Hammer fans are certainly in for a treat this year as StudioCanal unveil the results of their restoration project with the studio. A total of 30 films are currently being given the love and attention they have long craved for in a joint effort to restore Hammer's back catalogue being coordinated between StudioCanal and major studios such as Warner, Columbia and Fox. Dracula Prince of Darkness is the first fruit of this labour to see release on dual format Blu-ray and DVD, following on from StudioCanal's splendid high-definition release of Quatermass and the Pit last year.

Released in January 1966, on a double-bill with another highly regarded Hammer classic Plague of the Zombies, it was one of a package of films that Hammer produced in association with 20th Century Fox, Associated British and Seven-Arts and their recently signed combined contract ensured that Hammer remained in production throughout 1965 and 1966. Fox would release the films in the American market while the deal with Associated British would see Hammer product released through their ABC chain of cinemas. In the summer of 1965, four films squeezed into the modest stages of Bray Studios, keeping the facility busy at a time when it was becoming increasingly expensive to run and because, at the time, Elstree was unavailable. Producer Anthony Nelson Keys wisely saw the economic sense of making Dracula Prince of Darkness back to back with Rasputin - The Mad Monk, using the same sets and a repertory company of actors in both films.

Two of Hammer's rarer features, the historical adventures The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar made their DVD debut recently. Thanks to StudioCanal, you can win both films on DVD in our latest competition. Details below.


The Scarlet Blade, made in 1963, stars Lionel Jeffries, Oliver Reed and Jack Hedley and was directed by John Gilling.

In 1648 the civil war raged in England as the republican Roundheads clash with the Royalists, supporters of the deposed King Charles I. Allegiances split family loyalties, and intrigue, treachery and death overshadowed every household. Set against this troubled background the drama surrounds two families, the Beverlys and the Judds, and the conflicts that they face against each other and themselves.

An unlikely romance blossoms between two people from these opposing camps – one from the Roundheads, the other from the Cavaliers. Colonel Judd (Jeffries), a villainous anti-royalist loyal to Cromwell, is bewildered by his daughter Clare’s (June Thorburn) Royalist sympathies. Judd’s right-hand man Captain Sylvester (Reed) is an enforcer for Cromwell’s parliamentarians and also June’s boyfriend. Much to the consternation of Judd and Sylvester, Clare falls for Edward Beverly aka The Scarlet Blade (Hedley) a dashing Robin Hood figure leading the Royalist rebels.

John Gilling also directed The Brigand of Kandahar, made in 1965, starring Ronald Lewis, Oliver Reed and Duncan Lamont.

1880. British India. Robert Case (Lewis), a mixed race lieutenant, is unjustly discharged from the British Army. He joins the rebel Bengali tribesmen offensive led by Eli Khan (Reed) against the colonial enemy. They capture a foreign journalist and Case recounts his story of false accusation on trumped-up charges, instigated by the bigotry and racism of his commanding officers. Following a successful attack by the British against the rebels, Case is brutally shot by Colonel Drewe (Lamont), his accuser. The journalist returns home determined to report the true story of The Brigand of Kandahar.

Both films are presented in their original 2.35:1 scope ratio.

To win one set of both DVDs just email the answer to the following question, with your name and address:

Which three Hammer horror films did director John Gilling eventually make for the studio? 

COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner Alex Wilcock.

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WORLD CINEMA CLASSICS: The Tin Drum / Blu-Ray Review

It is suggested that the Oberhausen Manifesto, a declaration made by young German filmmakers at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen on 28 February 1962, was the impetus for the New German Cinema movement that rose to prominence between the late 1960s and the 1980s. Among the group that would eventually produce work within that period and would go on to receive international acclaim were Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Volker Schlöndorff and Wim Wenders. The Tin Drum is certainly regarded as Volker Schlöndorff's greatest critical and commercial achievement. It is a key film in the New German Cinema, both epitomising a cinema that Stephen Brockmann, in A Critical History of German Film, describes as showing "the personal implications of politics" and underling the importance and success, with acclaim for The Tin Drum in the form of the Palme d'Or and an Oscar, of a national cinema to West German audiences.


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