We just received word that Hammer FIlms, the venerable English movie studio behind classics like Horror of Dracula and Curse of Frankenstein (and more recent fare like Let Me In and the upcoming The Woman in Black), will finally enter the HD home video arena with remastered editions of many of the films that made it famous. Details after the jump.
The Hammer HD project involves the restoration of over thirty of the studio's films, including personal favorites like the above mentioned Dracula and Frankenstein, Plague of the Zombies, The Devil Rides Out, and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (the Blu-ray release for which we broke news last month).
Below is the official press release for this restoration project, which lists other Hammer films getting the HD treatment. No mention is made of the Quatermass films (though Quatermass and the Pit already earned a Blu-ray release), Brides of Dracula or The Curse of the Werewolf. But one hopes these too will be remastered, as they're certainly among the studio's finest efforts.Of particular interest is heretofore unseen footage from Horror of Dracula (pictured above, and known in the UK as simply Dracula) recently discoverd in Japan that will be included in the film's Blu-ray. "The Japanese footage," we're told, "features an extended and particularly gruesome death scene for Dracula, as well as a moment considered too erotic by the censors of the day."
"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. This represents substantial investment by Hammer and its key partner STUDIOCANAL, and is testimony to the extraordinary regard with which the Hammer legacy is held internationally, with some materials for the project being provided by Hammer's original US production partners Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.
"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.
"Simon Oakes, President and CEO of Hammer commented,
"'Our decision to restore some of Hammer's most famous titles not only allows existing fans to experience the films again in high definition, but also encourages a new global audience to discover Hammer for the first time – especially as we get ready to release our next exciting new Hammer project The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe. We have a busy year ahead but are confident that our Blu-ray plans will ensure that Hammer's legacy will live on for generations to come.'
"John Rodden, General Manager UK Home Entertainment for Studiocanal added,
"'The great Hammer films are uniquely stylish and ceaselessly entertaining. Like the vampires and other supernatural forces they depict, they appear to be deathless, re-emerging relentlessly to thrill and terrify new generations of film fans. STUDIOCANAL is immensely proud to continue its investment in the best of British cinema both past and present by restoring and re-releasing these films.'
"Selected additional titles planned for restoration and release in conjunction with international distribution partners:"
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
- Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter
- Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
- Frankenstein Created Woman
- The Witches
- The Lost Continent
- Slave Girls
- The Viking Queen
- The Vengeance of She