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Lugosi Estate released DVD - what happened?


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#1 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 21 2006 - 08:12 AM

Back in 2002 there was a lot of talk about a series of Bela Lugosi DVDs released through Navarre and authorized by the Bela Lugosi Estate and his son, and used clean 35mm sources. There were two titles released and that was it even though Bela Lugosi, Jr. showed clips of others in the works that never made the light of day as part of the DVD extras.

What happened to this project?

Eric

#2 of 57 OFFLINE   dana martin

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Posted January 21 2006 - 11:55 AM

Uncertain, i know for a fact that for over a year now, the "official" web site has had the under construction going on, but also in the past year there has been the Lugosi Collection, and of course he does comedy in the Garbo film Ninotchka, maybe this year we will be lucky and WB will release Lugosi's 8 Monogram pictures
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#3 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 21 2006 - 01:13 PM

I also noticed the web site not being active. And, I tried contacting Lugosi, Jr. since he is an attorney in California and has an e-mail address but got no reply back. I know he is tight-fisted with his father's work so maybe the deal wasn't as good as he liked and after 2 movies, just dropped the whole thing?

I thought Monogram movies were public domain so doubt Warner will release them unless I am missing something here about that studio? I know that The Roan Group released some Karloff Monogram movies and did "print" restorations.

#4 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 21 2006 - 01:21 PM

Also forgot to mention something that was a bit puzzling. "The Devil Bat" was the first Lugosi Estate release yet Lugosi, Jr. in the commentary said it was a horrid movie and a total waste of his father's talents. If he felt that way "why" did they choose this title as the first to officially release? Does it sound like Jr. had a reason behind his comments?

#5 of 57 OFFLINE   dana martin

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Posted January 22 2006 - 12:29 AM

I know that WB stated that this year they were releasing a huge box of Bowery boys/dead end kids/east side kids- thought that most of those were monagrams??? stands to reason, not sure what is public domain for some of the smaller studios; i think they do own the PRC movies though.

But while i am at it, i have a question concerning PD films, for a long time it's a wonderful life was pd but now it is not, i wonder if there is a way for Lugosi, Jr to do what Harold Lloyd's family did and arrange a deal that way with one of the major studios, is a given that it would sale,
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#6 of 57 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted January 22 2006 - 05:00 AM

Lugosi, Jr. doesn't know a thing about his fathers work, which leads to various stupid comments on his parts. You can go to the Classic Horror Film Board and read what some people have said. Lugosi, Jr. wants to protect his father's name but he really doesn't know too much about his work. His comments on those commentaries sound just like him yet he probably doesn't realize that Lugosi (in reality) had very few good roles. I've seen nearly all of his films (that aren't lost) and for the most part his roles were like THE APE MAN.

As for the DVDs, they probably bombed for a number of reasons including the fact that these were NOT taken from 35mm elements. From what I've read there are better quality releases out there. Everyone I've spoken to have said the commentary tracks were horrid and offered fans nothing they didn't already know so this here is probably another reason.

I doubt a major studio would touch these because Fox, Warner, Universal and Columbia still own Lugosi titles, which they haven't released to DVD yet. They've got some titles that they've NEVER released to home video. If they aren't going to release those titles I doubt they'd bother with the PD films. Anchor Bay was asked if they'd be interested in doing them and they said no as well.

#7 of 57 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted January 22 2006 - 06:11 AM

Quote:
Lugosi, Jr. doesn't know a thing about his fathers work, which leads to various stupid comments on his parts.

He may not know much about his dad's work, but he knew more about his dad than Tim Burton did. Posted Image

Anyway, the talk has been that this series will resume at some point. "When", I don't know for sure. But the talk is that INVISIBLE GHOST would be next.

The main problem with these things being successful is that they're already available so many times on so many other PD labels that there has to be something more special to entice the hardcore Bela Lugosi fans.

#8 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 22 2006 - 06:46 AM

Michael... sound about right and why Junior would not answer my e-mail to him? He claimed that the "Bela Lugosi Presents" series would release the largest archive of movies of his father to date including many never released including silents from the 1910s.

