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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:37 pm
by Florinaldo
I received the Hammer Volume 4 a few days ago and it looks very good alongside its older siblings, standing out with its lighter color. As usual an excellent job of physical packaging.

I am dismayed ( :wink: ) by one aspect though. Every time I look at the list of extras on a disc's back cover I wonder when I will find the time to watch it all, on top of all the other valued new titles from Indicator and other labels! Which leads me to wonder how much of such a stacked release reviewers really take the time to watch. Some are honest enough to state that they will catch up with all the contents eventually, but others seem to imply they have watched it all (although they sometimes just repeat the publisher's listings). Don't these people ever sleep?

I have only had time to browse through the booklets (nice assortment of essays and relevant archival material) and to check each disc to make sure it is playable; the differences between the titles which did get a restoration and those that were simply upscaled is noticeable, although not a deal-breaker.

Once again, good work all around from that label.

When I opened the parcel, I though Indicator had sent me an early Christmas card, but the big black envelope contained the bonus poster for those who order directly from them. On one side a garish Revenge of Frankenstein and a bland The Two Faces of Dr jekyll on the other. I am sorry they did not use the one from the US release of The Damned with the creepy girl and her equally strange doll; that one I might have put on a wall somewhere.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:37 am
by tenia
I read all the books or booklets but otherwise barely watched extras, even for reviews. I simply list them as thoroughly as I can but can't do more. It's probably even worse when they're so numerous : I might check a lone extra in order to "tick" a disc as 100% watched, but when they're that numerous, I usually don't watch any.
But count on me to rant when there aren't many extras !

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:46 am
by Altair
I too have reached the stage where I will seldom watch extras, unless they're there to explain varient versions or are a visual essay which seems worthwhile. At this point I value watching new films, rather than spending days for diminishing returns going through a disc's complete contents.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:02 am
by MichaelB
Florinaldo wrote:I am dismayed by one aspect though. Every time I look at the list of extras on a disc's back cover I wonder when I will find the time to watch it all, on top of all the other valued new titles from Indicator and other labels! Which leads me to wonder how much of such a stacked release reviewers really take the time to watch. Some are honest enough to state that they will catch up with all the contents eventually, but others seem to imply they have watched it all (although they sometimes just repeat the publisher's listings). Don't these people ever sleep?
Gloriously, one “reviewer” once “reviewed” - as in criticised, not merely described - an interview that didn’t actually exist! It was announced in the press release, but then had to be cancelled because the interviewee unfortunately fell ill and we couldn’t reschedule in time. I already had pretty strong suspicions about just how much this guy bothered to watch the discs that he was sent, but that was a particularly impressive bit of self-ownage.

As for reviewers who do clearly watch everything properly, CineOutsider would be my primary recommendation. They’re always apologising for late reviews, but it takes time to do it properly - and their reviews of the Indicator Hammer sets (volumes one, two, three and four) are the most comprehensive out there.
I have only had time to browse through the booklets (nice assortment of essays and relevant archival material) and to check each disc to make sure it is playable; the differences between the titles which did get a restoration and those that were simply upscaled is noticeable, although not a deal-breaker.
I’m sure you didn’t mean to write “upscaled”, but I just thought I’d make it absolutely clear that all four features are natively high definition.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:40 am
by tenia
Altair wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:46 am
I too have reached the stage where I will seldom watch extras, unless they're there to explain varient versions or are a visual essay which seems worthwhile. At this point I value watching new films, rather than spending days for diminishing returns going through a disc's complete contents.
That's pretty much my rationale too : I prioritize movies over extras, very simply, but make (rare) exceptions.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:55 am
by MichaelB
It never ceases to astound me what people will find to complain about! Mind you, the Emperor Franz Josef II thought that Mozart wrote "too many notes" (one of the few aspects of Amadeus that really does seem to be based on historical fact), so the Indicator boxes are in excellent company.

Of course, going barebones these days is pretty much a recipe for irrelevance - as streaming services bite an even bigger chunk out of the physical media market, and the quality gap becomes less and less noticeable, intelligent curation and contextualisation will be the thing that keeps physical media alive.

Of course, I stress the word "intelligent" here - there's nothing more tedious than having to QC a disc whose extras consist mostly or entirely of ephemeral EPK fluff - but with these Hammer boxes virtually all the extras had to be created from scratch because there was so little available off the shelf (a couple of commentaries for volume three, and the Jimmy Sangster archival interviews on Taste of Fear), which had the happy by-product of being able to apply very consistent quality control. Besides the two Sangster interviews, I'm very pleasantly surprised by how little information overlap there was - even the two commentaries on Revenge of Frankenstein have their own distinct takes.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:09 am
by Dr Amicus
Extras are something I value in theory - but find myself rarely with the time to properly appreciate them. Certainly where the film is in an area I find particularly interesting, or it's a Dr Who release, I will double dip in extremis. Indeed, one problem I have is that I will often watch extras on my laptop (we only have one tv in the house) which doesn't have a BluRay drive - so I've watched a lot of extras from my Dr Who DVDs, very few from any Blu Rays.

