Thursday, 27 February 2020

MANY HAPPY RETURNS TO 'THE LOVELY AIMI MACDONALD' BUBBLY CYBERNAUT GIRL!


A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to actress AIMI MACDONALD TODAY! Aimi maybe isn't so well known in other countries, but is face most people over 50 will recognise in the UK , from her acting on tv including The Avengers, The Saint, Man at the Top, Sez Les, Shirley's World, Dixon of Dock Green and Rentaghost. Her appearance in 'The Avengers' (Peter Cushing's "Return of the Cybernauts" in 1967) was as a mini-skirted secretary, Rosie who gets stunned by the Cybernaut!




AIMI'S BLONDE BOBBED hair style and bubbly zany attitude, high squeaky voice, soon made her the go to in several shows in the 60's and 70's. MacDonald came to national attention in 'At Last the 1948' Show, for which she had been spotted by David Frost. At the opening and closing of the show and between longer sketches, she would present short pieces on the theme of her loveliness 😊 




Her excitable, squeaky voice was likened to "a choir of frantic mice" Aimi is still working and still loved and remembered for those shows, 'Rent-a-Ghost' in particular! Do YOU remember Aimi?? Happy Birthday and hope you are having a great day Aimi! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜ƒ
 


 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

INDICATOR GIVES 'REVENGE' THE MEGA TREATMENT IT DESERVES!


A QUICK WANDER through the INDICATOR / POWERHOUSE website, will reveal their stock of past release HAMMER FILM releases and you can't help but be impressed! A NEW REMASTER of any Hammer film, is most welcome, but to offer a PETER CUSHING title with extras and some NEW extras at that, will certainly pique my interest, and almost guaranteed to get me parting with some lolly! When we rubber stamped, what had been up to then, a rumour to now finally announced the excellent news that INDICATOR had not come to the end of their Hammer film box set collections, and were releasing another, we all hoped it would be another collection that included a CUSHING / HAMMER release. HAMMER VOLUME FOUR : FACES OF FEAR, not only brings us a seriously significant and prestigious Hammer Cushing film, but the other THREE Hammer film features along with a mountain of superb extras, presents us with a package were there is seriously something for everyone here and more!


THE FOUR HAMMER TITLES, that INDICATOR have selected for their latest box set, are interesting! The first is a title that hasn't seen much in the way of Hammer home cinema releases on dvd, just three if you include a repeat release in a double feature package in the last fifteen years. Most collectors were  very happy 12 years ago when Sony remastered The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll uncensored at its full uncut length of 88 minutes for the US market. But maybe some of you,will recall it's blu ray twinning with Hammer's The Gorgon, back in 2016, from Mill Creek? The reception on both quality of the blu ray and the overall plot of 'The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll' mixed. Proves some tastes even decades apart don't change, both 'The Gorgon' AND 'Jekyll' were not big rollers even when they had their theatrical releases... despite director Terence Fisher holding fort!


NEXT WE HAVE, Hammer films 'Taste of Fear', maybe the best of the 'Hammer psychological, monochrome thrillers'? Scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster, thought it was the best of his 'psycho-scripts' too! Last in the pack, is what was probably one of Hammer's earliest gambles. in the early days, Hammer liked to switch track and run with whatever was topical or fashion at the time on either radio and or TV, and spin it onto the big screen... but THIS is quite different. For the bringing in of Joseph Losey for director duties, Hammer should have been given a gold star. Among his most critically and commercially successful films were three films with screenplays by Harold Pinter, Accident (1967) The Go-Between (1971) and a film which followed immediately after 'The Damned'  The Servant 1963.   It is Losey's spin on the story of 'The Damned', that makes this makes this another 'stand out' title and inclusion in Indicator's bumper box set.      


BUT FOR US, OUR FOCUSED ATTENTION, is on the Peter Cushing entry 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' blu ray! Hammer films for a long while had hit on the concept of  trawling popular titles of tv and radio shows, and bringing the package along with the casts to the big screen to some profitable results. It was only when they placed their tried and tested formula on the BBC 1953 tv production of   Nigel Kneale's science fiction serial 'The Quatermass Experiment' in 1955, that they saw the potential of box office rewards in a genre that would soon forever change the company identity and lead them on a much rewarding path where creepy equalled cash!

