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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Mystery > Thriller > Supernatural > Vietnam > Canada > Noir > Short Story > Anthology > Detective > B > Deathdream 4K (1972/MVD/Blue Underground 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Never Open That Door (1952/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD Set)/Sherlock Holmes (1968 Peter Cushing TV Series/BBC*)/Sherlock Holmes

Deathdream 4K (1972/MVD/Blue Underground 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Never Open That Door (1952/Flicker Alley Blu-ray w/DVD Set)/Sherlock Holmes (1968 Peter Cushing TV Series/BBC*)/Sherlock Holmes and The Deadly Necklace (1962/*both Severin Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+* Picture: B/B & C+/C+/B Sound: B-/C+ & C/B-/C+ Extras: B/B/B-/C+ Main Programs: B+/C+/B-/C+

Here's a notable group of horror thrillers and mysteries you should know abbot and consider seeing...

Bob Clark's Deathdream 4K (1972) is back, upgraded once again by Blue Underground, who knows how to take care of genre classics as well as anyone. We reviewed the previous Blu-ray edition here...


Looking and sound great, like nothing since its original 35mm release, so many world events have happened since even the regular Blu-ray was issued of the film. As it may have lost some of its context to some, I wanted to get into the horror of this film in a way that shows why it is so great without ruining anything if you have not seen it or seen it for a long time.

When it was released, the few films dealing with the Vietnam fiasco were either noting them incidentally or they were about the male soldiers who came back home, all informed by the graphic footage (selectively picked as it was) being broadcast daily on the evening news. Though I have covered the ideas of patriarchy, family and the like that Robin Wood addressed, I wanted to give this a new context to go with it.

Like his later classic A Christmas Story, Clark does have an honest idea of a healthy family, even if there are some dysfunctions as accepted. That is true here too, from Andy (Richard Backus) somehow surviving his fatal gunshots because he hears (or thinks he hears) his mother calling for him. Is it the love of his family and mom that helps him or something else?

So the film is a twist on the slowly accumulating 'he came home' narratives in the big screen and TV at the time, but none with such horror, sadness and terror until Scorsese's Taxi Driver in its own way. Add the draft and the majority of people who did not know the full extent to which Vietnam was a mess perpetuated by money, genocide and lies in the guise of 'fighting communism' and you can see how Andy and his family are a victim of like the majority who were tricked. We'll see this played out more explicitly in films like Ashby's Coming Home and Cimino's The Deer Hunter the same year of 1978.

So the family is in darkness, we are in darkness, the truth of what Andy becomes hides in darkness and we have to see how this all plays out. Clark pulls out all the stops and really delivers here. Now you know what you might be missing if you never saw the film before or have not for a long time.

Extras mostly repeat the previous extras on the regular Blu-ray upgrade (save the booklet the older Blu-ray offered, not in our 4K copy here) adding the new featurette: The Real Andy; a new interview with Gary Swanson and the 4K only offers the three feature length audio commentary tracks (including a brand new one by Troy Haworth & Nathaniel Thompson) and the Original Theatrical Trailer, but they are solid extras and the film deserves all of them.

Carlos Hugo Christensen's Never Open That Door (1952) has two feature films that originally were to form a trilogy anthology project, but landed up being issued like this and surviving as such. They also qualify as Noir from Argentina, though it is arguable that the sometimes supernatural-leaning aspects of the stories (to whatever extent they actually are and they are at least somewhat) negates the Noir label a bit because Noir is about total realism despite its roots being in the likes of German Expressionist Cinema that was horror-film heavy and the accompanying detective films that never shied away from supernatural implications or a supernatural look, even when the films were not supernatural.

Never Open That Door and If I Should Die Before I Wake were produced around the same time, well within the original Noir era from 1941 to 1958, but are all based on Cornell Woolrich (aka William Irish) stories, one of the most important authors in all of Noir. The first story of the first film involves a woman (Renee Dumas) is in trouble and debt when her brother finds out from a constantly ringing phone with few answers. He slowly finds out more and more about why and decides to start to see what he can do about it.

The second part of the film is The Hummingbird Comes Home, where a home invasion by some criminals happens to pick the home of a blind woman who they underestimate, but that turns out to be a mistake. This may be the most effective of the three and most realistic, reminding one of the later versions of The Desperate Hours (1955 and 1990, bothy reviewed elsewhere on this site) in some ways, yet is its own tale.

If I Should Die Before I Wake is the most problematic on the three since it has child-in-jeopardy issues, pushes religion in a way that is totally atypical of any real Noir and gets a bit heavy handed. When it leaves that nonsense aside, it plays as well as the 1949 The Window (restored by Warner Archive and reviewed elsewhere on this site on Blu-ray) based on the work of the same writer, later inspiring Hitchcock's 1954 classic Rear Window.

Here, Lucho (a very effective, young Nestor Zavarce) is a troubled school kid with a loving mom and strict police detective dad who is getting in trouble at school as well. It may seem like a normal troubled kid situation, but one of the gals he knows disappears and he actually sees her go with an unknown older man before she is gone for good. He wants to say something, but holds it in thinking no one will believe him and that could have been the end of it. Then a second gal he knows well in class also disappears and this time, he tries to tell what he saw, but he gets shut down for other reasons.

