Titles, DRACULA and DNR

This post will deal with UK vs. US main/end titles, update you all on the “lost” DRACULA footage restoration and talk about the seemingly contentious topic of Digital Vision Noise Reducer (DVNR) aka Digital Noise Reduction (DNR).

First, the subject of main and end titles. Both our restoration partners and ourselves are doing everything we can to ensure that Hammer films are restored from the very best available materials. Often these materials are of the US rather than the UK version, which leads to a search for viable first and last reels so that the UK titles can be restored. DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS (released March 5th by StudioCanal; pre-order here) was restored from an OCN featuring US main titles but UK end titles. Using the first reel of a badly-damaged print as a source, Pinewood Studios have done a fantastic job restoring the original UK main titles, meaning that the final restored film has UK titles at the beginning (Associated British Productions Limited Presents // A Hammer Film Production) and the end (A Hammer Film Production produced at Bray Studios, England // Released through Warner-Pathe Distributors Limited). Watch Marcus Hearn’s all-new documentary on Blu-ray for more on this.

Again using the first reel from a UK print in each case, Pinewood Studios have also restored the original UK main titles to both THE REPTILE and THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, meaning that TPOTZ’s opening title sequence (featuring the voodoo ritual) will play in the correct order (sadly not the case on recent DVD releases of the film, which play the title cards in the middle of the ritual rather than at the end). The end titles of both films are from a US-version OCN, as no viable materials were available featuring the UK end titles. Pre-order the May 7th releases here and here.

On Monday we reviewed the restoration of the Japanese footage to DRACULA (warmest thanks to Simon & Michiko Rowson and The National Film Center at The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo). It was incredibly exciting to see the two long-lost moments in the context of the BFI’s restoration. Molinare have done a superb job restoring this footage, considering the state of the reels (you’ll be able to compare and contrast on the eventual Blu-ray; we’re going to release all four surviving Japanese reels unrestored as a single extra). The moment where the Count leans-in over Mina is full of transgressive threat and erotic charge (one can easily see how this moment had to be cut in 1958) though the footage does not actually include a bite (contrary to wishful thinking in some quarters). The “face-clawing” scene is truly magnificent and sits perfectly within the last few seconds of the film. There are still tickets available for the world premiere screening of the “definitive” restored DRACULA on 18th February. Click here for details.

Finally, there have been several posts here and elsewhere regarding screen grabs from DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS suggesting over-use of DNR and lack of grain. We can assure you all that when you see the film in motion you will definitely see plenty of grain! It isn’t really possible to draw conclusions from low-res JPEG screen grabs, however we can state that the DNR used on the restoration was very light indeed, only on a handful of scenes, and only when absolutely necessary. We can also state that there were no blanket noise-reduction filters used at any point during restoration. Any loss of focus and fading on the picture as presented on the Blu-ray is due to the age of the scanned materials rather than DVNR or the use of filters.

As a postscript, you’ll all be pleased to hear that scanning has now commenced on THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK and THE MUMMY’S SHROUD at illuminate in Hollywood; film material courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

NB: We originally posted that DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS was scanned at 4k. This was a mistake. The film was in fact scanned at 2k. This has now been corrected on the original post.

P.S. We just added the aspect ratios to both our original post cataloguing classic Hammer Blu-rays, and to our comment cataloguing Blu-rays of third-millennium Hammer!

108 thoughts on “Titles, DRACULA and DNR

    • dear hammer.. I want to thank your studio for keeping us fans abreast of each step in the restoration and release process. We’ve been frustrated for years trying to get info from Warner Bros (though in all fairness, many of their restored films look magnificent). And so.. Hammer Bluray-U.S.A!!!!

      • Thanks Bill! We’re doing everything we can to ensure that these restorations are released in the US. While we feel your frustration re. lacking information, it’s worth pointing-out that WB and WB MPI have been incredibly helpful and knowledgeable in terms of material sourcing and scanning of Hammer titles. WB MPI in Burbank will soon commencing 4k scanning of THE MUMMY and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN for eventual UK Blu-ray release!

  1. It’s a fair point about not judging transfers just on the strength of screen grabs; I recall seeing some captures of the QUATERMASS & THE PIT blu-ray before its release, and I thought that they looked far too dark – but this simply wasn’t the case with the finished disc. In fact, it’s probably one of the most impressive looking archive transfers in my blu-ray collection.

    • Agreed! Probably much better to wait till the actual disc is out before making a judgement call! We’re confident that once the Blu-ray is released most fans will like what they see, although we accept that there will always be some fans who are unhappy with some of the decisions taken during the restoration process (for that we can only apologise, however we’re simply not able to release multiple versions, or make the scan available “as is” for users to create their own grade/compression ;-)

  2. The “lost” Dracula footage with the shot of Dracula clawing his face off is the one I’m the most excited about. It will make the final sequence more memorable than it already has.

