Showing posts with label hammer films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hammer films. Show all posts

13 March 2013

Watch New Clip & Featurette For Terrence Fisher Dracula Re- Release

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Your not a true horror fan if you don't Terence Fisher's 1958 classic DRACULA, fully restored in High Definition and available on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time. This Monday 18th March 2013 British & Irish horror fans will get their hands on the release which  will contain two versions of the feature (seamlessly branched on the Blu-ray).

Thanks to the  2007 BFI restoration plus the 2012 Hammer restoration, fans will get a chance to see for the first time additional new footage that has been unavailable for decades.The additional footage comprises two of the scenes that were originally censored by the BBFC in 1958 that have now been restored to the film from the “Japanese reels”:

• Dracula’s seduction of Mina

• Dracula’s sunlight disintegration

These will be the most complete versions ever released and taken together fully deserving of the description DEFINITIVE.

DRACULA has been unavailable on any UK home entertainment format for many years. This release will be at the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1 which has never been available for home viewing.

Available 18th March in the UK on 3-disc Double Play, the pack comprises 1 x Blu-ray and 2 x DVD, the release also includes brand new featurettes, a new commentary track, multiple bonus extras and a stills show (see below for full list of extras).

DRACULA is the first in the series of Hammer films inspired by the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher, and stars Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Carol Marsh, Melissa Stribling and Christopher Lee.
Dr. Van Helsing, investigating the death of his friend Jonathan Harker, concludes that Harker was the victim of a vampire. When Harker's fiancée, Lucy, becomes affected by the terrifying force and hypnotic power of Count Dracula, Van Helsing releases her tortured soul by driving a stake through her heart. But Dracula seeks revenge, targeting Lucy's beautiful sister-in-law, Mina. Van Helsing, now aided by Mina’s husband Arthur, swears to exorcise this evil forever by confronting the vile and depraved Count himself.

Lionsgate are releasing this horror treasure on 18th March and they have sent us a short clip which shows Dracula's hand (Christopher Lee) dissolving in the sun. As a extra bonus we have a look at a 9 minute featurette called 'Censoring Dracula' which looks at the censorship one of horror's most iconic monsters had to go through especially Terrence Fisher's version which 55 years later is still rated 15!

Below the videos you can find details of the extras and the links you need in order to pre-order or buy Dracula!



Four Brand-New Featurettes

"Dracula Reborn". New 30 min. featurette about the film’s creation and history, featuring, among others: Jimmy Sangster, Kim Newman, Mark Gatiss, Jonathan Rigby and Janina Faye (Tania in the film).

"Resurrecting Dracula". New 20 min. featurette about the film’s restoration, from the BFI’s 2007 restoration through to the integration of “lost” footage, featuring interviews with key staff at the BFI, Molinare and Deluxe142. Also covers the February 2012 world premiere of Hammer’s interim restored version including “vox pop” interviews with fans after the event.

"The Demon Lover: Christopher Frayling on Dracula". New 30 min. featurette.

"Censoring Dracula". New 10 min. featurette on the original cuts to the film ordered by the British Board of Film Censors.

Commentary: New commentary by Hammer historian Marcus Hearn and author & critic Jonathan Rigby


  • All 4 surviving "Japanese reels" (6 - 9) unrestored (40 mins
  • The World Of Hammer episode: Dracula And The Undead
  • Janina Faye reading a chapter of Stoker’s novel at the VAULT festival
  • Stills Gallery of over 100 fully-restored and rare images
  • Booklet by Hammer archivist Robert J. E. Simpson (PDF)
  • Original shooting script (PDF)

Pre-order or Buy:Dracula (Blu-ray + DVD) [1958]

22 October 2012

Hammer Films DVD Special Edition Reviews: Rasputin, The Mummy's Shroud, The Devil Rides Out

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The Hammer vaults flaunt perhaps the world’s greatest collection of classic horror.  Sure, the Universal monsters have garnered legendary status and are perhaps a little more dependable for production value, but for cult status and cast, the British titan has no real adversaries. Perhaps due to the company’s recent revival and the commencing of its film production (last years The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe was new-wave Hammer produce) classic Hammer films have been re-mastered and reissued on DVD and Blu Ray, making now the best time to own an integral part of cinema history.