Feeling guilty and sick of the nightmare situation, he sneaks out of the house to investigate himself, but will he get caught and in more trouble before he finds a key clue to save the next gal if it is not too late?

I will not say more and the film has its moments, but it has issues that deserve a separate essay that does not belong here. Had the problematic parts been cut down or even out, it would have made the film a little better, but censorship notwithstanding, there are still other issues. The film was almost lost, so now you can see it for yourself and see what I mean. Even with all that, it is worth a good look.

Once again, Flicker Alley has delivered and saved more classic films and almost lost films, giving them top rate treatment and presentation, films everyone should see at least once and film fans will want to go out of their way to catch these.

Extras (per the press release, all good) include:

  • Introduction to Never Open That Door (aka No abras nunca esa puerta) and If I Should Die Before I Wake (aka Si muero antes de despertar) by author, film historian, and 'noirchaeologist' Eddie Muller

  • If I Should Die Before I Wake (Si muero antes de despertar,) an exceedingly rare archival conservation scan of Carlos Hugo Christensen's third part of the film trilogy

  • Audio Commentary for Never Open That Door (No abras nunca esa puerta) by author and film historian Guido Segal

  • New Documentary on Cornell Woolrich, produced by Steven C. Smith and writer/film historian Alan K. Rode, and featuring interviews with writer/film historians Gary Phillips, Maria Elena de las Carreras, and Halley Sutton

  • Newly Recorded Conversation with Argentina's leading film archivist and cinema historian Fernando Martin Pena

  • High Quality Souvenir Booklet with rare original photographs, posters, and ephemera

  • and Reversible Cover Artwork.

In 1959, Peter Cushing and Hammer Films teamed up to make a Technicolor feature film version of the Sherlock Holmes classic The Hound Of The Baskervilles, which we reviewed at this link:


It was meant to launch a movie series that sadly never happened, but should have. About a decade later, that was realized enough that the BBC decided to get Cushing for the second season (aka series in British TV terms), replacing the underrated, unhappy with the show Douglas Wilmer in their new Holmes TV series and the result was Sherlock Holmes in 1968 and was originally issued in the Severin Cushing Curiosities Blu-ray box set. Nigel Stock plays Doctor Watson, William Lucas as Inspector Lastrade, Grace Arnold as Mrs. Hudson and despite the BBC's infamous lack of preservation issues, six of sixteen episodes survive, including Cushing in another Hound Of The Baskervilles adaption.

A Study In Scarlet, The Blue Carbuncle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery and The Sign of Four are the other surviving shows and after taking another look, it is a shame they are not all around because this is a smart show and one of the better Holmes TV shows, even after a few successes since (Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch are great actors, but I never bought them in the role despite their huge critical and commercial success in the role) so fans who have not seen these should go out of their way for them.

Besides the solid pacing, directing and writing to go with the acting, guest stars include Nick Tate (from Space: 1999, et al,) John Tate, Ed Bishop (Anderson's U.F.O.,) Dorothy Edwards (The Owl Service,) Gabriella Licudi (The Liquidator,) Madge Ryan (Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange,) Gary Raymond, Ann Bell, Michael Godfrey, Paul Daneman, John Stratton, Michael Robbins and Frank Middlemass.

For the record, lost episode adaptions with key actors listed include The Second Stain (with Cecil Parker,) The Dancing Men, The Greek Interpreter (with Edward Hardwicke and Nigel Terry,) The Naval Treaty (with Peter Bowles and Dennis Price,) Thor Bridge (with Juliet Mills, Willoughby Gray, Isa Miranda (The Night Porter,) Henry Oscar and Grant Taylor,) The Musgrave Ritual (Georgia Brown and Norman Wolland,) Black Peter (Grace Arnold, Ilona Rogers and Jerold Wells,) Wisteria Lodge (Walter Gotell, Tutte Lemkow, Roy Stewart and Richard Pearson,) Shoscombe Old Place (Nigel Green, Edward Woodward (!!!,) Kevin Lindsay and Peter Miles) and The Solitary Cyclist (Peter Miles, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell) showing how many great shows form this series have been lost. And that's just in this season!

Cushing could play heroes as well as he could villains and has played the greatest of all time of both. Compared to his work in the 1959 film, he simply picks up where he left off effortlessly and without looking like he even needs to try. There is some chemistry here between cast members and though some people had issues with some of the teleplays, this is still well done and recommended.

Extras include (per the press release; they are all good) Feature-Length Audio Commentaries For All Episodes Featuring Kim Newman, Author Of Anno Dracula, Barry Forshaw, Author Of Brit Noir and David Stuart Davies, Author Of Starring Sherlock Holmes: A Century Of The Master Detective On Screen

  • All Episodes Available With BBC Countdown Clock

  • Illustrated Peter Cushing Audio Interview With David Stuart Davies

  • Lost Segments With Optional Commentary By Jonathan Rigby, Author Of English Gothic, and Horror Historian Kevin Lyons.