    Just one question about it out of curiosity. Is the extra “clawing” shot also edited into the Dracula Prince of Darkness prologue? Was wondering if it’s all part of the restoration process for both films.

    • Hi Lucas, that shot was never part of the opening of DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS as far as we know, so no, the “face-clawing” will only appear in Hammer’s “definitive” restored version of DRACULA.

  3. The file size of the PoD screencaps is so big the JPG compression should not have a visual impact. And these caps are 1080p and not ‘low-res’.

    • Representing video as stills will never give the most accurate impression, no matter what the resolution. However, the ones we pulled off the site where we first saw the issue of DNR raised were 600 x 338/~30kb, so definitely lo-res (would be worrying indeed if we didn’t know the difference!).

  4. so all the japanese footage will be released as an extra, but will the ‘lost footage’ be put back into the complete film?

    and we americans are ‘dying’ for some release dates to be announced here!!

    • Two “moments” will be restored to the BFI’s 2007 restoration: the Count leaning-in to bite Mina, and the legendary “face-clawing” footage. These are the only two scenes in the surviving 4 Japanese reels that were cut from the original British release. We’ll announce US Blu-ray release dates as soon as we can!

      • i’m also hoping you will do the dvd/blu ray combo packs here in the US….. for those of us who haven’t goe blu yet.

        i have to admit though that i’d get a blu ray player just for these hammer horrors, that’s how great they are!!!

  5. I can’t belive the words about DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS.
    It looks so terrible! Other Studios “used” this watercolor look and it looks like sh*t!
    Sorry, but the screenshots made me really sad. “Don’t look now” of StudioCanal had the same “look”. Is this a modern trend?
    Just scan the master and put it on Blu-ray. No DNR, no light DNR, totally no DNR. Fingers away from all the filter!
    DNR is the new Blu-ray plague. The other plague ist digital noise that we can see often on Arrow and Blue Underground releases (especially the transfers of the italian movies). But this have nothing to do with the original look of the movies. But the fans of those labels are celebrating a party in any publication. No. No!!!

    • Sadly it’s not as simple as scanning the master and putting it on Blu-ray. There is conversion from analogue to digital at 2k or 4k, down-converting to 1080p, then compressing to MPEG-4 for the final Blu-ray (and that’s just the topline). Also there is picture restoration (many of the materials scanned are very old and not in the best condition, which means that even “as scanned” with no treatment they are not in the same state as they were when the film was originally released, meaning even on celluloid the picture quality has deteriorated) then grading. We hope you’ll at least wait till the release and read a good few reviews before you make-up your mind, rather than pre-judge now on a handful of static scans that can never reflect what the picture will look like in motion.

  6. I’m delighted that all this painstaking work is going into the Hammer films, especially as they seemed to have been relegated to 3 for £10 bargain bucket throwaways.
    On the restored Dracula scenes, there is a photograph of an emaciated Jonathan Harker staked by Van Helsing. The current version fades to black before this occurs, but something more was obviously filmed. Is this section of the Japanese print lost, or has nothing more than the UK/US ones?
    Also, with Curse of Frankenstein, did the Japanese prints include shots of the head dissolving in acid? If so, has this been found by chance?
    I’m sure I’ve got a million questions, but will just add one more – do you have the rights to restore and release the wonderful ‘Revenge of Frankenstein’? Please say yes!

    • Re. DRACULA, the scene you mention is definitely not on the 4 surviving Japanese reels. Re. THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, there is no surviving Japanese print of this film, however we are endeavouring to source the “head-dissolving-in-acid” footage, but so far to no avail. Maybe there’s a private collector out there who would like to leave a legacy to all Hammer fans? Re. THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, although this was originally a Hammer/Columbia production, all rights are now with Sony. Not aware of any Blu-ray plans there, but their DVD releases are fantastically good quality and have superb booklets written/researched by Hammer’s official historian Marcus Hearn.

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  8. Thanks for reassuring us regarding the transfer for Dracula Prince Of Darkness.
    This is one of my all time favourite Hammer titles featuring Christopher Lee (even though he doesn’t speak a word of dialogue in it).
    2012 is going to be an expensive year for Blu-ray Hammer fans, but looking forward to the releases. I just wish we knew in advance the complete list of titles planned for release so I would know which of my DVDs and can start selling on ebay.

    • Many thanks for your positive comments, Lea! For commercial reasons we can’t announce past the list below for the UK, and much depends on how the forthcoming StudioCanal titles perform, but we hope to see these released at least (the first three are confirmed):
      DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKENSS
      THE REPTILE
      THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES
      THE DEVIL RIDES OUT
      RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK
      THE MUMMY’S SHROUD
      DRACULA
      THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN
      THE MUMMY

  9. Dear Hammer folks,

    Thanks so much for keeping fans abreast of everything with these. And, thank you for paying attention to what we’re talking about online. It really is appreciated and shows a true commitment by the “new” Hammer that the “old” Hammer is worth respecting and continuing to fight for.