THE PLOT
The scientist manages to escape execution for his twisted experiments and goes into hiding in a hospital for the poor. He is soon at work creating a new monster in which he implants the brain of his deceased assistant. However, his new creation proves impossible to control.


KURT BELL  (UK) : 'An important release because Revenge of Frankenstein is taken from the original negatives, and before this we only had the Mill Creek entertainment blu ray which was only around 10gb on the disc and suffered from compression'.

PETE APRUUZZSE (USA) 'Aside from the obvious improvement in A/V quality for the feature, the extras on 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' Blu-Ray are strong (as they have been on all of the Indicator Hammer releases). A highlight in the series has been the musical analysis segments by David Huckvale, dissecting the film’s score, the composer and his works. Really well done and worthy of extra praise'.

STEPHEN ALEXANDER (UK) 'Having previously owned the old DVD release I can safely say that the Indicator Blu Ray is a monumental improvement on that old disc. The picture quality is superb and fully showcases Jack Asher's Cinematography (Greens and Reds pop out in wonderful detail!),and the Robinson/Mingaye sets can be fully appreciated, details on furnishings might not be something most will concern about, however it goes to highlight just how much better Hammer looked with the incredible small details in focus. Importantly the decision to have the Baron as the continuity character rather than the creature, allowed Hammer scope to extend the series, providing the Baron can escape the Guillotine blade in the opening sequence!Extras are the expected high standard (it was noatsligic for me to see again the old Super 8mm version that I remember buying not a stones-throw away from Hammer House in Wardour St bavknin 1979, at a cost of some £20!!!!!!). For me the behind the scenes reel was the highlight of the supplementary materials. Having any such live archive from that period of Hammer is incredibly rare, it matters not that this reel is silent. A must for Hammer fan's.

DON CUNNINGHAM : (USA) 'A must have for the best digital presentation of REVENGE yet. Jack Asher's lighting comes through much better!'

ERICK IROQUIOSE : 'The video improvements on the Revenge of Frankenstein are huge, the new 4k scan not only reveals tons of extra detail, but also brings back the beautiful colors of Jack Asher cinematography that were absent on the previous releases. The Indicator compression is, as always, great, and so are the bonus features and the overall package'. 



AND SO, THE TRAILER:

 

Audio Commentary with Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby :
I MAYBE MISTAKEN, but the first time I heard both Hearn and Rigby providing commentary on a Hammer film extra, might have been the Lionsgate UK blu ray release? Out of many commentaries on various Cushing blu rays over the years, it is THAT one that has remained the most played and is my favourite. That was... until THIS ONE! 😊 As many have mentioned in other reviews, both Hearn and Rigby really know their stuff and complement each other so well, exchanging tibits and anecdotal data as the film plays out in their recording booth. It's obvious, they LOVE not just the films, but also the details of the actors, directors and crews careers and lives. For some, it might play as Anorak Hour, but not for me and I am sure many other fans, who soak this up, play after play, as you hear and learn another little nugget! In books and on such blu ray commentaries, this duo have always been my personal fail safe and are always reliable and  entertaining. I am sure, they could have both filled TWO commentaries, but what is on offer here, is a REAL treat and for me, gold!

Audio Commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman : 
A SECOND commentary! Having just filled my boots, with gems, anecdotes and trivia via Hearn and Rigby, I wondered what was left to share in a commentary? But writer and editor Stephen Jones and novelist and critic Kim Newman commentary complements, the previous very well indeed. Again, it's obvious Indicator has chosen their duo's carefully here, as there is again much to hear for the first time, there is thankfully, little in the way of overlap info. Opinions and perspectives are their own and amusingly, differ! A very good additional extra and worth a listen more than once, to catch it all!