But I'd echo MichaelB's comments above - EPK it-was-wonderful-working-with-X nonsense is a waste of time, proper analyses / interviews are a different matter. As I keep meaning to return to my PhD Thesis (on Amicus & Hammer), I'm particularly keen to dig in to these extras when I have the chance - the contributors are exactly the people I would want to see on Hammer related extras.

As a final question - has anyone ever managed to get David Pirie to contribute? His Heritage of Horror was (and remains) a cornerstone for critical approaches to Hammer and British horror in general.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:42 am
by tenia
MichaelB wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:55 am
It never ceases to astound me what people will find to complain about! Mind you, the Emperor Franz Josef II thought that Mozart wrote "too many notes" (one of the few aspects of Amadeus that really does seem to be based on historical fact), so the Indicator boxes are in excellent company.
I don't think it's not a complain, but that "dismayed" was written as a jest.
I'm quite certain I'm not the only one despising bare-bones releases while not having the time at all to watch most of the extras most boutique labels include, and finding it frustrating in a way having so much to see and so little time to do so.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:35 am
by Florinaldo
MichaelB wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:02 am
I’m sure you didn’t mean to write “upscaled”, but I just thought I’d make it absolutely clear that all four features are natively high definition.
You are quite correct: "upscaled" was not the appropriate technical term. I should have said that two of the titles are HD remasters, whereas the other two are 2K and 4K restorations, the latter two looking sharper judging from the minute or two I watched from each of the four films.

Amusing anecdote about the reviewer who commented on a non-existent feature. CineOutsider is indeed a reliable site, which I regularly refer to.
tenia wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 6:42 am
I don't think it's not a complain, but that "dismayed" was written as a jest.
I thought that all the gushing I wrote about this release made it clear that the word was used with ironic intent. I may edit in an emoji to make it more obvious.

I love a stacked disc, as long as the extra features are relevant or substantive and enhance my appreciation of a film, which not all labels make a point of doing. Some like to fill the disc with meandering and pointless reminiscences. I remember listening to the younger cast audio commentary on the first part of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and thinking "are people really interested in this drivel?".

This Indicator release is not only exemplary in using reliable and always interesting contributors, at least judging from their past contributions, but it goes the extra kilometer (or two).

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92 Hammer Volumes 1-4: Fear Warning, Criminal Intent, Blood & Terror, Faces of Fear

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:44 pm
by GaryC
For my reviews for The Digital Fix, I do watch (or listen to) everything on the disc, plus the booklet if there is one, and I will try to obtain a copy of that booklet if one isn't supplied for review. I will try to describe each extra to some extent in a review of 2000 words or so. (For various reasons, reviews much longer than that, let alone multipart reviews of box sets are generally a thing of the past.) I've reviewed only one Indicator release, which was Age of Consent for Australia Day this year.

For Black Static, that's a column of around 6000 words max in a print magazine, in which I will have as many as 20+ different titles to cover, so extras don't get watched for review and are listed in the as part of the column.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:31 am
by MichaelB
Bounced firstly to highlight the announcement of Hammer Volume 5: Death & Deceit, and also to flag up that for the first time in Indicator's Hammer series this box has to be locked to Region B. Apologies for this, but it's completely outside their control (short of not licensing the films at all, which seemed a tad extreme).

Oh, and Powerhouse has issued low stock warnings for volumes 1 and 2 (the former is now down to fewer than 150 copies remaining).

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 7:05 am
by Dr Amicus
I've only seen of these, Pirates of Blood River (on an old pan & scan copy years ago) so this looks like another must buy. I'm particularly pleased to see two features on Gilling, he always seem overshadowed by Fisher and Francis in most discussions on Hammer (apart from the Cornish duo).

Also, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but is there any chance of some of Hammer's short films being included? I don't know what state they're in, but the old DD releases often included one as an extra.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:21 am
by Glowingwabbit
MichaelB wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:31 am
Bounced firstly to highlight the announcement of Hammer Volume 5: Death & Deceit, and also to flag up that for the first time in Indicator's Hammer series this box has to be locked to Region B. Apologies for this, but it's completely outside their control (short of not licensing the films at all, which seemed a tad extreme).

Oh, and Powerhouse has issued low stock warnings for volumes 1 and 2 (the former is now down to fewer than 150 copies remaining).
On the blu-ray forum it looks like Indicator is now saying the whole box will be Region B Locked. Which isn't a big deal, as I don't understand why anyone would be importing titles but not have a region free player.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:39 am
by KJones77
Anybody have any thoughts on the titles in this set? I like the premises but they all seem to have mixed reviews or are so unknown that they have no opinions about them either way.