    I have a request — PLEASE ask whomever at Optimum to NOT put those silly double-play stickers directly any the slipcovers (should any further releases have them). The slipcover for QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is nicely done, but one of those stickers were put directly onto it and I won’t take the chance of pulling it off (esp as the paper used is matte quality, no shiny surface that the sticker might be able to come off cleanly from). Cheers!

      • Thanks for passing that on. A minor quibble, but still… All I can hope is that if Q&TP is the standard for your upcoming releases then fans have absolutely nothing to worry about. Q&TP is a stunner. I do hope the same people involved in restoring that are involved in the rest of your titles.

        Oh, and will there be some participation from our beloved Ted Newsom in future releases? How about a Hammer authorized release of Ted’s updated Flesh & Blood? I hear he’s worked hard on it!

        • We are indeed in touch with the redoubtable Ted Newsom, and there are some tentative plans for FLEASH AND BLOOD (including a possible UK festival screenings of the extended cut). Watch this space!

  10. I’m optimistic about these Hammer transfers and appreciate your detailed response. For reference however, I thought I’d reprint a comment from CriterionForum.org that was recently posted in response to the above update. (This comment was itself reprinted at AVManiacs, so it doesn’t take long for this sort of technical discussion to spread). If you feel this sort of detail is counterproductive for the Hammer comments section here, feel free to not post it if need be, I’m just sending it your way in the hope that the info can be digested and addressed if necessary.

    The thread is here: –

    http://wap.criterionforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3166&start=900

    “While I agree that jumping the gun isn’t a good thing, there is no way this is going to ever look excellent, and that is at least partly down to the transfer. Maybe the original film would never have been a complete stunner, but it would at least have looked more like a film. As someone involved with video transfer and encoding, it’s easy to look at this and see that it’s been spatially filtered, which is one of the worst ways (IMHO) possible to reduce noise (or grain) in a film scan. The original film would not look like that. (FWIW, I’ve been just as critical of some of the transfers that have passed through my hands at points).

    Also, the problem isn’t that the images posted are “low-res JPEGs” – anyone can analyse them to see that they are full 1920×1080 resolution, and they’re not overcompressed either. I agree that it’s not a good idea to try to judge Greyscale, colour, gamma or other attributes on an uncalibrated computer monitor, but one of the things they are fine for judging is static resolution (just look around any film restoration environment).

    The problem appears to be the use of Spatial (2D) Noise Reduction techniques which were presumably applied to reduce machine noise and/or film grain. When the studio says that “when you see it in motion you’ll see plenty of grain”, that will be correct, because 2D/spatial filters only work on the single-frame level. However, the grain will likely now be low frequency and more noise like, due to the missing high frequency (fine) details. In this case, seeing the end result in motion won’t actually make much of a difference, because of the type of filter used. Pressing PLAY won’t bring back the missing details, and it won’t alleviate the posterised look that such filtering brings.”

    ["Any loss of focus and fading on the picture as presented on the Blu-ray is due to the age of the scanned materials rather than DVNR or the use of filters."]

    “Sorry, but I find that hard to believe. Film does not look like that. Again, anyone who’s ever used these filters can see it’s been spatially filtered – perhaps to reduce coarse telecine noise, or perhaps deliberately to reduce grain (it looks very much like one of the NR filters from PFClean). Spatial filtering gives a slight “watercolour painting” effect which is clearly visible in the grabs. It’s not as disastrous as “Don’t Look Now”, but it’s the same technique. Maybe the rest will be better?

    Respectfully, I suggest the people doing these restorations investigate the possibility of using different scanning equipment and certainly different noise reduction techniques if they feel that they need to use them. I’d like to know what this was scanned on, can anyone from the studio comment? Was it one of the Cintel machines? My hunch is that whatever they’re using is introducing its own video noise, which is why they’re resorting to these (damaging) filtering techniques. The fact that they have a blog about this sort of thing to communicate with the public is commendable.”

    I still intend to buy all the Hammer Blu-Rays as they get released. Hopefully these DVNR controversies can be settled down. I don’t know if the above CriterionForum comments are accurate, but it’d be nice to see them addressed.

    • Hi Anthony, many thanks for bringing this thread to our attention! We’ll investigate further and get back to you. In all technical processes and creative endeavours there are always lessons to be learned; rest assured that one of the reasons we launched this blog was to listen to the views of the fans, some of whom clearly have genuine expertise (though all informed opinions are valid). Obviously we can’t possibly please everyone (and won’t) but we hope that some of the replies above will answer some of your points, while on the more technical issues we’ll get back to you! Thanks again, especially for your good faith in resolving to purchase the discs!

  11. I would just like someone to confirm how serious you are about delivering the most complete sets of materials possible for your future releases? I’m talking about the comments that Hammer were asking fans & collectors to help with rare materials. Well, I have spent the last 3 weeks trying to offer my help with rare materials, and nobody seems to be bothered.

