THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN — Re-engineered!!!

The world premiere of our restored THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN will take place at the CATH/DMU Hammer event in Leicester on Saturday 14th July, preceded by Mark Gatiss in conversation with Jonathan Rigby. Click here to book tickets. For the first time in many years, the film will be screened in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 aka “Academy”. The film will also include the “eyeball” scene — restored from a reel of a print housed at the BFI then integrated into the main restoration, which was scanned from a Warner Bros. I/P — though not the “head in acid bath” scene, which despite our best efforts appears no longer to exist. Our warmest thanks to Deluxe 142, Soho for their superb work on restoring and grading this film — we hope you’ll all be as pleased with it as we are! For those of you who can’t make it, we hope to announce the UK Blu-ray release date at the event (we’ll tweet it immediately after announcing).

300 thoughts on “THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN — Re-engineered!!!

  1. Good news re the restoration – I’ll be eagerly awaiting the blu-ray, naturally!
    But why 1.37:1…? Presumably this is a full-frame open matte presentation, but surely it was always intended for matting to 1.66:1…?

    • Yes, it’s full frame, but matted just off the edges for sharp mask. We also always thought the film was intended for 1.66:1 exhibition till we reviewed the entire film (4k open gate scan of I/P) open matte in a screening room. It is crystal clear, upon viewing, that the film was intended to be screened at 1.37:1. The framing is perfectly composed throughout at full frame and there are zero production artefacts in the frame at any point. Although 1.66:1 had mostly became the widescreen standard by the end of the 50s, many films in that decade were still shot with the intention that they would be exhibited at the Academy ratio. DRACULA was definitely shot to be exhibited at 1.66:1. Same with all the subsequent Hammer Gothics. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN appears to be a transitional film — shot in colour, but intended to be screened at 1.37:1.

      • When it opened in the US, it was screened at 1.85:1, there is documentation to prove it. It’s possible that Jack Asher protected it for Academy, but I really find it hard to believe that as late as 1957 that the majority of UK screenings weren’t in 1.66:1.

        • …BTW, I don’t doubt your word Hammer, and it will be fascinating to see. There are many instances of films being cropped egregiously into widescreen when they were composed for Academy (Shane being the most famous). But the fact is that most screenings would have been wide, in one format or another.

          Will the Blu-ray release be Academy?

          • Of course the film may well have been exhibited in the UK at 1.66:1, but that doesn’t mean that this was the aspect ratio as originally envisaged by Fisher and Asher. Believe us, when you see the restored film at 1.37:1 you’ll wonder why it was ever screened or released any other way!

          • Yes, the plan is to release the film Academy on Blu-ray and DVD. Unless hordes of fans demand less picture in their frame! ;-)

        • Yes indeed, it was screened at 1.85:1 in the US as that was the widescreen standard there (though not in the UK, which was still transitioning to 1.66:1). It has also been released in that aspect ratio on VHS and DVD. However, it looks very tight at 1.85:1 and cannot ever have been intended to be screened that way.

          • Hi Hammer,
            Any reason why you can’t release 1.37:1 version and a 1.66:1 version on blu ray like you plan to do with Rasputin (2.35:1 and 2.55:1)? That way everybody will be happy. I did see Curse at the BFI back in the late 1980s and I think (not 100% certain) that was 1.37:1. It looked fine to me and I think it would have looked fine at 1.66:1. So I am undecided. I’ll be getting the blu ray anyway so I’ll be happy with what ever you decide.

  2. It will be difficult to comment further until we’ve actually seen it, of course, but I have to be honest and say that I’m unconvinced about the intention to show it at 1.37:1. The lack of production paraphernalia in the frame (boom mikes, cabling etc.) MIGHT be seen as an indication of protecting for Academy ratio – or it could simply be that camera operator Len Harris was careful to avoid anything undesirable in his viewfinder.

    A lot of Hammer’s films were shot full frame open matte with the intention of matting for their cinema releases – but were later shown in their unmatted state when shown on (4:3) television – rather than pan & scan versions of widescreen elements. The 4:3 versions worked fine, and I’m sure that THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is no exception.

    I’m ready to proved wrong, but I think that CoF was intended for 1.66:1. It would still have more vertical picture information than the old Warner Dvd (which is in the US format of 1.85:1, and occasionally looks a little bit ‘tight’).

    Alright, I’ll be the first to say it – I don’t really want to this transferred at 1.37:1. I’ll buy the disc for the extras regardless, though.

    • Seconded (or is that ‘thirded’?) – As much as I’d prefer 1.66:1, I have to admit that I’m intrigued to see how it looks framed at 1.37:1.

  3. If it is truly composed for the 1.37:1 ratio, please answer this question. Why does the camera pan up to keep the actors head positioned at the top of the frame when projected at 1.66:1?

    If it was composed for the standard, Academy ratio, this tilting of the camera would not have been necessary.

    All of the Hollywood studios had converted to widescreen cinematography between March 24 (Paramount) and August 8 (Republic) of 1953. http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/120#post_3932254

    • Hi Bob, re. panning, which scenes specifically did you have in mind? Re. conversion to widescreen, Hammer was not a Hollywood studio. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was shot as an ultra-low budget (about £60,000 UKP) British movie. Warner Bros. did not come on board till well into production or indeed perhaps after the film had wrapped (there is no conclusive evidence for which it was). In fact production was very nearly shut down after only 12 days due to lack of cashflow! THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (shot in 1954, released in 1955), X THE UNKNOWN (shot and released in 1956), QUATERMASS 2 (shot in 1956, released in 1957), MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST (Hammer’s first colour film; shot and released in 1954) and BREAKING THE CIRCLE (colour and b&w versions exist; shot in 1954, released in 1955) were all shot in the Academy ratio. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Hammer tended to make a big song-and-dance in their marketing when a film was “widescreen” (i.e. 1:66:1) or “scope” (i.e. 2.35:1) and none of the surviving marketing materials for THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN mention that the film is “widescreen”. As already stated, 1956/57 was still within the UK’s transitional period between Academy and “widescreen” and it appears to us, based on all the evidence available and careful scrutiny of the open gate scan, that the THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is just on the Academy side of that cusp. Having said that, we’re currently looking at the possibility of releasing both versions on the Blu-ray.

      • I agree with regards to The Quatermass Xperiment; that was undoubtedly shot for Academy and should be screened so. However, Quatermass II looks absoloutely perfect at 1.66:1 and not in the least ‘tight’. It may be a case (again) of protecting for various formats, but there’s no doubt in my mind as to the cinematographer’s intentions in both cases.

        Both, by the way, would be fantastic on Blu-ray…

        • Having seen ‘caps at the HTF, I’ll temper that on QX; I still think Academy looks fine – better than fine – but it will crop to 1.66:1 (something the old DDHE DVD appeared to rule out). Which makes more sense, considering Hammer were relying on a US market that was rushing headlong into the widescreen revolution far faster than Europe…

        • I would also love to see Quatermass 2 released with a 1.66:1 masked option. (Perhaps back-to-back with Academy.) Whenever I run my copy of this film I feed it through my laptop and blow it up to 1.66:1 myself. Every shot is composed wonderfully at this ratio.

          • I’ve undergone something of a Pauline conversion regarding aspect ratios of British film, thanks mainly to the research of Bob Furmanek and his comrades at the HTF. They’ve smashed a number of falsehoods (including the erroneous belief that 1.66:1 was the UK widescreen AR of choice) and it’s now clear that the majority, if not all, of British studios converted to shooting widescreen in 1953 (earlier than I had believed) in order to capitalise on vital US sales. Evidence here gives the truth about Hammer:

            http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/1770#post_4020081

            …and like all studios, they committed to widescreen wholeheartedly – there simply was no other way. I’ve since watched The Quatermass Xperiment several times (including MGM’s sparking HD restoration; the previous zoomed DVD iteration by DDHE fooling me into thinking a wide crop would have been difficult), and it crops *easily* to 1.66:1, even 1.85:1. Having seen it so, the scales fell from my eyes – it was akin to watching it anew. A fantastic experience.

            Guest manages to make the Academy frame interesting, but it’s patently clear – like *all* Hammer films post June, 1953 – that it was shot and composed first and foremost for widescreen.

            A lack of proper research, the constant repetition of falsehoods dressed as truth, decades of watching films ‘square’ via TV; all these have contributed to films being presented on home video not as they were seen by the vast majority of audience in cinemas. There’s nothing malicious in Hammer insisting that these films should be presented in Academy, but their belief – because that’s all it is – goes against current research and known facts.

      • Hello Hammer,

        I just watched the first few minutes of CURSE in widescreen. Watch the camera movement in the jail cell. You’ll see it slowly tilting to keep their heads perfectly framed at the top of the shot as seen in widescreen. If academy ratio had truly been the intent, that panning would not have been done.

        WB signed a deal with Exclusive Films to distribute the film on December 5, 1956. When did it start shooting?

        I’m pretty sure that all the other titles you mentioned (especially the two Quatermass films and X, THE UNKNOWN) were composed for 1.66:1 as well. I just watched the first Quatermass film in widescreen and except for one tracking shot with Briscoe at the zoo, the widescreen compositions are perfect.

        The first UK cinemas to install widescreens were in June, 1953. http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/300#post_3943376

        The earliest documented UK widescreen production that I can find in my files is THE DIAMOND. Composed for 1.66:1, it began filming on September 9, 1953.

        I am very pleased to see your efforts for these classic films. If I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be glad to provide any documentation that I have.

        Cordially,
        Bob Furmanek
        3-D Film Archive, LLC
        http://www.3dfilmarchive.com

        • Hi Bob, many thanks for all that! Fascinating evidence and certainly food for thought. We’re in the grade again next week and we’ll be sure to scrutinise the scene you describe to see if this can help with defining how to matte the film to 1.66:1 — and indeed to try to ascertain whether 1.66:1 was indeed the intended original exhibition aspect ratio. We’re hoping to post a much longer piece about aspect ratios next week along with some screen grabs, which should help to explain our views. You may be interested to know that the other three films we are currently restoring — THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, THE MUMMY’S SHROUD and RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK — have no similar aspect ratio issues as both TDRO and TMS have 1.66:1 matte frames in their headers, which means we know exactly how to matte them (not at 1.85:1). RASPUTIN, of course, was shot in CinemaScope so no argument there either — it’s 2.35:1 — though we hope to add a 2.55:1 version to the disc as an “extra”.

          • Thank you, Hammer, I’m glad that I can help. When you matte CURSE to 1.66:1, study the camera movement throughout the film carefully and you’ll see what I mean.

            These comments were sent to me a professional cinematographer:

            “As a retired cameraman, I have to say that one thing these people don’t understand or realize is that when you look at one of these films of the period, where the ratio is not known, you can often tell whether it’s widescreen or Academy by the camera movement—particularly with regard to tilts up-and-down.

            For a generic example—when you are looking at an Academy open-matte image—if a performer is sitting in a chair in a medium wide shot and he stands up and there is enough head room in the shot for him to do so without his head being cut off when he is standing or without the camera moving…..BUT the camera tilts up anyway, adding more headroom—it is obvious that the operator MUST tilt up because he is seeing a 1.85 framing on his viewfinder, and if he doesn’t tilt up, the performer’s head will be cut off in 1.85, even if it is an unnatural ‘false move’ in the Academy-sized image which only adds more head-room.”

            Regarding the UK conversion to widescreen, AMIA member and widescreen expert Jack Theakston (http://www.amianet.org/events/thereelthing/2010/program.htm) provided this data:

            “There are a lot of variables in British films. When a large investment of American money was involved, the ‘compose for 1.85, protect for 1.66′ rule almost always applied. This is mentioned numerously in BKSTS journals of the period. It is easier to compose for a wider ratio and protect all the way down to 1.37 (so that all that you add is a little head room).

