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Big Hammer Horror BR News!

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
From Fangoria.com's website:

"Fans of Hammer Films' 1970s outings will rejoice that DVD outfit Synapse Films has acquired the rights to four titles from the library of the classic British horror studio. Among them are three features that have never previously been available on optical disc in the U.S.

Synapse's Don May Jr. gave us the scoop that they've picked up Robert Young's VAMPIRE CIRCUS, John Hough's TWINS OF EVIL and Peter Sasdy's HANDS OF THE RIPPER, along with the classic 13-episode TV series HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR. "We have new high-definition transfers of all three features," May tells Fango. "Supplement producer Daniel Griffith is working with us on extras, includingso farinterviews with filmmaker and Hammer fan Joe Dante and FLESH AND BLOOD: THE HAMMER HERITAGE OF HORROR writer/director Ted Newsom. Other possible interviews and extras are in the works, including theatrical trailers and TV spots. It's very possible we will be putting out the three features on Blu-ray as well. If we do, we'll announce both the DVD and Blu-ray releases at the same time. All 13 episodes of HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR will be released in a DVD boxed set. The plan is to have these available in third quarter 2010." Keep your eyes here for details as they become available."

+++++++++++++++++

Twins Of Evil and especially Vampire Circus are not only two of my favorite Hammer 70's horror films, but they both rank high among all their vampire genre movies. There was talk among Hammer fans that Vampire Circus would *never* see a North American home video release after the very limited laserdisc release at the end of that format's lifespan at the end of the 90's due to the questionable controversy around the plot's child endangerment/porn aspects.

It's really interesting that these three movies, all never released on dvd in North America will likely wind up being the first hammer films to arrive on Blu-ray. Hopefully, the (uncut) transfers will come straight off the best film elements possible as the various European and Japanese releases have wildly different color and quality pros and cons.

T.B.
post #2 of 72
Awsome news lets pray these are going to be great looking discs Twins Of Evil is in my top 5 Hammers......
post #3 of 72
I haven't seen any of these. Sweet. I love me some bluray horror.
post #4 of 72
Let's hope against hope that these really do get a Blu-ray release. Don May Jr. is the classiest act in the home video industry. He will do everything in his power to bring us the absolute best. Having somebody like him onboard with Blu-ray would be heaven's gift to genre film fans.
post #5 of 72
This is incredibly encouraging news. The horror films from Hammer should look excellent on Blu-ray. I just imported the British dvd for Twins Of Evil, but would gladly buy it again as a BD. Once again proving that the independent studios are being much more adventurous in choosing what movies to release on Blu-ray. Where is Warner and their Hammer films? The Hollywood studios have gotten gun-shy about releasing anything at this stage.
post #6 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partyslammer View Post

Twins Of Evil and especially Vampire Circus are not only two of my favorite Hammer 70's horror films, but they both rank high among all their vampire genre movies. There was talk among Hammer fans that Vampire Circus would *never* see a North American home video release after the very limited laserdisc release at the end of that format's lifespan at the end of the 90's due to the questionable controversy around the plot's child endangerment/porn aspects.

Both of these movies have been shown on MGM HD. I recorded them last October, and they both looked pretty good when I sampled them.

Scott
post #7 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by srw1000 View Post

Both of these movies have been shown on MGM HD. I recorded them last October, and they both looked pretty good when I sampled them.

Scott

The MGM-HD editions were wonderful to behold. If the BD releases are at least as good, people are in for a treat.
post #8 of 72
Thread Starter 
It was supposed to street today but I could not find it *anywhere" and one normally reliable outlet said it didn't ship to distributors. I broke down and ordered it off Amazon with 2 day (ouch!) shipping so hopefully I'll have it Thursday night.

T.B.
post #9 of 72
Nice to hear Hammer films making it to BR. Gives me hope that Horror of Dracula won't be far behind (Please!!).
post #10 of 72
Why no WB Hammer on Blu?
post #11 of 72
Considering Don May Jr. is an extremely attentive videophile I expect nothing less than reference transfers for these.
post #12 of 72
Would love to see 'The Gorgon' on blu, which was recently restored for Hammer's 'Icons of Horror' dvd Collection. And it has both Lee and Cushing -- horror's dynamic duo

post #13 of 72
Thread Starter 
Alright, I got the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of "Vampire Circus" today and have briefly skimmed through the feature and some of the extras.

The movie has never looked better on home video. I have an old VHS bootleg, the Hallmark laserdisc, the Japanese dvd, the German Anolis dvd and the UK Carlton anamorphic dvd (yes, I really like this movie) - all are rendered obsolete with this release. It's that good.

Probably my only issue(if I can even call it that) as far as the transfer goes is that it's a little darker than any previous release with just a touch of black crush in some poorly lit scenes. However, even the best of the previous home video releases have looked a bit washed out and soft and in some cases, usually a bit too "pink" in the color values. The HD quality brings out a lot of fine detail missing from any previous home video release.

The movie appears to be fully uncut, however there doesn't appear to be anything "new" compared to other uncut home video releases of this film.