    • Hi Stephen, alongside a multitude of other things, we’re incredibly busy with the worldwide release of THE WOMAN IN BLACK at the moment, a task that is, I’m sure you will understand, hugely important to the company (thanks for all your support of this release btw; it’s very much appreciated). We will contact you Monday regarding your most kind offer of access to your archive!

  12. As excited as I am about the new blu-ray releases (seen as I got a blu-ray player for Christmas and feel I must own some classic Hammer blu-rays), this might sound daft but what is wrong with some of the past DVD releases that make the blu-ray ones better? I currently own the 21 disc boxset as well as a vast amount of singular releases and many of them appear to be great quality. Fair enough, some aren’t but the Optimum 21 disc boxset seemed to perfectly fine to me to me. Have I missed something when watching them? (That aside I am definitely going to be pre-ordering the definitive Dracula, absolutely can not wait!)

    • Hi Andy, the Optimum 21-disc boxset is wonderful, and a great introduction to Hammer, but a few of the films could definitely be improved in terms of the transfer. Also several of the films in the 21-disc boxset are presented in the “wrong” aspect ratio (see our post on this subject).

  13. I also own the Optimum 21 disc boxset.
    Most the titles are pretty good transfers but I was very disappointed with the picture quality on THE REPTILE and also FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, both feature very lousy transfers.
    Luckily I held onto the original Anchor Bay (R1) editions of those two, they are much better.
    I will be looking forward to THE REPTILE blu-ray in May, and I hope FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN is gets the Hi-Def treatment soon as well.

  14. I just want to again note (following a read of the various replies you’ve written to the comments above) I appreciate the honest, insightful and forthright answers we’re getting here in respect to these queries. It’s a privilege to learn more about the efforts going in to these releases, and I’ve browsed enough official video company forums and blogs to know that this sort of candid discussion is typically the exception rather than the rule. It’s very much appreciated and puts me in a good mood regarding all of Hammer’s current activities, not just on the Blu-Ray front.

    As an aside, (and I’m late to the party in discovering this) the trailer for THE WOMAN IN BLACK (which has recently received several good, thoughtful, positive reviews from critics I trust on AICN) is bloody creepy and shows a greater awareness of how to scare and unnerve a viewer in a minute and a half than numerous other recent horror films have managed during their couple of hours. Lovely stuff!

  15. I feel you guys have a good handle on this, so wishing you every success.

    I’m really wanting the maximum value be squeezed from the extra features on these releases; it’s an area where the UK in particular has been let down by some previous DVD editions. Can I suggest including text commentaries?, which would add some further value without breaking the budget.

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  17. Thanks very much for this project and this blog to keep Hammerheads in the loop on what is happening and what to expect. I am in the US so news of a distrubutor for this side of the pond is anxiously awaited ( or else I am going to have to get a region free Blu player by late spring ). Best of luck with this side of the business.
    Regarding the head in acid shot in CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, I’d love to see it, but doubt it ever made it into a print ( except possibly a Japanese one). What does exist ( seen on a 1990′s BBC airing ) but curently missing from all official releases is a shot Cushing staring at an eyeball through a magnifying glass, hopefully this can be located. As for the head, Phil Leakey put so much time and effort into it, it’s a shame it turned out so gruesome it’s barely visable in the finshed sequence.
    BTW the uncut eyeball scene is on youtube if you need to verify :) but something tells me you are already on top of this one.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQIa_-_bnhU

    • Thanks, John! Yes, we are aware of the YouTube footage. The jury’s still out on the “head in acid bath” scene, but if you read the entire thread under our call for “lost” footage, there seems good reason to be optimistic that the scene exists somewhere!

  18. My name is Lola Gracia, I’m writer and journalist. I’m writing a book about coffee and cinema. In that book there is one picture from the film The vampire lovers. I ask you the autorization to use that picture

  19. Looking forwards to the new Hammer blu-rays. I thought I’d get myself in the mood by ordering Quatermass and the Pit. However nowhere seems to have it in stock. Is there any particular reason for this?

    Cheers.

  20. Hi,

    First off I’m really pleased and impressed with the care and consideration Hammer is giving to it’s archive and fan base.

    I do have a question regarding the upcoming Rasputin film on blu-ray. During the 1990′s I was buying s series of magazines about Hammer and one of the issues revolved around this film. It’s been a while since I read it but I’m sure it talked about a lot of footage being cut from it (possibly due to the censors) and that it didn’t flow very well as a result towards the end of the film. At the time there was a re-release of the film on VHS and despite fancing the film I deliberately didn’t buy it as I was hoping that one day a more complete version would be released.
    First off, am I remembering this right and secondly do you guys have any idea if any additional scenes have been inserted back in since then?
    Cheers.

  21. Nice to hear about your forthcoming releases, especially Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires. Can you say if you intend to release on Blu-ray Dracula A.D 1972 and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula, two films that really do not deserve the knocking that they get.

