Yesterday's Enemy (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (24th July 2018).
The Film

Limited Blu-ray Edition (World premieres on Blu-ray)
Four classic and controversial works from the vaults of Hammer Films, all released on Blu-ray for the very first time. Containing a wealth of new and archival extra features - including exclusive new documentaries and appreciations, insightful interviews with actors and crew members, audio commentaries with essential Hammer personnel including Barbara Shelley and Jimmy Sangster, and four extensive booklets - this stunning Limited Edition Box Set is strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units.

Video

The three B&W scope films look very strong with a splendid balance of contrast and darkness displaying plenty of highlights and lovely, velvety deep blacks with absolutely no signs of crush. The contrast ratio is mellower due to them all being shot anamorphically (Hammerscope / Regalscope) which lends the image a slight softness when compared to Terror of the Tongs which was in colour, sharper and shot open aperture 1.37:1 but matted between 1.66:1 and 1.85:1 depending in the market.

Background detail continues to be sharp and closeups are stunning with skin and fabric textures once again coming to the fore. Grain is fine and dense with another Mackensie’s encode ensuring that the image is even and well processed. No distracting clumping or holes no matter how close to the image the viewer sits.

The B&W images remain sharp and clear throughout with the only notable degradation being at obvious moments where optical effects are used; usually at scene changes and in the credits sequences. Major improvements over the DVDs. There are no signs of print damage that I noticed and it would seem the source materials have been looked after with great care. Also no signs of digital artefacts or tinkering with the image such as DNR or edge enhancement.

Terror of the Tongs looks frankly fabulous; rich, velvety colours throughout displaying THE classic Hammer Horror look we’ve all come to love and expect from them. Detail is excellent and like the other three titles a major bump over the old DVDs from Sony. Black levels are as good as can be with no crush or loss of detail; contrast allows detail to shine with no blowouts. The grain field is fine becoming courser during optical fades or scene changes but is never overwhelming.

The encodes are all excellent with no artefacts, clumping or holes in the grain evident. The images are about as good as can be expected given the transfers provided by Sony and shy of a 4K release. Topnotch work from Powerhouse.

1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC / The Camp on Blood Island, Yesterday’s Enemy and The Stranglers of Bombay 2.35:1 and Terror of the Tongs 1.66:1 / The Camp on Blood Island, 80:57; Yesterday’s Enemy, 94:41 & 94:33; The Stranglers of Bombay, 80:17, 79:52 & 80:21; Terror of the Tongs, 76:22

Audio

English LPCM 1.0

Subtitles: English HoH

Audio on all of this very much the same. As with the images Sony have really looked after these films and the fidelity considering they’re very old 1.0 tracks is excellent; about as good as these soundtracks could be. These being low budget efforts the sound design is basic but they’ve all been well done and have aged well. I could hear no signs of distortions and the balance betwixt dialogue, sound effects and score has been handled so that dialogue is given the primary focus.

Subtitles have been provided which is very welcome for those fans who are hearing impaired.

Extras

Audio commentary in The Camp on Blood Island by Barbara Shelley and Stephen Laws
Audio commentary on The Stranglers of Bombay with David Z. Goodman (on the US theatrical version only)
Audio commentary on Terror of the Tongs with Jimmy Sangster, Chris Barnes and Marcus Hearn


The Shelley / Laws track is filled with very warm reminiscences from both commentators and ends at 76:34; Shelley about the film and her career and Laws about his experiences as a fan. Laws also delivers hugely on the technical and historical details of the production. The two vintage tracks with David Z. Goodman (writer of Straw Dogs, 1971), Jimmy Sangster, Chris Barnes and moderator Marcus Hearn (co-writer of The Hammer Story, 1997) are mainly very focused on the films in question and the experiences and nuts and bolts of making the films. Sangster was famously quite self deprecating and with a ready wit and that is much in evidence here. Goodman is solo but worthwhile and with plenty of great info. Shelley is surprisingly verbose given she’s 86 and a stroke sufferer and is sounding her age.

“The Guardian Interview with Val Guest: Conducted by Jonathan Rigby at the National Film Theatre, London on 12 May 2005” plays as an alternate audio track over the film (45:37)

Guest is on lively form for another superb screen talk discussing his long and varied career in both film and television. Rigby is a splendid MC and keeps things popping along. Masses of information is imparted.

“The Brutal Truth: Inside The Camp on Blood Island” featurette (25:51)
“Total War: Inside Yesterday’s Enemy” featurette (24:43)
“Ritual Murder: Inside The Stranglers of Bombay” featurette (16:47)
“Hatchet Men: Inside The Terror of the Tongs” featurette (21:30)


More in the series of superb retrospectives found on Powerhouse and Studio Canal Hammer releases with Jonathan Rigby, Alan Barnes (co-writer of The Hammer Story, 1997) and narrator Claire Louise Amias (Mrs. Rigby). These are short, talking heads retrospectives with Rigby and Barnes filling us in on the detail and background of each production. We also get poster art, stills and clips to illustrate points. The focus in these four is on the controversial, politically incorrect nature of the four films in question which are amongst the hardest Hammer films to see ... until the advent of DVD and now Blu-ray.

