January 18, 2010
While they are not technically horror films, Hammer's "suspense" films from the '60s certainly appeal to fans of the UK's greatest horror film studio. Sony has just announced that a batch of these films have been restored and our heading to DVD.
From their release:
Probably one of the best-known companies releasing horror films, Hammer Film Productions was the pre-eminent producer of gothic and lusty favorites such as The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula Has Risen from His Grave, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, The Horror of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll…among many others, which still maintain a cult status today. Among Hammer’s voluminous output in the 50’s and 60’s were a number of excellent, albeit lesser known, suspense films directed by the likes of Val Guest, Joseph Losey and Michael Carreras. Hammer titles released by Columbia Pictures have been the subject of previous DVD releases (Icons of Adventure and Icons of Horror sets), and now these stylish black and white Hammer suspense films are set to go to DVD in the upcoming box set, Icons of Suspense (due out in 2010). One well-known issue with films from this period, and for Hammer films in particular, is the fact that they were often censored or edited for either U.S. or international audiences. The restoration work done in order to bring these films to DVD has included the restoration of deleted scenes, and includes the presentation of the longest possible versions. The films in this set include Never Take Candy from a Stranger (the UK release title was Never Take Sweets from a Stranger), The Snorkel, Maniac, Cash on Demand, Stop Me Before I Kill! (UK title The Full Treatment) and the long-awaited release of Joseph Losey’s These Are The Damned (UK The Damned). All six of these films feature stark black and white cinematography, and most are Cinemascope titles that will be presented in their original widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. Familiar actors and directors from Hammer grace these films, but Peter Cushing turns in one of his best performances ever, in Cash On Demand. Cushing is the fussy bank manager who is forced to ally himself with a bank robber in this tense story, based on a play. The original film version was cut by nearly 11 minutes, because audiences found it difficult to sympathize with Cushing’s character. The restored footage makes this film even more tense and surprising. Be sure to keep your eye out for this collection!
No release date is set yet. Hopefully, the restoration of these titles means that "Vampire Circus" and "Twins of Evil" may make their way to DVD (or better yet Blu-Ray) some time in the future.
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