Hammer DRACULA Restoration... Incomplete!
Hammer fans have been torn on their response to Lionsgate/Icon's new Region 2 Blu-ray/DVD set of Terence Fisher's DRACULA (1958). Everyone is overjoyed to finally see the long-censored decomposition scene as it was intended to be seen, while others have complained that the film now looks too blue or too dark. As it happens, I can't agree with either side of that criticism. The film looks just fine on my 60" Kuro Pro monitor, but after carefully examining the three surviving Japanese reels included as a bonus supplement in the set, I can't agree that we're seeing the decomposition scene as it was intended by director Terence Fisher to be seen either.
Let us begin with a series of frame grabs from the 2012 restoration, beginning with the skeleton of Dracula's hand emerging from the ashes of its disintegrated flesh. This material runs from 79:43-44.
The film then cuts to a baleful close shot of Dracula's face, Christopher Lee investing the moment with pathos and defeat.
The film then cuts back to Dracula's arm as the last of the ashen flesh crumbles and the sleeve of Dracula's coat shrinks back to expose the crumbling bones of his forearm.
More about this and my evaluation of the remainder of the restoration in the next issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG -- #174.