            Also, British cinemas were not relegated to 1.66 as is most commonly thought. Some chains, such as ABC, had 1.75-1 screens as their house flat ratio, but mask to 1.85-1 or even 2-1. Many of the Hammer films of the ’60s bounce between 1.66 (Odeon/Rank’s house ratio) to 1.75 (ABC’s house ratio) or 1.85-1 (particularly the Universal’s for American sale).”

            One additional note: On April 4, MGM announced a ratio of 1.75:1 for overseas widescreen showings of its pictures. On April 25, after a test engagement of IVANHOE in Liege, Belgium on a Panoramic Screen in 1.75:1, they had decided to install Panoramic Screens in all of their overseas theatres.

            My notes indicate MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST was shown 1.66:1 in the US. Could that be Exclusive’s first widescreen movie?

            I have more data on the UK conversion but won’t be able to search for it for another week or so.

            Best,
            Bob

          • From the same thread quoted by the estimable Bob Furmanek above, this post by the world respected film restorer Robert Harris makes interesting reading:

            http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319469/aspect-ratio-research/270#post_3943343

            The fact is that for many British films of the 1950s, they had to accommodate at least two aspect ratios to satisfy different markets. The Quatermass Xperiment is a wonderful example, and though Bob has produced evidence in contemporary American trade publications that it was to be screened at 1.85:1 the thought fills me with dread. The best extant open matte home video release (from MGM in the US) *just* seems to squeeze into 1.66:1 (“…and except for one tracking shot with Briscoe at the zoo, the widescreen compositions are perfect….”). Having weighed up the facts – how could Hammer produce a film in the mid-’50s with a US star, aimed at US sales, and *not* ensure it was practicable to be screened wide – it *must* have been composed with an eye to 1.66:1, though it very sympathetically, and successfully, screens in Academy.

          • One more point regarding your comment “we’ll be sure to scrutinise the scene you describe to see if this can help with defining how to matte the film to 1.66:1″

            Set your film dead center in the gate exposing the full width and height of the exposed image. Apply either the 1.85:1 (as shown in the US) or the 1.66:1 matte as would have been done in cinemas for projection. If you see the credits are now centered in the widescreen image with an equal amount of space at the top and bottom, you’ll know that you have properly masked for widescreen.

            I watched portions of the film in 1.85:1 and the compositions looked fine. Remember, close-ups will now focus on the eyes which is precisely what Mr. Fisher intended.

            Please let us know your findings!

            Best,
            Bob

  4. Whoops! I meant’ 137:1 for me, as I trust your judgement. Can’t wait…..again. :-D Though if you’re releasing “Rasputin” with two aspect ratios, might that be an idea for those who want 1.66:6. They could then compare. What you think?
    Thank you again. Won’t get tired of saying that. :-)

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  6. Sounds like Hammer was hedging its bets but preferred Academy at the time – to me therefore the Academy framing sounds ideal, thanks. If some people then want to crop it they can use the zoom function on the player or TV, surely? On the other hand, if it is presented in 1.66: 1 they won’t be able to zoom out if they disagree, so I know which of the options I would prefer …

  7. Hello HAMMER and FANS.. In todays world we’ve all become a little Widesrcreen concious. I’ve been viewing the 2 Bluray releases of CASABLANCA in the original Academy aspect ratio and they look and FEEL tremendous!!! Judgiing by the small photo at the beginning of the post COF is going to look GREAT! I also think I can sense DRACLUA around the corner and seeing that these films are going to be UK only releases, It’s time to purchase an OPPO universal player. Way to go HAMMER!!!

  8. Hello HAMMER and FANS: In todays world we’ve all become a little widescreen concious. I’ve been viewing both Blu ray versions of CASABLANCA in Academy Aspect Ratio and the look and FEEL tremendous, and judging by the photo at the beginning of the site, COF will look and Feel great… I can also sense DRACULA just around the corner, and since these will be UK releases only, it’s time to buy auniversal blu ray player. I also noticed a different company did the work on COF so I hope we can put these silly sync issues to rest! Thanks again HAMMER!!! Bill Lettang

  9. I honestly would just like to see the film as it was meant to be seen. If this means black bars on either side of the screen, then that’s what it means. I will echo what others are saying though about putting two versions on the disc. Would this be possible or not very cost effective?

  10. I can finally get rid of my two dracula and frankenstein dvd’s from warner bros. In favor of this. I wonder what’s in store for The Mummy

  11. Hammer, you might even want to consider discussions with Mr. Furmanek privately, as he is someone who is brought in often as a consultant for studios in the US. He’s got quite a strong history of doing research and whatnot for movies. And he’s a swell guy! Ultimately, do what’s best for the movie! Cheers!

  12. If you do a dvd, please have a 1.66:1 anamorphic option. By 1956/57, British cinema was composing for widescreen at 1.66:1. A open matte transfer would spoil the composition.

    Best thing is to do both. I generallly do not buy open matte dvds.

    • It’s not “open matte”, it’s Academy (though if you’re of the opinion that the film was always intended to be screened at 1.66:1 then you would indeed be correct). We are now planning to release both versions. Re. composition, it’s a matter of opinion, and sadly no-one can have a fully informed opinion till they’ve seen them both side-by-side.

      • Hi Hammer,

        Thank you for listening and planning to release both ratios. I can’t think of another company (actually I don’t think there is one) that has as much interaction with the public as you do and it is very much appreciated that you listen to us and reply to our comments.

        Rob

  13. No no no no no!

    This film was never meant to be seen in the Academy aspect ratio!

    It was filmed “open matte” and meant to be projected at 1.66:1.

    Please do the research. This sort of nonsense is inexcusable.

  14. thank you so much for restoring this film – can’t wait for the blu-ray! I first bought this film in an 8mm version back in the 60′s – then vhs – laserdisc – and then dvd! I broke down and purchased an all region player for all these hammer blu-rays!!!!

  15. LOL at Hammer’s reply. Brilliant! “Hammer” you have been so good and I trust any decision made by you. As u may have noticed these small minority of armchair critics are starting to irritate.

    • On the contrary. These ‘armchair critics’ are ‘cinema seat critics’ who care passionately about cinema.

        • Agreed. I suspect though that Hammer have backed themselves into a corner on this issue and will find it difficult to admit their error.

          • Hugh, with respect we’ll say it yet again: please will one of you provide conclusive evidence for 1.66:1 as the intended shooting / UK theatrical original aspect ratio specifically for this film (not just because “that’s what everyone used at the time” which is wholly unrigorous and patently incorrect). We’re grown-ups and perfectly able and willing to accept we’re wrong, but will only do so for good reason and in the face of strong / incontrovertible evidence — and certainly not this early in the debate. This blog is all about engagement, not about us imposing our will. We’ve already accepted that releasing both versions is a good idea, though still, for now at least, maintain that 1.37:1 was the original / intended aspect ratio (remember we’ve watched the film multiple times as a raw ungraded open gate scan and as a work-in-progress open matte restoration and are more than intimate with the composition / framing throughout…)

  16. I thoroughly support both aspect ratios being offered. That way, no harm no foul. But I have to admit it’s kind of funny that you have a still (I don’t know if it’s a frame grab or production photo) at the top of the blog entry that looks way too open, with tons of headroom. I’ve seen COF in 35mm unmasked (private collector screening) and it of course looks fine. I’ve also seen it 1:66 and it looks fine as well. Warner’s dvd, which if I remember correctly (too lazy to pull it out and check) is actually 1:78 or full 16X9, so the tiniest amount more open than true 1:85. BUT . . . . as you folks well know, during telecine it’s not uncommon to “push in” a bit to make sure that all splice lines and possible junk on the edges of the frame are not visible. That, combined with the tighter than 1:66 matting most likely made their version look more cramped than necessary. Also, when it came out most people still had televisions that overscanned, something that newer monitors don’t suffer from. Anyway, good luck and I’m looking forward to your release.

  17. Can’t await……….again! :-D You stated four more titles, so not counting CURSE, RASPUTIN & MUMMY’S SHROUD, what can that fourth title be? You are spoiling us’ rotten. Thank you’ again.
    I’m not really into all this technical jargon, so like I stated I’ll trust your judgement on that. I do know that the three titles you have released so far’ have never looked better.
    Any chance of us knowing what features we can expect with the above titles?
    When you reach the end of this project’ ever thought of re-releasing the “Hammer” box set? “Hammer Redux” box set! :-D That would mean you could possibly revisit some titles as we know technology goes at such a pace these days. The BBC & Restoration team do this with their “Doctor Who” range. Just create a few extra features’ exclusive to the box set and garner more sales.
    One more question will “Curse” be presented in the same style as the three releases to date? No-one has commented on the packaging’ I think they look fab on a shelf.

  18. I can’t wait to finally see the restoration of this truly seminal horror film. Just don’t forget about us fans in the States, promise?

  19. Would it not be possible to have both the original aspect ratio and the new improved on as a second option on the disc? That way it would keep everyone happy.

    Regardless, i’m really looking forward to its release

      • Even more to look forward to, I remember my Brother sneaking me into the cinema to watch this when it came out – I didn’t sleep for days afterwards.

        When I lived in Whitstable, I recall talking to the late, great Peter Cushing about it, he was oh so polite and quite amused over the tale

  20. Hope to see blu-ray with both ratios; though not at the cost of picture quality as bit rate is compromised! This is a must buy – I used to have a 50ft 8mm reel version (b&w) with a floppy 45 rpm soundtrack (never did get it in sync!)

  21. I hope you, Hammer, realize everyone is posting out of love for this movie. We want to see the absolutely best, the be-all/end-all, for these movies. Thank you again.

  22. A question about future releases in general – any plans to include booklets with liner notes or photos? Maybe a catalog as well once the lineup gets more extensive? I was very impressed by the transfer on Plague of the Zombies, by the way, and am looking forward to the rest of them, how ever many that may be.

    • Perhaps notes from the LOLITA production could help shed some light on the aspect ratio for CURSE? Maybe there’s notes from WB and Kubrick stating what scene was needed and what ratio it might (or might not) be matted to? Just thinking outside of the box here, never mind me… :)

  23. Not really related but it may be of interest to some of you, Universal are releasing a blu-ray “Classic Monsters” collection in October with restored versions of Dracula (with the Spanish version as an extra), Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. See here: http://film.thedigitalfix.com/content/id/75709/universal-classic-monsters-blu-ray-set-in-october.html

    Also, there are some Amicus releases coming next month but only on DVD and, as yet, none of the horror films:

    http://film.thedigitalfix.com/content/id/75703/amicus-classics-this-july.html

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  25. Glad to hear you’re going with both aspect ratio options (like Eureka did with Touch of Evil when they weren’t sure either), as it really sorts out any issues.
    No need for any complaining now, as with both included, at least one will be right.
    I never got around to gettgin this on DVD, I’ve still got VHS of this one, so have only seen it in 4:3. I’m tempted to watch it on 14:9 zoom now to see how it looks cropped. The BD will be a must-buy for me :)

    There’s talk along these lines about Night of the Living Dead over at another BD forum, where everybody suddenly gets convinced it was always supposed to be in widescreen just becuase one label’s decided to crop it to 1.85:1 for thier release.

    Hammer seem to be doing right by this ws/fs thing.
    Any chance of the Super 8 version mentioned abve being included as an extra? The Super8 edits are often intersting novelties.

