Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Horrible Dr. Hichcock, The

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  
    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Horrible Dr. Hichcock, The



    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: September 13th, 2016.
    Director: Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton)
    Cast: Barbara Steele, Robert Flemyng, Silvano Tranquilli, Maria Teresa Vianello
    Year: 1964
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Set in the London of 1885, the titular medical practitioner of Riccardo Freda's film is one Dr. Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng). When we meet him, he and his assistant Dr. Kurt Lang (Silvano Tranquilli credited as Montgomery Glenn) are injecting a patient with an anesthetic so that they can carry out their surgery. The operation is a success, and with that out of the way they head off to Hichcock's estate where his wife, Margaretha (Maria Teresa Vianello credited as Teresa Fitzgerald), is prepared to host the evening's gala. In no mood for a party, Bernard has their cat loving maid, Martha (Harriet Medin credited as Harriet White), let his wife know he's going to bed for the night. She obliges, and shortly after Margaretha has sent the guests home for the night. She heads upstairs where Bernard injects her with the contents of a vial. She falls quickly asleep, and he lies next to her. The next night, there's more of the same, although this time he gives her a significantly larger dose, one that she doesn't recover from. Puzzlingly enough, the good doctor seems quite shocked by this turn of events and falls into a serious depression. He buries his wife in the grounds and then leaves.

    Twelve years later, he returns and is now married to a former patient of his named Cynthia (Barbara Steele). She's understandably perturbed by the old (now somewhat run down) home, what with all of its unusual paintings and strange décor it is a bit creepy, but Cynthia seems… irritable. The fact that a lot of the paintings that still hang portray Margaretha seem particularly unsettling to the new bride. Martha still tends to the home, only now her strange sister (who seems to scream a lot and is soon due to go to an asylum!) is lurking about as well. It doesn't help matters that the maid gives poor Cynthia a particularly cold shoulder. The more time Cynthia spends in the new home, the more it starts to get to her and before you know it she's become convinced that someone is poking about late at night, undercover of the darkness, trying to do away with her. As Bernard gets back into the swing of things at the hospital, once again working as a skilled surgeon, Cynthia starts to wonder if maybe Margaretha isn't dead at all… and if that's the case, it stands to reason she's none too happy that her husband has brought another woman into their home! Bernard brushes off her concerns and simply gets her some medication to help ease what he tells her is anxiety, but as Cynthia and Kurt grow closer, they both start to wonder just what it is that her husband is up to.

    Clearly influenced by the Corman/Price Poe adaptations, Riccardo Freda's gothic chiller holds up well more than a half century after it was made. Without spoiling too much of the storyline for those yet to see the picture, it's interesting to see how the film deals with the still understandably taboo subject of necrophilia. The film makes it clear in no uncertain terms that our titular Dr. Hichcock (spelled that way on purpose - an attempt to get some 'name recognition' without getting sued it would seem!) has a thing for dead women even if he stops short of full on copulation and instead goes home to work out his kinks with his wife (be that wife Margaretha or Cynthia). This explains the sedation games he indulges with in the first chunk of the film, what with putting his wife under before crawling into bed with her. It's a little odd that he seems so surprised that she dies from the larger dose - this is a formula that he created, after all - you'd think he knew what he was doing, but we can forgive that. The script from Ernesto Gastaldi (credited here like everyone else with an anglicized pseudonym - Julyan Perry in this case) is otherwise quite good.

    Freda's direction is excellent. This is, like many of its Italian gothic horror counterparts, a slow burn picture but that doesn't make it any less compelling. The locations used for the shoot are perfect, allowing the camera to eloquently capture plenty of spooky stonewalled corridors and candlelit boudoirs, the kind where shadows hold secrets aplenty and ominous sounds come from just outside the window. The film does not lack at all in atmosphere, the visuals are rich and consistent in their impressiveness. That sounded kind of fancy, but fancy is completely appropriate when talking about just how gorgeous the cinematography is in this picture. The score is at times over the top, very dramatic and heavy on intensity even when there are moments where you wish it would pull back a bit.

    The performances here are just fine - occasionally great in the case of Ms. Steele - even if the dubbing is questionable. Flemyng overdoes it in spots (it seems like he did his own voice work here) while whoever dubbed Steele just… doesn't sound like Steele. But this is par for the course with a lot of imports from the era. The acting itself is quite good. Steele's body language and amazingly expressive eyes convince us that, yes, this is a woman quite terrified of her surroundings. She's pretty much perfect in the part, or at the very least she looks perfect for the part. Harriet Medin as the strange maid (who may or may not have a thing for her 'deceased' female employer!) and Silvano Tranquilli as Hichcock's fellow doctor are also quite good here.

    Note that the feature as presented on this Blu-ray from Olive Films runs seventy-seven minutes (1:16:48 to be exact, less eleven seconds for the Olive Films logo that plays before the movie starts. As was noted in pre-release materials, it represents the U.S. edit of the film and not the longer Italian cut of the picture. As such, it uses a title card reading The Horrible Dr. Hichcock and not L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock, which would be the Italian title. That's also why we're going with 1964 for the release year and not 1962, which would appear to be when the movie was released in its homeland.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Olive Films presents The Horrible Dr. Hichcock on Blu-ray in a 1.78.1 widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition that generally looks okay even if it doesn't look amazing. Some shots are a little soft (the scenes outside in the fog, for example), others show solid detail. Colors are ok but there are times where they are sort of flat looking. Black levels are fine but shadow detail can vary a bit, though this seems to have more to do with how certain scenes were lit rather than the transfer? There are no compression artifacts to note nor is there any obvious noise reduction to complain about. The image is free of edge enhancement although minor print damage is a constant - mostly small vertical scratches and small white specks, no serious gashes or large marks.

