ARCHIVED NEWS - 6th - 12th JUNE 2005


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10th June 2005

I've updated the Hammer DVD Guide to incorporate the wonderful news that Universal has announced the release of eight 1960s Hammer movies, which will be released in the US on September the 6th.

The eight films (the Herbert Lom version of The Phantom of the Opera, The Brides of Dracula, The Curse of the Werewolf, Kiss of the Vampire, Nightmare, Paranoiac, Night Creatures (aka Captain Clegg) and The Evil of Frankenstein) will be offered on a two-disc (presumably two-DVD-18) set, with an RRP of $29.99. The films will have anamorphic transfers and 2.0 (mono) audio.

This is perhaps not the ideal way of packaging the films, but no-one could deny that this is terrific news for fans of the studio. In one fell swoop most of the key unreleased Hammer films are being made available, and at a bargain price!

The Universal announcement release leaves Columbia Tristar as the only major company not to have extensively exploited their Hammer holdings. The studio owns three very decent Hammer horror titles (The Gorgon, The Two Faces of Doctor Jekyll and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb), as well as a slew of non-horror films (including the studio's Robin Hood films, the sublime Cash on Demand, their controversial war films, and non-PC colonial adventure stories like The Stranglers of Bombay). Other unreleased Hammer horror films include Dracula AD 72 (an odd omission apparently owned by Warner Home Video - perhaps there are specific rights problems?) and Paramount's relatively minor The Man Who Could Cheat Death.

I've also added the Region 1 DVD of The Anniversary to the Guide. It's expected from Anchor Bay before the end of the year.

Contender will release the recent Frankenstein TV movie on DVD on July the 25th (shortly after its UK TV premiere, which comes courtesy of Channel 4).

This adaptation stars Scottish actor Alec Newman (as Frankenstein), William Hurt (as Frankenstein's mentor, Professor Waldman), Donald Sutherland (as the Captain of the Prometheus) and Luke Goss (as the creature). The disc will feature a Making of... featurette (5m, if it's the same as the one on the US disc), and a picture gallery.

The press release is quoting a running time of "4 hours (approx)". The movie was shown in a four-hour slot in the US, but runs for just under three hours without the adverts. Either the quoted running time is very approximate, or the disc will have some substantial extras! No technical specifications were announced. The RRP is £16.99.

Mosaic Entertainment will release Bram Stoker's Way of the Vampire on August the 29th, after a two-week rental window.

The film, a "smart sassy and terrifying retelling of Bram Stoker's Classic tale" (don't say you weren't warned!), with be supplemented with a Behind The Scenes featurette and a trailer (not to mention this rather awful Van Helsing rip-off sleeve art).

The press release also promises "plenty of beautiful women, a fair amount of nudity and obviously blood and gore". Hmmm, I wonder what they consider a "fair" amount of nudity is? No technical details were announced. The disc will have an RRP of £9.99.

9th June 2005

One of my favourite current TV shows, HBO's superb Western series Deadwood, is finally being released on DVD in the UK on July the 4th.

The series, which was created by NYPD Blue's David Milch, is about the formative years of a legendary Western gold-rush frontier town. It stars Timothy Olyphant as idealistic settler Seth Bullock, the great Keith Carradine as formidable gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok, and Brit Ian McShane, who gives a mesmerising performance as Machiavellian saloon owner Al Swearengen, a terrific role that's already landed him a Golden Globe award.

If you haven't heard of the series, it's probably because Sky One has been rather selfishly keeping it to itself. They've already aired the first season, and has recently begun showing the second (which has just finished in the US).

The series is quite unlike any Western film or series you're likely to have seen. Recent gritty westerns like Unforgiven and Wyatt Earp have hinted at the rough-and-readiness of what it really might have been like to live in that era, but Deadwood has taken it to a new level. The series has drawn a great deal of comment for it's earthly (but, we're assured, more-or-less authentic) language, which takes a little getting used to. Eventually, even the most foul-mouthed utterance seems to take on an almost Shakespearean rhythm. The series is also excellent at depicting the razor-thin balance between civility and brutal lawlessness that must have existed in those pioneer towns.

Anyway, enough of the review - hopefully there'll be time for that later - more on the DVD box set. It's a four-disc set, which features twelve episodes, each about fifty minutes long. Extras are TBC. This is a little worrying, as the US set is presented on six discs, which not only gives the episodes a bit more room to breathe, but also included a whole disc of extras (including four very nice featurettes). Interestingly, are listing the UK set as being a six-disc set. The US set also features commentary tracks on four episodes (by David Milch on the first episode, Deadwood, stars Molly Parker and Keith Carradine on the pivotal Here Was A Man; stars Brad Dourif and Robin Weigart (Calamity Jane) on The Trial of Jack McCall; and stars Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane on series finale Sold Under Sin). Technical spec's for the UK set weren't available, but it's likely that they'll replicate the US set: anamorphic 1.78:1 transfers with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The RRP is a rather steep £49.99.

