Warner Archive: Horror of Dracula on Blu-ray

3 Stars

Another Hammer film which should make many happy around here on HTF!

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)
NEW 2018 1080p PRESENTATION SOURCED FROM THE HAMMER/BFI RESTORATION
Run Time 82:00
Subtitles English SDH
Sound Quality DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0 – English
Aspect Ratio ORIGINAL ASPECT RATIO – 1.66:1, 16 X 9 WIDESCREEN
Product Color COLOR
Disc Configuration BD 25
Includes Original UK Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Britain’s premier masters of the macabre, bring the Horror of Dracula to vivid, full-color death in this retelling of Bram Stoker’s spellbinding vampire tale. Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old Transylvanian nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, regularly finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count’s implacable foe in a deadly game of bat-and-mouse. This is the UK version titled “DRACULA”, and featuring footage previously restored by the British Film Institute and Hammer Films. Warner Archive’s new release restores the original color palette of the film, using dye-transfer Technicolor prints as reference, and has been meticulously cleaned of film-related damage for a superior presentation

The dread is here – as are the power and pathos of this genre landmark by which Hammer Studios ushered in a new era of screen chills from classic evildoers. Tremble through that era again. Unleash the horror.
Also new on remastered DVD!

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Kevin Collins

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63 Comments

  1. Will this include the footage acquired from Japan showing the lengthier climatic deterioration? Any news on extras?

    In any case…THANKS YOU, WBA. Are you doing similar work on CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN?

  2. It'll be interesting to see if they've done any additional work on the color since it says "sourced from the Hammer/BFI restoration".

    Also – will they leave the climax as-is or work on inserting more of the Japanese footage.

    Regardless of anything else, that cover is gorgeous (from the French 1-panel poster).

  3. Robert Crawford

    What is the OAR, John?

    1.75:1 in the UK, IIRC 1.85:1 USA; no doubt Bob will comment further. In the dim and distant past I seem to recall him running a print at 1.75:1 and declaring it perfect. But I should let him speak for himself.

  4. John Hodson

    1.75:1 in the UK, IIRC 1.85:1 USA; no doubt Bob will comment further. In the dim and distant past I seem to recall him running a print at 1.75:1 and declaring it perfect. But I should let him speak for himself.

    Thank you for the information.

  5. Robert Crawford

    Thank you for the information.

    Here Robert:

    Bob Furmanek

    I used to feel that way, but after running HORROR OF DRACULA in all three ratios (with an original 35mm print) you suddenly realize how perfect it looks at 1.75:1, as the filmmakers intended.

    A little makes a big difference.

    Lots more in that thread, including this post.

  6. I don't mind 1:66, I'd rather have a smidge to much headroom than not enough, & I seem to remember that the old Warner DVD had a fault where they cut off the tops of heads. Now to be a wee bit controversial, I don't like the BFI transfer, far too cool for me, so I hope the Archive release has a bit of Hammer colour, otherwise, no sale.

  7. This part is the best news on this release:
    "Warner Archive’s new release restores the original color palette of the film, using dye-transfer Technicolor prints as reference, and has been meticulously cleaned of film-related damage for a superior presentation"

    I have the UK blu ray which is nice with good extras but all the import Blu Rays have faded and dull color instead of the rich Technicolor that it should have.
    1.75:1 would have been the perfect ratio though.

  8. They've commented on FB:

    We didn't see any cold color palette in the dye-transfer archival print we used as reference. We have made substantial changes in the color that are far from cold and blue! The image has been thoroughly cleaned of film damage as well. We think these improvements will be appreciated. Thanks.

    They have, however, ignored my comment re the AR. Sigh…

    I'm wholly convinced that (not for the first time) the Bfi are wrong regarding the AR, and Warner are simply falling in step. When they couldn't turn up any evidence regarding NIGHT OF THE DEMON (though it was and is out there) the Bfi decided on 1.75:1 based on 'best practice' at the time. It's inconceivable that one year later 1.66:1 would have been the primary AR.

