This past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con unleashed the usual torrential downpour of geek-pleasuring news stories such as this and obviously this. But as far as I’m concerned the biggest news coming out of the Con was the announcement that Shout! Factory was planning on releasing several beloved action and horror movies on DVD and Blu-ray later this year and early in 2014 through their Scream Factory label.
Among their slate of upcoming titles are John Carpenter’s inner city siege story Assault on Precinct 13, the 1982 remake of Cat People directed by Taxi Driver/Rolling Thunder writer Paul Schrader, and Sam Raimi’s outrageous pre-Spider Man superhero adventure Darkman featuring Liam Neeson kicking major butt almost two decades before he played that guy whose daughter was…you know…Taken.
But the news that has genre fans positively frothing with anticipation is the revelation that Scream Factory has secured the rights to release Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut, an extended version of Clive Barker‘s 1990 horror-fantasy that has been screening at festivals and conventions around the world for over three years. Before Nightbreed was released studio Morgan Creek demanded that the film be edited down from its original two-and-a-half hour running time to 102 minutes. The truncated cut was marketed poorly and flopped at the box office, later to become a cult classic on home video. In 2009 Mark Miller, the co-head of Barker’s production company Seraphim Films, began an exhaustive search for the missing scenes with the intention of restoring the film to its original length that reflected the director’s unexpurgated vision. Discussing the matter with an executive at Morgan Creek, Miller discovered that the footage wasn’t lost at all; in fact, the elements were available to finally restore and release the uncut Nightbreed on DVD and Blu-ray.
The studio was initially disinterested in shelling out the funds to make the restoration a reality so Miller and Russell Cherrington, a senior lecturer in film and video production at the University of Derby, created The Cabal Cut composite edit using the theatrical release version of Nightbreed and two longer workprints of the film that were only available for viewing on VHS tapes. Morgan Creek gave Seraphim their blessing to take the extended cut out to screen for select paying audiences in order to raise funds and gauge interest in a possible home video re-release. It looks like that day has finally come. Scream Factory has really turned some heads in less than a year with its ever-expanding library of in-demand action, sci-fi, and horror classics from the 1970s and ’80s on DVD and Blu-ray. They are the perfect company to give the extended Nightbreed the extras-packed HD release it has deserved for many years.
Obviously Scream can’t restore the current Cabal Cut as it contains too much worn-out VHS quality footage, but now that it is getting an official release no doubt a search is currently underway for the deleted footage in the Morgan Creek vaults so that a proper restoration can be done. Scream Factory has yet to fail us fans when it comes their releases, and Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut could be their best title to date if done right. We can expect to see the final product sometime in the middle of next year.
In even bigger news, the original The Wicker Man is also getting an extended restoration that will not only be released to Blu-ray and DVD but will also be shown in theaters for special engagements. Later this year StudioCanal will debut The Wicker Man: The Final Cut in the U.K. in time for the film’s 40th anniversary. Robin Hardy‘s starkly atmospheric and terrifying film starring Christopher Lee and the late Edward Woodward was first released in American theaters in a cut several minutes shorter than the director’s preferred version. For years Hardy and StudioCanal have searched in vain for an original negative of the longer, unseen Wicker Man, but it wasn’t until a few days when a print had been located.
Robin Hardy had this to say about the long-awaited discovery of his original cut of The Wicker Man:
“StudioCanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing”¦. I’m very pleased to announce that StudioCanal have been able to find an actual print of The Wicker Man, which is based on my original cut working with Abraxas, the American distributors, all those years ago”¦ They plan, and this is the exciting bit, to actually release it. This version has never been restored before, has never been shown in UK theatres before, has never been converted to Blu-ray before.”
The Wicker Man: The Final Cut will be released in the U.K. on September 27, 2013 in theaters and on October 14, 2013 on DVD and Blu-ray. A U.S. release is not planned as of yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were able to keep our appointment with the Wicker Man soon after the U.K. bow.