Curious if anyone here has happened to see some or all of the titles and can speak to their quality.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:21 am
by HitchcockLang
Glowingwabbit wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:21 am
MichaelB wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 6:31 am
Bounced firstly to highlight the announcement of Hammer Volume 5: Death & Deceit, and also to flag up that for the first time in Indicator's Hammer series this box has to be locked to Region B. Apologies for this, but it's completely outside their control (short of not licensing the films at all, which seemed a tad extreme).

Oh, and Powerhouse has issued low stock warnings for volumes 1 and 2 (the former is now down to fewer than 150 copies remaining).
On the blu-ray forum it looks like Indicator is now saying the whole box will be Region B Locked. Which isn't a big deal, as I don't understand why anyone would be importing titles but not have a region free player.
They certainly exist. I import a number of region free titles, especially Indicator titles, and I do not own a region free player. I have looked into it, but it seems more difficult and expensive to acquire one from a reputable seller and the players themselves seem somewhat less reliable than some have suggested. Obviously if it were that easy, everyone would have a region free player. I am disappointed by the region locking of this Hammer box (as I love the other four) but I understand it was out of Indicator's control (though I expected the remaining Sony titles--including The Pirates of Blood River--to make up one last region free hurrah before moving on to StudioCanal titles).

I wonder why Pirates is being region locked instead of being offered as a single region free disc in an otherwise locked box (like the inverse of the Castle vol. 2 box) or hasn't been programmed alongside other films that could be offered region free. Nevertheless, I will continue to support Indicator whenever they do release great region free releases. Can't wait for Night Tide.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:42 am
by MichaelB
HitchcockLang wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:21 am
I wonder why Pirates is being region locked instead of being offered as a single region free disc in an otherwise locked box (like the inverse of the Castle vol. 2 box) or hasn't been programmed alongside other films that could be offered region free.
Maybe you could suggest a thematically coherent Volume 5 based on the Columbia Hammer titles that haven't already been released? Because to my eyes there's no way that such a thing isn't going to look like a completely random grab-bag - whereas adding StudioCanal's The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar to Sony's The Pirates of Blood River makes perfect sense.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:30 am
by NABOB OF NOWHERE
Are these boxsets unassailably integral or can we expect something like The Damned receiving a stand alone release in the future? Apologies if this has been clarified before but I can't find a relevant post.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:47 am
by MichaelB
As with the Harryhausen sets, once the boxes sell out they'll get individual releases - I don't yet know if every title will get a standalone release, but I'd say that The Damned is a pretty safe bet. (Although this version won't include the booklet, the reversible sleeve or the additional disc with the 87-minute UK theatrical cut.)

Thus far it looks as though sales are progressing at a similar rate to the Harryhausen boxes, two of which took just over two years to sell out - Hammer Volume 1 is likely to go OOP before too long, and Volume 2 was recently added to the low stock alert list.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:55 am
by Florinaldo
HitchcockLang wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:21 am
I import a number of region free titles, especially Indicator titles, and I do not own a region free player. I have looked into it, but it seems more difficult and expensive to acquire one from a reputable seller and the players themselves seem somewhat less reliable than some have suggested.
If you do a search on the various Amazon sites (.co, .co.uk, .ca), you will find several multi-zone relatively affordable players from various brands like LG, Panasonic or Sony. I bought one (an LG) in expectation of the time my Oppo dezoned player will eventually conk out since the manufacturer has stopped making them. I now use this newer (and less expensive) one for Region B discs, avoiding the need to switch regions on my main Oppo player. These dezoned players are generally not of high-end Hi-Fi variety though; if that is your preference, then you might indeed have trouble finding one. I find the video and audio quite satisfactory.

Although previous sets were not really very uniform as far as genre or tone (the Gorgon, Maniac, Mummy's Tomb and Fanatic combination on Vol. 1 for example), this next one seems even more disparate and the films are certainly less well known (except perhaps for the pirate title and the roundheads movie). Which may mean some interesting discoveries, especially since Indicator has once again not skimped on bonus material.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:58 am
by swo17
MichaelB wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:42 am
HitchcockLang wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:21 am
I wonder why Pirates is being region locked instead of being offered as a single region free disc in an otherwise locked box (like the inverse of the Castle vol. 2 box) or hasn't been programmed alongside other films that could be offered region free.
Maybe you could suggest a thematically coherent Volume 5 based on the Columbia Hammer titles that haven't already been released? Because to my eyes there's no way that such a thing isn't going to look like a completely random grab-bag - whereas adding StudioCanal's The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar to Sony's The Pirates of Blood River makes perfect sense.
I think he was just wishing for the same box but with the one Columbia title being on a region-free disc