Back From the Dead: Inside The Revenge of Frankenstein 
Duration 21:21 
BASED ON my experience of several 'other' distributors and some 'other' promising  EXTRAS menus in the past, I have found a personal pet hate! There is nothing more annoying than discovering, what first looked and promised to be a worthy and interesting supplement in the contents of goodies, revealing itself to be a only a TWO MINUTE or LESS flicker! A vintage trailer, is what it is and can only be that, two minutes or less. But, to promote what is meant to be an extra that is no longer than a tv commercial, I find a bit of a con . . especially if its contents are far from new or can be found elsewhere in the blu ray / dvd extras. THANKFULLY, fillers are a habit I have yet to come across with Indicator, but this feature might be one . . or Warner Brothers Archive Classics, the later because you will actually find NOTHING except a trailer on these releases. BUT at least, they are honest about it and make up for no extras, with exceptional remasters at very reasonable and reachable prices. 




THIS DOCUMENTARY serves as a interesting collection of what seems to be some past and some maybe new interview footage from other sources, not specifically recorded for this release, or maybe... it was?  Some might think previuosly seen interviews and clips are a bit of a bore, me not so. It complements the three additional Marcus Hearn produced documentaries very well. I will agree though, with other views and opinions I have read recently on the style of presentation and editing of the interview footage and certainly the images. Maybe this footage of the stills should have been reshot or edited? Over cooking the 'Ken Burns pans and swoops' on EVERY still or image can be a bit uncool these days. They were a 'go to' edit pack back in the day, to liven up what might be thought of by some editors or viewers as dull or static. The material here is neither. We love the details, no matter HOW detailed. This is material for lovers of the film, let the heads do the talking and nail that camera down. Other than that, it's a smashing documentary especially for those who have not had the chance to see it before .      






SO WHAT IS THIS EXTRA? Well, the source material comes from past extras and the 'talking heads' of co-author of the excellent 'The Hammer Story' Alan Barnes . . . the editor of the 'worth visiting and very interesting', EOFFTC WEBSITE (The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television) Kevin Lyons,  . . and author of the bible book, 'English Gothic' Jonathan Rigby, have been used on a package before. The interviews have been dropped, clipped and edited along side, posters, stills, lobby stills and film clips. It just about manages to give us, an overview of the film, The Revenge of Frankenstein. But, it does so, as I have stated in such a dated, cheap and tatty fashion. zoom in, zoom out! Then pan and zoom out! It's the ONLY presentation, that stands out in this whole package, for all the wrong reasons. But, I'll take it as a 'one place source' where I can now find all those...sources and that's that! πŸ˜‰


Hammer’s Women: Eunice Gayson
Duration: 7:05
EUNICE GAYSON had a quite long and diverse life and interesting career, dipping off the big screen in around 1972. Her playing of Sylvia Trench, James Bond's girlfriend in the first two Bond films (Dr. No and From Russia with Love) and one of the major roles in Hammer films 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' for some were the high points, though to be fair she did fall victim to several bouts of bad luck in casting, mainly missing being originally cast as Miss Moneypenny, before the role went to Lois Maxwell instead. It couldn't have sat well, when she discovered her own voice was substituted and over dubbed the Bond films, Dr. No in 1962 and From Russia with Love in 1963 by voice actress Nikki van der Zyl. If it was a compensation, nearly ALL the voices of the actresses appearing in the first two Bond films were dubbed too, though Gayson's real voice can still be heard in original trailers for Dr. No! All this and much more, including stills and clips from 'The Revenge of Frankenstein', makes for a nice extra, presented by!
 



A Frankenstein for the 20th Century 
Duration : 26:37
A NEW and recently produced item, produced for the release and provides our THIRD feature commentary track. It's certainly one, that takes us on an quite unexpected and interesting path! Among all the connections and info on 'The Revenge of Frankenstein', film historian Kat Ellinger looks at the deeper connections with this story of The Baron, with Dickens, Austin . . It REALLY IS worth watching. It will open up a side of Cushing's Frankenstein, the novel and his ruthless ambitions and drive... I will say no more. Ellinger, presents her theories very well and you may not see The Baron in the same light ever again...!




Arpeggios of Melancholy 
DURATION : 12:57  
LEONARD SALZEDO, isn't a name that springs to the minds of many Hammer film fans, even though he composed several outstanding compositions for the company, working with Hammer from 1954 on Terence Fisher's 'The Stranger Came Home' until 1980, during The Hammer House of Horror tv series with Peter Cushing episode, 'The Silent Scream' directed by Alan Gibson. His greatest successes as a composer though came in 1956 with the premieres, in Amsterdam, of his ballet, The Witch Boy, and, in London, of his First Symphony, the latter under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham. The Witch Boy was extraordinarily successful; although, sadly, these have not been reissued on CD - but have, between them, received well over a thousand performances.

