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[tab title="Movie Review"]

The Black Sheep (1956) - Blu-ray Review


3 beersFans of mad scientist flicks rejoice!  The Back Sleep has arrived to cradle us in our darkest moments of fear and fury.  Starring a very notable cast, this B-movie was coupled with a lot of better B-movies during its brief theatrical run but it matters not because this release – from Kino Lorber no less – rescues it from the catacombs of forgotten flicks and dusts it off for its blu-ray debut.

Featuring a dedicated performance of strangelove-type science fiction from Basil Rathbone, The Black Sleep is the ghastly tale of human experimentation in the quest to save one surgeon’s wife from the grave.  She has a brain tumor and has been in a coma for quite some time.  Rathbone – recruiting all sorts of help thanks to a mysterious Indian anesthetic called Nind Andhera – is not about to give up.

Joining him in his dedication to saving his wife’s life at the expense of the unfortunate souls around him are Lon Chaney Jr. as Mungo, an over-the-top John Carradine, Akim Tamiroff in a role designed for Peter Lorre, Ed Wood regular Tor Johnson, and Bela Lugosi in his final performance.  It is a cast that, for a lot of horror fans, is a hard one to beat.  While most of the people involved were on a steady decline in the business, it’s nice to see them assembled for at least one (in many) of director Reginald Le Borg’s low budget horror films.   

Unfortunately, The Black Sleep gets overlooked all too often by genre snobs who can’t seem to appreciate Rathbone’s dedication or the camera work.  It is dismissed as being as rote as horror gets in the 1950e.  True fans of all things atmospheric will definitely not want to miss this release though.  It manages – with a very limited budget – to be effectively creepy and creaky in its expression of isolation.  All these human experiments – in the effort to find a way to treat brain tumors – leave a lot of mutilated corpses behind and, when they begin to haunt the country abbey, one definitely gets the spooky vibe Borg is aiming for. 

There’s even a close-up of a brain as it’s being “operated” on that – given the censorship laws of the era – will surprise and probably revolt some viewers.  It’s so squishy!  How they got away with an extended operating sequence like that in 1956, complete with ooze and goo, is beyond me.

Get gaslight on the dark London streets and watch a mad scientist get put to bed with The Black Sleep.


[tab title="Film Details"]

The Black Sheep (1956) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
82 mins
: Reginald Le Borg
John C. Higgins
Basil Rathbone, Akim Tamiroff, Lon Chaney Jr.
: Horror | Sci-fi
Out of the evil brain of a twisted scientist comes a fantastic robot army - crushing all barriers...feeding on beauty - lusting to claw the world apart!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Rome wasn't built in a day, so it must have been built in the night."
United Artists
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 1956
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 22, 2016
Synopsis: Sir Joel Cadman, a mad scientist, kidnaps his victims and cuts open their brains in an effort to discover a means to cure his wife's brain tumor.


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

The Black Sheep (1956) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 22, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

For this Blu-ray release, Kino has licensed the film from MGM with winning results. The film is presented here in 1080p HD and is as crisp as can be expected.  Framing and compositions looks fitting and accurate throughout, while the black & white image is very pleasing.  The transfer is rich in detail with excellent contrasts, black levels are deep and grey scales are also replicated nicely.  Overall, the transfer has an attractive, filmic appearance to it, and any fleeting instances of blemishes only give it character.  The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio English track is quite clear from start to finish.



  • Provided by two film historians, the commentary by Tom Weaver and David Schecter adds a lot of background information for the film and lauds appreciation upon its shoulders.  It is much appreciated.

Special Features:

Joe Dante’s Trailers from Hell is the sole real supplemental item here.  It’s short, sweet, and fun.  There’s also an animated image gallery and the film’s original theatrical trailer to enjoy.

  • Trailers From Hell (2 min)
  • Animated Image Gallery (2 min)
  • And a Theatrical Trailer (2 min)


[tab title="Trailer"]