  22. There have been quite a few comments posted online at various DVD/blu ray forums by people who have copies of Dracula: Prince Of Darkness who are reporting noticeable audio sync issues (especially in the first 10 minutes) on both the blu ray and the DVD. Are you aware of this issue?

  23. Pingback: Dracula Prince of Darkness…Hammer classic now restored and released on Region B Blu-ray…But reports of audio synch errors « Melon Farmers Blog

  24. I have held off buying Dracula “Prince of Darkness” Blu-ray until i read what the reviews were going to say on Amazon first. There seems to be a lot of people that are not very happy with it. It suffers from audio sync issues which are quite bad in places i have heard.
    Can you explain to me why it was released without proper checks being done first? I will not be buying the Blu-ray edition until i am confident the problems have been sorted.

    Daniel

  25. After the bar was raised so high with Quatermass & The Pit, DPoD on blu-ray (with DNR and audio sync problems) is a great disappointment. Having seen a demo copy, I have cancelled my order and won’t be buying any more Studio Canal releases until the competence expressed on this blog is carried through to the development of the finished product. Here’s hoping for a second edition DPoD release.

    • Hi Tony, hopefully by now you’ve seen the notice regarding DPOD. Sadly, the DNR issue is being somewhat misunderstood, despite our explanation. An HD downscale of a 2K restoration of a 2K scan of a legacy OCN will by its very nature a) not be perfect and b) not look the way a print looked projected when the film was first released. Excepting the acknowledged sound synch issues, we honestly believed we/StudioCanal have done the very best job we could taking into account all the technical issues with which we had to deal.

      • I’m sorry I don’t agree with this. Blu-ray has the capability to make Dracula: Prince of darkness, look as good, if not better than when it was first released. Looking at the pre credit sequence, someone involved with the restoration went a bit mad with the DNR tools and wiped all the grain of. So much so that it looks like a watercolour painting and was very unnatural. I don’t see the need to remove so much grain. I do understand that there may be a need to use DNR, but it should be used very sparingly and no way near as excessive as it was used in this film. Thankfully from the credits onwards it doesn’t look as bad, but it is still very noticeable. Grain is a natural part of the image and should be left intact.
        I don’t want to sound to negative as the colour was superb and the best I have seen it. I wont mention the sync problems as that is being fixed.
        Hopefully at some point Studio Canal will realise that wiping the grain from an image isn’t the best option and will rerelease the film properly.

  26. Hi,
    I posses a copy of Dracula ( 58 ) on a DVDr disc, originally recorded from
    the BBC in the early eighties, the movie actually carries the original UK
    title, and not the inferior US title Horror of Dracula, could this be then that
    the BBC posses the original UK masters ?

    • Hi Ken, the BBC definitely has a master of the film. We are currently in contact with them and trying to determine exactly which version they have…

  27. I just finished watching Dracula – Prince of Darkness Blu-ray. I unfortunately immediately canceled my preorder of the other two BDs. The filtering and DNR is downright annoying, destroying all the fine detail which is clearly visible in the source material (Before) of the Before/After comparison which you can find on the disc. The flashback scene at the beginning is unwatchable in my opinion, it is just a blurry mess. I just ordered an exchange copy because of the out of sync audio. Hope the DNR is gone or at least reduced on this.

    • That’s a shame, however please see our reply to Tony above. The picture will not be changing on the replacement discs of DPOD as it’s as good as we can get it.

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  29. Received and watched DPoD. Ignoring the audio issues which will be fixed, the image looks fairly good overall. The opening flashback sequence was entirely too DNR’d — whomever did that should not be allowed to work on your future discs, that was just overkill and abuse of the technology. Regarding the rest of the feature, it’s a peculiar experience. The DNR used for it does soften the image and especially the grain, however there is more detail than on previous dvd releases (which may have been sharpened as is/was typical for the lower-res format). When paused, the image definitely becomes soft, however in motion it tightens up (how does that work…?). The colors are definitely…different…than what I am used to (and others familiar with the movie as well). How was the color palette chosen for the bd/HD transfer? I assume it’s one of these situations: it’s how the movie actually has supposed to look all this time and past dads were pumped up; or, those in charge of producing the transfer allowed the colors to be adjusted to a more modern appearance rather than the more “storybook/fantasy” side of many Hammer movies. Regardless, it’s the best the movie has looked even if the transfer is not perfect. Thanks, and please take the feedback received from so many people seriously as we care about the Hammer catalog and want to see it presented as respectfully and accurately as possible. Thanks!

    • Hi Ben, thanks for your thoughts. It’s so tricky trying to juggle technical issues, creative judgement (all grading is creative) and the multiple ideas of what a “true” version of the film should look like (almost as many as there are fans, seemingly!). The materials scanned dictate to a great extent what can be achieved in the restoration/grade. Also, DPOD being 2-perf Techniscope added another level of complexity due to the issue of grain and the reduced surface area of the negative. We are proud of what we/StudioCanal have done, though by the very fact that choices had to be made throughout the process, there is no way that we could ever please everyone. Really glad that you feel it’s “the best the movie has looked”; that’s how we feel too!