    Inevitably people are going to want to know how this compares to the older Italian DVD released years back by Medusa. Unfortunately that disc isn't on hand for a direct comparison but if the caps located here are to be trusted (and they would certainly seem to be - check that link for a great rundown of some different edits of the film - a great resource!), there is definitely a difference in the colors. Images from the Olive Blu-ray are on the top, caps borrowed from the aforementioned website are below. These are not exact frame matches but are close enough to give you a point of reference.









    Colors are definitely bolder in some spots on the 1.85.1 Medusa transfer but the skin tones definitely look more natural and much less yellow on the 1.78.1 Olive disc (framing differences would seem to be negligible). Detail is improved as well (as it should be given that this is a Blu-ray disc and not a DVD).

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mix. Clarity of the audio is fine but again, far from amazing. The levels are properly balanced although minor hiss is present throughout most of the film. The score sounds decent enough, there's some depth here. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Aside from a static menu and chapter selection the disc contains no extra features.

    The Final Word:

    This is not the definitive release of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock as it doesn't include the Italian cut of the film and it's devoid of any extra features. However, Olive's Blu-ray release does offer the U.S. cut of the picture in decent shape. There could have been more cleanup work done here in both the audio and video departments, this would appear to be presented 'as is,' but this is more than watchable. The movie itself holds up quite well, a surprisingly twisted gothic horror picture, beautifully shot, full of atmosphere and made with a good cast. Not a perfect release, but worth having to be sure.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!











































    • Gary Banks
      #1
      Gary Banks
      Senior Member
      Gary Banks commented
      Editing a comment
      I have about 4 different dvd-rs of this in various languages and cuts. While I would like to have the Italian version (with English subs) on blu ray this may be the only option available for a while.

    • C.D. Workman
      #2
      C.D. Workman
      Senior Member
      C.D. Workman commented
      Editing a comment
      That looks better than my old Sinister Cinema DVD-R; perhaps not by much, but enough for me to upgrade. Some shots look weak while others look very good. Thanks for the info, Ian. I'm still going to get this, but at least I know what I'm paying for.

    • enandalusiskhund
      #3
      enandalusiskhund
      An Andalusian Dog
      enandalusiskhund commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, thanks Ian. Will buy this even if it's far from optimal.
    Posting comments is disabled.

Latest Articles

Collapse

  • Vile 21 (VHShitfest) Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: VHShitfest
    Released on: January 30th, 2024.
    Director: Mike Strain Jr.
    Cast: Daniel Skinner, Brian Southwick, Ronnie Sorter
    Year: 1997
    Purchase From Amazon

    Vile 21 – Movie Review:

    Mike Strain Jr.’s 1997 shot on video horror/sci-fi opus, Vile 21, is set in the future of 2020 and introduces us to a scientist named Dr. Walter Hall (Daniel Skinner) who, through hard work and research, has created an experimental serum
    ...
    02-23-2024, 06:57 PM
  • Black Tight Killers (Radiance Films) Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Radiance Films
    Released on: February 26th, 2024.
    Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
    Cast: Akira Kobayashi, Chieko Matsubara, Meiko Nishio
    Year: 1966
    Purchase From Amazon

    Black Tight Killers – Movie Review:

    The directorial debut of Seijun Suzuki protégé Yasuharu Hasebe, 1966's Black Tight Killers opens with a scene wherein a war photographer named Daisuke Hondo (Akira Kobayashi) does his best to capture the action during
    ...
    02-21-2024, 03:08 PM
  • eXistenZ (Vinegar Syndrome) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on:
    Director: David Cronenberg
    Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Don McKeller, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm
    Year: 1999
    Purchase From Amazon

    eXistenZ – Movie Review:

    Written and directed by David Cronenberg in 1999, eXistenZ may not hold the same level of critical acclaim as some of the director's other films - Videodrome and The Fly remake both come to mind. It is, however, a very original
    ...
    02-14-2024, 03:05 PM
  • Darkman (Scream Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Scream Factory
    Released on: February 20th, 2024.
    Director: Sam Raimi
    Cast: Liam Neeson, Francis McDormand, Larry Drake
    Year: 1990
    Purchase From Amazon

    Darkman – Movie Review:

    Before Sam Raimi was famous for the Spider-Man films, he'd cut his teeth one another superhero movie. Originally intended to be an adaptation of The Shadow, Raimi created Darkman when the rights couldn't be obtained for that character. The result
    ...
    02-14-2024, 03:00 PM
  • The Swiss Conspiracy (Film Masters) Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Film Masters
    Released on: February 20th, 2024.
    Director: Jack Arnold
    Cast: David Janssen, Elke Sommer, starring John Saxon, John Ireland, Senta Berger, David Hess, Ray Milland
    Year: 1976
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Swiss Conspiracy – Movie Review:

    Directed by Jack Arnold and shot entirely in and around Zurich, 1976’s The Swiss Conspiracy, based on the novel of the same name written by Michael Stanley, begins when a
    ...
    02-14-2024, 02:51 PM
  • Willy’s Wonderland (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 13th, 2024.
    Director: Kevin Lewis
    Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec
    Year: 2021
    Purchase From Amazon

    Willy’s Wonderland – Movie Review:

    An unnamed janitor (played by Nicolas Cage) experiences a car breaks down more or less in the middle of nowhere. He manages to get a tow truck to help him out but doesn’t have the money needed to cover the cost
    ...
    02-08-2024, 04:50 PM
Working...
X