NEWS ARCHIVE - 5th JANUARY to 30th MAY 2010



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30th May 2010

ZETA MINOR NEWS

Updates have been brief recently, because I am in the middle of moving house!


28th April 2010

EVENTS NEWS

Two imminent signings at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue, London...

April 29th - Director Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, The Spy Who Loved Me, etc) will be signing copies of his autobiography, All My Flashbacks, between 6-7pm.

May 1st - Gerry Anderson will be signing copies of the Century 21 comic strip books between 2-3pm

Signed copies can be ordered from the shop's mail order department, on 020 7803 1900.


30th March 2010

INCOMING

Recent high-profile additions to Incoming include DVD and Blu-ray versions of fantasy epic Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; DVD and Blu-ray versions of Mel Gibson's remake of Edge of Darkness; a new anniversary DVD edition of The Dam Busters; and DVD, Blu-ray, and Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray editions of The Wolfman. Details of these titles are thin on the ground at the moment, but at least we now have dates and the sleeve art to admire!

BOOK NEWS

Titan have announced a new book based on the Joss Whedon TV series Firefly. Here's the blurb...

Firefly is the Emmy Award-winning "sci fi-western" TV show from inimitable cult writer/director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse. Since its short-lived appearance on TV in 2002, the show has sold over a half a million copies on DVD, spawned the hit movie Serenity, and most remarkably, inspired a loyal fan following - the Browncoats - whose numbers continue to grow.

Firefly: Still Flying [Titan Books, May 2010, $19.95/£16.99] is a brand new celebration of all aspects of the show. Featuring memories from the cast and crew, a tribute to the Browncoats, and even a feature on Nathan Fillion’s legendary practical jokes, Still Flying is illustrated throughout with a wealth of rare and previously unpublished images, including storyboards, production design art and candid behind-the-scenes photos – including an on-set shot of the last ever scene filmed for Firefly.

But that’s not all. Titan has also done the impossible to present fans with exclusive new Firefly fiction by writers of the original TV episodes!

Editor Adam Newell says, "rumours have been swirling about these for a while now, and I’m delighted to be able to confirm that we have wonderful stories from Jane Espenson, Brett Matthews and Jose Molina, plus an illustrated contribution from Ben Edlund called ‘Fun with Dick and Jayne’, which is just as crazy as it sounds!”

THE STORIES:

Fun With Dick and Jayne written and drawn by Ben Edlund

Ben Edlund was a producer on Firefly, wrote the episode Jaynestown, and co-wrote Trash with Jose Molina. His other TV credits include Angel, Point Pleasant, Supernatural and The Tick, which he also created.

What Holds Us Down by Jane Espenson

Jane Espenson wrote the episode Shindig for Firefly. Her other TV writing and producing credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, and Caprica.

Crystal by Brett Matthews

Brett Matthews wrote the episode Heart of Gold for Firefly, and co-wrote the Serenity graphic novels Those Left Behind and Better Days with Joss Whedon. His other writing credits include Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury.

Take The Sky by Jose Molina

Jose Molina was executive story editor on Firefly, wrote the episode Ariel, and co-wrote Trash with Ben Edlund. His other TV writing and producing credits include Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Without a Trace, and Castle, starring Nathan Fillion.


17th March 2010

INCOMING

You may have noticed that Fox has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of James Cameron's Avatar. This initial release will be a bare-bones film-only version, with extended and / or 3D versions expected to follow somewhere down the line.

A limited edition steelbook version (with Avatar - An Activist Survival Guide book, four lenticular artcards and, if you buy it from Play.com, a free glow-in-the-dark T-shirt) is also being released. Here's a look at the steelbook set's contents...

