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The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (Blu-ray Review)

Horrible-Dr-HichcockFrom director Robert Hampton, (Lust Of The Vampire) comes The Horrible Dr. Hichcock(L’orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock) and stars Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Pit and the Pendulum, Piranha), Robert Flemying (The Quiller Memorandum, Funny Face, Shadowlands),  Montgomery Glenn (Castle of Blood, The Puma-Man, Star Odyssey), Teresa Fitzgerald (Class of Iron, The Giants of Thessaly).  The successful Italian horror film from 1962 is making its way to Blu-ray for the first time, courtesy of the lovely people over at Olive Films.  While it came out in Italy first in 1962 and not the United States until 2 years later, the United States will be getting it first here on September 13, 2016 and pre-orders are already available.

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Film 

The twisted and terrifying tale of Dr. Bernard Hichcock whose secret desires and perverse passions lead to the death of his wife, Margaret.  Remarrying years later, the doctor’s new bride Cynthia is unaware that her husband intends to use her blood to reanimate the corpse of his dearly departed Margaret.

Not quite Hammer.  Not quite Bava.  Not quite interesting.  This Italian Gothic horror story is one that made some money in Italy, but didn’t cause to much of a fuss anywhere else.  Critics of the time didn’t seem to care for it, feeling reviled and all making jokes about the film’s title using the word “horrible” to be painfully accurate when judging.

Hichcock is a Gothic mad scientist tale that also incorporates a very early cinematic look at the idea of someone being a necrophiliac.  The necrophiliac stuff isn’t done on an in your face level and you kinda have to think a little of it, but its very obviously there.  Its an Italian film too, so you think it’d have some style and flare to the proceedings too.  Not really.  The film has some little creaks and creeps, but overall its a bit of a slug and too flat for most of the time its around.

I will give the film that it does close out like gangbusters.  I sat twiddling my thumbs through most of it, only to be incredibly thrilled and engaged as it marched to the credits.  Suddenly, it became closer to what I was wanting for the film the whole time.  It had a good chase and it also started having some sense of style.  The sets were better, more artistic as well as the angles, lighting and overall cinematography.

So yeah, this one is a bit below so-so.  I’d say you watch a bit of the beginning to get the hang of things, then skip right on to the end for the best parts o the film.  However, Gothic horror fans may be big on this, but it just didn’t do it for me.  Barbara Steele was a fun watch, but she didn’t show up for a while.  Those curious in horror of the 60s or horror history may want to check it out, but modern horror fans probably won’t find this to be their cup of tea.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Horrible Dr. Hichcock debuts on Blu-ray with a pretty unimpressive transfer.  I wouldn’t say horrible, but the source may not have been in good shape.  Thing flicker a bit and the image is pretty soft with some only decent textures, patterns and overall details.

Depth:  Pretty average in its spacing and freeness.  Movements are cinematic with minimal blur.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep, and scenes heavier in shadow or darkness bring forth more grain.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bit on the dingy side. This is a rich period where color could have been better, but the source holds it back a little.  There are some night moments though.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones do flicker like the rest of the film, but it appears to be containing a natural look in regards to what the lighting and such is doing.  Detail is best served in close up shots for faces.

Noise/Artifacts: Lots of flickers, grain, dirt & specs.

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Sound here doesn’t fare much better than the video.  Its passable, but there is a constant analog hiss.  Effects and such aren’t very deep in how they sound.  You’ll also need to crank this one up to hear good and loud.  Gets the job done, but not much else and nothing that even comes close to setting your home theater ablaze in its performance.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is audible, but you gotta turn it up.  Analog hisses and pops present throughout.

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Extras 

This release contains no supplemental features.

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Summary 

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock doesn’t deliver a horrible Blu-ray, but its an unimpressive one.  Feature-wise (Which, it has to be judged upon as there are no extras at all), its kinda a slug that doesn’t really become what you want it to be til the end.  Presentation-wise, this one falters from what appears to be a poor source print used for the transfer.  Definitely hardcore fans/collectors only on this one.

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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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