The sharpness and clarity of "The Devil Bat" is very good considering. When I zoom in on fine print on title cards at least I can read them clearly which made me think at least these were not 16mm prints but 35mm as the cover says. Yet, you say there are better prints out there.

Can you give me some examples and who has released DVD versions of his budget studio releases through people like Monogram, PRC, Carroll, Golden Gate, Halperin, etc... even some Paramount ones that all I've seen so far are horrid 3rd or 4th generations copies?

Thanks..
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#9 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 22 2006 - 06:51 AM

Quote:
The main problem with these things being successful is that they're already available so many times on so many other PD labels that there has to be something more special to entice the hardcore Bela Lugosi fans.
Joe, that is the truth. But Junior should have done his research and known what the demand (or lack of) would be and should have offered either movies that have never seen the light of day on video or better introduction titles? The extras such as radio shows and expected home movies would be nice touches but better prints from original negatives would be even better! If he has control over his fathers properties (and he is an intellectual property attorney) then he should have or know of where original sources are?

#10 of 57 OFFLINE   Matt Stieg

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Posted January 22 2006 - 07:54 AM

As for the DVDs, they probably bombed for a number of reasons including the fact that these were NOT taken from 35mm elements. From what I've read there are better quality releases out there.

Well, Bowery at Midnight didn't look that impressive, but The Devil Bat is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

The extras such as radio shows and expected home movies would be nice touches but better prints from original negatives would be even better! If he has control over his fathers properties (and he is an intellectual property attorney) then he should have or know of where original sources are?

That'd be great, but I'm sure many of the negatives for these cheap films don't even exist anymore.

#11 of 57 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted January 22 2006 - 08:51 AM

I'm just going by what I've read. Even if THE DEVIL BAT is from 35mm elements they must not be as good as a couple of the 16mm elements out there.

If this series really wanted to do something special then they'd release all three of the silent features that are still out there with Lugosi. All three are public domain and none have been released on DVD (not counting fans putting them on DVD-R). Most of his lost films are lost but there are fragments out there in collector's hands.

Quote:
Can you give me some examples and who has released DVD versions of his budget studio releases through people like Monogram, PRC, Carroll, Golden Gate, Halperin, etc... even some Paramount ones that all I've seen so far are horrid 3rd or 4th generations copies?


For DVD none of them are very good with the exception being BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA, which was released by Image (and then released by Alpha and a few others). With "today's technology", this is the only one that looks good enough for "DVD Days". Most people will mention Roan but, as with ZOMBIE, TENEBRE and other Argento titles, these transfers were done for LD days and they show their age. New transfers are needed even for these films but it's doubtful Troma will do anything with these.

I've owned various versions and while some are better than others IMO none of them are worth paying too much for. Most of the PD titles look decent enough for the money, although for WHITE ZOMBIE you'll want the Roan disc. For the rest I'd say get the best value. Case in point would be one of those 50 movie sets. Again, EVERY PD studio has released these so it's doubtful anyone else will.

Columbia owns the rights to THE BLACK SLEEP, which should mean a great DVD if they ever release it. Warner still owns a couple (The Black Camel, Mark of the Vampire) while Universal owns three or four more. Fox owns two.

#12 of 57 OFFLINE   dana martin

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Posted January 22 2006 - 10:00 AM

I have the Roan title, and as good as it is it could be remastered, but the problem is in the marketing, case in point i think that the Lugosi's sets, would out sale Karloff's, granted he didn't have the greatest choices in material, but did what he could with what was there. it's sad to see how he was original pigeon holed to the smaller studios during her career and now it's happening again
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#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted January 22 2006 - 12:50 PM

THE BLACK CAMEL (1931) was at one time rumored to be on Bela Jr.'s list of potential releases. Obviously this never happened and as Michael said, it is owned by Warners (even though it was originally produced by Fox).

A fairly good print of this ran on AMC back in the 80s but the film has disappeared from TV since. Supposedly only a handful of prints of this film survive.

I've written Warners requesting that this be considered for eventual release. It's a great role for Lugosi and is a very enjoyable film. Robert Young also has a decent part in his first credited role.

