The cobwebs have been dusted off at horror behemoth Hammer Studios, with executives across multiple contributory studios (including Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount Pictures) beginning a coordinated effort to comprehensively reinvigorate several genre masterworks.
With the HD revolution in full-swing, and closeted views on censorship well and truly ‘out’ thereof, the famous 1930s-founded British horror studio’s dynastic back-catalogue is being given a pin-sharp and sharp-pinned makeover.
This global restoration project celebrates an initial release of Dracula: Prince of Darkness in March 2012. This Hammer-gem famously stakes a claim to being the only film in which cinema demigod Christopher Lee has not a single line of dialogue to sink his teeth into; not that this prevented necks-aplenty from meeting the opposite fate.
Promising to look absolutely glorious in full high definition (Pinewood Studios are providing original negative prints for many of the features) this premiere title will be swiftly followed by Blu-ray editions of The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy in the UK; and global releases of The Reptile, The Plague of The Zombies, The Devil Rides Out, Rasputin the Mad Monk and The Mummy’s Shroud throughout a gore-drenched 2012.
Hammer Studios have pledged that these editions are ‘definitive’, and will showcase restored picture and sound of such lavish detail it will finally reveal, and prove, that Peter Cushing is truly the most wrinkled man in all of cinema history.
The blood-splattered revisions are being passionately assembled via bastardised forgotten cuts (from private collectors, no less) uncensored footage, and the aforementioned restored original prints. The melting pot contains elements from as far afield as Tokyo, whose National Film Center are particularly keen to stimulate entries prudish by modern standards with some rediscovered eroticism considered far too risqué by original wet-eared censors.
Simon Oakes, CEO of Hammer gushes (and rightly so) like a freshly opened jugular about the project: “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. (We) are confident that our Blu-ray plans will ensure that Hammer’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”
The gluttonous packages will be topped off with newly recorded interviews and documentary extras, produced by Hammer expert and historian Marcus Hearn; esteemed author of The Hammer Vault.
Fans will be drooling like newly un-dead zombies already…