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THE REPTILE ($30) isn't one of the best known Hammer horror movies, since it played as the second half of double feature with RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK. However, THE REPTILE features that wonderfully creepy Hammer atmosphere and tells a rather entertaining horror tale. THE REPTILE is set in a small Cornish village where a number of strange, unexplained deaths occur. Ray Barrett and Jennifer Daniel portray Harry and Valerie Spalding, a young couple that has moved into the cottage they have inherited from Harry's recently deceased brother. With so many mysterious deaths in the village, Harry's brother included, the townsfolk don't roll out the welcome wagon for Harry and Valerie.

However, when Harry and Valerie witness grisly demise of another villager, Harry decides to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his own brother's death. The investigation eventually leads Harry to the door of Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman), a theologian whose study of obscure occult practices has unleashed the mysterious reptilian creature that is plaguing the village. The cast of THE REPTILE also features Jacqueline Pearce, Michael Ripper, John Laurie, Marne Maitland and David Baron.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a really nice job with their DVD edition of THE REPTILE. The transfer frames the film at 1.85:1 and the DVD has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This first-rate treatment certainly makes me long for anamorphic enhanced editions of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS. THE REPTILE appears very sharp and offers a terrific level of detail for a 60ís production; even the shadowy recesses of the picture are beautifully rendered. Color reproduction is excellent, considering that THE REPTILE was released in the United States in DeLuxe color, which has a reputation for severe fading on fifties films of this vintage. All of the hues are recreated with a natural level of saturation and the flesh tones appear quite healthy. Neither chroma noise of bleeding effected color reproduction in any way. Blacks are accurately recreated and the image offers smooth contrast. The use of dual layer technology keeps digital compression artifacts at bay.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack has a pleasant, even tone and clean, intelligible dialogue. Additionally, music reproduction proves to be quite pleasant.

The interactive menus include music, but are otherwise very basic, providing the standard scene selection feature and access to the DVD's extras. A theatrical trailer, plus 20 and 60 second "combo" TV spots for THE REPTILE and RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK are featured, along with a 30-minute World Of Hammer episode entitled Vamp.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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