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Night Creatures (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Night Creatures (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: April 19th, 2022.
    Director: Peter Graham Scott
    Cast: Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper, Martin Benson
    Year: 1962
    Purchase From Amazon

    Night Creatures – Movie Review:

    Based on Russell Thorndike's book Doctor Syn - A Tale of Romney Marsh (with some names conveniently changed so as not to suffer the wrath of Disney), director Peter Graham Scott's Night Creatures (also known as Captain Clegg) takes place at Dymchurch, a small coastal town in 18th century England. The locals have apparently been seeing 'marsh phantoms' in the area and are quite convinced that something supernatural is afoot. Royal Navy Captain Collier (Patrick Allen), however, isn't so sure. When he and his men are sent to investigate a potential smuggling ring, he starts to figure that there's more to this than many of the locals realize.

    As Collier goes about trying to sort all of this out, he continues to butt heads with Parson Blyss (Peter Cushing), the local reverend who puzzlingly seems to be always at least one step ahead of him. Blyss is also quite mindful of his daughter Imogene (Yvonne Romain), who is involved with wealthy townsman Harry Cobtree (Oliver Reed). Complicating matters further is the presence of a mute (Milton Reid) who seems to know something about Blyss that the man of the cloth would prefer he did not.

    More of a mystery film than a traditional horror effort, Night Creatures makes for rousing entertainment. The story moves at a quick pace and throws in a few interesting twists and turns along the way. There's good suspense in the picture and as a sort of swashbuckling thriller and judged on those merits rather than preconceived notions or genre expectations, it works quite well. Director Peter Graham Scott, working from a screenplay by Anthony Hinds (screenplay) (as John Elder), controls the action well and gets very polished work out of his performers.

    Speaking of which, the acting here is pretty great. Peter Cushing is in very fine form as the mysterious Parson Blyss, putting a lot of energy and enthusiasm in to the part and looking perfect for it as well. A young Oliver Reed, already oozing charisma and screen presence at this point in his career, makes the most of a solid supporting role while pretty Yvonne Romain is quite good as the Parson's daughter. Patrick Allen is well cast and a great foil for Cushing's man of the cloth. Allen has an authoritarian vibe to his acting that suits the character really well and makes him stand out in the role. If that weren't enough, be on the lookout for a scene stealing Michael Ripper in a small part as the local undertaker.

    The film benefits from some impressive visuals, specifically those shots of the 'marsh phantoms' galloping on horseback across the darkened moors. Bernard Robinson's sets also add an element of class to the proceedings, they really do look great. The cinematography from Arthur Grant captures all of this quite nicely, and the film is not only nicely lit and quite atmospheric in appearance, but it makes great use of color and of shadow as well.

    Night Creatures – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory offers up Night Creatures on a 50GB Blu-ray with the transfer using up just over 24Gbs of space in its proper aspect ratio of 2.00.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation taken from a new 2k scan of the 35mm interpositive that looks quite nice, with detail really shining in the close up shots. Wide and medium range shots also show good depth and texture while color reproduction looks nice and accurate, never oversaturated or artificially boosted. The image is also quite clean, showing only the rare small white speck rather than any actual noticeable print damage. The picture's grain structure is left intact, there's no evidence of obvious noise reduction, nor are there any problems with edge enhancement or artificial sharpening. The movie is given a good bit rate on the disc, and as such there are no noticeable compression artifacts to note.

    The disc contains a 24-bit English language DTS HD-MA 2.0 Mono audio option with removable subtitles provided in English only. The track on the disc sounds fine. It’s properly balanced, clean and quite clear. The dialogue is easy to understand and there are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion to note. There’s even some surprising depth to the score in places where you might not expect it.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with Film Historian Bruce Hallenbeck, who notes that it's his favorite Hammer swashbuckler and that it's also known as Captain Clegg before then going on to offer up plenty of details on the different cast and crew members that worked on the picture, Peter Graham Scott's career, the film's connection to the Doctor Syn books and background details on those stories, what was shot on the studio lot versus different nearby locations, thoughts on the different performances in the picture, the Disney version of the story and how it compares to this version, how Oliver Reed's shoulder got broken in a car accident on the way to the set one day, the horror movie elements that are put into the film, how 'utterly and completely' Cushing was into playing the vicar and lots more.

    There are also a few new featurettes here, starting with Pulp Friction – The Cinematic Captain Clegg – An Interview With Author/Film Historian Kim Newman that runs for twenty-two minutes. In this piece, Newman, gives a history of the Doctor Syn novels, their popularity, the concepts that they frequently explore and some of the central characters that populate the stories and the different adaptations that have been made from these books over the years.

    The Hammer Must Fall: Peter Cushing’s Changing Directions – An Interview With Author/Film Historian Jonathan Rigby runs for twenty-eight minutes and goes into quite a bit of detail on why Cushing was so drawn to the film, what he liked about the story, the importance of the role to his career and how it helped prevent him from falling victim to typecasting, how the gothic elements allow the picture to serve as a horror films as well as a swashbuckler, the strength of the cast in the picture and other thoughts on the film and its qualities.

    The last of the new featurettes is Brian With Bowie – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Brian Johnson. In this piece, Johnson speaks about how he came to work on the film, what it was like working with Reed and Cushing, what he was specifically involved in during the making of the movie, working with his mentor Les Bowie, the use of matte paintings in the film and thoughts on a lot of the people that he worked with behind the scenes.

    Carried over from the British Blu-ray are two featurettes, the first of which is a thirty-two minute documentary entitled The Making Of Captain Clegg which is narrated by John Carson and features film historian Wayne Kinsey. We get to check out some of the locations as they look today and we get to learn about the film's origins, how the project came to be, the naming of the picture as Night Creatures, how the film went about adapting the Syn story for the big screen (with some welcome background information provided on the book and its author) and how/why the film was cast the way it was. We also learn about who did what behind the scenes, what occurred during the shoot, what was shot in a studio versus on location and loads more. There's a ton of great archival and behind the scenes photographs used throughout the presentation and Kinsey's research and Carson's narration do a great job of exploring the picture's history and place in the pantheon of the Hammer Films legacy.

    The second featurette is a seven minute long piece called The Mossman Legacy, in which Kinsey appears again to discuss and show off George Mossman's carriage collection and how certain models would wind up playing a fairly important part in this particular film. Again, lots of great archival photographs and ephemera here help to illustrate various points, this is quite well done. We also get some nice footage shot inside a carriage museum and Kinsey making some interesting observations about what the piece shows us.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are the original theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As to the packaging, Shout! Factory offers up a slipcover and some nice reversible cover art with their newly created art on one side and the original one sheet art on the reverse.

    Night Creatures - The Final Word:

    Night Creatures might not be a horror movie in the traditional sense but it is a great mix of action, adventure and intrigue with some occasionally macabre elements thrown into the mix for good measure. As you'd guess, is excellent in the lead role and it's fun to see a young Oliver Reed show up in a supporting part. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and c all of the extras from previously released editions as well as a few new ones thrown in for good measure. Recommended!

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Night Creatures Blu-ray screen caps!

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    • Gary Banks
      Gary Banks
      Senior Member
      Gary Banks commented
      Editing a comment
      I really like this movie and will upgrade once the price comes down a bit.
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