  9. AcesHighStudios

    Why exactly would it be disappointing that they've stuck with the ORIGINAL aspect ratio? I thought original intent was what this website was all about.

    Exactly. When I saw this on a re-issue bill with CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, both films were presented with a 1.66:1 ratio. I remember this because, in the White Plains theater where I saw them, they actually electronically lifted the black matte from the top of the screen, which for the previews had been 1.85:1, so the prints must have been identified for operators to be presented at 1.66:1. I love the shape of that ratio, and it works to perfection for many of the Hammer Films. Even if 1.78:1 was the ratio originally intended by Terence Fisher, it looks splendid at 1.66.

  10. Billy Batson

    I don't like the BFI transfer, far too cool for me, so I hope the Archive release has a bit of Hammer colour, otherwise, no sale.

    I wholeheartedly agree. My memory of seeing a BFI dye-transfer Technicolor print at MOMA in the mid 1980's is that the color temperature was a whole lot warmer, so those colored lights of red and blue that ripple across the walls of the Count's dinning room in the beginning of the film were way more prominent. Then again, Warner's Blu-Ray of THE MUMMY brought out those colored washes that DP Jack Asher preferred to the maximum level of brilliance, so there is hope.

  11. lark144

    Then again, Warner's Blu-Ray of THE MUMMY brought out those colored washes that DP Jack Asher preferred to the maximum level of brilliance, so there is hope.

    Wait, did I miss something here? Is the Warner blu-ray of THE MUMMY better than the UK one?

  12. RICK BOND

    I have the UK Dracula Bluray for a few years now. I hope this has the US titles in Red at the opening….Horror of Dracula. Not Dracula the UK version. That's why I still kept the old WB dvd.

    The version available on iTunes has the Horror of Dracula title.

  13. Peter Apruzzese

    That's their older transfer, the same as what runs on TCM.

    You mean the version that used to run on TCM.

    Last month (October 2018) TCM-HD ran a new and truly HD version — It was a big surprise and I am doubly surprised that so little has been said about it. I am keeping it on my DVR.

    It is warmer, more vivid, and more like my childhood memory of the film. In addition, it is more like an IB Technicolor print that a friend of mine here in NC projected for me a few yearsago.

    I think last month's TCM-HD presentation is from the new Warner restoration (although TCM-HD aired it in 1.78, but as Hammer Films Phantom of the Opera restoration by Universal Pictures has also aired at 1.78 yet released on Blu-ray at 2.00, broadcast aspect-ratio has varied from what we get on Blu-ray — I will say that 1.78 for Horror of Dracula on TCM-HD did look a bit tight, and I see no problem with 1.66)

  14. aPhil

    You mean the version that used to run on TCM.

    Last month (October 2018) TCM-HD ran a new and truly HD version — It was a big surprise and I am doubly surprised that so little has been said about it. I am keeping it on my DVR.)

    The current iTunes version is HD. It looks very good to me, but I can't compare it to the UK disc, as I haven't seen that one.

  15. aPhil

    You mean the version that used to run on TCM.

    Last month (October 2018) TCM-HD ran a new and truly HD version — It was a big surprise and I am doubly surprised that so little has been said about it. I am keeping it on my DVR.

    It is warmer, more vivid, and more like my childhood memory of the film. In addition, it is more like an IB Technicolor print that a friend of mine here in NC projected for me a few yearsago.

    I think last month's TCM-HD presentation is from the new Warner restoration (although TCM-HD aired it in 1.78, but as Hammer Films Phantom of the Opera restoration by Universal Pictures has also aired at 1.78 yet released on Blu-ray at 2.00, broadcast aspect-ratio has varied from what we get on Blu-ray — I will say that 1.78 for Horror of Dracula on TCM-HD did look a bit tight, and I see no problem with 1.66)

    I believe it has the "Horror of Dracula" main title, though.

  16. Peter Apruzzese

    I believe it has the "Horror of Dracula" main title, though.

    Yes, it does. Aired Oct 10.

