For all intents and purposes, “The Doctor and the Devils” is a Hammer horror film. It might be produced by comedian Mel Brooks and his Brooksfilms imprint, but all signs point to this being made by the British house of terror had it been conceived during the 1960s or 1970s. A strong English cast directed by Freddie Francis while surrounded by a period piece atmosphere completes the successful formula for such a film. Scream Factory gives the long forgotten cult classic an overdue facelift that will no doubt expose it to thousands more genre fans.
Thomas Rock (Timothy Dalton) is a young anatomy professor who feels his hands are tied to make new discoveries for the advancement of science. Rigid moral laws of the day limit him to the amount of cadavers he can research on. He receives the rotting bodies of a few hanged criminals every year to work with. Rock needs fresher specimens to work with, and two grave robbers (Jonathan Pryce and Stephen Rea) will do what it takes to provide fresher corpses for the professor – at a hefty cost.
“The Doctor and the Devils” is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1) with 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The picture perfectly displays all the beauty of a dark and sinister 19th Century England. The Blu-ray transfer did nothing to diminish any of its Gothic flare. It’s a bit disappointing we only get a 2.0 mix given that the bustling streets in the movie are full of tantalizing chatter and distracting noises. However, the balance between dialogue, musical score, and environmental sounds is strong throughout.
While it’s not quite as jam-packed full of bonus material as some Scream Factory releases, “The Doctor and the Devil” still boasts some entertaining surprises. Commentary is provided by author Steve Haberman. A new interview with Executive Producer Mel Brooks, Producer Jonathan Sanger and Randy Auerbach is found as well. A theatrical trailer rounds out the special features.
“The Doctor and the Devils” is rated R for sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. The sex scenes take place in a brothel where the prostitutes work. There’s brief upper nudity in one part that takes place in the house of ill repute. The blood and guts are about the same amount you would expect from a Hammer horror film of the 1970s.
Director Freddie Francis is no stranger to English horror films set in 1800’s England. He helmed many a Hammer movie and uses the same ingredients to put together “The Doctor and the Devils.” Screenwriters Dylan Thomas and Ronald Harwood takes the Burke and Hare tale and puts his own spin on it. Scream Factory’s pristine Blu-ray upgrade and some engaging extras make this a collector’s item for any fan of classic British or Hammer genre movies.
"The Doctor and the Devils" is available now on Blu-ray.