    I hope that when Dracula makes it onto BD, it includes both the original cut, and the new restored cut :)

  26. hello HAMMER & FANS.. speaking of DRACULA there is really no in depth conversations about what viewers who had seen the latest restoration thought of it. Besides the dvd aspect ratio fiasco I’m curious as to how the restoration got the color. In my opinion, the dvd was mastered way to bright and leaned toward the “red” side of the color spectrum. The original IB technicolor prints had much more atmosphere, and they indeed felt “colder”, just what you need to send shivers up your spine. So please send some thoughts on this, old HAMMERS GREATEST ACHIEVMENT!!! Thanks, Bill Lettang

  27. I fully trust the judgement of the restoration team at Hammer and am really very excited by the next batch of movies to be released. Any ideas on when ‘The Devil Rides Out’ is making an appearance??

    • Hi Ross, we’re working on THE DEVIL RIDES OUT right now! No release date has been set as yet, but we’re hugely excited about the feature restoration and the extras that are planned! We’ll post a full update on this next week…

        • Please, please, please DO NOT keep the 5.1 soundtrack. Remixing older films into surround sound is an abomination and done only to pander to the people who need to show off their a/v equipment. The Devil Rides Out was originally a mono soundtrack and that is how it should be. If a 5.1 soundtrack is included it should be an option. Mono is the default on all Hammer films. Releasing a film with a new soundtrack is as bad as releasing it in the wrong aspect ratio.

          • Hi Kev, we have no plans to release any of the restorations with 5.1 sound. We agree that it’s better to keep with the original sound design (though we are restoring the sound for all titles as much as is possible).

          • Kev,

            I should have been clearer in my post. By all means the original soundtrack should be respected and should be the default.

            I have heard some very good remixes into stereo if the original stems exist, though (North by Northwest comes to mind). I find it effective when properly done.

            Moot point, though as this will not be an option.

  28. Yet another update! You’re spoiling us again! :-D Oh’ Mr. Biggins’ I myself do care about these releases and despite the unfortunate blip with “DPOD” I believe “Hammer” have delivered first class. Maybe I ain’t able to discuss aspect ratios & the like, but I know a good transfer’ when I see one.
    “Hammer” don’t understand how you are going to announce details on what’s planned for “TDRO” when you haven’t announce plans for “Rasputin” & “Mummy’s Shroud.” Would love to hear details for them.
    A big “THANK YOU” again………:-D

    • You’re most welcome, Franny! Hope you like the next batch of releases! We have indeed talked about RASPUTIN right here on this blog! We’ll post about THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD in detail next week. Remember that we’re not just restoring these titles for the UK, but for the rest of the world also — some of our international distribution partners will be releasing these titles in due course (though not TCOF, DRACULA or THE MUMMY, which will be UK-only releases).

      • Will TCOF. DRACULA, and THE MUMMY at least be region-free? Or are Warner working on their own Region A releases?

  29. Dear Hammer, a very big thank you for all your hard work in trying to satisfy the customers.
    Astonishing, I can’t wait to see the new restoration of The Curse of Frankenstein and with both aspect ratio. Are there going to be any extras ? It’s a shame that you couldn’t find the missing scene but I’m already happy because you restored the eyeball shot that was cut in the DVD ;)
    And how about Horror of Dracula (aka Dracula), when is the blu ray coming out ? Could you please give us a date ? I can’t wait to see the new footage :)
    As for the missing scenes, why don’t you try and search the japanese reviews of the time, maybe they could give a clue where the movies where screened and maybe where the uncut copies could lie.
    In any case a very big thank you Hammer.

  30. Thanks for treating this fine production with such care and attention – I’ll be buying the disc at the first opportunity.

    I can’t understand why the aspect ratio pedants are getting all fretful about this. As far as I’m concerned the case for 1.37:1 is pretty compelling.

    I wish Hammer every success with this and future restoration projects .

  31. What’s the story of the versions of some Hammer titles lost in the DVD replicator fatory fire in London a few years ago? I understand unique versions were there & burnt.

    • Several “Archangel” SD restoration masters — created for the DD Home Entertainment DVD releases — for the early b&w sci-fi films were lost in this fire. This means that we only have the unrestored versions accessible to us (and it was these that were released recently as budget editions through Icon, though the corrected pressing of CAPTAIN KRONOS was the SD restoration as this wasn’t in the warehouse when the fire occurred). We are hoping to restore some of these titles to HD later in the restoration program, most notably QUATERMASS 2. We’ll let you know as/when.

      • I’m of course looking forward to any and all Hammer films of BD, but, just to double underline my enthusiasm, I’ll be amongst the first in the queue for the Quatermass films. Like The Curse of Frankenstein, I’d love to see The Quatermass Xperiment in both Academy (purely my personal preference) and at 1.66:1.

  32. I would urge Hammer to release CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN both in Academy and in 1:66 on the Blu-ray. There is plenty of memory to accommodate both ratios. When I saw the film in re-release in the 1960s and 1970s I’m certain it was 1:66. By then cinemas in the USA were no longer equipped to project 1.37.

    Richard

  33. Is there any hope that these Hammer blu-rays be available as region 1 format in the near future? I really don’t want to purchase an all regions player.

  34. I agree that “Curse of Frankenstein” should be matted at 1.66:1. I own a copy of the original BBFC card and it clearly proves it should be w/s because films intended for projection in academy had a very decorative framework around the BBFC card and this was removed when the transition to w/s took place.
    WHERE to place the mattes for w/s in telecine is very important as there are variables with vertical picture composition. Firstly the image should be zoomed out as far as possible without showing the east west edges of the frame before adding the mattes. Also you have to find out if, with regard to vertical framing, mostly the top area of the frame should be matted only rather than the traditional way of placing the mattes centrally over the image which is not always correct. If the operators have any sense of picture composition, which they usually don’t as it’s not their area of expertise, they should allow the film element to indicate how it should be matted.
    I have lost count the number of films that were shot in academy yet intended for w/s have had their vertical framing composition ruined by lack of knowledge in the transfer area. Unfortunately, there is no clear documentation to exactly how they were framed. The SMPTE charts are helpful to a point and I am not referring to aspect ratio but, more importantly, where the electronic mattes are placed once the accurate aspect ratio has been established.
    Even from the frame grab above it is clear to me that it should be matted.
    In some ways I prefer it this way because if the framing is inaccurate you can do nothing about it but if it is properly framed in academy without any picture loss I can use the zoom mode and adjust the vertical framing myself to my own taste.
    I will scan the BBFC card and put a link up here in a day or two.

    • Hi Stephen, many thanks for all that. Very interesting. Please could you email us the scan at: restoration@hammerfilms.com Thanks! FYI, the image above the original post is NOT a frame grab, but a production still! We wholeheartedly agree with your closing argument; far better to release at Academy than at a matte that is not 100% verified as “correct”. And seeing as we have no definitive way to verify what a “correct” matte would be — ultimately it would be a subjective opinion, however much experience or expertise were behind that opinion — surely Academy is the best option if only a single version is released? In any case, none of this — yet — alters our view that Academy was the intended exhibition aspect ratio, though we’re looking forward to seeing your BBFC card!

  35. Hi Hammer, can you tell me if Curse of Frankenstein is going to get a single dvd release? As you’re not telling us who the partner is, then I doubt it is Studiocanal. Many thanks

  36. I can’t agree with bill lettang about Dracula being colder. I saw both Curse & Dracula in the mid-sixties in a dodgy old cinema -The Classic, Parade Street, Paddington – & what I can remember to this day is the colour, it stood out like 3D! This is what I’m most worried about re. Curse & Dracula, not todays colder-cyan look please! I thought the colour on the Warner DVD’s looked good.

    • Hi Alan, rest assured the grade of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN looks stunning and is vibrant with colour, though the balance is slightly more subtle than the WB edition. There is an ongoing debate about the grade of DRACULA, of which we are fully aware. There are strong arguments on both sides; the BFI grade is certainly “colder” and more muted than the WB release, but works very well indeed (the BFI did extensive research before finalising their grade). On the other hand, we have heard from some fans — such as yourself — who remember very strong colours when they first saw DRACULA in the cinema. We will probably be releasing the BFI restoration/grade (with the additional Japanese footage integrated, as already discussed here and on the Hammer website). Releasing two grades on the same edition would probably be a step too far!

      • Dracula had the advantage of many 35mm IB prints being struck for it’s original and subsequent re-releases in the States (as HOD). A lot of these still exist, some in excellent condition, and would give a very good idea of what the color timing looks like.

      • Hi Hammer, i’m loving these releases, I watched Plague of the Zombies last night and there were no audio issues and the picture quality is fantastic (for the record I have a Panasonic blu ray which i looked at a clip which was fine and a Toshiba BD1200 – I watched the full film on this). I am so looking forward to “the big three”. I have seen these films over the past 35 years now and here’s my observations which are purely my own opinion bearing in mind that apart from the odd cinema revival I never saw any of the films during the first run (I wasn’t born) so it is based on watching numerous TV screenings and the dvds. Re the Curse of frankenstein, I would agree that it would look better in academy ratio, when the dvd originally came out a website compared a uk broadcast version with the dvd and one example I can remember is the hook the monster is hanging from was totally cropped from the dvd, this “might” still be the case in 1.66. I also think the two Quatermass films look better academy ratio, 1.66 still loses too much picture information ie the trail of slime, I prefer to see the complete image area. Just my opinion though. Finally the colour timing of Dracula. The version of this that the BBC used to show was very washed out – similar to the BFI restoration which I was disappointed with when I went to a screening apart from the correct ratio, title card – I may be alone in this view (I still have my VHS recording from around 1984). I then recorded a version off Anglia TV in about 1989 and although it was a battered print with lots of splices etc the colours were marvellous, nearer to the DVD release, it had a Universal International logo at the beginning, this is what I would prefer, it just seems to me that as Hammer were making such a thing of it being in colour at the time of the films release, It would seem odd that they would then use a cool pallette. Finally The Mummy, the version of this that the BBC showed in the 80′s was really dull colour, similar to the brown faded look of the dvd. The version of this that played on Anglia TV was still far and above better colour, they popped off the screen, again though the print was full of splices. At the same time they showed the Man Who Could Cheat Death which again was brilliant colour, better than the BBC’s print and the subsequent Blu Ray(apart from the better resolution on Blu). I think at the time they still ran actual prints late night but could be wrong. Anyway keep up the brilliant releases you’re doing a great job and as a huge Hammer fan I will be looking forward to getting all the releases and like I said at the beginning of my post, im no expert on this, this is just basically my preferences based on my own viewings over the years.

        • Hi Mike, many thanks for all that! Some highly pertinent recollections! Thanks for your support and we hope you like our releases of the original Gothic films as/when they happen. Rest assured, along with Hammer’s official historian Marcus Hearn, we have created — and are still creating — some truly excellent extras for these classic titles!

          • If you do release the two Quatermass films, it’s Academy ratio all the way for me!

          • Hi Carl, we’d have to agree with that, but there’s still a fairly good argument for a 1.66:1 option for Q2 (we’re still not fully convinced the same applies to TQX though).

        • The trail of slime shot in The Quatermass Xperiment was a dead giveway for me that it was shot Academy, but with the matte full opened up apparently it’s still visible – just – at 1.66:1, It surely *must* have been shot with an eye to a wide format and the American market. What troubles me is the evidence from the trades that it was screened at 1.85:1, which must have been horrible. Val Guest ensures that there’s much in the frame to make an Academy screening more than acceptable (very little ‘dead’ space) and I prefer it. Personally, I think QII is much happier at 1.66:1 – none of this is cut and dried though is it? The films of the ’50s were sold into so many markets that entailed so many variables.

        • Mike, I think “The Man Who Could Cheat Death” desperately needs to be re-transferred. The blu ray and dvd do not represent in any way the look of the original IB Technicolor prints. This is because either a dupe negative or a low contrast print was used instead of a 35mm color interpositive which, if correctly graded can give you the closest look to the original film.
          I doubt if this will ever happen unless Hammer can somehow re-do it for a UK release. Canal Plus has a 35mm IB print for reference somewhere that belongs to Hammer.