    I have the UK Blu-ray (and I have seen that version theatrically when shown in 2015 at the Carolina Theater in Durham NC), but I have not seen the iTunes. This TCM-HD was superior to any previous airing of Horror of Dracula on their channel. I really like the vivid color on the recent TCM showing over the cold pale blue of the UK Blu-ray.

  17. There was much controversy concerning the color timing of the BFI restoration. I’ve never had a problem with it, but it will be interesting to see what Warner Brothers does to it. I’m sure that there will be those who prefer the UK transfer, and those that will insist that the American transfer is superior. I haven’t seen the latest TCM HD version.

    However one feels, the UK set is still worth obtaining for it’s many extras. I would imagine that the coming Warner Brothers BD will be pretty much bare bones.

  18. Yup, there was a lot of heated debate about the look of the BFI Blu-ray. I hated it, other people thought it was spot on. I hope the Warner colour is more to my liking, not bothered about extras, I hardly ever look at them these days.

  19. Yup, there was a lot of heated debate about the look of the BFI Blu-ray. I hated it, other people thought it was spot on. I hope the Warner colour is more to my liking, not bothered about extras, I hardly ever look at them these days.

  20. After handling multiple 35mm dye-transfer prints on this title, I can assure you the BFI timing does not match any of them. It's a complete revisionist grading.

    Hopefully, WB will go with the timing approved by the creative team in 1958…

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  21. As to aspect ratios on home video, it matters little whether a title is run at 1.75, or opened slightly to 1.66, as what would have been seen theatrically, would have been a shape never considered during production. And with information heavily cropped.

    We are seeing far more information, than has been seen theatrically, regardless of what we consider to be a “real world” ratio, as there was no such creature.

    If a film was announced to be run at 1.85, that would be the approximate shape of the image on screen, but had very little to do with what was actually being seen within that box.

  22. Bob Furmanek

    After handling multiple 35mm dye-transfer prints on this title, I can assure you the BFI timing does not match any of them. It's a complete revisionist grading.

    Hopefully, WB will go with the timing approved by the creative team in 1958…

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Dang, that UI logo looks great in IB Tech.

  23. John Hermes

    Dang, that UI logo looks great in IB Tech.

    But not so much the following grabs. The title frame looks faded, and red looks dull orange, just as I am used to seeing it on video. The last frame…well…meh. Where's the rich green of the background foliage? I am still hoping for the rich color of the original, but I'm a bit skeptical.

  24. Truth be told, this is a 1958 35mm dye transfer print and my scans were taken just for reference on a light table.

    Technicolor prints do have very deep blacks and the detail that is truly there on the original print would only come through on a top-of-the-line scanner.

  25. Well I'm hoping for a colourful Dracula. The people who love the blue grade & think it's right can enjoy the BFI release, & those of us who'd like a bit of rich colour can enjoy the Warner release…& then everyone's happy 🙂

  26. Billy Batson

    Well I'm hoping for a colourful Dracula. The people who love the blue grade & think it's right can enjoy the BFI release, & those of us who'd like a bit of rich colour can enjoy the Warner release…& then everyone's happy :)[/QUOT

    Maybe the people doing the color timing at the BFI thought that the subject matter–the draining of blood–required an equally bloodless color scheme. But yes, I am very hopeful the new Blu-ray from Warners will look the way it did in a theater, with robust colors.

  27. lark144

    Maybe the people doing the color timing at the BFI thought that the subject matter–the draining of blood–required an equally bloodless color scheme. But yes, I am very hopeful the new Blu-ray from Warners will look the way it did in a theater, with robust colors.

    Well, yeah, they freely admit that it's revisionist. The guy on the restoration doc on the disc is even boastful that the color scheme doesn't represent either the color on the negative OR on the original prints. I think the guy was from Hammer rather than the BFI, though. I LIKE a little blue in my color scheme but even I was mildly off-put by the way it looked.

  28. Will Krupp

    Well, yeah, they freely admit that it's revisionist. The guy on the restoration doc on the disc is even boastful that the color scheme doesn't represent either the color on the negative OR on the original prints. I think the guy was from Hammer rather than the BFI, though. I LIKE a little blue in my color scheme but even I was mildly off-put by the way it looked.

