smooth movements with the cameras and characters. It doesn’t quite hit some 3 dimensional heights, but every environment comes out quite fluid and free.

Black Levels: Blacks are plenty deep and never cause any problems or hide information that isn’t already intended to be hidden. Many of the cavern scenes look quite lovely here. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors take a more rustic and bold approach. Reds come through very nice in terms of blood and curtains on the winds, but also in accentuating cherry colored wood. Browns are quite bold and well saturated. Whether a color needs to pop like a blue on some upholstery or just be more natural, it all looks quite well.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and manage a consistency start to finish. There is an impressive amount of detail and texture on display on faces including sweat, dried blood, wrinkles, makeup and some pore even show through a little.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean.

Audio 

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

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Reptile features a pretty fun mono track that really keeps that original theatrical feel to it going while also being able to impress with some good scares. The music and such hits nice and loud when a scare is in place and works accordingly. Mostly its just a well balanced mix with some good depth as well as a quaint analog hiss to accompany the feature.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and pretty crisp. As mentioned there’s a little hiss, but to me, that adds a little to purity and charm of it.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • By film historians Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr and Ted Newsom

Interview With 1st Assistant Director William P. Cartlidge (HD, 21:39) – Cartlidge considers himself a “result of nepotism” and starts us on a history of himself that led him to working with Hammer. He then gives his best recollection and anecdotes on the film The Reptile.

The Serpent’s Tale: The Making of The Reptile (HD, 22:45) – Told from a historian/critic talking head perspective (Including actor Mark Gatiss), telling the story of The Reptile’s production. Ported over from another release.

The World of Hammer: Wicked Women (SD, 24:52) – This episode focuses on the villainous women characters and actors of Hammer.

Theatrical Trailers (SD, 6:33)

TV Spot (SD, :23) – Rasputin: The Mad Monk/The Reptile double feature. “Get your free Rasputin beard!”

Still Gallery (HD, 3:48)

Poster and Lobby Card Gallery (HD, 4:51)

Summary 

The Reptile is (at least for this reviewer) one of Hammer’s finest hours. There is a cool monster, great atmosphere, lovely costumes and sets, nice make-up and groovy gore. So it hits in all necessary areas. Scream Factory brings it to Blu-ray with a very nice presentation with good audio and video. The extras are also pretty surprising and awesome for a film of its age. A definite pickup for Hammer Horror fans and monster 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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