      • Did the same team that worked on the QUATERMASS & THE PIT work on DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS? What about the future bds, as well? Since THE REPTILE and PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES aren’t 2.35:1 and used different film stocks, is it fair to assume the grain issue will not be as significant as a problem as many have had with DPoD?

  30. I too purchased (and have now sent back to Amazon for a refund) Dracula: Prince of Darkness and am very disappointed in the quality. The DNR for the opening titles ‘recap’ sequence is the WORST I have ever seen on any bluray. I know due to the optical effects of the era (the smoke coming off the diamond shaped flash-back scene) that this portion is extremely grain heavy (two or three generations of film combined), but that’s HOW IT’S MEANT TO LOOK!!! All the grain from that sequence is now gone, and in its place are waxy actors looking like they’ve been CGI’d. Even my parents noticed it looked ‘strange’ and they’re not usuually fussed abotu quality issues like this. This current end result is far more objectionable to a grainy image. The restoration of the films for Bluray SHOULD show them as they were originally seen upon release, albeit with as many specs of dust and scratches removed as possible, UNLESS that compromises the image quality. I also saw evidence of a VERY lazily digitally painted out scratch at the bottom of the frame in one scene with the coach near the begining of the film. Instead of the scratch (or perhaps it was a hair in the gate) we get a weird moving ‘sploge’. I’d have preferred the original artifact.

    I have cancelled my pre-order of Plague of the Zombies until these films are treated correctly on Bluray, which means go easier on the DNR! I feel strongly that this title should get a recall, and the transfer done from scratch – these titles deserve THE BEST. Whomever was responsible for passing the opening flashback scene in Prince of Darkness really shouldn’t be handling vintage films if they prefer this kind of overly digitally manipulated image to natural film grain.

    Extremely disappointing…..

  31. Hi there. I posted earlier today about this title, and the objectionable use of extreme amounts of DVNR in the opening flashback sequence. It seems to have been pulled?

    - JohnM

  32. Any time table you can give us on when we can expect replacement discs for DPoD, or even a response from Studio Canal to our emails requesting a replacement? I assume they’ll ship out replacements to anyone including those of us who bought it in the United States?

  33. As regards to DVNR, ‘Archangel’, P.F clean or any other form of restoration tool, In my experience, less is always more… I think DPOD looked pretty good on the whole (except for the prologue) too ‘overcooked’ and horribly ‘digitised’ on a restoration tool?
    The source print was taken from the two perforation ‘techniscope’ frame,so i have learned from the excellent ‘back to back’ documentary, superb!Techniscope was is always grainier, due to the ‘scope’ process used,so a little DVNR or DNR would help a bit. Only disappointing aspect was the audio sync, which has been well covered recently,such a shame.
    The restoration documentary ‘before’ clips looked very ‘milky’ and soft,maybe this was to show the film blemishes and dirt more clearly Looks like the restored file or HD tape had ‘big’ problems when encoded and Authored.No excuse for bad Q.C .
    Looking forward to the other Bluray releases in May.Please, please make sure the audio is ‘in sync’ this time,it can be so distracting, even if it’s a few frames…

  34. My comments from yesterday have been removed again. Why is this please? Have I broken any ‘house rules’?

    Thank you.

    - JohnM

  35. I received my copy of DPOD last night – it has the sound sync problems also – but I thought the print looked GREAT ! The image and colors looked fantastic on my 58″ plasma – especially considering that you were working with half a frame from a 35mm negative. I have sent for a replacement disc to correct the sound issues. I’m really looking forward to all upcoming HAMMER blu-rays! thanks for all your efforts

  36. Hi

    I am very keen to get the new DPOD blu ray however i have noticed since the sound issues arose a lack of availability. Would i be right in thinking that stock has been recalled and replacements are being sent out, and if so when will they be available?

    Many thanks

    Lee

  37. Could you people explain why you keep deleting my comments please? I was very disappinted with the quality of the Prince of Darkness bluray. I don’t see anything in what I wrote that could possibly be deemed offensive or against any rules here. Unless you’re trying to brush certain issues under the carpet…

    If there IS a problem with my comments could you at least contact me – thank you.

    Regards,

    - John

  38. I too purchased (and have now sent back to Amazon for a refund) Dracula: Prince of Darkness and am very disappointed in the quality. The DNR for the opening titles ‘recap’ sequence is the worst I have ever seen on any bluray. I know due to the optical effects of the era (the smoke coming off the diamond shaped flash-back scene) that this portion is extremely grain heavy (two or three generations of film combined), but that’s HOW IT’S MEANT TO LOOK!!! All the grain from that sequence is now gone, and in its place are waxy actors looking like they’ve been CGI’d. Even my parents noticed it looked ‘strange’ and they’re not usually fussed about quality issues like this. This current end result is far more objectionable to a grainy image. The restoration of the films for Bluray should show them as they were originally seen upon release, albeit with as many specs of dust and scratches removed as possible, unless that compromises the image quality. I also saw evidence of a lazily digitally painted out scratch at the bottom of the frame in one scene with the coach near the begining of the film. Instead of the scratch (or perhaps it was a hair in the gate) we get a weird moving ‘sploge’. I’d have preferred the original artifact.

