Friday, March 29, 2013

First Thoughts On The U.K. Dracula Blu-ray

I just watched the new Canal Studio/Lionsgate blu-ray of Terence Fisher's DRACULA (1958 aka HORROR OF DRACULA) last night and wanted to share some of my raw first impressions.  Generally, the transfer is breath-taking for any film of that era.  There is a proper amount of fine film grain present and a lot of the photography is slightly soft but you can clearly see where the plane of focus is set and when the subject is in perfect focus you feel like your on the set at Bray Studios.  The most obvious thing I noticed new with the image is the color shift and black levels.  Blacks are deeper and richer than you've ever seen for this title and all other prints and editions seem faded or washed out in comparison.  The deeper blacks really pop the low key lighting, adding an almost 3D effect to the characters, sets and props.  While the color shift leans to blue, it appears closer to the few 35mm technicolor prints I've seen.  This really pops the reds, especially Christopher Lee's blood shot contact lenses.  The increased vividness of the red in the count's eyes really pump up the sheer viciousness of Lee's portrayl and gave me a better sense of the film's impact on audiences at the time.  When Lee bursts into the library in bloody close-up, the only thing I can compare it to is Chaney Sr.'s unmasking in the 1925 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  Both are iconic savage, horrific images that must be seen on a cinema or HD screen to fully appreciate.

The additional restored shots of the Mina and Dracula kiss and the count's disintegration add a huge emotional impact for the  mere seconds they add to the overall running time.  They are nicely restored compared to the Japanese positive print that was sourced but noticably inferior to the pristine camera negative for the balance of the transfer.  As already pointed out on some blogs, there is an additional snippet of Dracula in agony in the Japanese print that didn't make it into the restored composite version (see the above frame grabs).  The audio is the crispest I 've ever heard it with the dialog and classic James Bernard score sounding sharp and clean, not at all muffled.

The discs extras are abundant and uniformly excellent, especially Sir Christopher Frayling's interesting intepretation and re-assessment of the film.  Sadly, the only  noticiable missing presence is the absence of another Sir Christopher who's participated and provided commentaries for much lesser films.

I haven't had a chance to check out the CURSE OF FRAKENSTEIN BD yet but will do so soon!

More Peter! Special Cushing FM in June!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Peter Goes Postal!

It's pretty great to see one of the world's greatest actors, Peter Cushing, get his own stamp in the U.K!  I just ordered mine, get yours now!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Bruce Lee Book!

It's been a while since any good Bruce Lee paraphernalia has been released.  There haven't been any cool books since the series of publications and audio tapes edited by John Little several years back.  The recent documentaries have been super lame but this looks killer!
Here's a video where Shannon Lee gives us a tour of the book.  It retails for $45 and should be in stores on May 14th.

Friday, March 8, 2013


June 4th from Shout Factory!
(see the DVD review in the March 2013 folder!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

ENTER THE DRAGON 40th Anniversary Blu!

Scheduled for a June 11th street date, ENTER THE DRAGON will receive the deluxe treatment for its 40th anniversary.  A few new extras have been announced but no word yet on any picture and audio upgrade.  Hopefully, this edition will boast HD audio.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Finally, Hammer blu-rays for U.S. release in April!

The first set of three films is a somewhat random selection but who's complaining?
 Read more here!

You can pre-order the DVD set now!

So it appears that Millennium will distribute the Hammer titles originally issued by Anchor Bay in North America.  Since the rights to other titles like HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDES OF DRACULA and others still reside with the major studios like Warner Brothers, Columbia, Universal and others, it will be up those studios to release their own blu-rays.  Also, there is no word on extras or special features yet.