          • Hammer, Paramount Studios in Hollywood has a 35mm Interpositive just in case it can be done!

    • Dear Alan, I respect your disagreement with me on DRACULA. Maybe “cold” was the wrong word, but a friend of mine who has a mint 35MM IB tech print would bear out that the Warner DVD was NOT how the film should look. The print is indeed colour saturated beautifully but doesn’t lean to the “warmer” side. Also, lighting wise it is darker as evidenced when HARKER enters the hall. The walls are bluish grey not light beige so the film indeed leans toward “blue” if you will, side. Hey my friend, its good to know how much we BOTH love this film and we both want the same end… that it looks UNBELIEVABLE… Bill Lettang.

  37. The continuing line of top quality restorations is very pleasing, and the decision to provide both ratios for CURSE is a welcome one that should remove any nit-picking regarding that issue. (Fans that come down on one side of the fence or the other should anyway welcome the additional version for comparison). THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is one of my favourite Hammer titles and if you can chuck all the extras + 5.1 mix of the earlier DVD and add more extras / do a tip-top transfer, it should be a killer disc. Would love to see some of the later FRANKENSTEIN titles get the Blu-Ray treatment but I forger whether rights issues will preclude you doing some of those. Keep up the truly excellent work anyway. (I’m still waiting for Hugh Biggins to provide his ‘evidence’ btw).

  38. I’m awaiting too’ Mr. Biggins evidence. I feel “Hammer” have really engaged with us’ listening to all our opinions, However for you to state your argument the way you did’ was just plain rude and they didn’t really need to tolerate. To quote “This sort of nonsense is inexcusable.” You’re communicating with professionals, so I recommend you treat them accordingly. Kudos to them that they have listened to what seems the consensus and are releasing both ratios.
    I repeat again they are doing a sterling job in restoration and it’s about time some of you out there show some gratitude for all the work involved. Valid criticism’ fair enough, but it’s just getting silly now.
    Once again I’ll end with a big “THANK YOU” to “Hammer.” :-D

  39. This is tremendously exciting news and I (along with everyone else) cannot wait to see the restored “Curse of Frankenstein” on Blu-Ray. The comments regarding the grade of “Dracula” for its future Blu-Ray release particularly interested me because, although I wasn’t born in 1958 so can’t comment on how it looked then, I was one of those who was disappointed by the BFI restoration (which I watched at the NFT) which indeed seemed too dark and muted. Having seen the film on television and DVD numerous times, I have always been struck by its rich colour palette (and this is very much its reputation visually speaking). I suppose it’s ultimately a matter of taste but I for one hope that the restored “Dracula” on Blu-Ray might strike a balance between the somewhat murky look of the BFI grade and the colourful but perhaps slightly over-bright WB DVD. I must add that I am no technical expert in these matters and bow to the expertise and technical knowledge of the Hammer restoration team (not to mention some of the commentators here). Many heartfelt thanks for all that you are doing – it’s a dream come true for all of us.

    • Matt, in 1995 or 6 there was a big Hammer festival at the Barbican. They had a big screening of “Dracula” with lots of people present, including Christopher Lee. The print they ran looked awful, flat and lifeless, this could have been the BBC print which was a low contrast print intended for video not for projection.
      Before the festival began I discussed with the organizer that, wherever possible, they should original archive 35mm prints, even though they may be a little worse for wear. He took my advice and for the rest of the screening original prints were mostly used.
      “Kiss of the Vampire” was a big surprise as this was a faded pre-censor print with extra footage that was removed by the censors at the climax of the film. Universal in the UK supplied this print and I tried to get Universal in the US interested, but to no avail.
      As far as I know Universal UK had several prints and they destroyed it to reduce space not realizing what they had done and the print they have is actually shorter than the domestic version, so they told me.
      This is not related in any way to the bastardized version that Universal made called “Kiss of Evil” with added US footage!

  40. I would love to see the original BBFC cards on future releases. Hope the CoF one gets to you in time to be included. The unrestored one on DPoD was a lovely trip down memory lane.
    One other thing I was going to ask, any chance of the Christopher Lee documentary on the DPoD DVD being issued as an extra somewhere down the line?

  41. Here is the BBFC card for “Curse of Frankenstein”:
    [IMG]http://i386.photobucket.com/albums/oo302/lasermagnetic/Image3-20.jpg[/IMG]
    1.85:1 was established in the US long before the UK. The exact years I am not sure. As I said previously I agree with the general opinion that 1.66/1.75 was intended and protected for academy.
    British films composed for 1.66 or 1.75 were shown that way in most UK cinemas, but British films that were distributed by majors in the US would be in 1.85. Universal insisted that the home video release of “Phantom of the Opera” and “Captain Clegg” should be 2:1, an aspect ratio they were using, only in the US, around this time. This to me is clearly a mistake as I can see that the headroom is okay but the picture at the bottom is cropped too much.
    “Kiss of the Vampire” should be 1.66 and Alan Hume, the film’s cinematographer, told my English friend this. When I conveyed this information to Universal they refused to believe it and consequently it looks overmatted to me.
    By 1957, in the UK most of all the leading cinema chains, ABC, Rank, Gaumont, Essoldo, Granada etc. would by this time have been equipped to show CinemaScope and consequently some of them would have either exchanged their academy aperture plates for either 1.66 or 1.75 or retained both academy and w/s. Specialized screening venues would have retained academy plates and lenses for both as they constantly show re-issues of academy shot films unlike the chains which usually keep up with the newer releases. I repeat that this is just my opinion.
    With regard to “Dracula”, I was too young to see this in original release in England. I did not see it until around 1962. I saw it several times and projected it for three days in 1964 in a double bill with “Brides of Dracula”.
    I thought that the color scheme of Jack Asher’s lighting was more restrained in the original, except for the color red, compared say to his later work during this period “Brides of Dracula” and “Man who Could Cheat Death”. These I think are two examples where Asher’s photography clearly display more rich color.
    I think the WB transfers of “Dracula” are a tad too light. I have two different transfers. The overmatted US dvd release and the HD transfer that was shown on Monsters HD several years ago. This transfer had more height than the dvd release and I thought that the grading was very close to my memory of the original IB Technicolor prints. Regardless, it is still too light as demonstrated in the main hall scenes when Harker first arrives. A lot of the background should display a little more effort for the viewer to see the decor less easily. A trend that I think is quite common in home video transfers.
    Back to “Curse of Frankenstein” I wish I had been present in the telecine session as I would have been able to tell where the mattes should be placed as I feel I have the necessary experience having supervised telecine transfers in the past.
    Unfortunately in the zoom mode on 16×9 monitors you are limited to 1.78 and the difference would huge, composition wise, even though the difference between 1.78 and 1.66 would be considered by most as minimal.

    • The dotted guidelines on the BBFC certificate are at exactly 1.37:1 (ie. Academy ratio) – but as you say, it lacks the ornamentation seen in other certificates attached to other Academy ratio films of similar vintage.

      • Hi Stuart, the dotted guide lines of course are just a guide to the cameraman photographing the card and do not dictate the aspect ratio of the film.
        I am going to find a censor card that was specifically designed for academy and put it up here.

    • Hi Stephen,

      Please see my June 28, 6:54 AM post (and the replies) for more info on the US widescreen era.

      All of the Hollywood studios began composing for widescreen between March and August of 1953. The earliest documented UK widescreen production I can find began filming in September.

      Best,
      Bob

  42. After I posted. I copy and pasted the link into the browser window, not including the IMG in brackets at the head and tail, and it worked. Let me know if you have a problem and I’ll try something else.

  43. I’m sure “Hammer” had professionals supervising telecine transfers. Admittingly you are a very skilled knowledgeable technician, but again’ we should be trusting “Hammer.” I don’t think I have ever seen so many Harry Enfield’s “you don’t want do that!” in my life. (A reference that might be lost on our American cousins.) “Hammer” have stated they are going to present in the two different ratios. Why are folk now still harping on about it. Everyone will be able to see the comparison soon enough, and I’m certain “Hammer” will be proved right in their original choice. They have given their reasons why they feel the film was always intended to be screened with the ratio of 1.37:1. They have also stated that it was indeed exhibited In U.K as 1.66:1. Can we all now reserved judgement till release. Once again “Hammer”………Thank You. :-D

    • Franny, with all due respect, sometimes even the pros make mistakes!

      Case in point, the new widescreen Blu-ray release of HONDO. The film was intended and composed for widescreen from day one. However, the first DVD release in 2007 was 1.37:1. Why? The experts at Paramount did not do their homework.

      It happens more than it should and there is a great deal of confusion concerning the first few years of non-anamorphic widescreen photography.

      My personal belief on CURSE, and all the other Exclusive productions starting with MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST in May 1954: they composed for widescreen while protecting for the standard ratio. Careful study of the camera movement shows this to be the case. The cinematographers would not be tilting the camera to keep an actor in frame for widescreen if the primary intent was 1.37:1.

      You can not compose for the standard ratio and protect for widescreen. That’s not possible. The reverse is how it was done during this transitional period.

      Best,
      Bob

      • Bob, re. MEN OF SHERWOOD FOREST, the opening title cards are incontrovertibly designed for the Academy ratio. Unless there was another set of title cards — designed at 1.66:1 — for the US release, the film must have been both shot and exhibited at the Academy ratio. There are also many other moments in the “transitional” films (i.e. those shot between 1953 and 1957) where 1.66:1 framing at best doesn’t look correct, and at worst removes vital picture information from the frame.

      • Hi Bob, in the light of what you state re. “protecting” for the standard ratio (i.e. for 1.37:1) how do you explain the aspect ratios of the Seven Arts/Hammer/Fox features made in the mid-late 60s? These were clearly intended to be exhibited at 1.66:1 in the UK (our recent restored releases of THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and THE REPTILE in partnership with StudioCanal are correctly matted at 1.66:1; our forthcoming releases of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD will also be matted at 1.66:1 as confirmed by the framing guides in the film headers) but were produced with full awareness that they would be projected at 1.85:1 in the US (though 1.85:1 looks very tight on even cursory scrutiny of these films). So logically, these films were “composed” for 1.66:1 but “protected” for 1.85:1. Rather than a definitive skew in favour of one ratio over another, could it not be the case that in both cases (the Academy to 1.66:1 “transitional” period of ~1953-1957, and the later transition from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1) there was full awareness that a single film would in all likelihood be projected across different territories using at least two different mattes, and that this was taken into account all the way through production? Finally, if, as you state, 1.66:1 composition was “protected” for Academy, wouldn’t one want to see the maximum possible frame of Jack Asher’s gorgeous cinematography and Bernard Robinson’s exquisite production design (especially now that they’re restored and graded in all their “original” glory)? Which would mean watching the film in the Academy ratio. In any case, many thanks for your comments and advice! That’s it from us on this till we post our article on the Hammer website. We’ve enjoyed debating this with all of you! Now we’ve got a very busy week ahead of us supervising the final grades of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN…

  44. A few other bits of information in the production timeline for CURSE:

    September 1956: 1.85:1 is now the accepted industry standard for non-anamporphic widescreen cinematography in the US.

    November 14: Peter Cushing is signed for the film.

    November 19: shooting begins at Bray Studios.

    December 5 – Warner Bros. closes a distribution deal with Exclusive Films.

    May 2, 1957: Premieres at the London Pavilion.