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:43 pm
by MichaelB
Florinaldo wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:55 am
Although previous sets were not really very uniform as far as genre or tone (the Gorgon, Maniac, Mummy's Tomb and Fanatic combination on Vol. 1 for example),
Volume 1 isn't a particularly good example, as it's the others that are much more tightly integrated - black and white thrillers (vol 2), melodramas with a background of conflict between Britain and Japan/India/China (vol 3) and horror with a distinct sci-fi element (three of the titles in volume 4).
this next one seems even more disparate and the films are certainly less well known (except perhaps for the pirate title and the roundheads movie).
Granted, I have the advantage of actually having watched all four films, but it seems to me that no other Indicator Hammer box set has a trio as thematically and stylistically congruent as The Pirates of Blood River, The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar, all of which were made by the same director in a very similar style - which is basically "energetic adventure romp in a clearly defined historical/geographical setting". And that description also applies to Visa to Canton - possibly more so now than it did then because its 1960 setting has now become "historical" in its own right.

Certainly, it's a far more coherent line-up than anything that would have been possible using just the remaining Columbia titles.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:22 pm
by soundchaser
This is tangential at best to the discussion, but "Yes, We Have No Piranhas" might very well be my favorite extras title of all time.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:29 pm
by MichaelB
We're cheating slightly, as the U-certificate version isn't completely piranha-free, but it's certainly massively toned down from the X-certificate version.

The differences are essentially:

X - the full piranha sequence, complete with victim struggling in the river in a great cloud of her own blood;
A - most of the piranha sequence, stopping short of any actual blood;
U - the absolute barest minimum footage needed to get the point across.

In his memoirs, the BBFC's John Trevelyan singled out this title as the only instance he could recall of a film that started out with an X certificate that ultimately went out as a U. Although in fairness it was always a pretty mild X - its current 12 cert is pretty much bang on.

Incidentally, to answer the obvious follow-up query, we're not including multiple versions because the cuts are distributed regularly throughout the film, which makes it very hard to seamlessly branch them without including lots of additional video segments, and it's quite a full disc anyway in terms of video supplements.

(Oh, and for those unfamiliar with early 1960s British film classifications, an X banned anyone under sixteen, an A admitted under-sixteens if they were accompanied by an adult, and a U admitted anyone. The closest equivalents today are 15, 12A and U.)

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:42 am
by Florinaldo
MichaelB wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:43 pm
Volume 1 isn't a particularly good example, as it's the others that are much more tightly integrated - black and white thrillers (vol 2), melodramas with a background of conflict between Britain and Japan/India/China (vol 3) and horror with a distinct sci-fi element (three of the titles in volume 4).
(...)
Granted, I have the advantage of actually having watched all four films, but it seems to me that no other Indicator Hammer box set has a trio as thematically and stylistically congruent as The Pirates of Blood River, The Scarlet Blade and The Brigand of Kandahar, all of which were made by the same director in a very similar style - which is basically "energetic adventure romp in a clearly defined historical/geographical setting". And that description also applies to Visa to Canton - possibly more so now than it did then because its 1960 setting has now become "historical" in its own right.
Of course, people tend to prefer examples that buttress their thesis. Just as one's criteria can often be stretched and tailored to fit the point being made, as for example to relative unity in genre or in style of the films in a particular box set. That being said I would say that Vol. 4 is in my view as heterogeneous as Vol. 1 (I see little in common between Losey's cautionary SF tale and the horror or psychological suspense titles). On the other hand Vol. 3 could could validly be claimed to at least present an overall geographical unity of place (the vast "Orient") while the films make up two separate groups totally different in tone and in genre.

Such distinctions can also be personal: I have trouble considering the 1960s time period to be equally as "historical" as previous centuries.

But as you say you have the advantage of having seen the four movies, while I have only a dim memory of watching only parts of two of them. We will be in a better position to judge when Vol. 5 becomes available.

Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 136-9, 183-6 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:02 pm
by MichaelB
Florinaldo wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:42 am
Of course, people tend to prefer examples that buttress their thesis.
Only I'm not putting forward a thesis: it is a fact that the films in volumes 2 to 5 were selected on the basis of stylistic and generic similarity. Otherwise you'd have seen boxes with line-ups like, say, The Stranglers of Bombay, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, The Damned and Visa to Canton - just as contractually possible, but clearly completely random.

Obviously, the availability of some titles but not others means that it's not always possible to achieve a perfect blend - for instance, I entirely agree that Devil-Ship Pirates would have worked better than Visa to Canton in volume 5, and this undoubtedly would have happened had it been available - but for the most part it's been pulled off pretty successfully. You can certainly characterise volume 2 as "the black-and-white thriller one", volume 3 as "the Asian one", volume 4 as "the horror one" and volume 5 as "the adventure one" without too much controversy.