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The Uncanny (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • The Uncanny (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: May 14th, 2019.
    Directed by: Denis Héroux
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Ray Milland, Joan Greenwood, Roland Culver, Simon Williams, Donald Pleasence, Samantha Eggar, John Vernon
    Year: 1977
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    The Uncanny - Movie Review:

    The final feature directed by Quebecois filmmaker Denis Héroux (the man who gave us Naked Massacre!), 1977's The Uncanny was shot in Canada and produced by Milton Subotsky, former Amicus Films big wig. Subotsky's connection makes sense when you figure this is an anthology film not at all removed from the type that Amicus was pumping out in their heyday, the kind that Peter Cushing often starred in. And hey, go figure, Cushing is in this one too.

    The film opens with the story of a writer named Wilbur (Cushing), he seems quite panicked as he races to his publisher's office with his latest manuscript in hand. When he arrives, the publisher, Frank (Ray Milland), lets him in and seems rather obsessed with his white cat. The reason for Wilbur's unusual arrival? He can prove that cats are evil and secretly controlling the human race! Frank, understandably, figures Wilbur for a loon but Wilbur offers up three stories as proof, and we're off…

    In the first story, London 1912, we meet Miss Malkin (Joan Greenwood), a well to do woman of high social standing now in the twilight of her life. Because her nephew, Michael (Simon Williams), has wasted any money that's ever been given to him she decides that it's time to write him out of her will and give the money to her small army of cast instead. Michael coerces Janet (Susan Penhaligon), his girlfriend and his aunt's maid, to steal the will out of the safe while Malkin sleeps, but of course it doesn't go as planned. These things never do. The second story, Quebec Province 1975, tells the story of a young orphan named Lucy (Katrina Holden) who travels with her pet cat to take up residence at her aunt's house. Shortly after her arrival, Lucy's cousin Angela (Chloe Franks) makes it painfully clear that the cat has to go and quickly convinces her parents to sneakily dispose of the poor furry feline that very night. Of course, the cat comes back the very next day, and the truth about Lucy's heritage is then revealed. In the third story, Hollywood 1936, a man named Valentine De'ath (Donald Pleasence), makes a healthy living for himself as one of the reigning stars of the silver screen. He's cheating on his wife with Edina (Samantha Eggar), a pretty but vapid woman who he coerces producer Pomeroy (John Vernon) to cast in his latest film after having his poor wife murdered. Things get complicated when his deceased wife's cat and kittens get involved in things.

    It's all a bit silly, sure, but The Uncanny is an entertaining anthology horror picture that really benefits from the presence of a truly great cast. Cushing is a lot of fun in the bookend segments and he and Milland are a lot of fun to watch together. Joan Greenwood steals the scenes that she's in, while lovely Samantha Eggar does a fine job in her part as well. Donald Pleasence, sporting some ridiculous hair, is the best part of the show, however, cast here as the bad guy and clearly having a blast with the part.

    Héroux paces the film well and the cinematography from Harry Waxman, who shot Vampyres and The Wicker Man, is top-notch. The film was obviously made on a modest budget but the production values are generally pretty strong. The cat wranglers clearly had their work cut out for them, there are cats all over the place here, but it's all done rather well which allows us to look past the fact that much of what happens in the film is very goofy. Still, it's a lot of fun.

    The Uncanny - Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings The Uncanny to Blu-ray using an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen taken from a 'new scan of the inter-negative' though eagle-eyed viewers will spot a cigarette burn or two, making it a fair assumption that this is probably a composite of some sort. Regardless, if the transfer shows some print damage here and there it is a nice step up from the old UK DVD release that came out in the early 2000's. color reproduction isn't bad at all and black levels are decent. There aren't any noticeable compression issues and the image is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues. Detail isn't reference quality but it's solid enough.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is on par with the video, in that it's imperfect but decent enough. It's a little bit flat and occasionally you might hear some minor hiss if you're looking for it, but the levels are properly balanced, the dialogue is always easy to understand and the score sounds pretty strong. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only.

    The main extra on the disc is a twelve-minute interview with actress Susan Penhaligon entitled The Cat's Victim. In this piece she talks about how she came to get her start as an actress, some of the early roles that she took leading up to this film, what it was like working with some of her co-stars (she was quite fond of Cushing) and some of the trickiness involved in working with live cats on set. Interesting stuff.

    Aside from that we also get a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    The Uncanny - The Final Word:

    The Uncanny is pretty entertaining stuff, an amusing horror picture made all the better by an absolutely fantastic cast. Fans of classic horror and horror anthologies will appreciate this one, and Severin's Blu-ray release offers fans a fine way to experience the film.

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

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