I just skimmed through the extras but the short feature on the making of the movie is informative and skims through Hammer Film's back story and the principles involved to a satisfying degree supporting the circumstances in which the movie was made even though there's no extra footage - it's all talking heads and a few stills here and there. I was pleasantly surprised that there's a "motion comic" (really just scans of pages) taken from the old 70's Halls Of Hammer(or Horror) UK magazine that features artwork by a young Brian Bolland.

Honestly, considering there's so little in the way of stills, etc involving the production of the movie, I think Synapse did an excellent job with what they had to work with to fill out this release.

This bodes *very* well for the other Hammer horror film releases Synapse has in store for 2011.

T.B.
post #14 of 72
post #15 of 72
I remember a Hammer movie with Peter Cushing that was called Terror Island or Island of Terror 'about these turtle like creatures that came from a Lab'They sucked the calcium out of people.Scared the hell out of me when I was young.I think it was HAMMER'It had that color and Cushing.
post #16 of 72
BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!

That DVD Beaver review says the damn thing is region-locked. It's not only a huge disappointment, but a surprise, too...
post #17 of 72
ISLAND OF TERROR isn't a Hammer film, but it does star Cushing.
post #18 of 72
Thread Starter 
I watched the entire movie and all the features last night which allows me to elaborate a bit more on this release.

First off, I am even more blown away how nice the transfer is. Totally film-like, no obvious digital tinkering - it looks like a movie from this period should look on home video, honest to the source. After watching the entire feature, I withdraw my earlier comment about how a few darker scenes appear to suffer from black crush.

A big surprise is the inclusion of a separate audio track that is the music and effects only. Vampire Circus has one of the more lush and full bodied scores of any of their gothic horror films and it's nice to have the option of hearing it mostly unfettered by dialog.

I was initially pleased with the inclusion of the Brian Bolland comic strip from the old Hammer House Of Horror magazine, but unfortunately it's only the first few pages of the strip (basically the prologue of the movie). I don't understand why the complete novelization wasn't included. The feature on the film's production doesn't seem to touch on the score by David Whitaker at all, a glaring omission considering how good the score is. Otherwise, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, the "Making Of" feature is a fine, succinct document of the film and it's production.

I really hope Synapse can license more Hammer titles from other major studios to give them the kind of outstanding treatment this movie (and no doubt Twins Of Evil and Hands Of The Ripper will get in 2011) have received.

T.B.
post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Shaw View Post

BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!

That DVD Beaver review says the damn thing is region-locked. It's not only a huge disappointment, but a surprise, too...

"The licensors wouldn't let us make it region free." -- Don May Jr.
post #20 of 72
Comments of mine made strictly concerning the picture quality, made for the PQ Tiers thread. It should be almost a requirement that every vintage horror fan go out and buy this great Blu-ray.

Vampire Circus

recommendation: Tier 3.25

Synapse Films has lovingly brought the 1971 Hammer production, Vampire Circus, to new heights of glory on Blu-ray. Released just last month on a BD-50, the 87-minute Gothic horror is encoded in AVC at a generous video-only average of 30.01 Mbps. Presented in a 1.66:1 presentation that restores for the first time its original theatrical framing seen in Europe, the transfer looks sourced from high-quality elements in excellent condition. For a small distributor, Synapse Films has greatly surpassed expectations in the picture quality for this cult movie, and puts some of the work from the major studios to shame.

Grain does play a role in this film's image, though the video encode handles it flawlessly. Looking for evidence of macroblocking or artifacting problems, even during the more demanding scenes with flames and explosions, the image was entirely devoid of such distractions. A solid amount of high-frequency detail and information is apparent at times, but not uniformly present. Part of that may be due to the optics and original filming. Certain sections, notably the first reel of the film, appear to have been processed with a bit of digital grain reduction. Nothing too drastic, but either the makeup was inconsistently applied during the course of production, or some early sections of the transfer have had minor processing applied in some way. Some faint, low-amplitude ringing also pops up, only to disappear or recede in magnitude as the film progresses. Neither annoyances really do anything to diminish the image to any significant degree and largely vanish in the last hour.

One area that the picture excels in, particularly for an older film, are the nice black levels and easily discerned shadow detail. This is important for a movie that a substantial portion takes place at night. Outside of one or two questionable moments in nearly pitch-black light, scenes like the panther's black fur display excellent delineation and a level of detail that is quite high. The image also possesses a heightened sense of depth over many other catalog films, though I would not quite call it pop or dimensional. Better moments might be rated in the middle of Tier Two, alongside newer movies, if there had been more consistency.

Expecting dull, faded colors due to the film's age and obscurity, in actuality primary colors are deep and vivid in this transfer. Red blood obviously plays a huge role in the film, looking bright and fully saturated. Contrast is decent given the generally dark atmosphere of the settings. The color timing pays respect to the conventions of the era it was made, not straying far from the balanced and conservative look. Outside of a few optical composite effects that look dated now, the source looks clean and stable, as if the transfer was struck from a very good negative or possibly interpositive. Only a handful of thin, short scratches briefly appear to remind one that Vampire Circus was filmed many years ago. The general resolution and clarity is good, only dipping in a few spotty moments of focus.