    I have cancelled my pre-order of Plague of the Zombies until these films are treated correctly on Bluray, which means please go easier on the DNR in the future. Whomever was responsible for passing the opening flashback scene in Prince of Darkness really shouldn’t be handling vintage films of this calibre if they prefer this kind of overly digitally manipulated image to natural film grain.

    Extremely disappointing, but fingers crossed these issues will be avoided in the future.

    - John

  39. I will keep posting here until someone has the decency to let me know why my original (and subsequent) posts on the Dracula blurays are being deleted. It just makes it look like you are unwilling to post any negative views on your products, which makes for a rather one sided discussion.

    I have posted my original (now deleted!) views to another well known AV forum to let people know about these issues…

    Regards,

    John

  40. Just wanted to say a big “THANK YOU” to all those concerned with the restoration work & releases, high time these movies were given due respect. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but could we possibly know how many more releases are due this year? Even what the next two titles after “The Reptile” & ” Plague of the Zombies.” X

  41. Thanks for deleting my comments yet again – Im at a loss to work out why you keep doing this. At least act professionally and let me know why they were deleted please. I love the classic Hammer films, but have issues with how Dracula POD was transferred. And I was polite with my original posting. This is meant to be an area of the site for discussion of the above title afterall. As ive written three times now, if you’d like to discuss the deletion of my posts please email me (john_may23 AT hotmail dot co dot uk). Thank you (or should I say fang you :p), and fingers crossed we can sort this out.

    Best regards,

    JohnM

    • John, your comments have not been “deleted”. They have simply been awaiting approval, which has now been given. The way our blog engine works is that previously approved posters are auto-approved for subsequent posts, but new posters must be approved before their comments go live. This is standard practice on most blogs in order to cut-down on the enormous amount of spam that is posted to any given blog on any given day. Many thanks.

  42. I have just sent my payment details by post as well as e-mail. Will I be receiving a replacement. It’s just with not hearing anything back? Any chance of a list of the titles that can be expected. Was wondering if “Lust for a Vampire” will be included’ with the commentary that is available on the Region 1 DVD release? Can’t wait to see the restored “Dracula.”

    • The replacement system as set up by StudioCanal does not send-out an acknowledgement. However, rest assured that if you emailed the correct address, you will receive replacement discs in due course. If you look at our earlier posts you will see the current list of titles that we plan to restore alongside our various international partners. LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is not on the list as Hammer has no distribution rights in this title.

  43. Sincerely’ thank you for reply. You are are a role model in the industry of how distributors should communicate with their target audience. Kudos to you. Thank you so much’ for all the work going into these releases.

  44. Sincerely a big THANK YOU as you are a role model in the industry of how distributors should treat their target audience. Kudos to you. Any chance of knowing when the next releases are’ following “May” and also what these will be?

  45. I just want to say a big thank you to yourselves for this BLU Ray Hammer film restoration project. As an avid film collector and Hammer fanatic, this is manna from Heaven. Quatermass and the Pit is an absolute knockout in HD and I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Dracula Prince of Darkness.
    I have read the comments about excessive DNR for the pre title sequence but will wait and see for myself. All I know is that I have various incarnations of this film on DVD from the Anchor Bay release to the German Anapolis print and the screen grabs I have seen of this Blu Ray transfer blow them all out of the water.
    DPOD, with it’s inexpensive cinemascope processing was never going to compare in quality to Quatermass. So lets get some sense of perspective!
    It’s important to support this venture to ensure the continuing release of titles. Yes, I know artificially restoring a film with imprudent use of DNR is wrong but hey, life aint perfect and I’m sure the message has got through.
    So lets look to the future and celebrate this great news.
    On a final note, do you have any plans in the future to give Dracula has risen from the grave, Frankenstein must be destroyed and Taste the blood of Dracula the Blu Ray treatment?
    Many thanks
    Pete

  46. Very annoyed with developments. DPOD is now on Amazon for pre-order. I haven’t even received an e-mail’ let alone replacement discs. This isn’t acceptable, all first-time customers’ should had been served with their replacement discs, before availability was made known.
    Afraid to say those that pre-ordered & purchased swiftly first time are your core market. Before any announcement or new pre-ordering, their faulty products should had been addressed. I’m sorry, but this is such a bad move. If you want a loyal appreciative market’ this kind of blunder, should had been handled better.