Rasputin (1966)

Rasputin, a holy man with the power to heal the sick, slowly makes his way through pre-revolution Russia towards St Petersburg with the sole intent of working his way towards the Tsars, his ruthless pursuit of wealth and power mark him as a danger to all those who stand in his way.
                One of Hammer’s many historical-epics-on-a-tight-budget, Rasputin starring Christopher Lee as the infamous holy man-cum-mad-man is handled with diligent care and mindfulness to its capabilities. In less skilled hands the film could have appeared over-reaching, but with a solid cast and careful scripting it keeps its focus on character.
                It’s important that the film be labelled as a historic drama with a dark side (what history doesn’t have a dark side?) as opposed to Hammer’s typical horror, to label this a horror movie feels somewhat criminal and dismissive. The thing that constantly amazes is Lee’s wonderful performance as the boisterous, brutish, subtle, and manipulative Rasputin.  Never before, and possibly after, has Lee achieved that range of character; his ability to slip between the mad monk’s many faces is the prize of the feature and the staple that holds it together.  The film does unfortunately waver at points, losing its focus or drifting into less arresting grounds, but on the whole it’s an enjoyable a and unwholesome affair.


The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

The Mummy’s Shroud is perhaps the most bipolar in terms of quality out the three releases, at its best points it appears quant, romantic even, adventurous, and unsettling, yet on the other hand it can seem amateur and messy.  The third of Hammer’s Mummy films, Shroud allows itself to become victim to tedious writing, the typical story of “archaeologists warned against their escapades, unleash terror on themselves”, seems the basis for just about every Mummy film in existence. If you ignore the recycled narrative then the film can still thrill.
                Once the Mummy is awakened the film breathes new life into itself picking up pace. The Mummy scenes are actually quite vicious; Eddie Powell’s (Christopher Lee’s regular stunt double) slow cumbersome movements and the brutality of his Mummy’s attacks foresee a time when monsters like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees would rule the screens. A fantastic climax leaves the film in good standing, but one can’t help but wish the rest of the film achieved that level of excitement.
                There are glimpses of style and suspense but too few to mark the film out, this along with the fact the feature is mostly a few tense scenes strung together with a lack of real grit, lure the film into a middle ground of average horror.
Directed by: John Gilling Cast: André Morell, John Phillips , David Buck


The Devil Rides Out (1968)
One of the truly great Hammer contributions to cinema, The Devil Rides Out is an exercise in perfect occult horror. Adapted by Richard Matheson from a Dennis Wheatley novel, the film follows two old friends, The Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex Van Ryn(Leon Greene) as they try to rescue a deceased friend’s’ son from the clutches of a satanic cult. The cult, led by the diabolic Mocata (Charles Gray), will stop at nothing to retrieve the young man and punish those who crossed them.
                Jumping straight to the point is a key factor in the films’ success; the story keeps the characters moving and never takes a dull or pointless turn. A stellar performance from Lee (one of his very best, and personal favourites) ensures that the plot is guided carefully around any possibly ridiculous devices. One of the key strengths of the piece is Lee’s polar relationship to Gray’s equally mesmerising Mocata, the two play out a battle of wits whilst rarely sharing any actual screen time.  The action is kept in check, the plot is gripping, the Wicker man vibe is strong and helps put a stamp of purely British terror on the feature, plus there are more than a few genuinely unnerving scenes.     
The film is frequently criticised for its disappointing visual effects, but apart from a dodgy spider gag the effects work pretty damn well.  The appearance of the actual Devil is a terrifying visitation thanks to some brutally unattractive make-up, as is the appearance of the Angel of Death, things that out of context could seem dated, but given the sharpness of the script and Terence Fisher’s tight direction pulls off smoothly.
                Few Hammer films achieve the crisp and startling quality of this piece after all these years, and even fewer are almost faultless. The Devil Rides Out is not just a fantastic example of Hammer’s capabilities, but a perfect alignment of those qualities that evade most horror productions; a stellar script, perfect cast, and genuine thrills.



3 October 2012

Hell is a City DVD Review

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Hammer productions: The great British production company proudly flaunting one of the most impressive CV’s in the history of cinema, but also guilty of more than a few woeful endeavors  got it pretty spot-on in their 1960 Brit-Noir Hell is a City. Adapted from the Maurice Procter book and written and directed by Val Guest , Hell is a City marked one of Hammer’s deviations from horror during the 60’s, a move meant to widen revenue in a trying time against the American market. Thankfully, the film is a solid stand-alone that does a great job at internalizing the Noir genre to a murky industrial Manchester.