 

 

Other recent additions include the first DVD and Blu-ray from the new series of Doctor Who (which starts on BBC One in a couple of weeks' time); America - The Bill Hicks Story, a documentary about the comedian, which is getting a modest theatrical release; series four of Heroes on DVD and Blu-ray (a box set containing the first four series is also being released on DVD and Blu-ray); the recent Michael Caine pensioner-turned-vigilante movie Harry Brown on DVD and Blu-ray; an elaborate new edition of Fulci's City of the Living Dead (on Blu-ray and DVD); martial arts action movie Raging Phoenix (on Blu-ray and DVD); a sequel to Universal Soldier featuring original stars Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme, Universal Soldier: Regeneration (on Blu-ray and DVD); the Amanda Burton series The Helen West Case Book; Ealing movies Man in the Sky and The Night My Number Came Up; a very reasonably priced Blu-ray edition of Mel Gibson's gore-fest The Passion of the Christ; the first series of long-running children's adventure series The Littlest Hobo; an interesting-looking documentary called Tattoos: A Scarred History and early listings for The Inbetweeners - Series 3 and a box set containing nine seasons of Family Guy.

I've also added more details of the new Battlestar Galactica spin-off pilot, Caprica. A promotional trailer for this can be found on YouTube.

As always, thanks to Graves for keeping things up to date!

HAMMER DVD NEWS

Here are a couple of menu screens from Optimum's forthcoming Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde DVD. The transfer is rather disappointing, being no better than the fuzzy one used on the out of print American Anchor Bay disc. Contrary to the press release, the new disc will feature one bonus feature: a rather ratty theatrical trailer.

 

 
 

 

11th March 2010

INCOMING

I've added press releases to a number of titles in our forthcoming releases database, Incoming, including...

...the 1952 British comedy Laxdale Hall; the 1937 George Formby film Keep Fit; Mexican thriller I'm Gonna Explode (aka Voy a explotar); a new horror film from the producers of Outlander and Die Hard 4, Stag Night (on Blu-ray and DVD); a re-mastered edition of Robert Stevenson's 1944 adaptation of Jane Eyre (which starred Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine); and the first season of John Sullivan's dark sit-com, Dear John (a box set containing both seasons and the Christmas special, is apparently exclusively available from HMV).

The announcement that Dear John is finally getting a release is going to make a lot of people very happy!

EVENTS NEWS

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr will be signing copies of Titan's Kick-Ass books (two editions of the graphic novel, and the book about the forthcoming film version) at the Forbidden Planet Megastore on Sunday the 21st of March, between 2 and 3pm.


2nd March 2010

IMAX NEWS

The South Bank IMAX has had a record-breaking run with James Cameron's 3D spectacular Avatar, taking more money than any other IMAX cinema except for the one in Moscow, apparently. Speaking as someone who has recently tried to get a ticket for one of the dwindling number of screenings, I can certainly vouch for its popularity. Even with screenings that start just before midnight, and ones that start at three o'clock in the morning at weekends, it was very difficult to find a show that hadn't sold out (or, at least, find one where any good seats were available!)

Their next major presentation, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, looks set to repeat Avatar's success. I was lucky enough to see the film at the weekend, on their always-impressive giant screen, in 3D.

I have to admit, as a collector and connoisseur of various different adaptations of Carroll's two Alice novels, (including the Anglia Television version I wrote about here), I approached Burton's re-visioned version with a fair degree of trepidation.

The film is neither a straight recounting of the novel (not even one that, as is common practice, borrows liberally from the second book, too), nor is it a new story, nor a sequel. A somewhat baffling plot point is that no-one seems sure if the young woman called Alice who has arrived in Wonderland is the same Alice that visited as a child. Incidents from Carroll's novels are borrowed when it suits, so clearly, the production wants to have their Eat Me cake and... err... eat it.

Mia Wasikowska is a rather beguiling grown-up Alice, supported by a strong, largely-British supporting cast, including Helena Bonham Carter as the manic Red Queen; and Timothy Spall and Tim Pigott-Smith as Oxford gentry. Several others provide voices (and, perhaps, motion capture): Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Barbara Windsor as the Dormouse, Paul Whitehouse as the March Hare, Michael Sheen as the White Rabbit, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar, Christopher Lee as the Jabberwock, Michael Gough as the Dodo, and Stephen Fry, as the Cheshire Cat, amongst others. American talent comes in the shape of Anne Hathaway, as a very regal White Queen, and Crispin Glover as the villainous Knave of Hearts. Johnny Depp, who gets top billing, walks a perilous cliff-edge, very nearly toppling the production as a clearly bonkers Mad Hatter.

