Thursday, December 8, 2016

DRACULA RESTORED


For years, rumors circulated around monster cognoscenti that Hammer's first vampire flick, DRACULA (HORROR OF DRACULA in the U.S.) was missing some footage. Marcus Hearne, Hammerphile, went so far as to say that the two scenes are "crucial to the film".

The missing scenes in question were tracked down in Japan, where it was the only country that played the movie uncut. They were restored and added to the extant footage. The most recent version released to viewers was a 2013 Region 2 Blu-ray/DVD.


So why haven't we seen a U.S release yet? The rationale escapes me.

Shown here is an article from SCI-FI NOW's HAMMER HORROR Special Edition (2014) that discusses the find. Also included is a Q&A from IMDB.




 

I've seen stills from scenes that don't appear in the film. How come?

There are at least two scenes for which stills exist, but which did not make it to the final edit of the film. The first is the decayed corpse of Jonathan Harker. The second is Dracula's prolonged disintegration sequence at the end. For a long time the latter was rumoured to have been included in the Japanese release, and in 2012, it was confirmed. Several seconds of extra disintegration footage, including some of Dracula tearing his flesh from his face, were restored and integrated into the 2007 BFI restoration, then released in March 2013 on Region 2 Blu-ray and DVD. The recovered Japanese reels also included an alternate version of Dracula's seduction of Mina, with erotically charged shots of Mina from Dracula's point of view and more explicit shots of Dracula kissing Mina and her very clearly enjoying it. These, too, were restored and included in the 2013 Blu-ray/DVD release. The photograph of a decomposed Jonathan Harker is thought to be a test shot or studio still, and it's unlikely the full scene was ever filmed, not least because it wouldn't make sense for Harker, who is young, to age like the other vampires on being destroyed.
 

What's new about the BFI's 2007 restored version?

Although the colours are certainly beautifully and vibrantly restored in the new print, all the footage has been seen before--just never together in one version. The 2007 restoration includes the original British title card, which reads simply Dracula, in ornate, gothic script. A few seconds of extra blood are seen in Lucy's staking scene. These were in the original US release but not in the UK version. Contrary to rumour, this restored version does NOT contain any of the supposed Japanese footage of Dracula's disintegration or of Jonathan Harker's decayed corpse. Photographic stills exist of both, but until the 2011 discovery of a partial print in Japan, no actual film had been found.
 

What are the differences between the Restored Version from 2007 and the 2012 Restored Uncut Version?

The BBFC demanded some cuts for the theatrical release of the movie in 1958. This version, known as Horror of Dracula in the USA, was for many years thought to be the longest version and was restored in 2007. So it was a real surprise when in September 2011, some old film reels containing previously unknown scenes were found in Tokyo. They didn't include the whole movie (just the last 36 minutes). Nevertheless, the buzz among the fans was huge and they naturally wanted to see these scenes. And the impossible happened at the beginning of 2013, when Lions Gate and the British Hammer Films announced the release of a new longer version of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. Although the picture quality of the new scenes is a little bit worse than the rest and the movie's also only a few seconds longer, it is nevertheless the ultimate version for fans of this classic.

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