Quote:
I know that WB stated that this year they were releasing a huge box of Bowery boys/dead end kids/east side kids- thought that most of those were monagrams??? stands to reason, not sure what is public domain for some of the smaller studios; i think they do own the PRC movies though.


Warner stated that they are releasing the BB in collections starting in 2006. They did not state anything about the ESK or DEK. The original DEK movie (Dead End) isn't even in their library (MGM owns it and they've released it on DVD). The BB films are under copyright. Most, if not all, ESK films are public domain. The Dead End Kids were mostly Warner Brothers films. Regarding the PRC films, I've been advised that an outfit called "Films Around the World" owns those films now. A google search should turn up more about them.

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#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted January 22 2006 - 01:24 PM

It's still a mystery to who owns the rights to certain films. Apparently (or rumored) Warner owns the rights to RETURN OF THE APE MAN and VOODOO MAN but of course they've never released them on home video. A few years ago a different company claimed they had the rights to these two titles and tried selling them to smaller companies like Anchor Bay and so on. No one bought them of course. It's strange because SOMEONE must own these two films and they're the only ones that haven't been released by the PD companies. I've got copies of both but there aren't any studio labels on the prints to say who owns them. Posted Image

I guess someone could ask at the next Warner chat but I do have a hard time believing Warner owns these unless they bought the rights back in the 40's to show these under one of their bigger titles.

#15 of 57 OFFLINE   dana martin

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Posted January 22 2006 - 02:04 PM

Thanks steve for the info,
Warner stated that they are releasing the BB in collections starting in 2006. They did not state anything about the ESK or DEK. The original DEK movie (Dead End) isn't even in their library (MGM owns it and they've released it on DVD). The BB films are under copyright. Most, if not all, ESK films are public domain. The Dead End Kids were mostly Warner Brothers films. Regarding the PRC films, I've been advised that an outfit called "Films Around the World" owns those films now. A google search should turn up more about them.

know that dead end was released haven't picked it up yet

thought ESK were done around same time, i know mix them up some times

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#16 of 57 ONLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted January 23 2006 - 01:54 AM

I was the first to master DEVIL BAT from 35mm materials, and that was done in the early 90's. I had found a nitrate dupe negative, but it was missing reel 3 of the picture negative. I had to take that section from an original 16mm print. My master was released (along with SCARED TO DEATH) by Lumivision on laser, and later DVD.

Roan copied my transfer and took credit for the restoration on their DVD release. I wonder if this transfer on the "authorized" edition is the same one that I did for Lumivision? It's easy to tell, as the picture quality goes down for that one reel. (I still had 35mm for the track however, so the audio quality stays the same.)

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#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 23 2006 - 02:03 AM

Bob... I'll take a look again at the Lugosi version and see if the transfer changes on reel 3. BTW... how was the transfer on "Scared to Death" that you did for Roan? I heard that it wasn't in very good shape but wonder about the colors as well.

Thanks!
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#18 of 57 ONLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted January 23 2006 - 02:19 AM

Eric, I didn't do a thing for Cary Roan. He took my restoration transfers and claimed that he did the work himself. There's a BIG difference between researching and digging through files and film vaults for months to find material, and simply dubbing someone elses transfer.

My SCARED TO DEATH transfer was fantastic. It was taken from a lab mint (never projected) nitrate 35mm Cinecolor print.

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#19 of 57 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted January 23 2006 - 02:36 AM

Bob, are you saying that Roan took your Devil Bat work or both Devil Bat and Scared to Death from Lumivison transfers?

#20 of 57 ONLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted January 23 2006 - 02:51 AM

Yes, I'm sorry to say that's what he did. He also took my AFRICA SCREAMS and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK restoration transfers without my knowledge or permission.

Eric, when you put a lot of your personal time into finding the best surviving film elements; pull favors to do the best possible transfers from 35mm materials when working on a tiny budget; and actually dip into your own modest finances to help push a project through to completion; it's VERY frustrating to see somebody else simply copy your work and then take credit for it!

That's why I stopped putting effort into locating and restoring public domain films from 35mm elements.

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