The Leopard Man - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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The Leopard Man


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Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

Scream factory has been making leaps and bounds in their efforts to bring us more and more varied horror/sci-fi films from different eras in 2019, and they have really been going backwards in time past their typical eras. We’ve had Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff films, Hammer horror films from the 60s, and a bunch of irradiated creature movies from the 50s, and now a classic creepfest from the 1940s called The Leopard Man. The Leopard Man is notable for being the first film of its time to tackle the idea of serial killers in film, and while it’s not nearly as “scary” as it must have been over 75 years ago, the subject matter certainly can bring a chill to the bone. As they have a tendency to do, Scream Factory has gone back and pulled a 4K scan to update the movie to the Blu-ray format and packed it with some pretty decent extras, including a brace of commentaries that are actually rather fun to listen to.

An escaped leopard acts as the inciting incident for this 1940s thriller. A publicity agent named Jerry Manning (Dennis O’Keefe) foists a tame leopard Kiki Walker (Jean Brooks), a young entertainer, to act as a publicity stunt for one of her acts. A rival artist named Clo-Clo (Spanish actress Margo) ends up scaring the poor beast and facilitates it running off into the night. To make sure that everyone is safe the beast is hunted down, but not before it’s too late and the leopard ends up killing a young Hispanic girl on her way back form the market. However, the beast escapes into the night, leading an entire cadre of villagers looking for it. To make matters worse the beast seems to have struck again, as the very next day another young woman is found murdered in a cemetery.

All of the signs seem to point to the leopard. Paw prints, scratches on the body, black hair. But for some reason Jerry isn’t so sure about it being an animal. The beast should have been frightened off into the surrounding New Mexican countryside, a fact that even the trainer believes is true as well. A new killing, this time of Clo-Clo, the entertainer who caused the beast to be startled in the first place, occurs and now Jerry is CONVINCED that this is the work of someone other than a beast, but the only thing is, he has to actually prove it.

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Looking back in time, The Leopard Man is more of a thriller than a horror movie, but it does come with sense of chills and thrills due to the tensions that’s built up as more and more innocent people end up being killed. It’s really the character building that gets the feelings across, especially with the two women who end up dead. The first young girl is terrifying when you think about it. All you can hear is scratching and screaming, ending up with blood dripping under the floor. With the second woman it’s all about how you care about her being a jilted lover. Clo-Clo is the saddest though, as we’ve spent half the movie understanding why she’s so brash and harsh outwardly. Her trying to take care of her young child is the heart wrenching thread that yanks hard when it comes her time to die in the film.

The Leopard Man does a great job of playing with your emotions. You’re not sure whether it’s the man or the beast, and the film toys with you every slightly, constantly making you second guess yourself and wonder who is really responsible. Even at the very end you’re not deadly certain and when the curtain is raised you’re left going “whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”. The film’s neo noir roots make it accessible for classic horror fans and classic mystery fans alike, and the brisk 66 minute run time keeps it from overstaying it’s welcome.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :4.5stars:
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The Leopard Man has been rescanned from the original negative, and looks rather amazing for a nearly 80 year old film. There’s a nice helping of grain in the image, but there’s a tone of natural detail and the grain doesn’t look noisy like some really old films tend to do. Imaging is clean and clear, with precise details in the shadowy film, and the black and white photography is quite alluring. It does look a tad soft at times, but the crisp shadow details and evenly balanced contrast makes up for that small little issue. it’s a great looking rescan, and Scream Factory’s encode allows for lots of breathing room on the bitrate to mitigate digital artifacting.








Audio: :4stars:
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The DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono track is exactly what would expect from a film of this age, including a rather minimalistic approach to the sound design. That being said, the vocals, score and ambient sound effects are clean and clearly replicated, and there’s some decent depth to the track. There’s a nice mild ambient hiss that is BARELY noticeable (I had to strain to hear it), but overall this is a very solid Mono track that is in great shape from what I could hear.








Extras: :2.5stars:
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• BRAND NEW 4K REMASTER STRUCK FROM THE ORIGINAL CAMERA NEGATIVE
• NEW Audio Commentary With Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr
• Audio Commentary With Filmmaker William Friedkin
• Theatrical Trailer
• Still Gallery









Final Score: :4stars:


Scream Factory’s desire to bring us a much more diverse catalog of horror films is commendable and very refreshing after their years of 60s-90s catalog titles. Not that I’m complaining as 80s and 90s horror films are my bread and butter, but these ultra classic titles are a fantastic change of pace and remind us how far the horror genre has come (or fallen if you think about it). The Blu-ray is stunning, with a fantastic rescan of the elements as well as a great sounding mono audio mix and a decent spread of extras. All in all, this release is well done and will appeal to fans of classic thrillers/horro films with ease.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, James Bell, Ben Bard, Tuulikki Paanaenen, Abner Biberman, Margaret Landry
Directed by: Jacques Tourneur
Written by: Ardel Wray, Edward Dein
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: NR
Runtime: 66 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 16th, 2019
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Recommendation: Recommended

 
Last edited:

Asere

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This one looks interesting. Thanks for the review.
 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Will check it out.
 
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