    Sadly, nothing is as bad as John Badham’s bloodless/colorless revision of the 1979 Dracula. As the filmmaker, he has the right, but it sucked all the life and beauty out of that film. The color cinematography was so rich.

  29. JohnMor

    Sadly, nothing is as bad as John Badham’s bloodless/colorless revision of the 1979 Dracula. As the filmmaker, he has the right, but it sucked all the life and beauty out of that film. The color cinematography was so rich.

    While I'm on record as being NO fan of Badham's revision of the 1979 DRACULA, at LEAST he was the director. The 1958 has the shame of being revised by people who weren't even born when it was made.

  30. Will Krupp

    Well, yeah, they freely admit that it's revisionist. The guy on the restoration doc on the disc is even boastful that the color scheme doesn't represent either the color on the negative OR on the original prints. I think the guy was from Hammer rather than the BFI, though. I LIKE a little blue in my color scheme but even I was mildly off-put by the way it looked.

    I'd forgotten about that extra. I was thinking that perhaps I have inaccurately criticized the BFI , as back in 87 I saw a dye transfer print of Hammer's DRACULA from the BFI at MOMA as part of their British Cinema series that had very robust colors. So perhaps the actual BFI restoration had the original color scheme, and it was in the mastering of the disc by the people that now constitute Hammer Films that the revisionist colors were enacted.

  31. Billy Batson

    Well I'm hoping for a colourful Dracula. The people who love the blue grade & think it's right can enjoy the BFI release, & those of us who'd like a bit of rich colour can enjoy the Warner release…& then everyone's happy 🙂

    I would be. Maybe that would prompt John Badham to let Universal release his DRACULA with the original colors. Nah…won't happen.

  32. Well, from what I'm gathering over on CHFB, and this includes people whom have seen it, and screen grabs, this release is going to be problematic in new ways…the crushing of the blacks, picture softness and no Japanese footage being the big ones.

  33. Dick

    I would be. Maybe that would prompt John Badham to let Universal release his DRACULA with the original colors. Nah…won't happen.

    I wouldn't think Universal needs John Badham's permission to release the original colour version, it's their film. It's just that it's pretty much a forgotten movie…but you never know what's going to happen.

  34. kinzoels

    Well, from what I'm gathering over on CHFB, and this includes people whom have seen it, and screen grabs, this release is going to be problematic in new ways…the crushing of the blacks, picture softness and no Japanese footage being the big ones.

    Other than no Japanese footage which is no big deal that review has to be taken with a grain of salt. The review here and at DVD-Drive-in say those issues are minor but the color improvement is major. So this version while not perfect is still the best one to get for the best picture quality.

  35. Randy Korstick

    Other than no Japanese footage which is no big deal that review has to be taken with a grain of salt. The review here and at DVD-Drive-in say those issues are minor but the color improvement is major. So this version while not perfect is still the best one to get for the best picture quality.

    well, I hope your not inferring people should take my humble observation with a grain of salt..and while were at it, the next time you quote Sherlock Holmes, please credit it to him……..:)

  36. kinzoels

    well, I hope your not inferring people should take my humble observation with a grain of salt..and while were at it, the next time you quote Sherlock Holmes, please credit it to him……..:)

    No what I meant was I will take the knowledgeable opinion of what we are seeing and what it should look like from two reviews from experts and not from fan sites basing their info on what previous home video versions looked liked instead of what the actual film looked like and should look like. However we are all entitled to opinions on how we would like it to look according to our own viewing preferences.

  37. I got mine today from Best Buy ! It looks very Nice too me. I'm happy with it. The trailer is the UK Dracula trailer. But it's full of Green spots all the way threw it. Not restored ! ? They could not afford to clean it up ?? : (

  38. Most trailers that are seen on many different releasing companies releases have not had any work on them and are just as they are. In fact, back in the days of trailers that were traveling from theatre to theatre were very bad shape. And by the time they.got to the drive-ins, they were almost unplayable.

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