Mention the name of Val Lewton to any fan of the cinema, and you’ll generally receive a knowing smile or nod, as he was one of the unsung B picture heroes of the 1940s at RKO.
Between 1942 and 1946, he was the man behind a series of horror/thrillers that are little gems of his field.
Nine of them.
Cat People (1942) – Jacques Tourneur – Criterion Blu-ray
I Walked with a Zombie (1943) – Jacques Tourneur
The Leopard Man (1943) – Jacques Tourneur – Shout Factory Blu-ray
The Seventh Victim (1943) – Mark Robson
The Ghost Ship (1943) – Mark Robson
The Curse of the Cat People (1944) – Shout Factory Blu-ray
The Body Snatcher (1945) – Robert Wise – Shout Factory Blu-ray
Isle of the Dead (1945) – Mark Robson
Bedlam (1946) – Mark Robson
The third, The Leopard Man, is being released courtesy of Scream Factory, and for those who have not yet discovered the world of Lewton, it’s an interesting part of the ethos. That noted, it’s not one of the best of the series, possibly because it simply doesn’t stand the test of time as well as the others.
Typical of RKO, we should presume that the original negative was printed to death, which means that the new Blu-ray is imperfect, but still nicely represents the film, as directed by Jacques Tourneur, and shot by Robert De Grasse, who also photographed The Body Snatcher, and is further know for his noir work.
With four of the nine currently represented on Blu-ray, and five to go, all licensed by Warner Bros., we should presume that the rest will be arriving in the near future. But it’s not yet time to give away your DVDs.
Image – 3.75
Audio – 4.25
Pass / Fail – Pass
Upgrade from DVD – Definitely
Typical of RKO, we should presume that the original negative was printed to death, which means that the new Blu-ray is imperfect, but still nicely represents the film