    June 15, 1957: Reviewed in Boxoffice. The aspect ratio listed is 1.85:1. [IMG]http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u235/BobFurmanek/fe427814.jpg[/IMG]

  45. Hi Bob, and thanks for your comments. “Curse of Frankenstein” was actually premiered at the Warner Theatre in Leicester Square not the London Pavilion, although they did premiere several Hammer Films such as “The Mummy”, “Camp on Blood Island”, “Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” and “Terror of the Tongs”.

    Franny, sorry to disagree with you but the framing issue, I tried to explain here, still goes on today. I say this without hesitation the professionals that work in this area can’t be expected to have the knowledge and experience of a camera operator. This why all pre-print material and projection release prints should have mattes on them to guide the projectionists, and, later the telecine operator to where the picture mattes should go. SMPTE films used for line-up are not helpful in this respect.
    I have been aware of this problem since the nineties.
    It has plagued many transfers and nobody seems to discuss it. Although there was a problem with “Back to the Future” on home video, which I never saw, but when I read about it it could have been related to what I am describing here.
    My dispute is not over whether the aspect ratio is correct or not I’ll leave that to Bob. What to me is more damaging is that once the correct aspect ratio has been established the mattes are not always placed correctly on the academy frame, resulting with the vertical framing being off (too much cropped at the bottom too much headroom at the top).
    The standard way is to centrally place them over the frame, which is correct for many titles, but not for others. The impression that I get often is when the camera operator is looking through the viewfinder he sees academy and also the parameters for whatever the aspect ratio is supposed to be. Often he will over protect the headroom while leaving the bottom of the frame relatively unchanged. I believe this is called ‘common bottom’. One theory I have is that if the film eventually is sold to television any monitor that has excessive overscan, there will be no danger of cropping the heads. (Today the problem of overscanning is considerably less than it was years ago). If this information goes undocumented, years later when it goes to home video it is pot luck if it turns out correctly.

    To demonstrate this further, there is an illustration somewhere on the internet showing the various aspect ratios for VistaVision. You will observe that starting from 1.66 down to 2:1 the adjustments indicated are mostly done at the top of the frame when the bottom of the frame is relatively unchanged. I think the reason for the extra headroom on VistaVision is because the optical track will be across the top of the frame, this is because often in the fifties VistaVision prints went to theaters for projection.
    “Strategic Air Command”, a Paramount VistaVision film, was released on Laserdisc some years ago and they matted it incorrectly. It looks like they matted it equally across the center which resulted in the image being too low behind the mattes. It seems this problem was corrected on the following reel but they didn’t go back and correct the bad reel.

    Hopefully this will make some kind of sense before I stray too far off topic!
    Someday, I will make a list of all the transfers that were framed incorrectly (not aspect ratio) and it will take time as the list will be quite large.

  46. Franny, I think you’re wrong giving Bob such short shrift, he’s as much as an expert as you’ll get. I was a film grader for 21 years & a telecine colourist for 22 years (& even did some work at Film House where I think this was done), & I never came across any “experts”, just people who thought they knew how it should be done. I think this whole aspect ratio debate is very interesting, & not over yet, Quatermass 2, widescreen please. And well done Hammer for listening to the fans, now I have the choice I’ll give them both a view & may well end up prefering the 4×3!

    • Thanks Alan! We have already done considerable research into the whole subject of aspect ratios, so that we can work with our restoration partners to create the best possible releases. However, there is always more to learn and more information to consider, especially when we have such knowledgeable and engaged fans! We suspect Franny’s comments are more to do with the tone and style of some of the comments on this blog, a small minority of which have come across as a tad arrogant/patronising (even if that wasn’t the intent). We love engaging with our fans, whether they’re industry veterans or hardcore horror fans — we would just ask for the same amount of respect from everyone who posts here that we hope we show to everyone ourselves. We worked very closely with Pinewood and StudioCanal to ensure that THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and THE REPTILE were matted at the correct UK original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (though the “original” exhibition ratio for both was 1.85:1 in the US). Also worth pointing-out that we are now in digital workspace so there is no “telecine” with a one-time matte/grade as there would have been previously. Celluloid materials are scanned “open gate” (2k or 4k in the case of the Hammer restoration titles to date) to digital files, often at the partner facility of the company who own the materials; these files are moved to the restoration facility (which in some cases is the same as the facility that did the scan); the full frame is restored; the film is graded, again “open matte”, then the aspect ratio matte is added right at the very end of the process. In this way we can always endeavour to make the best possible decision re. the original aspect ratio and re. the aspect ratio/s at which we’ll release the fully-restored feature. When we restore QUATERMASS 2, we will use this process, enabling us to put both 1.66:1 and 1.37:1 versions on an eventual Blu-ray release if the interest from the fans is strong enough.

      • Wow you’re going to do Quatermass 2 on Blu-ray! Would love that, I hope that Quatermass Xperiment would also be out. What about Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense is that going to be re-released as well? Any news of the un-released Hammers – Shadow of the cat etc

      • Hello Hammer – Are you going back out to film with the final results or creating DCPs for screenings, by chance? I don’t know if you have the rights in those areas, but it would certainly be nice to see POTZ and REPTILE in a large venue in full splendor. Any screenings I’ve been to over the years are sadly very faded. (There was an IB British print of the latter screened in Los Angeles a few years back, but I missed it).

          • Stating the obvious, I suppose, but as one who has had the good fortune of seeing many Hammer titles in big venues, as much fun as it is to have a personal copy they’re VERY fun with an (appreciative) audience on a large screen!

          • Wholeheartedly agree! This year alone we’ve partnered with the flicker club/VAULT festival, StudioCanal/Independent Cinema Office, the Bradford Fantastic Films Weekend, the up-coming CATH/DMU event in Leicester and StudioCanal/Glasgow & London FrightFests on theatrical screenings of Hammer classics!

  47. Dear Alan,
    I didn’t give Bob short-shift. In fact he sounds a most knowledgeable individual. I’m stating now that “Hammer” have stated that they will present in both ratios, everybody can relax and await our chance for comparison. “Hammer” have got me right’ what sometimes does grate is the tone & style of some folk’s comments. Whether intentional or not’ it doesn’t make for pleasurable reading. They are openly engaging with us through the whole process which is wonderful, and this opportunity to share in the restoration project shouldn’t be abused. Not that Bob is being that at all. Though scroll through the various threads here or on other boards and you can read some pithy comments. I have enjoyed both Bob’s and Stephen’s comments very much’ which are very informative. I think maybe “Hammer” you should have a forum especially for technical issues. All I am saying is that there is a right way to correspond and that is where a lot of my comments originate.
    Sincerely looking forward to this update which is forthcoming. Oh! did I ever say “THANK YOU” or not? :-D

  48. I think the fact that this discussion can get a little strong is because Hammer are a company who really appear to care about these things and has fans who, regardless of their profession, possess a great deal of knowledge about these films.

    This particular thread has remained polite as far as I can see, and everyone’s aired their views. Personally, I don’t hold my own opinion at this stage re: 1.37:1 vs. 1.66:1 as I’ve never seen either! I’ve only ever seen it cropped to 1.77:1 as per the DVD and, along with Dracula, it does seem cramped in that ratio.

    I’m curious to know who your release partners will be in this. I’m personally rooting for the BFI, but I’m sure whoever it is will do a great job with such care going into it.

    • Thanks Lee! Definitely some strong and well-argued posts on here. Think we can all agree though that anything “wider” than 1.66:1 is definitely too tight for the classic Hammer Gothics.

  49. Thanks for the replys Hammer & Franny. Wow, by the end of the year I should have Blu-rays of: The Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp, Lawrence Of Arabia & Odd Man Out. What a great time to be a fan of classic British films.

  50. Next year for Dracula from Hammer and it’s UK partner, apparently; but it *is* a great time to be a fan of British film. The effort Hammer are putting into the releases thus far is *very* encouraging.

    • Drat. I figured we’d get it for Halloween/October, what with it being shown with the found bits a while back.

      What’s the semi-official word on DRACULA, Hammer?

      • Hi Ben, although we screened a restored (BFI restoration + Japanese footage) DRACULA at the Vault Festival in February, we’ve decided to take one more considered look at the project before we finalise the restoration. We’d like to take our time over this and re-master the film in as definitive a way as possible. For this reason we decided to concentrate on THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and release this film first, not least because it was Hammer’s first Gothic horror, so it makes perfect sense that it should come out first! We’ll post in more detail on DRACULA later in the year. It’ll be well worth the very long wait, believe us!

  51. I have put four framegrabs up here to try to illustrate the framing issue that I described in my earlier post.
    Framegrab #1 [IMG]http://i386.photobucket.com/albums/oo302/lasermagnetic/vlcsnap-2012-07-01-11h22m02s176.png[/IMG]

    I believe this example to represent the academy frame (John Fraser from academy PAL version of “A Study in Terror”).
    You will note that there is an emphasis on headroom instead of the traditional way where he would normally be positioned higher in the frame.
    If you matted this by equal amounts top and bottom you would finish up with the illustration (roughly the same set up) in framegrab #2, which I consider to be incorrect.

    Framegrab #2: [IMG]http://i386.photobucket.com/albums/oo302/lasermagnetic/vlcsnap-2012-07-01-11h15m34s61.png[/IMG]

    The difference maybe subtle to some of you but to a camera operator’s eye I would, in my opinion, consider this to be incorrect.
    To correct this in you would have to put an imaginary horizontal line centrally across the monitor and take the area in the frame which corresponds approximately to the area around the actor’s upper lip and raise the frame so that it roughly lines up with the center of the monitor. This set-up usually works well for most of the film. This doesn’t mean to say that the rest of the film doesn’t require some further slight adjustment.
    Although framegrab #3 is not from the same film (Janet Munro from “Trollenberg Terror” aka “Crawling Eye”) the set-up is similar. You will notice that the point of reference (the area of her upper lip) roughly corresponds to the imaginary horizontal center line on the monitor.

    Framegrab #3: [IMG]http://i386.photobucket.com/albums/oo302/lasermagnetic/vlcsnap-2012-07-01-11h28m51s29.png[/IMG]
    Although Janet is a little further away the same rules apply (right up to a full headshot). I consider this to be correct and this film was also shot academy.
    Framegrab #4 [IMG]http://i386.photobucket.com/albums/oo302/lasermagnetic/vlcsnap-2012-07-01-12h30m47s216.png[/IMG]

    This framegrab (Richard Johnson in “The Haunting”) represents the camera operator’s set up for a medium close shot and as the film is not shot in spherical academy but for anamorphic Panavision there is relatively no room for vertical movement as you would immediately reveal the frame lines at the top and bottom of the frame.

    This information is just my version of avoiding the problems that arise in framegrab #2 and I have found that this method has always worked.

    • Hi Stephen, many thanks for all your input on this, and for the time you’ve taken to put this together! We’ll be sure to be very careful where we position the 1.66:1 matte before we play out to master.

  52. Thank you to the personnel at Hammer for your kind and appreciative reply.
    I have loved Hammer films since my Mother took me to see “Stranglers of Bombay” at my local ABC cinema one Monday afternoon in September, 1960 and I haven’t been the same since!
    I consider myself fortunate to have met some members of the great Hammer team such as Terence Fisher, Jack Asher and Roy Ashton. I worked in the British Film Industry in the late sixties and seventies which made it possible to meet a lot of my heroes from my childhood before they passed away.
    I wish you success on all your future projects and hope to have these Hammer blu ray classics in my possession soon.

  53. “Hi Bob, in the light of what you state re. “protecting” for the standard ratio (i.e. for 1.37:1) how do you explain the aspect ratios of the Seven Arts/Hammer/Fox features made in the mid-late 60s?”

    Hi Hammer, when I refer to “protecting for Academy” I’m referencing the titles from that transitional period of 1953-1956.