SEVERAL TIMES, Salzedo's work often went uncredited. Working with Benjamin Frankelon the score for Fisher's 'Curse of the Werewolf' in 1961, he has been given a 'ghost credit' of composer: stock music!  His prime piece for Hammer was in 1958 with his musical soundtrack for 'The Revenge of Frankenstein'. It's a stunning arrangement, when compared and listened to along side, 'The Curse of the Werewolf' along with Fisher's 'The Unholy Four' from 1954, you can easily identify his music and signature! Seeing there was a soundtrack and music extra in the menu, was a real bonus for myself, as past extras of this kind have often been presented by author and film music authority, David Huckvale. Huckvale never fails to inform and make the sometimes quite complex . . for me anyway... business of music and composition for film soundtracks, very interest and entertaining. He doesn't fail here either! A real bonus of an extra, also providing some much merited recognition and credit to Salzedo, who sadly in May 2000. 

Out-takes Reel 
DURATION : 11:43
BACK IN 2011, at the Hammer Films Exhibition in Whitby, I remember having a chat over coffee with Marcus Hearn, where we were discussing the extras on the forth coming Blu Ray release of Hammer's 1958, 'Dracula'. The conversation turned to the discovering of the mythical Japanese 'lost Footage' from the film and I asked if anything had been found in the 'trims and clapperboard' off cuts from the film. At that point, Marcus looked up disappointed from his cup and said, 'There's nothing. There are no off cuts'. Even though these are billed as 'out-takes', they are not what we would usually understand to mean 'out-take'! These are not clips of film that exist because of mistakes, 'drys' where someone fails to deliver a line of dialogue or trips over a cat or cable...or both! 


THESE ACTIONS ARE UNAVIODABLE lengths of film / celluloid, from the point where the director says, 'Roll Camera'  . .  where the films starts capturing what is in from of it, then the CLAPPER- BOARD steps in and says, 'Scene four, Take Two' brings down the clapper stick on the board, which makes a clap sound, so the sound editor can sync the sound, with what is bring visually recorded on film by the camera. The director says, 'Action' ...and the shot begins.Taken these few feet of film are usually attached to just about every set up that begins any scene, one would think there must be MILES and MILES of them, in vaults. Sadly not. One can image just how much storage that would take up in a vault, over the years? We all know what the BBC did with all of their 'waste footage'? If it was tape, they erased it and reused the tape, if it was film, they took a random few programmes as examples of that particular programming, and maybe it found it's way to a shelf. Sadly, trims with clapper-boards, were seen as waste, and in the 1940 and 50's that film could be sold by the weight or measure, and in a process where burning the film and processing the ash - although relatively crude and environmentally harmful, it reclaimed the SILVER held in the chemicals...and made lolly! Hence, off cuts and trims during this period are as rare as rocking horse droppings and the reason why, the footage included in Indicator's remastered release extra from Hammer's 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' is not silver... but GOLD!

APPARENTELY, according to some on a forum, this footage has been around for a few years and was screened, where I can recall, at a gathering. Why no distributor didn't raid their piggy banks and claim a few minutes of the said footage, I have no idea. BUT Indicator, appears to have done, just that. The footage? Well, it's magic. It's also silent, which for me personally is no big deal. What you do get though, is an interesting insight of the tweaking and prep before Terence Fisher shouted 'Action'. Look carefully and you can actually see the process of Cushing chatting prep with co star Francis Matthews, the clapper-board flies in, snaps and count to three, for the editor to get in with his scissors, and Cushing's posture magically changes to that of The Baron! In a duration of just over 11 minutes, you get is a front seat, with Fisher as Cushing and Matthews switch on ...and off! It's very special. Personally, I would have paid the price of the box set alone, for this 11 minutes, with or without clapper-board and Gray-Scales!! Best EXTRA of the bunch!


