Warner Archive has attempted to work their magic with the easily attainable elements, as worked upon by the BFI, and fans should be thrilled. 4 Stars

When [Horror of] Dracula was released, in 1958, its director Terence Fisher, was doing B pictures, and a spate of horror films / thrillers, for Hammer.

Although Horror of Dracula, as it was released here in the Colonies is generally consider to be the creme de la creme of the series, it’s still very much a high-end B production, by studio standards. It had rather inexpensive effects, and from an acting perspective, now (at least to my eyes) seems nicely over-acted.

What it did, was to make a star our of the 6’5″ “discovery”, Christopher Lee, then in his mid-30s, who had been playing bit and small roles in films, and had previously play the monster in Mr. Fisher’s Curse of Frankenstein.

From an archival perspective, Horror of Dracula has been rather problematic. It’s a huge fan favorite, had apparently been over-printed, with a handful of deletions to meet different censorship requirements, and even with (finally) a superior Blu-ray version, that solves many of the color timing issues, still appears to need a proper restoration from the OCN.

While color works nicely, I’m seeing a decided loss of shadow detail in many scenes, along with an image that might be sharper, if attained from a superior element.

It’s an odd one.

And while I don’t wish to denigrate the work performed, feel that for the record, need to make the point that it isn’t quite there yet.

Warner Archive has attempted to work their magic with the easily attainable elements, as worked upon by the BFI, and fans should be thrilled.

Image – 3.75

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Certainly

Recommended

RAH

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Robert Harris

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Peter Apruzzese

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With this release, as well as the last two Hammer Dracula titles, The Sea Hawk, and The Thing, it looks like Warner Archive has relaxed slightly its "perfection or nothing" stance. While I'm sure they will come under criticism for it, I cautiously applaud them for accelerating their release schedule and getting these desired titles out on Blu-ray.
 

Robert Harris

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With this release, as well as the last two Hammer Dracula titles, The Sea Hawk, and The Thing, it looks like Warner Archive has relaxed slightly its "perfection or nothing" stance. While I'm sure they will come under criticism for it, I cautiously applaud them for accelerating their release schedule and getting these desired titles out on Blu-ray.
Disagree.

I don’t believe that Sea Hawk and Thing can be improved.

Sea Hawk, is for the most part, gorgeous.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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Disagree.

I don’t believe that Sea Hawk and Thing can be improved.

Sea Hawk, is for the most part, gorgeous.
I'm sorry, I wasn't clear in my post. I'm happy they're considering releasing titles that are less than A+ condition. The fact that Sea Hawk & The Thing have little to no room left for improvement shows they've done their work and we're the better for it. While it would be great if Horror of Dracula got the full restoration it appears to warrant, it's good they've released what they have to satisfy the fans who've been waiting for it.
 

aPhil

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Just a note of correction on ". . . Christopher Lee, then 38, . . . "

Lee was 35 when filming "Horror of Dracula," as he was born in May 1922
and
Dracula aka Horror of Dracula was filmed several months prior to his 36th birthday in 1958.
 

tanaleaf

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Does it contain any of the additional (brief) long-deleted disintegration footage discovered in Japan a while back?
 
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JohnMor

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It was England, so maybe 38 is in metric years. :P
But the English were on the um English system until 1965 ...

But the "New Math" started in the 1950s ... ;)
Don’t forget they drive on the wrong side of the road over there. That’s GOT to age a person dramatically. :D
 

B-ROLL

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Don’t forget they drive on the wrong side of the road over there. That’s GOT to age a person dramatically. :D
Perhaps he was using the Victoria Principal/Charo method of determining one's birth-date ;)
 
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Ken_Martinez

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I'm sorry, I wasn't clear in my post. I'm happy they're considering releasing titles that are less than A+ condition. The fact that Sea Hawk & The Thing have little to no room left for improvement shows they've done their work and we're the better for it. While it would be great if Horror of Dracula got the full restoration it appears to warrant, it's good they've released what they have to satisfy the fans who've been waiting for it.
I wonder/hope if this means that films that don't have pristine elements are no longer off-the table for a Blu-Ray now. There are a number of 1930's films that would benefit from this.
 

Reed Grele

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Does this transfer use the US title "Horror of Dracula" or the restored UK "Dracula" with the fancy "D"?

Also, was this sourced from the BFI restoration, with the only difference being the color timing?
 

Bryan^H

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And while I don't wish to denigrate the work performed, feel that for the record, need to make the point that it isn't quite there yet.

Warner Archive has attempted to work their magic with the easily attainable elements, as worked upon by the BFI, and fans should be thrilled.
Damn!
 

tanaleaf

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Still very anxious to know whether this release also contains any of the brief additional long-deleted disintegration footage discovered in Japan a while back... or not....
 

Will Krupp

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Still very anxious to know whether this release also contains any of the brief additional long-deleted disintegration footage discovered in Japan a while back... or not....
It's somewhat confusing because, if they used the BFI restoration only then no, it won't, because the existing Japanese reels were only used in the expanded Hammer restoration. The existing UK disc has both versions on it but RAH mentions Warner using the BFI as a basis.

There are few additional seconds from the Japanese reels that Hammer didn't include in it's restoration and I wouldn't hold out too much hope of those appearing.
 

John Hodson

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The Warner press release is reasonably unambiguous:

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Britain's premier masters of the macabre, bring the Horror of Dracula to vivid, full-color death in this retelling of Bram Stoker's spellbinding vampire tale. Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old Transylvanian nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, regularly finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count's implacable foe in a deadly game of bat-and-mouse. This is the UK version titled "DRACULA", and featuring footage previously restored by the British Film Institute and Hammer Films. Warner Archive's new release restores the original color palette of the film, using dye-transfer Technicolor prints as reference, and has been meticulously cleaned of film-related damage for a superior presentation.

The dread is here – as are the power and pathos of this genre landmark by which Hammer Studios ushered in a new era of screen chills from classic evildoers. Tremble through that era again. Unleash the horror. Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • NEW REMASTER SOURCED FROM THE HAMMER/BFI RESTORATION OF THE FILM
  • Original UK Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature
 
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haineshisway

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Are there two UK Blu-rays or one? I have one from Lionsgate - I assume that's what everyone is talking about. On the other board, one particularly dim person is still going on and on about how the BFI color timing is baked into the scan so Warners couldn't really fix it. Color timing isn't baked into a scan - a scan is raw and then work is done on it. These people are beyond help.