    “Finally, if, as you state, 1.66:1 composition was “protected” for Academy, wouldn’t one want to see the maximum possible frame of Jack Asher’s gorgeous cinematography and Bernard Robinson’s exquisite production design (especially now that they’re restored and graded in all their “original” glory)? Which would mean watching the film in the Academy ratio.”

    I prefer watching the film in the composition which I feel was intended by the filmmaker. As I’ve mentioned before, you compose wide and leave extra head room for standard. You can not do the opposite. In 1.37:1, there’s way too much headroom in CURSE. That’s why I feel they were composing for widescreen. Considering the time WB acquired distribution rights, I would venture to say it is composed for 1.85:1.

    I guess we’ll have to agree to dis-agree on this one! All the best on your restoration and thank you for letting me state my case for widescreen. :-)

    Best,
    Bob

  54. Hi Bob, if WB put money up front from “Curse” I am sure they would have informed Hammer that they intended to project the film in the US for 1.85:1. As the UK were not standardized to 1.85 until at least by the seventies, I would hazard to say, Hammer composed their frame for 1.66 making sure that all pertinent information was contained within the parameters of 1.85.
    Yet, when I see transfers of “Curse” at 1.85, the long shot of the priest on horseback on the way to the prison, the matte shot is badly cropped at the top of the frame??
    This could be due to a few things, the film was zoomed in too far when matted. Possibly the matte shot was painted for an academy frame and is very close to the top of the frame, who knows?

  55. Wow you’re going to do Quatermass 2 on Blu-ray! Would love that, I hope that Quatermass Xperiment would also be out. What about Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense is that going to be re-released as well? Any news of the un-released Hammers – Shadow of the cat etc. Also any news on the list of who owns what Hammer film?

    • “…it might be noted that ‘Shadow of the Cat’ and ‘Light up the Sky’, two films that have been characterised as Hammer pictures, are in fact not productions of the company.” (Eyles, Allen, Robert Adkinson and Nicolas Fry, 1973, The House of Horror: The Story of Hammer Films, 1st Edition, Lorrimer Publishing, UK.)

      • The House of Horror is wrong I’m afraid. Yes, the authors had collaboration of several bodies at Hammer, but the filmography presented is incomplete, doesn’t look at the production subsidiary companies or the complex legal set ups engaged by the company on occasion. You’ll also note that same list states that they have very little information on The Seven Wonders of Ireland, Ticket to Happiness, Italian Holiday or Highway Holiday – surprising considering prints of most of these were still in existence at the time of publication.

        The Shadow of the Cat was produced by Hammer under the BHP name for reasons which are still obscured. It was announced in the trades as a Hammer film, only to have the Hammer name swiftly withdrawn publicly. But Hammer still invested time, money and production facilities to the project, and there is paperwork in the Hammer archives to support the Hammer ownership.

        It also makes the official list on both Hammerfilms.com and Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes The Hammer Story.

        I was able to screen an original 35mm print at the Fantastic Films Weekend in Bradford a couple of weeks ago as part of our Hammer strand.

  56. Oh yes, Shadow Of The Cat, I believe it was the supporting feature to The Curse Of The Werewolf. I think the last time I saw it was in the late 60′s on the telly. So many forgotten films.

    • On the subject of “Curse of the Werewolf”, I’ve handled a reel of Technicolor print (in the UK only as US release prints were all Eastman color) some years ago and it had really thick mattes printed in. Can’t remember if it was 1.66 or 1.75. (This can either be done in the camera negative (which I think is called (‘hard matte’) or later in the lab (‘soft matte’) possibly the latter).
      I still have a frame of it in my collection.

      Post Production sound on all the early classic Hammer Gothics and the Quatermass films had all their ‘post’ recording done by Anvil Films, then based at Beaconsfield Studios, outside London in Buckinghamshire.
      Anvil Films was a company that produced a lot of documentary films in the late forties, early fifties. Two of the personnel that worked for the company were Ken Cameron and Ken Schrivener. They only had a tiny sound stage to work on but they managed to record post dialogue, sound effects, footsteps and music scoring, with John Hollingsworth as music director and conductor, plus the final mixing.
      Hammer Films became one of their clients.
      Anvil did miracles with such limited space as heard in the fine work they did for Hammer.
      Ken Cameron was considered a pioneer in the recording of film music in England and he went to Hollywood to learn the methods of music recording that had reached perfection at that time.
      “The Gorgon” was one of the last titles Hammer did at Anvil (photography was done at Bray of course) and when the lease was up Anvil moved to Denham Studios in 1967 where the music stage was much larger and plenty of facilities for recording dialogue and sound effects. Ken Cameron, by this time in semi-retirement and dealing with administrative duties, hired famed mixer Eric Tomlinson, from CTS, to head music recording and achieved fame with the recording of scores to such films as “Star Wars”, “Alien” and “Superman”.

  57. A question for Hammer.
    Do you know if the 35mm Interpositive you are using for “Curse” is made from a re-constructed negative made from separations or has recent improvements in technology made it possible to pull more color out of the original negative?
    I believe this is what Warner had to do several years ago as the original camera negative had seriously faded.
    Also there are issues with regard to color registration.
    The first reel or two have a lot of overlapping dupes of dissolves cut into the negative and as a result didn’t look too good even on the HD broadcast I have from MonstersHD a few years ago.
    The first decent looking original footage, from memory, doesn’t come until Peter Cushing is listening to the beat of the dog’s heart.

  58. One last question for Hammer regard audio.
    Is the audio source you have a track negative? If so, if I may be so bold to recommend to you, that wherever possible it is always preferable to scan a positive optical track, particularly as an original mono magnetic track is unlikely, if ever made at all, to survive on this film.
    Track negatives are commonly scanned nowadays in post houses and regardless of what they do to them they never really finish up sounding satisfactory.
    This is because optical track negatives were never meant to be used in this way. They were shipped to a laboratory where a positive optical print was produced.
    Unfortunately, the lack of laboratories in existence today makes this more and more difficult to achieve.
    There are so many home video releases today where track negatives are scanned directly and regardless of how well you might think they are processed, you can usually always detect the tell-tale signs – particularly in dialogue – when one has been used, and I hate it!

  59. Yep, I’d have to echo Stephen on that. Neg optical soundtracks sound awful (so sibilant), but all this is well known, I wouldn’t think the Hammer team & Deluxe would make that mistake, esp. when Deluxe still have a film lab that can make prints of the optical negs.

  60. Hello Hammer
    Would just like to add my thanks for what’s been going on recently. Thinking back to when I became a fan (around 1992), there was practically nothing around – no books, DVDs, merchandise – only, God bless ‘im, Mike Murphy and his Dark Terrors fanzine. Now we are truly spoiled for choice! One gripe – I too am having sync issues with Plague of the Zombies on Blu-ray.

    • Thanks for your support, Lee! Sorry to hear about the synch problems. As we’ve said, we tried to replicate these issues and could not. Please let us know exactly which player you’re using, as this may help us to discover what the problem may be…

  61. Pingback: DVDuell.de » The Curse of Frankenstein erscheint wahrscheinlich mit zwei Bildformaten auf Blu-ray

  62. As an aside, are there any plans to release UK versions of the Carmilla trilogy? Or, X, The Unknown?

    Just thought I’d ask…

    • Hammer doesn’t own any of the Carmilla films, but Synapse are releasing TWINS OF EVIL on Region A Blu-ray in the US on July 10th! Optimum released a double-bill of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and LUST FOR A VAMPIRE in the UK. There is an Australian Region B Blu-ray of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. X THE UNKNOWN we may restore, but it won’t be till toward the end of the project and will depend of the success of earlier releases.

      • Hi Hammer,

        With blu rays capabilities of doing seamless branching would it not be an idea to use both American and British titles on some releases? I was thinking of titles like ‘The Reptile’ where the British titles are awful quality and some viewers would prefer better quality titles?

        Just a thought.

        Rob

        • Hi Robert, good idea in theory, but in practise not really possible. Sadly, both the US and the UK titles for THE REPTILE are equally murky. Our aim is always to restore the UK titles when this is both possible in terms of materials, and viable in terms of restoration. So for the films we are currently restoring that originally had both UK and US titles, we are doing the following: for RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK we have used the US titles from the source material (restoration of the UK titles we could source wasn’t viable). For THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, we have invested considerable resource in restoring the UK main and end titles from print materials that though viable for restoration, required a great deal of work (the UK titles were in a far worse state than the main feature, which came from a US source). Of course the US main titles for TDRO have the US release title of “THE DEVIL’S BRIDE”, which is no longer in use.

          • Hi Hammer,

            Thanks for replying. It’s a shame the material has got into such a poor state. I hope the films are all being scanned in 4k so at least they will be safe from further deterioration. Looking forward to Rasputin, not one of my favourites but looking forward to seeing it in it’s full aspect ratio.

            Rob

          • Re: Devil’s Bride title. I believe Warners still has broadcast rights, and their HD transfer uses that title. It was screened that way a year or so back on TCM in the States. Warners’ rights may have expired since then, I don’t know . . . .

  63. Even if the US titles were top-notch and UK titles totally degraded’ I wouldn’t want them! Recreate’ would be the option.
    Is that update’ nearly with us? Was wondering will “Curse” have the same menu design and packaging as the rest of the series? Thank you.

  64. While StudioCanal is the likely candidate for CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, and THE MUMMY, I’d love to see other companies considered like the BFI and Eureka/Masters Of Cinema.

  65. Hammer,
    I just want to let you folks know that I’ve been nothing but astounded by the dedication you have to the quality of your films. That you interact with, and listen to, the fans leaves me even more impressed.

    That said, are there any negotiations being made to get Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula released in the U.S.? I believe there’s a third title you mentioned somewhere in the comments, but I’m having difficulty locating it. My heart sank a bit when I read that the films will be released on DVD/Blu-ray everywhere but the U.S. Can’t quite afford to get a new blu-ray player at the moment, so an all region player is out of the question. Is there a possibility for U.S. release or has that been officially shut down?

  66. if my three top hammers – frankenstein, dracula, and the mummy- are released in the UK, and there is still no distribution deal set for the US, then i will be buying the UK versions. a new restoration of these classics, and no US studios on board—- well my cash will be crossing the pond!!

  67. CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN related question: where do the rights lie for all of the other Hammer Franks, especially REVENGE OF FRANKESTEIN and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED?

  68. Regarding the much discussed aspect ratio, it’s not uncommon for IP’s to have different aspect ratios than the original negatives. For example, pan and scan 35mm IP’s exist for many CinemaScope and Panavision titles. Similarly, there are quite a few films that were shot “open matte” where optically zoomed in IP’s exist. In the original negatives, boom poles and lights were visible, but in the IP’s, they were cropped out. This also caused some information to be trimmed off of the sides of the image as well.

    Hammer, since you’re working with an IP, you might want to make sure that it does indeed match the original negative’s photography and wasn’t made with a cropped, zoomed-in image.

    Lastly, great job on DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS. It looks great!

  69. Oh’ dear. “Rasputin” and “Mummy’s Shroud” moved back to Oct 22nd. :-( Does that mean we might have “Curse” beforehand? :-D That would be cool!

  70. I will buy all the hammer frankensteins on blu-ray – after CURSE – the one I want most is FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED!

  71. Is it true? “The Devil Rides Out” released Oct 22nd’ making it 3 releases? “The Curse of Frankenstein” sometime before? If all this goes ahead’ absolutely Brilliant!

    • @ Franny – I suspect it means that The Curse Of Frankenstein will be released AFTER the other three – but I’ll be delighted to be proven wrong! :)

  72. A question to you fab folks at Hammer, are all the Hammer Dracula’s being restored,one that realy needs a look at is Satanic Rites,it seems this movie has been over looked and over the years it has never had a Uk dvd release so on BD im sure alot of Hammer fans would be rather happy me included.Thank you.

