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Kiss Of The Vampire – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory has been doing a pretty admirable job here with their foray into the iconic Hammer Horror vault, bringing improved and beefed up editions of previously released titles as well as scratching many of them off the bucket list for many a collector. Falling into the former is July’s release of Kiss of the Vampire, upgrading a title from the 8-film Universal set yet again. And they are doing this one quite well. Not only do we receive new bonus content, including two fresh “Men of Hammer” profiles and a new commentaries, they’ve done a new 2K transfer of the film. And that’s not all, the release includes three different ways to watch it, which consists of two different versions of the film (Theatrical and television) across three different aspect ratios. All in all, I’d say they’ve loaded this little cult film up with the goods. You’ll be able to add it to your Scream Factory or Hammer library when it becomes available to own on July 21st. Pre-orders are available now and you can secure your copy now by clicking the paid Amazon link below.

Film

Lost on the way to their honeymoon, a young couple stumbles upon a mysterious family of vampires and their unspeakably evil leader. When a wrong turn leaves newlyweds Marianne and Gerald Harcourt stranded in a remote Bavarian forest, they have no choice but to accept the hospitality of the hypnotic Dr. Ravna, distinguished lord of a nearby castle. Ravna uses his “children” to lure the newlyweds to his lair, and soon they are plunged into a nightmare of horror and deception from which there may be no escape. Their only hope is Professor Zimmer, who calls upon an ancient ritual in a desperate attempt to destroy the vampires and free Marianne from Ravna’s power.

Kiss of the Vampire might be one of the most fun Hammer vampire flicks not to carry the Dracula moniker on it. The film oozes with the things that make those so great, but flourishes in its own corners as well. The film follows a “staying one fateful night in a strange place” motif that leads this film to be full of vampires. It has its own vampire hunter in it that almost seems iconic in his own right. Its quite fun, moves and has plenty of mystery to it.

One of the key elements that makes this film tick regardless of if it were any fun or not is the production design. Its pretty outstanding to look at inside or out. When the film opens its full of beautiful Gothic imagery, showcasing a moody cemetery and lots of worn stone structures with depressed looking grass. Inside, these older castle like hotels and homes carry a wear on them that feels to have been made over. This lavish design is of masterpiece levels and is an absolute treat and tremendous “added value” element to the film.

There are a good many, MANY vampire films in the Hammer Horror lexicon and the majority of the best ones wind up a being from the Dracula canon. Kiss of the Vampire argues to be put with that sort of prestige as it offers solid performances, good pacing and intrigue, and one of the best production design works the studio has showcased. Its a fine jaunt into the world of period piece Gothic horror with a classic monster type.

Video

For a comparison of this release to the version in the 2016 Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection CLICK HERE

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 / 1.66:1 (Found in “EXTRAS” section on the menu)

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Kiss of the Vampire arrives of Blu-ray with a new 2K transfer of the interpositive and is available in two different aspect ratios. I’ve provided screenshots of both here in the review so you can see the different. The 1.66:1 was not available before so it makes a bit of difference. The image has a nice, natural filmic look to it with some really good color and nicely done touches of darkness and shadow. Details and textures are rather strong and easily visible.

Depth:  The movie carries a pretty nice, spacious feel to it in the depth of field. Plenty of wandering and objects at different distances indoors give a decent 3 dimensional vibe and look to the film. Movements are smooth and cinematic, with no issues coming from any sort of blur or jitter.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep, dark and definitely carry more heft than the previous edition. Some details are a little more covered than before (But were they meant to be seen in the first place) and other, darker nighttime sequences have a bit better saturation and brightness to them. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors definitely carry that gorgeous Hammer glamour (That a thing? Lets make it a thing) to them. Reds, blues and any color that wants to stick out on fabric, upholstery or a stained glass window really does with such good boldness and elegance.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures fair pretty well in medium shots with close-ups obviously giving the most and cleanest information.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Kiss of the Vampire comes with its original mono track which proves a nice fitting compliment to this type of film. Its a little weaker on the low end stuff, but many of the sound effects and musical moments can find themselves louder to add to other layers of engagement. Overall, its a more than decent listen.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are plenty clear and audible, showcasing a little bit of their analog flair. Always present and within any environment in the mix with no peaking issues.

Extras

Kiss of the Vampire – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With author/film historian Steve Haberman and filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr (1.66:1 version only) – Able to turn on when you click the film in the “EXTRAS” section.
  • With actors Edward De Souza and Jennifer Daniels, moderated by Peter Irving (1.85:1 version only)
  • By film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson (TV Version only)

Men Who Made Hammer: James Bernard (HD, 17:17) – Richard Klemensen (Editor of Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine) goes over composer James Bernard’s career, film by film and elaborates on what makes them and the movies themselves so special. He even points out particular scores that can be listened to out of context and be just as enjoyable.

Men Who Made Hammer: Bernard Robinson (HD, 19:48) – Klemensen again returns to discuss the history of Production Designer Bernard Robinson. He covers his history in Hammer and really does well in showcasing what made his work special and what it added to the films he worked on.

The Kiss of the Vampire: 1.66:1 Version (HD, 1:28:17) 

The Kiss of the Vampire: Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:29)

The Kiss of the Vampire: Radio Spot (SD, 1:02)

TV Version Kiss of Evil with Optional Commentary (SD, 1:32:45) 

Kiss of Evil: Additional Scenes (SD, 16:44) 

Kiss of Evil: TV Trailer (SD, 1:42)

Summary

Kiss of the Vampire as a quite fun twisted little haunted house, cult and vampire movie hybrid. It finds itself as one of the better and more accessible of the non-Dracula vampire movies from Hammer. Scream Factory brings it to Blu-ray once again with an improved transfer (To these eyes) and just fully loaded with ways to watch the film (3 aspect ratios, 2 cuts of the film, 3 commentaries) and loads it with some quality extras. All in all, this feels like one of their best Hammer releases to date.

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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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