You can view a short Quicktime trailer for the first series here (warning: strong language!)

Here are a couple of portraits, to give you a flavour of the series: Ian McShane as Al Swearengen, Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock and Keith Carradine as Wild Bill Hickok (with friend Charlie Utter, played by Dayton Callie).

Buena Vista Home Entertainment will release five episodes of the animated Fantastic Four TV series on July the 11th. Fantastic Four: A Legend Begins charts the origins of the group, which is Marvel's longest-running comic book series. The episodes will be introduced by creator Stan Lee. They are: The Origins of the Fantastic Four - Parts 1 and 2 and The Mask of Doom - Parts 1, 2 and 3. No technical specifications were announced. The RRP is believed to be £12.99.

Ventura Distribution's Adness label will release four Japanese movies on June the 28th. These are three Sonny Chiba titles (Resurrection of Golden Wolf, Legend of the Eight Samurai and Ninja Wars) and Junya Sato's Never Give Up.

All four titles are presented in anamorphic widescreen format, with their original Japanese 2.0 stereo soundtracks (Legend of the Eight Samurai and Ninja Wars also have DTS 5.1 tracks - something that's not mentioned on the sleeves). Legend of the Eight Samurai and Ninja Wars both feature about twenty minutes of bonus material (again, not mentioned on the sleeve), as well as sleeve notes by Patrick Macias, author of Tokyoscope - The Japanese Cult Film Companion. Each title has an RRP of £15.99.

Tartan will release a limited edition two-disc version of Battle Royale II: Revenge on August the 22nd. The set will feature nearly three hours of bonus material, including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and tributes to directors Fakasaku and Kinji Kenta. The film, which is set three years after the events of the first film in the series, will be offered with a choice of Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 audio tracks. The RRP is £22.99.

There's lots of War of the Worlds-related activity at the moment, in the shadow of the new Spielberg film. Ventura International is releasing The Day That Panicked America - The H.G. Wells War of the Worlds Scandal documentary on July the 4th. The documentary, about Wells' infamous 1938 radio broadcast, is narrated by Leonard Nimoy. The documentary - not to be confused with 1975 TV movie The Night That Panicked America - is in 4:3 format, with 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo audio. The disc comes with a bonus CD of the broadcast itself. The RRP is £12.99.

8th June 2005

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release four Angel: The Vampire Anthology discs on August the 1st (a week earlier than initially indicated).

Each disc features four episodes of the TV series, each focussed on a particular character, in similar fashion to last year's Buffy The Vampire Slayer - The Slayer Collection series. The episodes were selected by series creator Joss Whedon.

The four discs are: Cordelia (City of..., There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb, Birthday and Waiting in the Wings), Wesley (Parting Gifts, Guise Will Be Guise, Loyalty and Sleep Tight), Gunn (Warzone, First Impressions, That Old Gang of Mine and Double or Nothing) and Fred (Over The Rainbow, Fredless, Supersymmetry and Shiny Happy People). Each disc will also feature a fifteen-minute character profile featurette. The episodes will be presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and English HoH subtitles. RRP for the discs is £12.99.

Film Score Monthly has released two new soundtrack CDs. Their Silver Age Classics release is a little unusual. FSM has released soundtrack discs from films produced by many different companies (most notably a productive deal with M-G-M). Some studios, however, refuse to license their assets to a third-party company (often simply because it's often simply not worth their effort to trawl through decades of rights paperwork and contracts).

In the case of FSM's latest Silver Age Classics release, John Barry's score for the 1976 remake of King Kong, the label has cleverly circumvented Paramount - the studio that owns the US rights to the movie, and one of the companies that won't play ball - and gone to the record company that was licensed to release the soundtrack album when the film was originally released, which is now owned by Warner Bros. Records. This has meant that the disc isn't quite the usual FSM bells-and-whistles epic, with additional tracks and unreleased material: the deal only allowed them access to the original album tracks and quarter-inch stereo masters. It also means that the booklet for the disc is a bit more anaemic than usual, although it boasts exemplary sleeve notes by Barry biographer Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker and Stephen Woolston.

