Friday, April 6, 2018

A STUDY IN TERROR (1965) (Mill Creek Blu-ray Review)


Label: Mill Creek Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 (No Subtitles) 
Video: 1080P HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: James Hill
Cast: John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Barbara Windsor, Adrienne Corri 

A Study In Terror (1965) has the distinction of being the first film to pit Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictitious detective Sherlock Holmes against the infamous real-life serial killer Jack The Ripper, and it's a ripping good watch! Sherlock Holmes (John Neville, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen) and his awe-struck sidekick Dr. Watson (Donald Houston, Maniac) become entangled in the mystery of Jack the Ripper, a bloodletting madman on the loose in London's East End, ripping apart prostitutes in a gruesome fashion on a near nightly basis.

John Neville makes for an appropriately smug and brilliant Sherlock who is aided by his loyal friend and sidekick Dr. Watson, played wonderfully by Houston, his character comically in awe of the Sherlock's almost supernatural process of deduction. They find themselves embroiled in a mystery that involves the local aristocracy and an entanglement of blackmail, disfigurement, East End whores and insanity. The film is populated by a great cast, we have the bird-faced Robert Morely (Theatre of Blood) as Holmes flustered diplomat brother, and Frank Finlay (The Deadly Bees) as the impotent Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, a role he reprised in director Bob Clark's own Sherlock versus Ripper tale Murder By Decree (1979), plus a bevy of attractive British lasses playing the ladies of the night, most of whom meet their bloody end at the end of the Ripper's blade, the most memorable of the bunch being Barbara Windsor (of the Carry On films) as the mouthy wise-cracker Annie Chapman and the truly lust-inspiring Edina Ronay (Prehistoric Women) as Mary Jane Kelly, who while trying to seduce the clandestine Ripper says something to the effect of "I'm proper new I am" in an attempt to sell herself as a not too-used prostitute!

This is a Sherlock film firing on all-cylinders in my opinion, very entertaining and surprisingly violent, the kills are hugely enjoyable with the usual stalk and slash set-ups on the fog-shrouded London streets we've come to expect from a proper Ripper film, seamlessly blended with the almost supernatural detective work of Sherlock Holmes. The first kill of the film has a lady of the night killed by being stabbed through her neck from one side to the other, and another kill of a woman whose head is forced under water is near artful in it's execution, there's plenty of that vintage Kensington-gore on display, this thing is loaded with a surprising amount of bloody murder for the time it was made.     

Audio/Video: A Study In Terror (1965) arrives on Blu-ray from distributor Mill Creek Entertainment , framed in 1.85:1 widescreen the image looks quite good, there's a nice layer of un-perverted film grain present, carrying with it some nice detail in textures of both he facial and fabric kind. There's some minor print damage throughout with the occasional vertical line and white speckling, but otherwise this is a nice looking presentation, some of the red and blues really pop. 

The sole audio option comes by way of an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 track, it's not the most depthful presentation but it's clean and free of distortion, with the dialogue seemingly a bit thin at times, but the score from John Scott (Insemenoid, Symptoms) comes though nicely. There are no subtitle options. 

The single-disc Blu-ray release comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork which looks like a black and white variation of the RCA distributed VHS artwork with a splash of red across it, the disc features the same key-art. This release, at least the initial pressing, comes with a slipcover (o-card) which is different than the sleeve of artwork, looking to be a water color re-interpretation of the vintage illustrated one-sheet - it's a very attractive looking slip, even the spine has cool lettering that looks nice on the shelf. There are no extras on this release, not even a trailer, which is a bummer, it would have been a nice addition to an otherwise bare-bones release.     

Fans of Hammer-styled thrillers and Jack the Ripper films should have a blast with A Study In Terror (1965), this slice of Victorian-era Ripper sleuthing from Sherlock wasn't the sure-schlock I've read it to be in the past, this was a nice discovery for me and a Hell of an entertaining watch, highly recommended. 

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