Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 12th, 2016
BluRay released: September 13th, 2016
Approximate running time: 77 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Olive Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: A renowned doctor returns to the home he once shared with his first wife Margaret. It has been twelve years since Margaret’s untimely death and since then the doctor has a new bride named Cynthia. Shortly after their arrival things take a turn for the worse, when it becomes apparent that the doctor has become fixated on the past. And with Cynthia’s blood he will be able to resurrect the only woman e truly loved Margaret.
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock was directed by Riccardo Freda, a prolific filmmaker who is most remembered for his work within the Gothic Horror and Peplum genres. Notable films that he directed / co-directed include, I vampire, The Witch’s Curse, The Ghost, Double Face, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, Tragic Ceremony and Murder Obsession. Key collaborators on The Horrible Dr. Hichcock include, cinematographer Raffaele Masciocchi (The Wild Eye), composer Roman Vlad (Caltiki, the Immortal Monster) and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (The Long Hair of Death, The Whip and the Body).
The U.S. release version of this runs about seventy-seven minutes and it was released under The Horrible Dr. Hichcock. When the film was released in the UK is was under the title The Terror of Dr. Hichcock which reportedly runs six minutes longer than the U.S. release version. The film’s Italian language title L’orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock roughly translates into The Frightening Secret of Dr. Hichcock and this version of the film is longest known version at around eighty-eight minutes.
The foundation for what is now known as the Italian Gothic Horror genre can be traced back to I vampire and though the genre has continued to evolve over the years. With this genre reaching its apex during the first half of the 1960’s. With the main director’s working within this genre being, Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti and Ricardo Freda
After co-directing with Mario Bava I vampire, Freda would not return to the Italian Gothic Horror genre until five years later with is arguably one of the best films to emerge form this genre, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock. The film premise dealing with Necrophilia was well ahead of its time. The narrative is meticulously constructed and each new revelation is given just the right amount of time to resonate. Also pacing is never an issues and the main characters and their motivations are well defined.
The one thing that can make or break, even the most well intentioned Italian Gothic Horror film are its visuals. Fortunately, this is not the case with The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, a film that delivers is spades when it comes to creating atmospheric visuals that drive the mood the story at hand. With this film’s standout moment visually being the moment when the once thought dead first wife shows her replacement that she is alive and well and more importantly ready to take back what she once had.
Performance wise the weight of this film rests on the shoulders on its leading lady Barbara Steele (The She Beast / Shivers) in the role of Cynthia Hichcock. Other notable performances include, Robert Flemyng (The Blood Beast of Terror) in the role of Doctor Hichchcock and Maria Teresa Vianello (The Giants of Thessaly) in the pivotal role of Margaret, the doctors deceased who is not ready just yet to let go of the man she loves.
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. It should be noted that the version included for this release from Olive Films is the U.S. release version of the film. The source used is in very good shape (most likely a U.S. theatrical release print) and though there are some mild instances of color fluctuation. The colors for the majority of the presentation often look vibrant. Outside of few nighttime moments which look softer then the bulk of this presentation, the black levels they fare well and details generally look crisp. Print related damage is very minimal and never intrusive and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio is in good shape and though there is noticeable background hiss that varies in degree throughout, it is never too distracting. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise things sounds as good as one would expect for a foreign dubbed film of this vintage and the ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
This release comes with no extra content. There is a static menu which gives you three options, play the film, chapter selection and subtitle option. Overall the U.S. theatrical version of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock gets a strong audio / video presentation from Olive Films.
Note: Olive Films are also releasing this film on DVD.