In a landmark collaboration, Hammer 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 of their most memorable and iconic 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. If you’re curious in the least, you can follow the progress at their official blog.
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.
Admittedly I have not seen a great many Hammer films but of the ones I remember them vividly and their films have a way of etching themselves on film fans the world over. In a new book chronicling the history and legacy of Hammer, Martin Scorsese writes, “If we saw the logo of Hammer Films, we knew it was going to be a very special picture“.
Hammer’s reputation for so bold (and yes outlandish) is why they’ve garnered so many die hard fans. But while much of Hammer’s library are from decades ago they marked their return to features in 2010 with the release of the critically acclaimed Let Me In, an adaptation of the highly praised Swedish film Låt den rätte komma in. which was written and directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield). Also, next month we’ll see the theatrical release of Hammer’s first ever feature ghost story The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
What are some of your favorite Hammer films? Anyone excited to see so many great old titles being restored?? Are you excited that the studio is back to making landmark horror films again??