The production design is stunning, but curiously conventional. It's as bizarre as any version of Alice you'll find, but perhaps less outré than might have expected from Burton. Since Burton and Alice have been mentioned in the same breath for many, many years, perhaps it would have been impossible to live up to our daydreams of what the combination might be like? Some elements, like the Queen's armoured soldiers have certainly got Burton's stamp on them.

The effects work - an entire fantasy landscape, replete with fauna and flora - is heavily-stylised, but quite convincing. There are some lovely touches, little details that made me smile, like various heart-shaped motifs that pop up in various places.

The clever 3D framing dictates almost every shot, and some of it is very impressive indeed (certainly the best I've seen so far). There are numerous shots that, naturally, rush by too quickly for the brain - or, at least, my brain - to latch onto, but otherwise Burton's staging is generally excellent. Clearly this is a director who understands the 3D process, and knows how to make the best of it. There are many, many beautifully composed shots, expertly captured by Sweeney Todd's Dariusz Wolski. The 3D depth of field in some shots is quite breath-taking. I certainly can't imagine the film looking quite so impressive in more conventional venues, though! Full booking details can be found here.

Alice in Wonderland at the IMAX has inspired a season of Alice-related screenings at the BFI, including multiple opportunities to see the first ever film adaptation, from 1903. Sadly, there's little on offer that isn't available on DVD, one way or another. I'm sure fans would have liked to have seen more obscure productions, like the BBC's 1974 Christmas extravaganza Alice Through The Looking Glass, or their 1986 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, or the aforementioned Anglia Television version, none of which have been seen in public since they originally aired. More information can be found here

Alice fans might like to know that two previously-unreleased versions of Alice in Wonderland have been released on DVD in the US to coincide with the release of Burton's movie.

The first is the misconceived 1933 Paramount studios adaptation, which features a star-studded cast, largely buried under inches of prosthetic make-up. It's a fascinating production, as much for the interesting production design as for the top-notch acting talent involved (Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, etc). The script was by two of the best writers working in Hollywood, too: Joseph Mankiewicz and William Cameron Menzies (who's probably best known now as production designer and director of the original version of Invaders from Mars).

The second is Jonathan Miller's 1966 BBC version, which was been released here in the UK by the BFI. The American edition has the considerable bonus of also including Dennis Potter's 1965 Wednesday Play, Alice (aka The Life of Lewis Carroll), which blended episodes from the novel with a biography of the author. This adaptation features Doctor Who companion Deborah Watling as Alice, and George Baker as the Reverend Dodson.

EVENTS NEWS

Two forthcoming signings at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London: Brian and Wendy Froud will be signing copies of their book The Heart of Faerie Oracle on Friday the 26th of March, between 6 and 7pm; and Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards will be signing the first issue of their comic book Turf, on Wednesday the 14th of March, between 6 and 7pm. Signed copies can be ordered from the shop's mail order department, on 020 7803 1900.


15th February 2010

INCOMING

I've added a few press releases to the Incoming database today, including ones for: Michael Keaton's directorial debut, the thriller The Merry Gentleman; romantic comedy Adam (out this week); the Blu-ray and DVD versions of Terry Gilliam's marvellous fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; the inspirational documentary The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off; the Russian science-fiction film from the makers of Nightwatch and Daywatch, Interceptor on DVD and Blu-ray; the Blu-ray version of Wim Wenders' masterpiece Wings of Desire; the Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman TV movie; and seasons two and three of Kojak.

Here's a look at the sleeve art for the Kojak and Six Million Dollar Man releases...

EVENTS NEWS

Details of the next Kaleidoscope meeting:

KALEIDOSCOPE EVENT

Saturday 6th March 2010, 12:00 - 7:00 pm

Function Suite, The Talbot Hotel,
High Street, Stourbridge,
West Midlands DY8 1DW, UK

Free Admission

THE MAIN ROOM

* 12:00 pm ATV Start-up film

* 12:05 pm The Likes of Sykes - Later work written by and starring Eric
Sykes, also featuring Diana Coupland, Hugh Burden and Diane Holland.
Produced and directed by today's guest Paul Stewart Laing (TX: 01/01/1980).

