Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 21st, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: Spain / USA, 1973 (Crypt of the Living Dead), South Africa, 1974 (House of the Living Dead)
Directors: Julio Salvador, Ray Danton (Crypt of the Living Dead), Ray Austin (House of the Living Dead)
Writers: Ricardo Ferrer, Lois Gibson, Julio Salvador, Lou Shaw (Crypt of the Living Dead), Marc Marais, John Brason (House of the Living Dead)
Cast: Andrew Prine, Mark Damon, Patty Shepard, Teresa Gimpera (Crypt of the Living Dead), Mark Burns, Shirley Anne Field, David Oxley, Margaret Inglis, Dia Sydow (House of the Living Dead)
DVD Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Approximate running times: 85 Minutes (Crypt of the Living Dead), 88 Minutes (House of the Living Dead)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English (Both Films)
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Crypt of the Living Dead: An archaeological dig accidentally awakens a vampire who then unleashes its fury on the inhabitants of an isolated island.
This film was originally released under the title of Hannah, Queen of the Vampires and in its original version it was a Spanish production that was directed by Julio Salvador whose resume includes films like They Killed a Corpse and as a screenwriter Devil’s Ransom. Then for its English language release additional scenes would be shot by Ray Danton (Death Master, Psychic Killer) and the film would receive one of its many titles changes.
The film starts off strong with an opening which lays outs the legend of a vampire named Hannah that is entomb in a crypt. From there things start too awry as there are real revelations or moments that create or maintain tension. With this middle section feeling overstuffed with filler to pad the overall length of the film. Fortunately all is not lost as the final acts gets things back on the straight and narrow. And the film’s finale serves up a satisfying finale.
As mentioned before the narrative has many issues and this extends to the pacing for this film. And though this cast features several recognizable faces like Andrew Prine (The Centerfold Girls), Mark Damon (House of Usher) and Patty Shepard (The Stranger and the Gunfighter). Unfortunately when it comes to the performances they can be summed up as adequate. With the only performance leaving any lasting impression being Teresa Gimpera (Night of the Devils, A Brief Vacation) in the role of Hannah the vampire. Ultimately this film’s strengths are limited to a few atmospheric moments.
House of the Living Dead: A mad scientist abducts volunteers for his diabolical experiment where he steals souls and keeps them in jars.
House of the Living Dead was directed by Ray Austin whose other notable films include 1,000 Convicts and a Woman and Virgin Witch.
Content wise, this film features many elements that have become all too familiar within the Horror film genre, most notably the use of a mad scientist in the role of the villain. And even its use of a family curse is thrown in for good measure. With all of these things how could anything go wrong?
They do and quickly, as this film is devoid of any tension and to further compound things is its inability to maintain, let alone establish any kind of momentum. Of course when it comes to pacing things move along at a snail’s pace from dull moment to the next. And when it comes to the performances in this film, none of them leave any lasting impression. Overall though this film features a strong premise, it is the execution of said premise which ultimately undermines this film.
Both films are presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves their intended aspect ratios. Vinegar Syndrome had previous released these two films as a limited edition Blu-Ray / DVD combo and here are my thoughts for the Blu-Ray transfers and their audio presentations.
When compared to previous releases Crypt of the Living Dead, this new release from Vinegar Syndrome vastly improves upon all previous home video releases for the film. A few areas of improvement include colors, image clarity, black and contrast levels. Also grain always looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
Included as an extra is the film House of the Living Dead that comes from a archival 35mm print that is not in as good of shape as this releases main feature Crypt of the Living Dead. Expect with this transfer issues with colors, contrast and darker scenes are lacking in regards to their image clarity.
Each film comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. Also included with this release are optional English SDH subtitles for both films.
The audio track for Crypt of the Living Dead is in good shape. There are no issues with distortion and background while present it is never intrusive. Also dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
The audio track for House of the Living Dead is at best an adequate audio experience. Background hiss is present throughout, at times volume needs to be adjusted to hear dialog and there are also issues in regards to distortion.
Besides the aforementioned second feature House of the Living Dead. The only other extra content included with this release is a trailer for Crypt of the Living Dead under the alternate title Hannah the Queen of the Vampires (1 minute 54 seconds). Overall this release gives those who misses out on the previous limited edition release a more affordable alternative to own these films.