The Reptile - Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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The Reptile


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



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Movie

The last and final Hammer horror release for the week of July 30th is 20th Scream Factory’s release of the 1966 film The Reptile. Now, I love me some Hammer Horror films, but while I love them to death I fully understand that they can be a bit cheesy and hammy to some. However, The Reptile is one of Hammer’s best works in the 60s, and easily one of my favorite Hammer production works of all time. The Dracula works with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are their more famous ones, but The Reptile is an ooey gooey mess of creature horror, intense suspense and some fantastic use of makeup and set design for the low budget British production company. Scream Factory brings the movie to U.S. shores for the first time on Blu-ray with a killer set of audio/video specs, and some really great extras to boot.

The village of Clagmoor Heath in southern Cornwall is having an epidemic of strange deaths that they label “the black plague”. Random villages show up dead in the village square with their faces mottled, their tough swollen, and spittle on their mouth. No one seems to know WHY they show up dead, just that they do. After his brother falls prey to this malady, Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) and his wife Mallory (Jennifer Daniel) move into his dead brother’s cottage so that he and his new bride can start a new life together. Little do they know that they very well may be the next victims of the vile curse staining the village.

As the two move in they notice that they’re shunned by the entire village. The only friendship that they can seem to court is the Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman) and his demure daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce), who are a bit “odd” to say the least. Anna seems kind and happy to be friends with Mallory, but Dr. Franklyn borders on cruel and overly harsh to Anna for some reason. Unbeknownst to the two Spaldings, Anna and the good Dr. are at the heart of the entire matter and if they’re not careful, they to will fall prey to the clutches of a monster who feeds on human flesh.

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The Reptile is a true delight for Hammer Horror fans everywhere. While most Hammer films are cheesy fun, The Reptile is actually a well done horror movie outside of being a Hammer release. The film builds up a sense of dread and tension throughout, with the audience knowing full well that the Franklyns are the cause, even though the Spaldings have no idea of the danger they are in. However, there are also a few twists and turns in the motives of certain characters, showing a few double backs and hidden surprises that show up in the second half of the film, redeeming some characters and turning others into more than we suspected (it may seem like I’m being a bit cryptic there, but I have a reason as I don’t want to spoil the fun).

I have to admit, I was on pins and needles the first time I saw the film years back, and it’s not because of the reptilian monster threat. It was because of the tiny little kitten that Mallory has that gets captured by the Franklyns. For near 30 minutes I was waiting with this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t get eaten by the reptilian monster (spoiler, the cat is ok). I guess it’s the cat lover in me.

All around this is a well acted film. Dr. Franklyn is disturbing in his aristocratic way, and Harry and Mallory Spalding do well as the confused newlyweds. The ending is sadly a bit weaker than I would have liked, but up until that climactic moment this was one of the most tense and exciting rides that Hammer has the pleasure to offer.




Rating:

Not Rated by the MPAA




Video: :4.5stars:
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Scream factory has released The Reptile with no information as to a new scan for this release, but the master that they had to work with looks great. You also have the option to choose to view the film in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio (which actually has a lower video bitrate I noticed) or the 1.85:1 theatrical version (it was released differently in different areas supposedly). Both look just about identical outside of the extra material on the sides for the 1.85:1 framing, and the release is incredibly detailed for a 1966 Hammer film. The colors are your typical 60s look, with yellows and earth tones for the daylight shots, and the night is bathed in cool blues and hints of pale green (something Hammer films are always awash in). Fine details are actually incredible outside of a handful of shots. The opening scene is overly grainy and bleak, but that soon fades away to luscious details and well saturated colors. The grain level for this encode is nice and healthy, but never obtrusive outside of a few spots, and the blacks look nice and deep. I wasn’t expecting a transfer this organic and this natural looking, but The Reptile really is top notch.









Audio: :4.5stars:
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The DTS-HD MA Mono track is rather impressive as well, and one of the better ones I’ve heard from these Hammer films in the last week. While it’s not a surround sound mix, or even a 2.0 stereo mix, the Mono track does quite well for itself, with a robust score and very clean dialog. I didn’t even notice more than a few moments of analog hiss, and the crispness of it all is refreshing. The 1.66:1 version DOES have a Mono Dolby Digital track instead of the lossless track, and that sadly shows a little drop in quality to 192 kpbs lossy audio. It just isn’t as punchy and robust to my ears, even after level matching.










Extras: :4stars:
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• Audio Commentary By film historians Steve Haberman, Constantine Nasr and Ted Newsom
• The Serpent’s Tale: The Making of The Reptile
The World of Hammer: Wicked Women
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery
• Poster and Lobby Card Gallery










Final Score: :4stars:


The Reptile is one of Hammer’s greatest pictures in my humble opinion, and a fun horror movie to boot. It has great atmosphere, great acting, very little cheese, and some really awesome makeup for the black death and reptile herself. I personally thought Hammer would have make a sequel to it over the years, but sadly they didn’t Scream Factory’s release comes with great video, great audio and a whole slew of extras that really make this one worth picking up if you’re a Hammer Horror fan.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Noel Williams, Jennifer Daniel, Ray Barrett, Jacqueline Pearce, Michael Ripper, John Laurie, Marne Maitland
Directed by:John Gilling
Written by: Anthony Hinds
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 AVC / 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (1.66:1 version only)
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: NR
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 30th, 2019
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Recommendation: Great Watch

 
Last edited:

Asere

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This one seems really interesting. I may buy it soon as I doubt it will make it to Netflix/Prime. Thanks for the review.
 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Never heard of this or seen it before reading about it. I agree, looks interesting. Will try and check it out.
 

Michael Scott

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It's one of the better horror/hammer experiences from the 60s for sure.
 

tripplej

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That is great to hear. Haven't seen hardly any of the 60s generated flicks so this knowledge makes it worth watching. :)
 
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