Many Hammer Titles Restored And Coming To Blu-ray/HD - SOON!!
This article's title pretty much sums up the matter, but below I've cobbled together a few pertinent details - ABRIDGED from an official press release.
19 January 2012: In a landmark collaboration, Hammer today announced that STUDIOCANAL, Anolis Entertainment (Germany), Pinewood, illuminate Hollywood fka HTV and others are coming together to undertake a major restoration of the iconic Hammer film library. The project will bring over 30 movies into HD format for Blu-ray and new media exploitation in the 21st Century.
Dracula Prince of Darkness is the first title scheduled for release in the global restoration project and will be released in the UK in conjunction with STUDIOCANAL in March 2012. The partnership continues throughout the spring for the releases of The Reptile and The Plague of The Zombies, and will also include The Devil Rides Out, Rasputin the Mad Monk and The Mummy’s Shroud during the course of the year.
Hammer will also release definitive versions of its three hugely-influential original Gothic classics in the UK: The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy.
As well as featuring a fully-restored HD picture and restored sound, the remastered films will boast a host of newly-filmed extras, including interviews with cast members. These documentary extras are being produced by Hammer expert and historian, Marcus Hearn – author of the recent “The Hammer Vault”.
Pinewood Studios carried out the restoration of the first three Studiocanal titles after housing the original negatives for the films, restoring the original UK title sequence to The Plague of The Zombies as well as the UK title cards to Dracula Prince of Darkness.
Recently-discovered footage that was originally cut from the British version of Dracula has been restored by Molinare to the BFI’s 2007 restoration courtesy of The National Film Center at The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The Japanese footage features an extended and particularly gruesome death scene for Dracula, as well as a moment considered too erotic by the censors of the day.
Following the discovery and restoration of the Japanese footage to Dracula, Hammer is keen to unearth further “lost” scenes and on-set footage from The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy and other titles in their library, and hope that any private collectors with viable unseen elements will contact the company.
In addition, Hammer will regularly be posting to a “Restoration Blog”, which will give a unique insider’s view on the entire process, from material selection right the way through to release. The blog can be followed at: http://blog.hammerfilms.com
Other companies involved in the restoration project include Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging and Thought Equity Motion in the US and Cineimage and Deluxe 142 in the UK.
This is terribly exciting new to many film Geeks, and a long overdue development for a number of genre and/or film history aficionados. I can't wait to see what these movies look like in HD...to see the new material they've unearthed, and hear updated perspectives on the projects via extras. Very cool.
In the meantime, while we wait for the Hammer HD onslaught to begin, I'd highly recommend two books about Hammer to tide us over- both from Titan. One is THE ART OF HAMMER (a collection of Hammer movie posters from over the years - available HERE) and the other is THE HAMMER VAULT - essentially a look at the behind-the-scenes materials pertaining to the making of vintage Hammer productions (letters, artwork, photos, etc.) - and it's available HERE.
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