  47. My Blu-Ray of DPoD, ordered through amazon.uk, was shipped to the U.S. (Region A) where I live. Having provided VDC Group with the required information for a replacement, can I expect any problems in receiving the corrected disc overseas?

    Now for my rant:

    Visually, the Anchor Bay Region 1 DVD of DPoD, released in 1999, is worlds apart from the new Studio Canal Blu-Ray. The former reveals the healthy film grain one would expect from two-perf Techniscope, and colors are more natural, particularly greens and flesh tones. By comparison, the foliage of the opening funeral procession looks like Crayola “granny smith apple” and the exposure (originally day for dusk?) like high noon in the Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray flesh tones seem to acquire the hue of the closest dominant color (Joyce Hemson as “Frau König” is positively green, for example). The sole drawback of the old DVD, in my opinion, was the non-anamorphic, letterbox transfer. I would have been more than satisfied with an anamorphic 1080P release of the Anchor Bay master.

    Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe the vérité of the before and after restoration comparisons in “Back to Black.” No I.B. Techniocolor elements from 1965 could possibly look like that, especially when the colors haven’t reverted to red, but, instead, “brightness” has been ratcheted to an absurdly high level. In fact, the clips, before restoration, look artificially and digitally degraded. The U.S. TCF/Seven Arts elements could never have looked that bad.

    Blame the Techniscope process, I suppose. :(

    Be that as it may, congratulations are certainly in order for “Quatermass and the Pit,” which is absolutely stunning. I am also looking forward to “The Reptile” and “PotZ.”

  48. And now all of a sudden’ we’re told “The Reptile” & “The Plague of the Zombies” releases are being pushed back’ yet again! Guys! What you doing? This is all disintegating into a shambles. You secured a loyal base and now it’s slowly being disillusioned. I really hate having to state this, but so disappointed in developments. I’m sure I won’t be the only one. Even if only one of the above titles kept it’s original release date’ would be something! All we got is the pending re-issue of “DPOD” and folk like myself’ haven’t heard diddly-squat about our replacement copies!

    • Maybe they’re news of missing footage found in both films or just the same issues like in the DPOD Blu-Ray that needed to be fixed. Either way, just remember one of the oldest quotes in existence, “patience is virtue!”

  49. Just a suggestion – Is there any chance that the newly restored Dracula could get a limited cinema reissue prior to it’s Blu-Ray debut? It would increase awareness and certainly make newspaper headlines like the original digital showings did a few years ago.

  50. Thank you’ LucasChad, just frustrated with developments. Yet’ I suppose you’re right. If only if they had kept us in the loop.

  51. What’s the point of all the fanfare and getting our hopes up’ when it’s all increasingly becoming a big mess. Faulty product and delays. We should by now had the three titles, not one faulty and two delayed’ yet again!

  52. I was ready to support all this, but might just stay with my present formats. What’s the point of looking forward to things’ just to be disappointed.
    “Hammer” if you want support’ you need to get your act together’ this isn’t good! Definite dates, reassurance and an apology would be a start.

    • Hi Franny, we have already apologised, but are happy to do so again! Sorry! Here is today’s announcement from Studio Canal UK http://on.fb.me/I4UF2v We hope you like the revised edition of DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS and enjoy THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and THE REPTILE when they’re released. We have spent a huge amount of time and effort ensuring that these are releases of which Hammer can be proud!

  53. thanks for the updates! really looking forward to the corrected version – and the upcoming REPTILE and PLAGUE! thanks for the blog and all the hard work you are doing on restoring these films.

  54. Dear’ Hammer,
    Thank you’ good of you to reply. Just hope I get my replacement? Really just hope’ it all comes together. You must admit’ has been messy so far. First’ promised 3 titles in March, get only one and it has faults. Then remaining titles’ put back yet again! Surely these titles were ready to roll. Seeing as all three were originally slated to be released together’ don’t understand the delay.
    Will be reserved from now on. Can’t get excited by all this restoration work and pending releases, if it’s just going to go haywire. Bad enough with Synapse and their promise of “Twins of Evil.”
    Just hoping you can get this series back on the straight & narrow by delivering consistent quality releases. Best of luck.
    Bet some heads rolled.

  55. Pingback: Dracula Prince of Darkness…Hammer classic now restored and released on Region B Blu-ray…Re-release with corrected audio synch « Melon Farmers Blog

  56. Hi, I realize that this is an issue with Studio Canal and not with Hammer themselves, but I STILL have yet to receive my replacement disc of Dracula here in the States, despite having sent my initial email request on March 7th. I’ve sent two follow-up emails, but have received neither a response nor a disc. I understand that there was a snafu with the zip codes that caused delays, but a four month wait, especially after making contact so early in the process, is quite frustrating, especially as SC refuses to send response emails of any kind.

  57. I sincerely hope that the new blu ray of Dracula will have the correct color timing. It seems that the trend these days is to shift the color spectrum to the blue. This absolutely destroys the beautiful technicolor look that the films had originally.

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