Fans and newcomers will find little wrong with the quality seen in the image, especially those familiar with films of similar vintage. Source limitations dating back to the Seventies prevent a higher placement for the most part, but the transfer has given new life to one of the more obscure Hammer films. While certain extended moments deserve a higher placement, in the end a ranking in Tier 3.25 for Vampire Circus is a good representation of the overall quality.
post #21 of 72
Screencaps of Quatermass and the Pit:

http://www.imagebanana.com/album/qs911b64/
post #22 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

Screencaps of Quatermass and the Pit:

http://www.imagebanana.com/album/qs911b64/

The quality is wildly inconsistent between images in that group. The one shot of the soldier with the headphones on looks excellent, the one with Quatermass with his back to the camera facing Barbara Shelly looks really nasty.

Speaking of Hammer releases, I wonder what happened with Synapse's "Twins Of Evil" blu-ray release which was supposed to happen before the end of '11?
post #23 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

Screencaps of Quatermass and the Pit:

http://www.imagebanana.com/album/qs911b64/

I believe this BD is region-locked to Region B only.
post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partyslammer View Post

The quality is wildly inconsistent between images in that group. The one shot of the soldier with the headphones on looks excellent, the one with Quatermass with his back to the camera facing Barbara Shelly looks really nasty.

Speaking of Hammer releases, I wonder what happened with Synapse's "Twins Of Evil" blu-ray release which was supposed to happen before the end of '11?

I wonder what you find nasty in that pic. Sure it's grainy but it's a darker scene, so that's what is to be expected. It's a really great job they have done here with a new master.

Not like Synapse's terrible job on Vampire Circus. They used an over ten year old master riddled with video noise, filtered out the noise and added some contrast boosting for more image pop. The German BD of Vampire Circus shows the original state of that master including the noise and the original black levels.
post #25 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

I wonder what you find nasty in that pic. Sure it's grainy but it's a darker scene, so that's what is to be expected. It's a really great job they have done here with a new master.

Look at the image of the news stand and the placards. There's digital micro-blocking and EE clearly present in that shot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

Not like Synapse's terrible job on Vampire Circus. They used an over ten year old master riddled with video noise, filtered out the noise and added some contrast boosting for more image pop. The German BD of Vampire Circus shows the original state of that master including the noise and the original black levels.

I was unaware there is a German BD of Vampire Circus. Is it region locked, if not I'll probably pick it up. I *do* have the old German Anolis dvd which was a fair if a bit soft transfer.

Regarding the Synapse Blu-ray, I see to a point what you're talking about but I don't think the overall transfer is nearly as bad as you feel it is as I noted in my original comments about it earlier in this thread.
post #26 of 72
I agree the Synapse Blu-ray is not bad as in unwatchable but it looks terribly artificial. The German BD does have some ugly digital noise and the contrast is more flat but doesn't crush the blacks like the Synapse and it's a tad more detailed. Thats what this old master looks like in reality.

Here's a link to the German BD:
http://www.amazon.de/Circus-Vampire-...9190030&sr=8-2
post #27 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

I agree the Synapse Blu-ray is not bad as in unwatchable but it looks terribly artificial. The German BD does have some ugly digital noise and the contrast is more flat but doesn't crush the blacks like the Synapse and it's a tad more detailed. Thats what this old master looks like in reality.

Which one is "what the old master looks like in reality"???
"Thats" not really clear in your post.
(I think its the German in your opinion; not really sure tho)
When did you see the "master"?
post #28 of 72
Yes, the German BD represents the master pretty close as the BD transfer is untouched. I am working close with the Publisher Koch Media (been helping them with booklet texts and bonus features) and they don't use any additonal filters and stuff on their releases.
post #29 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rathbone View Post

I agree the Synapse Blu-ray is not bad as in unwatchable but it looks terribly artificial. The German BD does have some ugly digital noise and the contrast is more flat but doesn't crush the blacks like the Synapse and it's a tad more detailed. Thats what this old master looks like in reality.

Here's a link to the German BD:
http://www.amazon.de/Circus-Vampire-...9190030&sr=8-2

Thanks for that link. Is the German Vampire Circus BD region locked?
post #30 of 72
Turner Classic Movies is showing these features next Monday (Halloween) - wonder if these have received new hidef transfers (I know that 'Dracula Prince of Darkness' has)

HAMMER HORROR
7:15 AM - The Reptile (1966) 90 min
8:45 AM - The Gorgon (1964) 83 min
10:15 AM - Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966) 90 min
12:00 PM - Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1969) 92 min
1:45 PM - The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) 90 min
3:15 PM - Frankenstein Created Woman (1966) 92 min
5:00 PM - The Mummy (1959) 88 min
6:30 PM - The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964) 80 min

'Dracula AD 1972' is hidef on Netflix Instant view
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