  73. Hi,

    I’ve only ever seen one version of Curse on DVD at 1.85:1. I’m no expert but even I could tell it wasn’t right.

    I have no idea what aspect ratio should have been used so I’m not going to comment on that other than to say I’ll trust Hammer’s judgement on what the official ratio should be. I’m sure that either of the two versions on the Blu-Ray will be a huge improvement on the DVD version I’ve seen previously and I look forward to seeing them both and deciding which version I personally prefer.

    I’d also like to say a huge thanks to Hammer for both the obvious care which they are showing to each of these restorations and for taking the time to engage with us all on them. We are not only being kept in the loop about what is coming but our feedback is being heard and where appropriate & practical acted upon. Hammer have shown that not only do they care about the films but that they care about their fans too. It’s rare but very welcome so thanks Hammer.

    I look forward to the Curse and other future Blu-Ray releases.

  74. Sorry Hammer, if i write again the same message but remember that user that claimed to have seen the missing Head in the acid scene ? I think the VHS he refers to is this one:

    http://z9.invisionfree.com/THE_CINEHOUND_FORUM/index.php?showtopic=2776&st=150

    I think it has been transferred from a Japanese print of the film, because for VHS releases each country used their own print with translated titles and credits, if you can take a look at this tape. It could contain the missing scene :)

    • Just looked at this link and its interesting to note that the running time is 83 mins. Checking on IMDB, it states that UK/UK versions of the film are 82 mins and the Japanese version is 83. Not a lot of difference, but enough time for a shot of a head dissolving in acid?

        • I was thinking that maybe the running time of 82 minutes on IMDB is without the eyeball shot ?
          Hammer, If you want to take a look there is a Japanese laserdisc right here:

          http://www.duffsflix.com/servlet/the-5420/The-Curse-of-Frankenstein/Detail

          This is the Japanese laserdisc edition (maybe scanned from a Japanese print like Frankenstein and the monster from hell ?) with English audio and subtitles.
          In any case Hammer, I will absolutely buy your new Blu-ray with or without the uncut dissolved head. And thank you for all your hard work. :)

  75. Dear Hammer Lords,
    What’s gonna happen concerning the above. Are you going to investigate if the Japanese print does contain this scene? Can you revisit the restoration? Then are we talking of the release being put back to allow for more work to be undertook on the project?
    With the confirmed three titles from Studiocanal, we still have releases to anticipate.
    Would love to hear the views about this from Stephen, Bob & other Hammerites.
    Also’ you gone quiet on us again…….busy?

    • Hi Franny, I hope that the shot is in there (it would probably replace the second reaction shot of a repulsed Robert Urquhart) but my instincts tell me that the Japanese VHS contains the US NTSC master put together by Warner Bros mastering, which is quite a common occurrence in home video.
      I dearly hope I am mistaken for everybody’s sake!!

  76. Warner included an original 16 second trrailer/tv spot (?) for “The Curse of Frankenstein” on a 1980′s Australian trailer reel promotional sent out to video stores. It is b/w with Bob Tuefeld (?) voice over- “See the creature created by man but forgotten by nature. When the wraps come off …” The shots are simply the lettering “It will haunt you forever” & “The Curse of Frankenstein” with a very brief shot of the Creature reaching up to pull away the bandage from its face. I have this very tape, given to me at the time by a store manager, so it is in pristine condition. It would make a nice extra. Perhaps you might investigate. The tape also presents the original English trailer for “The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires”; the German-voiced equivalent is to be found on Youtube with better picture quality but not, of course, presented with the original English title cards/fonts.

  77. hello HAMMER fans.. could someone please explain what is meant by “protect” when referring to aspect ratios? Thanks!!!!

    • In a nutshell, it means shooting with a specific intended exhibition aspect ratio (e.g. 1.85:1) but ensuring that the frame is composed in such a way that matting at a looser aspect ratio (e.g. 1.66:1) will still render a picture that only contains what should be there (i.e. no boom mics, prop hands etc.). Hence 1.85:1 “protected” for 1.66:1. This was seen most often in the late 60s/early 70s when films were projected 1.66:1 in the UK, but 1.85:1 in the US.

  78. Hello’ Hammer Lords,
    Did you not state that we would have a new update shortly from you? Must admit a bit confused now with the changes in regards to what to expect and when?

    • Hi Franny, RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD are released in the UK on 22nd October in partnership with StudioCanal. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN… watch the Hammer twitter feed @hammerfilms carefully over the next few days… ;-)

  79. On another note, can anything be said about the movies that Universal in the US controls? A couple of years ago, that fire they had reportedly destroyed all of the masters for the 8-film set they had released. The transfers that have been redone that I’ve seen aren’t as good looking as the originals. Was it just the masters that were destroyed, or were original materials destroyed too? And, are there plans to get these done correctly regardless? Since Eureka/Masters of Cinema are working with Universal in the UK now, I’d really like to see them handle those titles there (if applicable). I’d love to get BRIDES OF DRACULA in HD! Regardless of not having Sir Christopher, Cushing gave one of his best Van Helsing performances in that movie!

    • And is Hammer aware of any plans to release REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN soon? Would be snazzy to get that beauty in HD as well! Heck, I want ALL Hammers in HD! Yes, even SHATTER. ;)

  80. LOVE IT! Thanks for making the announcement as promised! Love the cover, but please have the “double-play” signage be a sticker and not permanent on the cover art. Thanks again! XOXOXO

    • Hammer you have made my day. A HUGH THANK YOU!!!! The Special Features are brilliant, would love to know how you are going to beat that lot. Is Four Sided Triangle remastered. More importantly thank you for putting all the special features on the dvds as well as the bluray. At last I can get rid of my terrible region 1 copy of Tales of Frankenstein, hope this is remasted as well. And by the look of it it is in a dvd case Hurrah! Can you just confirm this though. A BIG BIG THANK YOU!

      • FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE will be the SD restoration from a few years ago, as originally released by DD Home Entertainment. TALES OF FRANKENSTEIN is not restored. Many thanks for your kind words and support!

  81. I have to admit, I’m a bit concerned about all that and two versions of the movie crammed onto one bd. Or, will some of the extras be strictly on the dvds? Whatever you do, please don’t compromise the quality of the movies themselves! Thanks again!

      • That’s good to hear. Hovering around 30, I hope. :P Will all of the listed extras be on the bd, or will some be spread onto the dvds? Also, I still so thrilled about this — this might very well be the release of the year (yes – even over the Universal Classic Monsters set…). Thanks again!

  82. Looks like a great package, giving the film the respect it deserves. The TV Tales Of Frankenstein should be interesting. I remember seeing a still of it in a very early edition of that great mag, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, but I’ve never seen anything about it since.

  83. More interested to hear Ted talk about “Tales” then the actual production. Seen it’ and just showed that Screen Gems/America didn’t really understand “Hammer.” It’s a mish-mash of “Hammer” and the old Universal Style monster movie. Great curio to have included though.
    It’s the features that excite me, and it’s loaded! :-D

  84. As the extras for Curse of Frankenstein are included on the 2 DVDs, why duplicate them on the Blu-ray? Wouldn’t that only result in a lower bitrate and smaller file size for the two versions of the film?

        • From the Cathode Ray Tube [url=http://www.cathoderaytube.co.uk/2012/10/british-cult-classics-curse-of.html]review[/url]: [quote]The other immediate worry is that the DVD and the Blu-ray versions in this package are almost indistinguishable and I’d go so far to say that to my eyes the SD transfer on DVD is actually the tiniest bit sharper than the HD transfer on the BD. [b]This potentially opens up questions about bit rates for the two versions of the film in respect of squeezing all the featurettes and extras (45 minutes in HD and over 2 hours in SD) together on the BD.[/b][/quote]

          Which was exactly my worry!

          • In short: ALL the extras on the Blu-ray are in fact SD (Frank is incorrect on this point). The bitrate of BOTH versions of the feature is ~25Mbps. There was ZERO additional/further compression used to fit both versions on the Blu-ray. If the HD version looks “softer”, it’s because the resolution is better and any flaws are being highlighted to a greater degree. Frank is correct that any perceived “softness” is due to the source materials and to our unwillingness to over-manipulate the picture captured from them. More soon…

          • I hope we hear more soon. I’m not thrilled by the initial news on CURSE, but I’m waiting to read and see more about it. DEVIL RIDES OUT is the first strange bit of the next wave of titles, but this CURSE biz is not helping inspire confidence, fellas.

  85. I got a “thank you” for my support and loyalty. Wish I could frame that! For so many years’ I wished these films had the sort of treatment lavished on them as the Universal “classic monsters” titles did….and now’ we’re knocking them into a hat! The “Hammer” title is at front of the best horror films of today’ as well. Hammer has truly risen from the grave. I’m so excited about the whole of the restoration project. Wouldn’t mind “The Viking Queen” next, as I feel the titles should be mixed. However’ let’s not get ahead of ourselves. October isn’t far away! :-D THANK YOU!

  86. Wow. That truly is a release to wet our pants over. Thanks a million. Just one question: why was it decided to include The Four Sided Triangle as a bonus? No that I’m complaining, I’m just curious…

    • I’ll explain it in more detail in the sleeve notes, but basically its a bit of a Hammer Frankenstein story without the characters, directed by Terence Fisher (director of CoF). I suppose we could have bundled Stolen Face in there too, but its not as immediately relevant.

  87. HATS OF TO HAMMER.. you kind of surprized us with the COF announcement. This is the one that started all the real excitement along with those wonderful nightmares. This makes me real confident that my favortie film in the world DRACULA is not far behind.. time to buy a region free BR player.. I was wondering what Sir Christopher Lee thinks of all this… I hope he’s pleased. I am glad he’s around to see how much he, Peter, and EVERYONE at HAMMER (yesterday and today) are loved by fans the world over!!!!

  88. I got the connection with “Four Sided Triangle. Concerning TCOF theatrical trailer, couldn’t even a poor quality version be placed on the release as maybe an Easter Egg, just for completeness sake. Just an idea. I’m still sooooooooooooo HAPPY. :-D

  89. Regarding the COF trailer, I’ve sent an email to David Kalat of AllDay Entertainment, as he released a dvd in the 90′s entitled “Horror Of Hammer” which appears to have contained its trailer. In case you want to reach out, here’s his site: http://www.alldayentertainment.com. Hope this can help!

  90. The Devil rides out & The Curse of Frankenstein are now on amazon.co.uk for pre-order :)
    I’m so excited,4 hammer blu-rays in october.Thanks Hammer !!!

  91. hello HAMMER fans…we’ve just had the world premiere of COF on blu ray and there aren’t any opinions? WHAT’S WITH THAT?

    • One or two opinions are out there, Bill: just not on this blog, as of yet. A contributor on the BHF forum, who was present at the Leicester screening, expressed the opinion that the film looked good in its new AR (1.37:1), but that the print used was ‘soft-looking’. Apparently, Hammer’s print was the same one that Warners used for their earlier (over-cropped) Dvd release.

      Hammer / Lion’s Gate’s blu-ray release is still nearly three months away, so there’s possibly still time to source a better print. (If indeed the print is a problem.)

      Will await developments with interest!

  92. I’m currently documenting precisely when Exclusive Films began composing for widescreen. Based on the original material that I’ve located so far, the switch to widescreen cinematography took place in June, 1953.

    The initial public presentation of widescreen in the UK took place at the Odeon, Leicester Square on May 14, 1953.

    My findings as well as documentation from primary source materials will be published very soon.