* 1:00 pm Guest Presentation - Steve Bryant - TV's Credit Crunch: The
slow death of end credits on British television and how some programmes
fought back. Steve Bryant is the Senior Curator of Television at the
National Film and Television Archive.

* 1:30 pm Sooty - a classic BBC episode from the 1950s, including
original continuity. Followed by The Goodies - two clips previously cut
from UK recordings were recently returned from Australia and can be seen
again for the first time in many years.

* 1:45 pm Break

* 2:00 pm Guest Panel - Paul Stewart Laing. Paul is a prolific producer and director who began his career as a cameraman on Thank Your Lucky Stars, The Golden Shot and many other shows. He went on to work with all the greatest artistes on New Faces, London Night Out, Wednesday
at 8 and many others. Eventually he became Director of Programmes at
TSW. Those who attended Bob's Full House in 2009 will already have
enjoyed some of Paul's great anecdotes from his long career in the
industry. We look forward to welcoming him back to our event today.

* 3:30 pm Afternoon Tea

* 4:00 pm The Famous Five - "Five Run Away Together". For a generation
of children, this well remembered Southern series was a wonderful
introduction to Enid Blyton's classic characters. Michele Gallagher,
Marcus Harris, Gary Russell and Jennifer Thanisch star in an episode
adapted by Gail Renard.

* 4:30 pm Guest Panel - Three Come Back For a Reunion! They are back!
The Famous Five are reunited on stage! Marcus Harris no longer works in
television, Gail Renard is busy still writing and Gary Russell now works
on the new series of Doctor Who.

* 5:30 pm Break

* 5:45 pm The Golden Shot - An edition of the much loved game show
hosted by Bob Monkhouse, assisted by Anne Aston. Guests are Rod Hull and Emu and Rolf Harris (TX: 18/08/1974).

* 6:30 pm Men Behaving Badly - A rare chance to see the untelevised
pilot of one of the finest sitcoms of recent years. Written by Simon Nye
and starring Harry Enfield, Martin Clunes, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin.

* 6:55 pm Closedown

 

SECOND VIEWING AREA

* 12:00 pm I'm Bob He's Dickie - 2388/77 - entertainment show starring
Messrs Monkhouse and Henderson and featuring Una Stubbs, Sylvia Syms,
Clodagh Rodgers and Jack Parnell and His Orchestra. Produced and
directed by Paul Stewart Laing.

* 1:00 pm This is Your Life - Douglas Bader. A special edition of the
long running series, devoted to the Second World War fighter ace and
former Colditz prisoner of war. The programme was made by Paul Stewart
Laing.

* 1:45 pm Break

* 2:00 pm Sunday Night Theatre - "Man and Boy". Telly Savalas heads
the cast in Terence Rattigan's play. Also featuring Liz Fraser, Gayle
Hunnicutt, David Bauer and Ed Bishop.

* 3:30 pm Night Time - untransmitted pilot made by Paul Stewart Laing
for TSW when the schedule extended into the night-time. Featuring jokes
and chat, the show contains some risque material.

* 4:30 pm Celebrity Squares - An edition of the long running game show
hosted by Bob Monkhouse and featuring guests including Dickie Davies,
Sandra Dickinson, Bill Maynard, June Whitfield, Harry H. Corbett and
William Rushton (TX: 27/07/1975).

* 5:30 pm The Making of New Faces - a documentary behind the scenes on
the famous ATV talent show.

* 6:30 pm I Wish I Had Said That - An untelevised pilot made by Paul
Stewart Laing from his own idea with Dickie Henderson. Featuring
impressionists and an interview with Kenneth Williams. The lady
impressionist Karen Kay is the mum of Jay Kay of Jamiroquai!

* 7:00 pm Closedown

All material at Kaleidoscope events is screened with the permission of
the copyright holders. Programmes and timings may be subject to change
before the day. Guests appear subject to professional and personal
commitments.