Super 8 Version 
Duration : 8:17
IF LIKE ME, you collected and worshipped 8mm home movies and projectors when you were a kid, this next extra, will warm the cockles of your heart . . especially if those 200ft edited cut-down 8mm versions of the film, have long since vanished with your comics or were unplayable, since they had more bulb burns, than a Kamikaze moth in a light bulb factory or my Nan's flat! There were, I believe two versions of the 8mm 'The Revenge of Frankenstein'? One colour and one black and white, both 200ft in duration. I seem to recall. A friend also had one that was 200ft striped with sound too! But I digress . .  this little extra is a nice edition, a 4:3 black and white memory come back to life! But, if memory lane ain't your thing, the next extra, should do so . .



Image Gallery
WITH EXTRAS, I FIND, there are galleries and then there are GALLERIES! And this is certainly the latter. A selection of 107 screens, press stills, lobby photographs, pages from press books and MORE, make up a very impressive gallery. Something for everyone here. Many will be familiar, some not so. A impressive haul though . . 



Joe Dante Trailer Commentary 
Duration : 1:59
FOR QUITE SOMETIME NOW, blu ray extra menus have been dipping into the 'Trailers From Hell' bucket and add his opion and intro to introduce featured trailer, that supports the feature in the package. I don't mind that, plus Joe Dante always has something positive to say and genuinely loves the film. Another plus? Any guy who admits he also grew up filling his pants, while watching Hammer films is an honest guy in my book πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰


The Booklet 
YES! THERE is a BOOKLET TOO! Depending on when you order or of you entered the PCASUK Cushing Christmas Competitions, you would also receive a FREE poster too!



AUDIO AND VISION QUALITY:
INDICATOR have transferred Terence Fisher 's 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' to a 1080P blu-ray in a NEW 4K restoration. The print is a very respectable 1.66:1 transfer, with a DYNAMIC and VIVID reproduction of many films of this period, it's a WARM palette with an accurate CONTRAST RANGE through out the film. Thankfully, this range does not harm or loose any of the sharp rendered details into the shadow of dark or black levels. As you would expect from most films of this period too, a fine film grain texture is present, though NO dust, fluff or scratches through out the feature!The audio is in very good shape. The Linear PCM 1.0 mono track plays well, with an audible dynamic range, sitting with a treble, a little more bias on the dialogue than the music through out. There is no trace of damage or background hiss. Overall, in no small part due to the double bitrate, and the brilliant and quite welcomed plethora of supplements and extras, Indicator's release is, as you will immediately see, vastly superior  to any previous releases of this classic Cushing / Hammer, plus at Indicator's asking retail price, it is without doubt a BARGAIN! It MAKES the GRADE!


YOU CAN ORDER YOUR COPY OF HAMMER VOLUME FOUR : FACES OF FEAR that includes 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' AND the other three titles we meantion on the review : DIRECT from POWERHOUSE HERE! 

Thursday, 20 February 2020

THROWBACK: SHE'S HAPPY AS A TRIBBLE : 1975 NEW YORK AND LONDON : WHAT DO YOU HANG IN YOUR SHOWER?


#THROWBACKTHURSDAY! Remember THIS? Cushing's Tarkin and others SING. Kinda. 'It's Not A Moon'... was released and posted here back in March 2018. Written, sung and created by the super talented Bad Lip Reading. I found it again this morning and made FATAL mistake of pressing play. It's been on repeat ever since! Clever, catchy and outrageously funny, me thinks. Has an excellent video edit to boot. Still makes me howl...and sing along too πŸ˜‰ What do you think?






#THROWBACKTHURSDAY! 1975 . . that year, Cushing was in New York for the Famous Monsters Convention, his debut at a convention in the Big Apple . . while Vincent Price flew in and met wife, Coral at Heathrow Airport, London . . all ready to start rehearsals for his role in 'Γ’ArdeleΓ“' in which he would make his West End debut...with Coral co-starring! So anyone out there, who maybe attended either or both???? πŸ˜‰ - Marcus


NEED HELP investigating and finding that grot and fluff, in those creases and cheeky bits? 😩😟 The #Cushng 'Sherlock In The Shower' could be the answer! #Sherlock Soap Up and get scrubbing and solve that problem Many thanks to Howard Ostrom, for finding and sharing this! Thanks Howard πŸ˜‰ You can find THIS and other BESPOKE 'Cushing Curtains' RIGHT HERE!




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