Operation: Laserdisc has been part of THE CINEMA LASER since I began publishing it in 1991. Over the years this write in campaign has helped get a number of films released on Laserdisc. However, times do change and the Laserdisc marketplace has begun to dry up. Pioneer is the only company that still makes Laserdisc players, and those are combination units that include DVD playback. That is why Operation: Laserdisc is being transformed into Operation: DVD. Sure titles are still being released on Laserdisc, but it appears that new releases have become the main staple of the Laserdisc release schedule. The DVD format is now getting the big push and is the medium where collectors will now have the greatest success with write in campaigns.
With a touch of nostalgia in mind, I decided inaugurate Operation: DVD the very same way that Operation: Laserdisc began in 1991. The first Operation: DVD objective will feature films from the Hammer film library. HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY are three of the most significant horror films ever made. By the mid-1950s horror cinema had just about dried up an blown away, that is until Hammer, a small independent British production company, decided to take a chance by reinventing the characters that Universal Studios had their greatest success with in the 1930s. Not only were HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY hugely successful for Hammer, serving as the foundation upon which they built their horror dynasty, these three films served as the catalyst to reinvigorate the entire horror genre- turning it commercially viable once again. What set these three films apart from most other horror movies was the meticulous craftsmanship and care that went into each production, despite relatively small budgets. Each film featured strong lead performances by Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as well as outstanding direction by Terence Fisher. These films were a credit to the genre; playing the horror very straight, without a hint of parody. They also were the first horror films to have a graphic nature, displaying blood and gore in shocking color. In the 1950s, HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY caused quite an uproar with both critics and audiences alike. Prior to these three Hammer horror classics all the violence contained in such films took place off screen. Despite the initial shock of seeing quite a bit of red liquid oozing across the screen, not to mention severed limbs and internal organs, audiences flocked to see Hammers new brand of horror. While these three films gave birth to numerous sequels and imitators, HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY remain amongst the genre's best.
Operation: DVD wants to draw attention to the Hammer library in general, but the specific goal of this campaign is to get HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY released on DVD. Considering the fine work that William Lustig has done in conjunction with Elite Entertainment, on other Hammer titles, it isnt too much to hope that Warner Home Video can be convinced to release HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY on DVD with a few bells and whistles. If independent companies can offer the Hammer films the type of attention they deserve, a major studio, such as Warner should be able to do the same. At the minimum, HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY should be offered on DVD in their proper aspect ratios with 16:9 anamorphic enhanced transfers. These transfers should be made from Hammers best, complete and uncut elements. Unfortunately, Peter Cushing and Terence Fisher are no longer with us, but Christopher Lee has demonstrated his willingness to provide audio commentaries on Laserdiscs and DVDs. Having Christopher Lee talk about these three films is not an opportunity that should be allowed to pass by.
If you would like to see HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY released on DVD in their proper aspect ratios, please contact:
Warner Home Video
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-1543
Web Site: http://www.dvdwb.com
You can also add the recommendation that if Warner is unwilling to release HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY on DVD the titles can be licensed to Anchor Bay Entertainment. I am sure that Anchor Bay would be more than happy to release these important Hammer classics.
If you would like to see the entire Hammer library released on DVD, please visit the special Hammer Films On DVD section of THE CINEMA LASER web site. This section includes a Hammer filmography and is broken down by which companies control the video rights to particular films in the Hammer catalog.
Please take the time to support your fellow collectors with Operation: DVD objectives. When DVD collectors present a unified front, things really do happen. Please send your suggestions for future Operation: DVD objectives to my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Note: Warner has released HORROR OF DRACULA or CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN on DVD 16:9 enhanced wide screen without any signifcant extras. Fans may purchase copies of each from Amazon.com by clicking on their respective covers:
Please Note: Warner Home Video has since released a movie only edition of THE MUMMY on DVD. Our review can be found HERE.
At present HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN are still missing in action. Your support is still required to get the rest of the Hammer titles released on DVD. Please purchase a copy of THE MUMMY on DVD, to convince Warner that there is indeed market for their Hammer titles.
Please note: On 04/18/2000, Warner Home Video participated in an on-line chat with The Home Theater Forum. When asked about a possible DVD release of HORROR OF DRACULA, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY Warner Home Video had the following to say:
"HORROR OF DRACULA, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY (1959) are 4th Qtr 2001 possibilities."
Since this doesn't really confirm that HORROR OF DRACULA, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY will be released on DVD, it is still important that each and every Hammer fan take the time to contact Warner Home Video and request that these film are given the attention they deserve on DVD.