In 2010, Kaleidoscope is supporting the Royal National Lifeboat
Institution once again.

The Talbot Hotel is offering a special room rate for anyone coming to
Kaleidoscope events, so if you wish to stay the night before or after
the event, please mention Kaleidoscope when booking.

Tel: 01384 394350  -  www.talbothotelstourbridge.co.uk

Full details of this event and Kaleidoscope's other activities can
always be found on our web site: http://www.kaleidoscope.org.uk


10th February 2010

INCOMING

I've added press release details to many records in our forthcoming releases database today, including: Thames Television's TV adaptation of Dick Clement's Thatcher satire Anyone for Denis?; mafia movie The Level; Oscar hopeful An Education on DVD and Blu-ray (go Carey!); the third season of gay vampire series The Lair (which features scream queen Sybil Danning); Street Hawk - The Complete Series (making its world DVD debut here in the UK); Cabin Fever 2, the sequel to Eli Roth's surprisingly popular horror hit; Revelation's new edition of science-fiction series Chocky (which features a new interview with star Andrew Ellams); ship-board slasher flick Triangle (on DVD and Blu-ray); a thirty-three disc box set of one of the finest TV series ever made, Homicide: Life on the Street; a two-disc edition of Day of the Dead on Blu-ray, which celebrates the film's 25th anniversary; exploitation movie spoof Bitch Slap (which reunites a group of Hercules and Xena stars); supernatural thriller Not Forgotten (which stars The Mentalist's Simon Baker, on DVD and Blu-ray); season four of Fox's action series The Unit.

Here's a better look at Arrow's Day of the Dead - 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, with the various alternate sleeve designs (including the new artwork by Rick Melton)...


8th February 2010

SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS

Film Score Monthly (FSM) has kindly sent three of their recent soundtrack CDs for review...

The 1968 film Bullitt features a hugely charismatic star, Steve McQueen at his brooding best; one of the best car chases in cinema history; and an edgy jazz score that's become synonymous with "cool". Never mind that most people in the UK probably only know it from the classic 1997 Ford Puma advert, which incorporated clips from the movie!

Somewhat amazingly - and I assume this will come as something of a shock for many people who own a copy of Bullitt on CD - the original score (that is, the actual music used in the film itself) has never been released, until now. All previous LP and CD releases, including the expanded version released in 2000 on the composer's own label, have been re-recordings. Even more surprisingly, the new Film Score Monthly release marks the score's CD debut in the US (the Ford Puma advert, which was the catalyst for much interest in the film's music, was a campaign created for the European market).

Film Score Monthly's new Silver Age Classics release of Lalo Schifrin's score features both the complete original score (42'17") and the original late-60s album recording (the twelve-track, 34'00" programme used for the LP-based releases). Their disc features both the original album recording, (which, incidentally, featured a number of jazz greats doing session work), and the film recording, in stereo, from the original 1" eight-track and  ½” three-track masters, respectively.

The disc comes with a twenty-four page illustrated booklet which includes extensive background information and detailed track notes, by John Bender and Alexander Kaplan.

With such a broad potential customer base, which will surely extend well beyond hardcore film score collectors, the limited edition pressing of three thousand copies seems a touch conservative. Buy it now to avoid disappointment!

Collectors have already been wowed by several "well I never thought I'd see that"-type score releases this year, now that some of the harder-to-crack studios have prised open the vault doors. Perhaps none has been as welcome as FSM's new Islands in the Stream CD, which features the original film recording of one of Jerry Goldsmith's favourite scores.

The beautiful, melodic score primarily explores variations on a single theme, which is for the film's main character, Hudson, a thinly-veiled avatar for the author of the novel the film was based on, Ernest Hemingway.

Islands in the Stream was one of the composer's great collaborations with director Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes, Patton, The Boys From Brazil, etc). It was previously only available as a mid-80s re-recording conducted by Goldsmith himself, (Intrada's much admired, but ultimately unsatisfying, Excalibur Collection edition). Although the track list on the new disc is broadly similar to that of the Intrada disc, it re-instates one significant section of music, from the boat chase cue Eddy's Death (omitted from the Intrada version because the composer wasn't happy with the performance of the orchestra).