And last but not least, Terence Fisher's Sherlock Holmes and The Deadly Necklace (1962) is a German and German-language Holmes movie that happens to have Christopher Lee in the lead role and speaking English. Originally issued in the first volume of the Severin Lee Eurocrypt Blu-ray box set, Lee said that he wished he could have rerecorded the sound for the film (more on that later) but it makes for a very interesting entry in his film career, German cinema and Sherlock Holmes movies.

The title object apparently belonged to no less than Cleopatra found by an archeologist in Egypt, but something is definitely afoot when Holmes and Doctor Watson (Hammer veteran Thorley Walters) find out that Moriarty (German acting veteran Hans Sohnker) is involved, Lee's Holmes is more wild and unhinged here, a nice alternate take he felt was closer tot he original print versions.

Senta Berger (The Terror Of Dr. Mabuse, The Victors, Major Dundee, The Quiller Memorandum, Puzzle, The Swiss Conspiracy, Cross of Iron,) Ivan Desny (Danilella By Night, The Invisible Terror, Secret Of The Sphinx, The Beckett Affair, Code Name: Kill, Guns For San Sebastian, Mayerling, Who?, Paper Tiger, Marriage Of Maria Braun,) Leon Askin and other veteran German actors (more than a few in Dr. Mabuse films) are very good here and likely propelled Lee's Holmes into a different, welcome direction.

Lee is good here, but not in his usual element, which I actually like and though everyone is speaking German but him, he plays it like he understands every word and the conviction with which he is Holmes works just fine here. It is not a great Holmes film overall, but a unique, special and one-of-a-kind film that would make for a great night of viewing with some of the older silent versions and a few other odd ones at that. It can be uneven, but I landed up liking it much more than not and older copies I tried to watch looked horrid, so nice to see it saved like this.

If you have never seen it before or seen it in the endlessly terrible copies circulating on home video all these decades, you have to see this restoration to really appreciate what Severin has done here.

As a nod to this film, Lee shows up as Holmes' brother in Billy Wilder's insanely underrated The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, feature-length audio commentary track by film writers/scholars Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw, Tony Dalton on Terence Fisher and Tony Dalton interviews Terence Fisher, who later directed the Cushing The Hound Of The Baskervilles.

We should note that the Lee Eurocrypt Blu-ray box set noted has a great disc of his underrated, almost lost anthology horror/mystery TV series Theater Macabre from 1971 to 1972, which we hope to cover as a single from Severin if it ever gets issued. In the meantime, we recommend his two later such anthology series that are also underrated and deserve a much larger audience than they have. Edgar Allen Poe's tales Of Mystery & Imagination from 1995 in an older, out of print DVD pressing:


That has been reissued by VEI on DVD, but a special edition Blu-ray with extras would be nice and the animated Extraordinary Tales from 2003:


Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Deathdream 4K is great, show some age from the low budget and slight imperfections of the negative, but looks grainy and dark as intended with some great color and shots that are just above my rating. Now it looks great and I have never seen it look this good in all these years. The new 1080p Blu-ray looks slightly better than the older Blu-ray as well. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on both versions is as good as this film will ever sound, though I wonder if 2.0 Mono would have been a little better. Otherwise, another winner for Blue Underground.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Door can show the age of the materials used, but some solid restoration work has been done here and it shows, which extends to the also 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white If I Should Die Before I Wake, but the surviving materials were nto in as good a shape. Still, it has some nice shots that holdup and look good and even great here thanks to Director of Photography Pablo Tabernero. Both offer PCM 2.0 Mono sound that shows the age, budget limits and condition of the surviving materials that were used to make the restorations. Good thing they held up as well as they did, because there are some rough sections and even English subtitles can only do so much.

The DVD included has both films in 1.33 X 1 black & white centered in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 frame and are passable and softer than the Blu-ray, here for convenience. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also softer and weaker.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the Cushing Sherlock Holmes episodes were shot on early PAL analog color video with some 16mm color filming outdoors (PAL analog progressive scan video cameras would get damaging, permanent dots on their tubes if used outside, so they shot outdoor scenes on film instead as standard practice for British TV video productions) and of course, these surviving shows can show the age of the materials used, but the upgrading and upscaling is as good as the Tom Baker Doctor Who Blu-rays (see elsewhere on this site) but still can have analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color and tape damage. Otherwise, these are almost as good as we could expect, though too bad the 16mm film sections did not survive as far as we know, as they could have been 4K scanned and added to the tape upscaling for better performance.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on the Holmes/Necklace film can also show the age of the materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film coming from a 2K scan of the 35mm negative. I like the depth and detail, though maybe we'd get something more out of a 4K scan, this is well shot considering the budget and its age. Video Black is nice, as is Video White. Soundtracks are here in a trying German and very trying English dub versions, save Lee actually speaking the English, while the person dubbing him in German does not quite work. Still, it is a film with some good moments.

Both Severin Holmes releases have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes for all soundtracks and the original monophonic sound has been as cleaned up and restored as possible, though they all have age issues, so expect some issues. Otherwise, the TV episodes will never sound as good and the feature films, if new soundtrack materials are somehow unearthed in the future, might be able to be fixed a bit, but this is as good as its soundtracks will also likely ever sound.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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