    For more information on this period of transition, please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/3dfilmarchive/home/top-10-3-d-myths/early-widescreen

    Bob Furmanek
    3-D Film Archive
    http://www.3dfilmarchive.com

  93. hello HAMMER & FANS… some of this is getting a liitle complicated… did you ,HAMMER , use a road show print for COF or did you go back to to the original camera negative? Does the OCN still exist? I’m sure you folks know what you’re doing but it may ease some fans concern over source materials.. Most of the theatrical prints I’ve seen rstored (Magnificent 7, Spartacus) leave much to be desired and usually cannot compete with an OCN in good condition. How the West Was Won for example, used the Cinerama OCN negatives which in my opinion has produced the best looking Blu Ray release so far! In response to Mr. Lyndon I don’t think COF was SHOT in Technicolor as this would require 3 BK&White strips of film and expensive color dyes.. a process way beyond OLD Hammers Budget. Most likely the road show prints were made by Technicolor or Eastman from a 1 strip negative. Old Eastman prints can suffer terribly from fading in and out of the color, something very noticible on the VHS COF, but less so on the Warners DVD. I just hope Hammer was given a shot at the best source materials available.. they deserve it after all this effort!!!

    • I know that sounds a bit impossible about this print, but other posters dating to 1957 (at the first release of Curse) had written Warnercolor, the strange thing is that this poster (dating to 1970) has written Technicolor. It could be a mistake by the artist who draw the poster or the distributor (Gold Film) but I would like to investigate with Hammer’s permission. And since I’m in Italy I could also find out if Italy ever get some uncut prints of Curse and the other Hammer movies. Gold Film distributed all the major movies of the company like Horror of Dracula or The mummy.

    • Many years back I discussed the OCN’s condition on CURSE with a lab rep who was doing work for Warners. It’s unfortunately very faded. It was quite awhile ago, but my recollection is that a new negative was created from the “separations”; these are three strips of B&W film, similar to the old Technicolor three-strip process but done in reverse – in other words made from the camera negative as a protection measure. When printed recombined they can produce a new negative. The big drawback is that they have a tendency to be slightly soft, and you have three layers of dirt “baked” into the new negative.

      There may be other elements kicking around like interpositives that were struck before the negative faded, and these would probably be the best bet for a transfer. Release prints are usually not a good choice, since they contain more contrast and overall harshness than an IP.

      Whatever Hammer has used I’m sure it’ll be a distinct improvement over the old Warners dvd, if for no other reason than the progress made in the whole mastering process.

  94. Wonder when we’ll get an announcement of what features in the other three pending releases? Also cover designs?

  95. dear HAMMER, I’m disappointed with the COF bluray cover art.. Its a rehash of the American DVD artwork (although I know Warners used original British art). I think the films Title Card would have been much more effective, or at least something NEW. I hope you have better ideas for DRACULA and not the same picture of the Count holding a woman in his arms.

    • I really like the art Hammer has chosen for CoF. Striking, super colorful and based on original theatrical art – hard to argue against that!

  96. Quite like it myself. Don’t know why, ahh’ maybe because it captures the era. I was rather hoping for that pic of the Count with the woman and as for “The Mummy” want a variation of that wonderful original poster. Again’ just me. Bill’ what does the “title Card” for TCOF show? Wonder when we will get to hear details about the other pending releases?

    • Hi Franny…the COF title card is simply a gothic type lettering “The Curse of Frankensteinj” on a bright red misting backround… very striking.. I have no arguments with fans`who like the old artwork, but these Blurays, I feel, deserve something new. I once suggested to Hammer that they use Harker’s diary as an inner box to the DRACULA bluray, (after all the story is coming pretty much from that source) but never heard anything and thats OK to. It’s also possible they want to use more of their budget towards the restorations.Maybe I’m nitpicking and associate those original covers with Warner Bros. shabby treatment of these films. As far as DRACULA is concerned, Hammer has already stated on this blog they are reconsidering the BFI’s restoration and after seeing the BFI trailer, I wasn’t too impressed with it either. Have fun and keep posting! Bill

  97. The “Harker Diary” would be a lovely idea. They should invest in production, maybe a strictly limited edition package. The “title card” rings bells now and sounds a great idea, though I’m sure that the cover shown is confirmed now. Still no word of what features to expect from the other releases. Recently viewed the documentary’ Synapse produced for “twins of Evil” and it does drag. 30 to 35 mins is just the right length for a “making of” feature. Keep posting’ Bill.

  98. Did I miss something? I thought I was keeping up to date and then today I find out that The Devil Rides Out is being released in October as well.

    Is there anything else I’ve missed?

    • You do know that Curse of Frankenstein is also out in October?
      The problem with this forum I find is that the latest posts aren’t always at the bottom. Individual posts can be replied to and these can easily be missed.

      • Thanks, M. R. Murray. Yes, I know about Curse, Rasputin and Shroud, but I had no idea about Devil! My wage packet is going to be very depleted!!! I agree that posts can be missed around here, especially as I’ve just come back from holiday.

        Hopefully, Hammer can do an updated release list at some point.

  99. Hello HAMMER & FANS… It’s about time to buy a region free blu ray player, but I need to know who will export the new titles to the U.S. Any suggestions.. thanks, Bill Lettang

  100. Apologies if this has been suggested before, and for going off-topic, but has Hammer ever considered releasing a Blu-ray trailer compilation, similar to Synapse’s 42nd Street Forever series? Perhaps you could make it a limited edition, or have some sort of mail-in promotion. You wouldn’t even have to restore any of them, just slap ‘em on a BD. Just an idea.

  101. If the original COF trailer was featured on the WB DVD, it exists in decent form, so surely something could be worked out so it could be included on this upcoming Blu-ray…? Even if it was ported over directly in standard def, it would be better than not having it at all! Please please PLEASE try to get the trailer on there, and thanks thanks THANKS for your amazing work on these restorations; I have QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and it looks absolutely phenomenal.

  102. hello hammer fans.. can anyone tell me where I can buy the Hammer blu rays in England that will ship to USA? Thanks much!!!

  103. Sorry if this has already been asked, but is the dvd version of Curse only going to be made available with the Blu-ray edition?
    Also, are there plans to release any other classics in special editions in the future?
    Thank you.

  104. hello Hammer & Fans..quite frankly I’m baffled over the lack of response to the world premiere of the restored COF. One gentleman was kind enough to post an opinion from someone he knew who saw it and that person thought it looked “soft”. I may be wrong but if it looked great we’d here more about it, but this almost total silence tells me the film may not look as good as we hoped… I HOPE I’m wrong!!!!!

  105. Not sure why my previous comment made over a week ago is still awaiting moderation, so I’ll try again…

    Can you port over the SD trailer found on the Warner DVD? I mean, c’mon, the trailer needs to be on there! And thank you kind sirs at Hammer for doing your darnedest to get these released right; we the fans are forever in your debt!

    • Sadly no, we can’t port the trailer from the WB R1 DVD as this wouldn’t render sufficient quality. Sadly we couldn’t locate any film materials for the trailer so we couldn’t restore it for our release.

  106. Hello HAMMER & FANS… with all of us gearing up for the upcoming COF Blu ray, I thought it would be nice to talk about James Bernards’ music for this film. While DRACULA has that wonderful commanding motif and excitement, Bernards COF opening theme is just plain eerie. Those 3 half steps up, 3 half steps down intervals give me the creeps to this day, and I love how he builds the tension when Valerie Gaunt (and later Hazel Court) enter the Baron’s lab. When Brides of Dracula came out, the score, while good, was sadly missing what was to become the sound of HAMMER.. I’m a musician and composer by trade, and for my money, James Bernard was the best composer for this genre…What say you old HAMMER FANS?

  107. I’m not able to watch the preview of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN on the hammer you tube channel here in the states – drat!
    this is what is displayed:
    (The uploader has not made this video available in your country)

  108. hello Hammer: hope the site is back up and running.. Have you decided what you’re going to do with Dracula? Will it be the BFI effort or a new restoration? thanks much!

  109. Hello HAMMER & FANS: A while back you stated you were reconsidering the BFI’s restoration of DRACULA. My question is, are you going with a remastering of the BFI version or a compleat restoration of your own. Also saw some screen grabs from COF.. loved the color and 1:37 aspect ratio, but was disappointed with the overall softness of the image which I’m sure could be attributed to the IP source material.

    ‘It’s obvious something different was done in the mastering between the 2 mediums, and by it’s very nature, the BD would HAVE to be Sharper. My opinion is the SD has added CONTRAST, and not FOCUS

    • With DRACULA (1958), as things stand we are using the 2007 BFI restoration as source and restoring missing footage from the Japanese reels to create the most complete version of the film. Many thanks for your kind words re. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. We think the film looks stunning in 1.37:1 and we’re very pleased with the grade. Any softness is definitely due to the I/P source.

      • Hello Hammer,
        About Dracula,do you have a release date for the Blu-ray ? I know it should be early 2013.Can’t wait for the 4 Blu-rays in a few weeks :) Thanks for your great work.
        Thomas

        • Hi Thomas, No release date yet for DRACULA (1958), but we’ll post on here as soon as we have one! Thanks for your appreciation and hope you enjoy all 4 releases!

          • Hello Hammer,
            Beside Dracula in the first half of 2013,can you tell us a little more what films we can expect on blu-ray ?
            Thanks.Have a good weekend
            Thomas

  110. Well hello (Donnie Donagan in “Son of Frankenstein” 1938),
    I am so excited at the possibility of, at last, a brilliant print of COF.
    I have always had real trouble with the opening of James Bernard’s growling score on DVD in that it appears to wow and be out of phase causing me to purchase a steady stream of DVD copies from the UK and USA over the years.
    Does the new restoration eradicate this horrible glitch which is most like a slightly melted vinyl copy of the music than a proper soundtrack? Pray, tell me that it does and settle my nervous stomach!

  111. I heard something about the Tales of Frankenstein bonus documentary being removed from the BluRay-DVD set. Is this true?

    • Hi Angus, Amazon had a pre-final spec that included the doco “The Tale of Tales of Frankenstein” and the PDF shooting script. We couldn’t source the script and there were space issues with the doco, which will hopefully appear on our YouTube channel in due course. “Tales of Frankenstein” the TV pilot is definitely still on the release.

  112. Same here – Have also received an email from Amazon re my pre-order for CoF informing me that the ‘Tales of ToF’ and the script will no longer be part of the bonus material. It goes on to ask if I now wish to cancel my order. Hell, no. But why have these extras now been pulled having previously been announced?

    • I just wish Hammer would post here about THE DEVIL RIDES OUT like they stated they would. I suspect they don’t want to hear from fans that want it unaltered. And no updates re: CoF and early looks showing it might have matted incorrectly. And the comment above that CoF looks softer in HD due to the resolution being higher? C’mon… Disappointing, to say the least.

    • As Hammer said “We couldn’t source the script and there were space issues with the doco, which will hopefully appear on our YouTube channel in due course.”

  113. OK, now I’m getting worried. Please can Hammer explain why it was felt necessary to ‘upgrade’ The Devil Rides Out? I’ve heard that there are new CGI effects added to the release. I’d like to know why this was necessary. Please don’t do a George Lucas to these films as they don’t need it.

  114. I have just watched what is supposed to be the Blue Ray of Curse of Frankenstein and am appalled at the quality, or lack of.
    The colour looks washed out and the focus is soft. My old dvd looks better than this and I fell like sending it back. All the extra money for the eyeball scene and a few extras. Not worth it.
    Hopefully Dracula will be full bloodied, and as rich and colourful as it was when I saw the digital copy at the NFT. I will be renting it first though to ensure I don’t waste any more money!

  115. Pingback: The Curse of Frankenstein…A restored version re-incorporates eyeball scene for UK Blu-ray/DVD Combo releas « Melon Farmers Blog

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