Until FSM's disc was announced, source tapes for Islands in the Stream were widely thought to have been lost, and the original score was often spoken of in hushed, reverential tones. The new disc was created from a stereo, 15ips, quarter-inch tape supplied by soundtrack producer Bruce Kimmel, who fortuitously made a copy of the masters in 1979, before they disappeared from Paramount's vaults (a story recounted here). The disc was mastered by Goldsmith's long-serving engineer-of-choice, Bruce Botnick, and the results are outstanding.

The disc comes with a twenty-page booklet, featuring in-depth notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan, studded with evocative images from the film, and topped with a cover painting by one of the the all-time great film poster artists, Bob Peak. The disc is a limited edition of five thousand copies.

After two heavyweights, releasing a score by two composers which most collectors won't have heard of, for a relatively obscure 1972 Western, would seem to be a recipe for bankruptcy, but it's precisely the type of obscure gem that the label excels in re-vitalising, and one of the reasons I admire the company so.

It may be pretty obscure, but the film in question, Jeremiah Johnson, has impeccable credentials. It was directed by the late, great Sydney Pollack, written by Apocalypse Now's John Milius, and it starred Robert Redford. It may not have joined the pantheon of all-time classics, but it is widely regarded as something of a minor masterpiece.

The film's two composers, John Rubinstein and Tim McIntire, were actors by trade, but moonlighted as a composer and singer-songwriter on the side. The Jeremiah Johnson CD offers a charming programme of beguiling, folksy Americana, featuring several charming themes, and focussed around several ballad-like songs.

The music from the film was previously only available on LP in a presentation peppered with dialogue samples, intended to form a narrative re-telling of the film. FSM's disc offers the complete score, in stereo, without the dialogue. The dialogue-laden versions of the cues are offered as alternates, along with additional score tracks and a collection of original demo tracks. The original LP programme can be more-or-less replicated by making a playlist (as described in the booklet). The music is in stereo, taken from various source elements.

The disc comes with a twenty-four page booklet, containing exemplary notes by Nick Redman, which made me order the film on DVD. There's also a typically-revealing track-by-track guide by Alexander Kaplan. The disc is limited to three thousand copies.

FSM CDs can be ordered from specialist soundtrack etailers, including the label's distribution partner, Screen Archives Entertainment.


27th January 2010

EVENT NEWS

Honor Blackman (Goldfinger, The Avengers, etc) will be signing in the basement of the Vintage Magazine Shop, 39-43 Brewer Street, London on Saturday the 27th of February, between 12-2pm.


25th January 2010

INCOMING

Titles with press release information added in the last couple of days include the Lubitsch in Berlin box set, from Masters of Cinema; two Stateside escapades for the Most Haunted gang, A Living Hell on Earth and The House That Fear Built; three acclaimed recent movies on Blu-ray from Pathé, The Last King of Scotland, Crash and Michael Clayton which, for some reason, aren't being listed by many etailers; and a 35th anniversary re-release of the BBC sitcom The Good Life.

Many other titles have been added to the database this week, including the TV movie Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman; new sitcom Bellamy's People (a spin-off from the radio series Down The Line); Battlestar Galactica: The Plan on DVD and steelbook Blu-ray; the first season of Stargate SG-U (Stargate Universe); and a box set of three recent Clive Barker-related films from LionsGate (Midnight Meat Train, Book of Blood and Dread).


19th January 2010

INCOMING

Press releases added to the database in the last couple of days include: The Secret Diary of a Call Girl - Series 3; the epic BBC documentary series A History of Scotland; Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie; the second series of the BBC's version of Wallander (which is being released on DVD, and also within a box set of seasons one and two on DVD and on Blu-ray); the third seasons of cult Adult Swim animated favourites Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force; and the third season of The Avengers, which completes Optimum's release of the Honor Blackman era. There's also a snippet or two of information about Network's forthcoming Catweazle - 40th Anniversary Edition.