The film follows Harry Martineau (Stanley Baker), a tough, dedicated, but world-weary police inspector with a troubled home life. When Don Starling (John Crawford) escapes from prison Harry heads to Manchester to head him off, expecting the jewel thief and murderer to attempt to pick up the jewels he stashed before getting arrested. In order to make good his escape, Starling needs money so plans the robbery of a local bookmaker (Donald Pleasence), but the heist goes wrong and all of a sudden Starling’s escape spirals into a mess of murder and blackmail with Martineau hot on his trail.

In the typical Noir fashion, things don’t really go as planned, and the film’s narrative feeds off a sense of disorder and mishaps. Martineau’s home life is plagued by his failing marriage, so he stays out, wandering the dimly lit streets like a true Noir hero. The dialogue is snappy and charming, the action is, for the time, brutal, most interestingly is how the noir framework fits onto the British scene, certainly a quainter and more sullied setting than the war-torn streets of San Fran or New York. The dark horizon of Manchester, punctuated by factory vents and smoke,  makes an ideal setting, pushing the whole events of the film into some context, making the events seems small and insignificant (dare we say commonplace) in the face of the vast mechanical city.

Stanley Baker and John Crawford are on top form as disillusioned copper and desperate thief respectively. One can’t help but find a slight Heat undertone to their relationship, especially from Martineau who seems to use his job as a means of keeping his personal issues at bay. Crawford captures the brutal nature of a genuine bad ‘un, usually found in the annals of 50’s and 60’s detective films, the likes of which rarely find screen-time nowadays.

The action has a swift pace, the plot is intriguing if sometimes convoluted with characters, and the roof-top finale gives a fantastic last indicator of how ahead of the curve this film actually is, even if it is a little short. The last poignant scenes really reinstate the sense of noir that seems to dissipate half way through the film; exploring the lonely nature of the dedicated cop. Special features consist only of an alternate ending that does little for the film. This particular ending sees Harry and his wife make up and leaves the film on a significantly more hopeful note than the one chosen. The more uplifting ending, at risk of sounding like a cynic, unravels the grimy and almost perpetual feeling of entrapment in, not just Manchester, but life for Martineau.

A fantastic example of sturdy British “cops and robbers” fun, Hell is a City garnered two BAFTA nominations for Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer for Billie Whitelaw. It’s a highly recommendable Brit-Noir, with some stellar talent, which fans of Film Noir and British thriller will really enjoy.

Scott Clark


DVD Re-Release Date: 8th October 2012(UK)
Directed By: Val Guest
Cast: Stanley Baker, John Crawford, Donald Pleasence, Maxine Audley
Buy Hell Is A City: On DVD

23 August 2012


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Exclusive new filmed content alongside beloved classic genre films to make groundbreaking online debut
To the delight of fans worldwide Hammer, Britain's most celebrated genre film brand which recently produced box office smash The Woman in Black and the acclaimed Let Me In, today launches its first dedicated YouTube Channel at  For the very first time, exclusive new content from current Hammer productions as well as carefully restored classic Hammer feature films will be available to stream online.

The Hammer Films Channel will carry a range of exclusive new content, previews, commentary and behind the scenes material from upcoming new productions such as The Quiet Ones starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin and The Woman in Black: Angels of Death, the follow up to the worldwide box office hit, The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe.

In addition, the Hammer Films Channel will stream a collection of Hammer’s well-known classic feature film titles including The Quatermass Xperiment, The Man In Black and Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter some of which have been newly restored and digitally re-mastered. As additional titles are added to the new platform, this will be the first time fans can view other digitally re-mastered classic Hammer films online under a restoration initiative launched earlier this year by Hammer’s owner Exclusive Media.

From the historic library, the Hammer Films Channel will also carry Classic Hammer TV series such as ‘Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense’, as well as new on-air commentary and film introductions from official Hammer historian, Marcus Hearn and Hammer archivist, Robert J.E. Simpson.  Newly created featurettes and original trailer material, not seen by the public for many years, will also be added to the Channel’s far reaching content.  The Hammer Films Channel will continually expand its range of programming as it becomes available, with the full schedule to be published and regularly updated at 

Simon Oakes, President and CEO of Hammer said, “The launch of our dedicated YouTube channel truly encapsulates how we have positioned Hammer as a dynamic British genre label with a great heritage.  We hope this new platform will allow us to continue to reach fans who have responded so well to films like Let Me In and The Woman in Black, while continuing to honour the great filmmaking history of our company."
Watch this brilliant video from the channel called History Hammer Films In 90 Seconds!