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Hammer to Restore Horror Classics for Preservation

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Hammer FilmsThere’s no doubt about it … when it comes to horror, few studios are as synonymous with the genre as Hammer. The long and rich history they have with some of the world’s greatest monsters and movies is nothing short of legendary, and they’re looking to take steps to preserve these gems for many generations to come!

From the Press Release
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 to Restore Horror Classics for Preservation

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 (review here).

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.

Hammer to Restore Horror Classics for Preservation

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.

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 include:

  • 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

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    News

    French Thriller Series Glacé Now Streaming on Netflix as The Frozen Dead

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    New to Netflix this month to kickoff the year for the killer crime genre and miniseries streams, is “The Frozen Dead,” translated from its original French title, “Glacé.” It made its debut on our screens as the next foreign language series to bring us chills and thrills since the German-language time travel series, “Dark,” released in October of 2017. It looks like we can look forward to more of these international inclusions on our bloody palette.

    So, if you are looking for a serial slasher in an icy setting to hold you over this winter and give you an investigative mystery fix, watch “The Frozen Dead” for a six-episode look at the bloody chaos the mind of a disturbed killer spews on The French Pyrenees.

    From the very first introductory scene and the creepy children’s chorus that accompanies the goosebumps – inducing snowstorm view that is in the show’s theme, the eerie tone is set pretty early on. If that does not offer enough incentive to go watch, the camerawork and imagery alone throughout the show are incredible and worth appreciating. These striking visuals are significant if you know it is a television adaptation based on Bernard Minier’s dark novel. All-embracing, the series carries an increase in dread and suspense all throughout, so be prepared to be uncomfortable and most of all, confused as you unravel.

    If you happen to enjoy this chilling setting that forces a detective to confront an unsettling past, you’ll be happy to know I found that same cold-evoking, murder mystery intrigue in Christopher Nolan’s work on Insomnia (2002), a film in which Robin Williams unconventionally and successfully jarringly plays the enigmatic man being chased by Al Pacino’s detective character. There’s a film to check out (if you haven’t already that is) if that parallelism interests you – after bingeing the six hours of “The Frozen Dead” that is.

    Synopsis:
    A grisly find atop a mountain in the French Pyrenees leads investigator Martin Servaz into a twisted dance with a serial killer in this icy thriller. Starring Charles Berling and Julia Piaton. Available now on Netflix.

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    Editorials

    We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors

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    On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.

    Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.

    The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.

    A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.

    Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.

    Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.

    The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.

    Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:


    Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:


    And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.

    A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:

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    Reviews

    Ruby Blu-ray Review – ’70s Drive-In Psychic Shocker From VCI

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    Starrign Piper Laurie, Janit Baldwin, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis

    Written by George Edwards and Barry Schneider

    Directed by Curtis Harrington

    Distributed by VCI Entertainment


    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and director Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977) is paying it to a few of the ‘70s most notable horror films. Cribbing liberally from such better pictures as The Exorcist (1973) and Carrie (1976), this is a picture that could have worked well despite being a pastiche because it begins with a decent setup and the elements for something interesting are present. Unfortunately, nothing ever gels like it has to and Ruby loses focus early on, dashing from one death scene to the next and allowing for little salient connective tissue to tie it all together. The big mystery presented early on should be easy enough for horror fans to deduce, and the film never brings the scare factor. A few of the deaths are novel in their inventiveness, especially the use of the drive-in theater surroundings, but a couple kills do not a movie make and Ruby spends too much time middling and being weird to be of any note.

    Florida, 1935. Low level mobster Nicky Rocco (Sal Vacchio) is gunned down by a lake as his pregnant girlfriend Ruby watches on in horror. Just before dying, Nicky swears vengeance on whoever did this to him. Cut to sixteen years later and Ruby (Piper Laurie) runs a drive-in movie theater and lives in a home nearby with her daughter, Leslie (Janit Baldwin). Ruby is a tough broad, quick-witted and foul-mouthed; able to hold her own with the guys. But those guys are beginning to vanish one by one as the bodies start piling up at the theater. Ruby suspects there’s something off with Leslie, so she brings in her own psychic doctor, Dr. Paul Keller (Roger Davis), to examine her daughter. Leslie, as it turns out, is acting as a conduit for the wayward soul of Nicky, who blames Ruby for his ultimate demise. Possessed and programmed for vengeance, Leslie and Ruby have an all-out battle in a search for the truth.

    The second half of this film is where things go right off the rails, with scenes aping The Exorcist so much it feels like a knock-off. This isn’t always such a bad thing because knock-offs of better films can always turn out great (see: most of the post-Gremlins little creature features), but Ruby never makes a clear case for introducing these fantastical elements in the third act. This is a story that could have worked better by exercising restraint, playing closer to something like J.D.’s Revenge (1976), a similar gangster-soul-out-for-justice film, than a wild, possessed ride.

    What does work, for me, are the drive-in theater setting (I’m a sucker for movies that also involve the craft of film in some way) and the kills, a few of which make great use of the theatrical setting to deliver fitting fatalities. One employee winds up stuffed into a soda machine, with his blood getting pumped into a dark, syrupy drink and served up to guests. Another meets his end on the screen, impaled by the pole on which car speakers are kept. Harrington does inject this picture with a strong sense of atmosphere, too. The locale is woodsy and feels remote; the countryside is dark and foggy, the perfect setting for something grim to occur. None of these elements are enough to fully save the feature, though they do bring enough production value to ease to burden of a poor script.

    Personally, I’m a sucker for almost any horror from bygone eras – especially the ‘70s and ‘80s – so, deficiencies aside, Ruby is still worth a spin if you enjoy reveling in this particular era. This is far from an unheralded gem or little-seen treasure, but it does, at the least, rip-off good pictures in spectacularly bad fashion.

    This is a rough film and every bit of work done for the 2K restoration still can’t do much to polish it up any better. First, a note: there is a video drop-out for approximately ten seconds around the 21-minute mark. VCI is offering replacement discs via their Facebook page, so check there for further details. Future copies will be corrected, and those should already be on “shelves” now, so consider this an FYI. The 1.85:1 1080p image is frequently soft and murky, darkly shot and poorly lit. Shadow detail is virtually non-existent. The color temperature looks a bit on the warm side. Film grain is noisy and occasionally problematic.

    An English LPCM 2.0 track carries a clean & balanced audio experience. Voices sound a touch muffled at times, though nothing too severe. The murders scenes are accompanied by creepy ambient sounds, adding a slight chill. The film’s closing theme song is awesome cheese that must be heard. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

    There are two audio commentary tracks; the first, with David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell; the second, with Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie.

    The film’s original trailer is included in HD.

    Also included are a few interviews with Harrington, conducted by David Del Valle, including “2001 David Del Valle Interview with Curtis Harrington”, and “Sinister Image Episode Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: David Del Valle Archival Interview with Curtis Harrington”.

    Special Features:

    • NEW 2K RESTORATION from the original camera negative
    • Original theatrical trailer
    • Audio Commentary with Director Curtis Harrington & Actress Piper Laurie
    • New Audio Commentary with David Del Valle and Curtis Harrington historian Nate Bell
    • Two Interviews with Curtis Harrington by Film Critic David Del Valle
    • Photo Gallery
    • Optional English SDH subtitles
    • Ruby
    • Special Features
    2.3

    Summary

    A simple plot becomes wildly unfocused but Ruby does have intermittent camp value fans of ’70s horror cinema should dig. VCI’s Blu-ray is no beauty by any means, though it’s likely to be the best this poorly-shot feature will get.

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