Saturday, 17 September 2011

New Hammer DVD releases

In a rather awesome stroke of luck Hammer are releasing some of their old films on DVD. Films that haven't been available for some time. Hurrah. Okay not all the discs are perfect but it's still good news right... Okay here's the run down on what to expect.

First up The Dick Barton Trilogy.
I'm doing this one first as it's the only non horror release of the selection. For those who don't know the history of Dick Barton, he was the main protagonist in a daily radio programme in the late 40s. Hammer bought the rights to make a series of films based on the character, the series ended after the actor playing Dick Barton, Don Stannard died in a car crash.

The first film in the series is Dick Barton Special Agent (1948) and to be honest it's bloody awful, the print is really bad and the film is not much better. The attempts at humour haven't aged well and the whole cast with the exception of Stannard is fucking horrendous. I nearly didn't make it onto the second film this one was so bad. Luckily I did.
Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949) is an outstanding old detective story, the far superior Bruce Walker is now playing his comedy sidekick Snowy and the rest of the gang from the first film have thankfully disapeared. The print is much better and the film itself as mentioned above is really good. Entire villages in England are being wiped out and Dick Barton is on the case. It's this film that made me realise how good a character Dick Barton was and stands up well against other detective films of the time like the Mr Wong and Mr Moto series.

Finally we have Dick Barton at Bay (1950), another good detecive yarn, unfortunately George Ford is back playing Snowy but he's much better in this film than our first encounter, probably due to a lack of the awful Jock. Anyway this is another good film in which Dick Barton goes after a Death Ray that's been stolen by the Russians. Just a few years after the war and the Russians are evil already. Awesome.

It's another decent print and an enjoyable film. It's worth picking up this set if your a fan of old detective films, I'd skip past the first one though as you may not bother with the second one having suffered through 70 minutes of pure drivel.

Next up X the Unknown (1956).
This was clearly trying to be a sequel to the awesome Quatermass Xperiment, but for whatever reason Nigel Kneale refused to have his character used for it. Regardless it is a damn fine film with some rather gruesome face melting scenes. A radioactive blob is roaming the Scottish courtyside eating up all the radiation it can find, all the while leaving bodies in it's wake.

The print is okay, though the quality of the sound isn't that great. It's well worth a watch and considering it's only the second horror film Hammer produced we've got a lot to thank it for. The screenplay is by the outstanding Jimmy Sangster who also wrote The Mummy, Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula. He couldn't direct for shit but had to be one of the best writers working for Hammer. Definitely worth a pick up, especially for the low price these films are available for.

Last, but not least in any way is The Abominable Snowman (1957).

Written by Nigel Kneale and starring Peter Cushing this is one of the best Hammer films I've seen that hasn't been readily available on DVD. I mean you could buy this for £25 from Spain but that's a ton of cash to spend on a film you've never seen before. Having watched the film now though I wouldn't have been disapointed if I had spent that amount. This is outstanding, the print and film are both of the highest standard.
Cushing plays an English botanist who teams up with a group who are set on finding the fabled Yeti. THings however quickly start going wrong on the expedition. I really can't praise this film highly enough and considering I got the preorder for under a fiver it's great value for money.

Now I am fully aware that I have left a couple of the new releases out. I didn't preorder the Quatermass films (1955, 1957) as I heard they were having some troubles with it and that it had been put back. It was however released on time without any major problems. I have seen both films before and they are outstanding, especialy the perfomance of Richard Wordsworth in the Quatermass Xperiment as the returning astronaut with "problems". I can't however comment on the quality of the print. If they're anything like the ones used by BBC four recently then you should pick it up right away.

The other release was Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1972), this was a major cluster fuck by Icon who managed to release the DVD with the wrong print of the film. I do have the incorrect print sitting next to me now but I'm not going to open it since Hammer have stepped in and managed to sort it out. If you have picked up a copy of the incorrect print like me, then go to There are instructions there on how to get a hold of the correct print.

All in all it's a good set of releases. The prints may not have all aged well but I'd rather have a poor print than no print. All we need now is for them to announce the next batch of films for release. I can't wait.

No comments:

Post a Comment