The Doctor And The Devils has a fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ry behind it but it’s one that few peo­ple have got­ten to hear since its 1985 release.  A pan-and-scan orig­i­nal VHS did the film’s ‘scope fram­ing no favors and a widescreen DVD improved things but lacked extras to explain the tale behind the tale.  Luckily for goth­ic hor­ror fans, The Doctor And The Devils was recent­ly picked up by Scream Factory — and their new blu-ray edi­tion of this title offers a pack­age that gives this curi­ous lit­tle item some much need­ed con­text.

DocDev-bluThings start well with a solid trans­fer.  This title was shot in a dif­fused style on a type of film (Fujicolor) that favors a soft­er look so the hi-def bump is sub­tle here.  That said, the earthy col­or scheme looks nice and rich and the source used is free of blem­ish­es.  The audio com­po­nent of this trans­fer is a DTS pre­sen­ta­tion of the orig­i­nal 2.0 stereo mix.  The mix is nice and clear — though some view­ers will appre­ci­ate the pres­ence of English sub­ti­tles when deal­ing with the thick accents used by some of the cast.

Scream Factory has also includ­ed a few extras that take the view­er into the intrigu­ing sto­ry behind this title.  The key extra is a com­men­tary by film his­to­ri­an Steve Haberman, who pro­vides an engag­ing and thor­ough­ly researched track that is burst­ing at the seams with info.  He starts off with a his­to­ry of the real Burke and Hare mur­ders (includ­ing some inci­dents more chill­ing that the film itself) and then moves into the his­to­ry of Dylan Thomas’ screen­play and the hands it passed through in its thir­ty year jour­ney to the screen.

HabermanDocDev-05 also address­es oth­er Burke and Hare-themed films, pro­vides cap­sule bios for sev­er­al major play­ers in the cast and crew, gives an account of the film’s shoot and goes into why the film got such a hit-and-miss release.  In short, it’s the kind of track that will delight fans inter­est­ed in hor­ror his­to­ry and stacks up nice­ly alongside Haberman’s recent work for Scream Factory on The Vincent Price Collection II.

There is also an inter­view with the pro­duc­tion team of Mel Brooks, Jonathan Sanger and Randy Auerbach.  Brooks is the ring­lead­er of this piece, start­ing off with an expla­na­tion of why doesn’t take a pro­duc­er cred­it on the films he doesn’t direct and then inter­view­ing Sanger and Auerbach about the his­to­ry of The Doctor And The Devils.  The oth­er two par­tic­i­pants provide plen­ty of details on how the film was pro­duced quick­ly and cheap­ly in England.  Brooks sup­plies plen­ti­ful humor as well as an inter­est­ing obser­va­tion about the idea mak­ing films through “friends and favors” has died in moDocDev-06dern, prof­it-obsessed Hollywood.

The extras pack­age clos­es with a brief the­atri­cal trail­er.  Though the style of edit­ing tries to punch the film up and make it look more like a thriller, it actu­al­ly does a decent job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing the film’s premise and themes.

In short, Scream Factory has done well by hor­ror fans with this disc.  Anyone who loves the clas­sic Hammer/antiquarian-gothic style will find this disc of The Doctor And The Devils a nice acces­so­ry to add to their col­lec­tion.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of The Doctor And The Devils, click here.