“Hammer’s Women: Kat Ellinger on Mary Merrall” featurette (10:22)
“Hammer’s Women: Becky Booth on Edwina Carroll” featurette (7:56)
“Hammer’s Women: Colette Balmain on Jan Holden” featurette (5:32)
“Hammer’s Women: Laura Mayne on Yvonne Monlaur” featurette (6:02)


Four more in the ongoing series of featurettes that focus on the actresses in Hammer films. A continuation of the series exclusive to these Indicator Hammer releases. Informative, brief and interesting. Mayne is the most natural presenter here and she displays passion about her subject.

“The Stranglers of Bombay and the Censor: An Interview with Ex-BBFC Examiner Richard Falcon” featurette (26:56)
“About the Versions” featurette (6:35)


Fascinating and informative pieces about the films troubled history with the BBFC and showing how they varied in their editing.

“From Light to Dark: Steve Chibnall on Val Guest and The Camp on Blood Island” featurette (17:42)
“Stephen Laws Introduces Yesterday’s Enemy” featurette (8:06)
“New Territory: Steve Chibnall on Yesterday’s Enemy” featurette (12:53)
“Stephen Laws Introduces The Terror of the Tongs” featurette (8:03)


Four pieces in which professional fans - writers both - discussing the films and those who made them.

“Musical Orientalism: David Huckvale on Composer James Bernard and The Stranglers of Bombay” featurette (16:59)
“Hammer and Tongs: David Huckvalle on Composer James Bernard and The Terror of the Tongs” featurette (10:21)


Huckvale should be consulted on every film and every TV show ever made and included on every DVD or Blu-ray passing witty and informed comment on the musical scores ... with his piano obviously. This guy is one of THE most entertaining raconteurs working on DVD / Blu-ray extras with a fabulous dapper style and filled with fascinating commentary backed by great passion and knowledge of the subjects.

“Return to Blood Island: An Interview with Continuity Supervisor Renée Glynne“ (3:28)
“Frontline Dispatches: Hugh Harlow and Peter Allchorne Recall Yesterday’s Enemy” featurette (8:08)
“Shear Terror: An Interview with Assistant Costume Designer Yvonne Blake” (2:40)


Three short pieces from folks who actually worked on the productions; short but enjoyable. Sadly, Blake has recently died.

The Camp on Blood Island Theatrical Trailer (2:10)
Yesterday’s Enemy Theatrical Trailer (2:44)
The Stranglers of Bombay Theatrical Trailer (2:02)
Trailers from Hell with Brian Trenchard Smith on The Stranglers of Bombay (3:50)
Terror of the Tongs Theatrical Trailer (2:30)


Hammer trailers were filled with hyperbole and these are all no different, despite the two World War II films being ill-served by the approach as they should have been promoted more sensitively given the critical responses they got. None the less, these artefacts are great fun to watch now. It would be wonderful if a disc label would do a Blu-ray with restored, remastered trailers for every Hammer film regardless of genre in order of production covering the whole history of the company 1936-present.

Brian Trenchard-Smith is one of the great raconteurs in the film business and I’ve watched all of his Trailers from Hell instalments and they’re splendid and informative ... and highly amusing.

The Camp on Blood Island Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (56 images)
Yesterday’s Enemy Image Gallery: Original Promotional Gallery (129 images)
The Stranglers of Bombay Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (48 images)
The Terror of the Tongs Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (53 images)


286-images spread across four still galleries, all in HD. Fairly substantial and a wonderful addition to the set.

40-page liner notes booklet on The Camp on Blood Island with a new essay by Kim Newman, interview extracts from an interview with Val Guest, extracts from the promotional brochure, analysis of the novelisation and vintage critical responses

40-page liner notes booklet on Yesterday’s Enemy with a new essay by Neil Mitchell, interview extracts from interviews with Val Guest, Michael Carreras and Peter R. Newman, extracts from the promotional brochure, analysis of the novelisation and vintage critical responses

40-page liner notes booklet on The Stranglers of Bombay with a new essay by James Oliver, a piece on an unmade similar project The Curse of Kali, a portrait of writer David Z. Goodman, the history of the Thugee cult, an analysis of the promotional brochure, excerpts from an interview with James Carreras and vintage critical responses

40-page liner notes booklet on Terror of the Tongs with a new essay by Sam Deighan, a pice by the late Yvonne Monlaur about her career, an excerpt by Jimmy Sangster about the film from his book Inside Hammer (2000), extracts from the promotional brochure and vintage critical responses


160-pages on the four Hammer films spread across four separate booklets, each contained in the individual Keep Cases. As with other Indicator Series booklets these are considered and very engrossing. The new essays are especially of interest to someone like myself who has read the promo brochures the books on Hammer from which some of the material has appeared before.

Overall

Yet another superb boxed set from Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator Series of releases. Picture and sound are as good as can be given the sources and get top marks as a result. Short of 4K UHD Blu-ray it ain’t gonna get any better than this. Hammer fans must - and bloody well should if they’re not - be revelling like a series of middle aged pigs amongst the truffles with this incredible, curated releases of beloved films. Twelve films shave been covered in the three sets and I eagerly await a fourth a fifth a sixth .....

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.