HAMMER DVD NEWS

Sony in the US has announced that their next collection of Hammer films, Icons of Suspense, will be released on April the 6th.

The set will feature six rarely-seen Hammer movies: Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (aka Never Take Candy from a Stranger), The Snorkel, Maniac, Cash on Demand, The Full Treatment (aka Stop Me Before I Kill!) and Joseph Losey’s The Damned (aka These Are The Damned).

Sony is promising that the films will be restored to their optimum length, including eleven minutes to one of my favourite Peter Cushing films, Cash on Demand. Here's the full text of their In Production press 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 [sic], 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 eleven 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!

As before, Sony are offering customers the chance to vote for one of three potential sleeve designs. You can see them here (note that the page loads with a trailer for Columbia Classics movies playing!) Click on the Knife Art, Phone Art and Noose Art labels to see the covers.

EVENTS NEWS

Author Paul Cornell will be attending a signing copies of Marvel's Captain Britain and MI13: Vampire State at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on Thursday the 28th of January, between 6 and 7pm. As always, signed copies can be ordered from the Mail Order department, on 020 7803 1900.


15th January 2010

INCOMING

Press releases added to the database yesterday include: Robbie Coltrane's compelling return to crime drama, Murderland; a "50th Anniversary" edition of Ken Russell's D.H.Lawrence adaptation, Lady Chatterley; the fifth series of genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? (Patsy Kensit, Boris Johnson, David Suchet, etc); and the fourth series of Stephen Tompkinson African drama Wild at Heart.


12th January 2010

INCOMING

More press releases have been added to the site, for: the first series of fondly-remembered 80s sitcom Chance in a Million; Ondi Timoner's documentary We Live In Public; block-busting supernatural shocker Paranormal Activity (on DVD and Blu-ray); and the film that represents the nadir of Christopher Lee's lengthy and generally respectable career, Howling 2 - Your Sister is a Werewolf.


11th January 2010

INCOMING

New titles continue to be added to the Incoming database, so visit often for the latest updates!

In the last couple of days I've added detailed information for many British catalogue films coming from Optimum, as well as adding press release blurb for, amongst others, Jon Amiel's charming study of Charles Darwin, Creation (on Blu-ray and DVD); the Judd Apatow comedy Funny People (which stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan, on DVD and Blu-ray); two Satyajit Ray films, currently only being listed by Amazon, Company Limited and The Stranger; Pedro Almodóvar's recent hit Broken Embraces (on DVD and Blu-ray); Derek Jarman's Edward II (on DVD only); an odd Prisoner Cell Block H release showcasing a run of episodes, titled The Edna Pearson Story, which were previously heavily-edited here for legal reasons; a collection of animated nuggets from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, the Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy; Humberto Solas' Cuban classic Lucia; Chan-Wook Park's off-kilter vampire thriller Thirst, on Blu-ray and DVD; and football hooliganism movie The Firm, on DVD and Blu-ray.


5th January 2010

ZETA MINOR NEWS

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a nice Christmas. I've been incredibly busy over the last few weeks, and this has drawn my attention away from the website, I'm afraid. I apologise for the lack of updates recently.

In my absence Graves has been characteristically diligent in keeping our forthcoming releases database, Incoming, up to date. While the PR companies are still sending out press releases for January titles, the etailers have pretty fleshed-out listings for the next three months and beyond, in some cases. It will probably be at least a week before things start getting back to normal, and the press releases pick up momentum again.

My thanks to all the companies that have kindly agreed to run competitions with us over the last year, especially BBC Audio, who have been with us week in, week out. Other stalwarts include Optimum, 2 Entertain, Titan Books and Silva Screen Records. Without their support the site would be a lot less interesting!

Thanks, too, to everyone who uses our affiliated links to buy their discs. The tiny percentage kicked-back to us by the etailers helps oil Zeta Minor's wheels!

I'd also like to thank Karl, who hosts Zeta Minor and Roobarb's Forum, and is always there when I lose all my login cookies!


Last month's Zeta Minor News can be viewed here.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.


   

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