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Voodoo Man (Blu-ray Review)

Voodoo-ManZombies, adventure and romance, Voodoo Man has them all!  Bela Lugosi (Dracula) stars as Dr. Richard Marlowe, a “mad” scientist intent on bringing his late wife Evelyn (Ellen Hall, Lawless Code) back from the dead using voodoo magic in the atmospheric chiller, Voodoo Man directed by William Beaudine (The Panther’s Claw).   Voodoo Man co-stars George Zucco (House of Frankenstein), John Carradine (Son of Frankenstein), Michael Ames (Hang ‘Em High), Henry Hall (Murder in The Big House), Huntz Hall (The Bowery Boys), Empty Hall (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock), Annie Hall (The Diane Keaton Story) and Schlitz the Wonder Cat as Bowzer.  Olive Films will be bringing this 1940s Bela Lugosi horror feature to Blu-ray for the first time this next week (November 24th, to be exact).

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Film 

Dr. Richard Marlowe, a “mad” scientist intent on bringing his late wife Evelyn back from the dead using voodoo magic.  By using the essences of the young women he’s captured and aided by his associates Nicholas and Toby, the voodoo doctor will find his plan jeopardized by the derring-do of intrepid screenwriter Ralph Dawson.

Woof.  While I do enjoy me some Bela Lugosi, this film was a bit of a tall, daunting task.  I had never had the pleasure of staring at Voodoo Man before, but now I have and I’ve survived.  The film is only two minutes over an hour but felt like it took double that to finish off.  Nowadays, this wouldn’t even be considered a feature film, it would be a short.  And its not even padded with credits either.  Those fall in line with how pretty much all movies of the 1940s were.

Through my research, I found that this movie was shot and completed in seven days.  Had you asked me to guess how long the production timeline was for it, I may have been in a close ballpark guesstimate.  This film has approximately three sets and refuses to anything interesting with them other than talk and move to the next talking scene in another familiar locale.  Everything in the film feels incredibly monotonous and it gets really hard to keep your attention and consciousness.

Maybe there are fans of this film, but I have not been converted into one of them.  Its probably a Lugosi collector’s happy day that this came out, and I’m glad for them.  But, the excitement of watching him on the screen wore off about fifteen minutes in.  He’s been much better in many other films.  It could be that this movie is just a product of its time and hasn’t carried over well.  As it is, its not one that will find any magical rediscovery among newer, younger film buffs.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Clarity/Detail:  Olive Films transfer of this old, more cult infused film is merely pretty average.  Detail is okay and the image is a little soft.  There are moments that impress, but they aren’t making up the majority of it.  I’m sure this is a clean upgrade from a DVD release, but not a significant one.

Depth:  Rather flat.  Movements are cinematic featuring minimal blurring.

Black Levels:  Blacks are strong and mask detail.  They are solid when it comes to shading.

Color Reproduction:  N/A

Flesh Tones:  Detail is underwhelming.  Closeups are your best bet to get texture but due to age, print quality and the fact nobody is going to pay out the wahzoo to restore it, it is what it is.

Noise/Artifacts: Some slight compression issue and there is some ghosting inherent throughout.

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Audio 

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

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  This one impresses about as much as the video.  The sound is very analog and does sound very much of its age.  Its lossless and that does help, but its still not too balanced.  I’m sure its much more crisp and clear than every before, but that’s still probably not good enough for people.  For what it is though, and knowing what kind of film this is and who’s putting it out, this is just fine.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  The dialogue is audible and loud enough.  It carries an analog hiss with it for the most part.

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Extras 

Voodoo Man contains no supplemental features.  Menu offers “Play Movie” and “Chapters”.

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Summary 

I love Bela Lugosi, but for me, this film was the Blu-ray review equivalent of watching paint dry.  Olive Films release comes with an average presentation on both audio and video fronts.  This one doesn’t boast any extras to improve the reason to want to own the film.  This release is for super fans of Voodoo Man or those that collect everything that has Lugosi in it only.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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