Happily this means that the album, which runs for 42'30", has finally made it's official CD debut (an earlier release, on the Mask label, was of dubious legality). Needless to say, the sound quality offered is a significant improvement on what's been available in the past. The disc's RRP is lower than usual for a FSM disc, a nice gesture by FSM, but hardly necessary.

This month's Golden Age Classics release is a score by Bronislau Kaper, from the 1965 M-G-M historical epic Quentin Durward, the last film in the unofficial "knights in shining armour" trilogy produced by Pandro S. Berman (the others being Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table, both of which were scored by Miklos Rózsa). Quentin Durward was a slightly more tongue-in-cheek film than its predecessors, perhaps one reason why a change of composer was in order. Kaper's operatic score has a Scottish flavour to it, with several stirring themes. The disc has been re-mastered from the original 35mm three-track masters. The disc comes with the a lavishly-illustrated, twelve-page booklet, with comprehensive sleeve notes by label boss Lukas Kendall.

Both discs are limited to 3000 copies, and are available from FSM's trading partner Screen Archives Entertainment.

Optimum Releasing will issue Jonathan Caouette's documentary about his own dysfunctional family, Tarnation, on July the 25th. The disc will have a commentary by the director, and a short film which won the Short Film competition, in association with Love Films, selected by Caouette. No other technical details were announced. The RRP is £19.99.

The second season of Enterprise is being released on DVD on July the 11th.

The seven disc set will feature all twenty-six second series episodes with Dolby 5.1 audio. Bonus materials include a behind-the-scenes featurette about the making of Future Tense, which is not on the generic US DVD set. Othe features include Enterprise Moments: Season 2; Enterprise Profile: Jolene Blalock; Levar Burton - Star Trek Director; Enterprise Secrets; Inside a Night In Sickbay; outtakes; photo gallery; deleted scenes; trailers and three Easter Eggs. The RRP is £84.99.

Paramount has revamped the Enterprise section of the official Star Trek UK website. You can see the results here.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment will release a three-disc Special Edition of Kevin Smith's debut feature Clerks on July the 18th.

The set will feature the original unrated version of the film, accompanied by a new cast and crew commentary (on disc two), as well as the theatrical version (disc one), which is accompanied by the commentary track on the existing disc. The set will feature one of the director's unreleased early films, Mae Day: The Crumbling of a Documentary, and will also include documentaries, including the comprehensive The Snowball Effect. The disc also includes a tour around Smith's home town, conducted by the big man himself; an animated missing scene; Jay and Silent Bob TV spots; a Flying Car segment from The Tonight Show; a 10th Anniversary Q&A session; audition tapes; music video; trailers and a photo' gallery. A twenty-four page booklet is also included. The set celebrates the film's tenth anniversary (although made in 1994, the film made its UK debut in 1995).

The press release didn't mention any technical information, except that it will feature Macrovision and Close Captions. Nor did it mention the RRP, which is believed to be £19.99.

A documentary titled Countdown to Wednesday will be released by Ventura International later this month. The feature-length documentary, named after the day that new release comics are released in the US, offers an insight to the comic book industry. It features interviews with the legendary Stan Lee, Top Cow CEO Marc Silvestri, Mark Waid and Paul Dini. The RRP is £9.99.


6th June 2005

Ceri has updated the Incoming page, incorporating all the Cinema Club schedule information revealed here last week, and adding a few new bits and pieces, including a new Preston Sturges box set, from Universal.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has confirmed that the UK disc of the Robert De Niro film Hide and Seek will have a DTS sound option (at 768kbps) in addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track (it wasn't mentioned on the press release).

The disc offers five ways of watching the film (the theatrical version, and four alternate endings). These can also be accessed separately (there's even a Play All option for the four alternate endings!) The disc also features a commentary (by Director John Polson, Editor Jeffrey Ford and Screenwriter Ari Schlossberg); eighteen minutes of deleted scenes (with optional commentary); a ten-minute Making of... featurette; and three previs sequences totalling about three minutes (WARNING - these sound spoiler-ish: Charlie Chases Emily, Katherine Confronts Charlie and Final Moments Between David and Emily). The disc is due on July the 25th (a couple of weeks later than originally planned), with an RRP of £15.99.

Woody Allen's latest film, Melinda and Melinda, will be released on DVD by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on July the 29th.

The film, which features a pair of "what if" stories about the same woman (played by Pitch Black's Rhada Mitchell), also features Will Ferrell, Wallace Shawn, Chloe Sevigny and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

As is customary for Woody Allen DVDs, there are no special features. The film is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 format, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio (at 192kbps). The disc has English subtitles.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.

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