Ahead of the their Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film celebrations, BFI Announce Autumn 2013 DVD & Blu-ray releases

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Haunting rarities from the BBC archives are among the BFI’s DVD/Blu-ray releases for Autumn 2013.

This autumn the BFI will make available a superb collection of rare and previously unseen ghost and horror titles from the BBC archives.

Released as part of the BFI’s Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film celebrations, these long-unseen gems will delight many fans of British horror and classic TV drama.

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September Highlights Include:

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CLASSIC GHOST STORIES (DVD)

Classic Ghost Stories (1986), five spine-tingling tales from the pen of M.R. James, presented by Robert Powell.

After the success of their Ghost Stories for Christmas collection, the BFI presents another volume of classic BBC adaptations of the chilling work of M R James

These partially-dramatized readings by actor Robert Powell (Jesus of Nazareth, Mahler, Tommy) were originally broadcast to terrified audiences during the Christmas of 1986. Finally made available here for the very first time on DVD, these blood-curdling tales include such classics as ‘The Mezzotint’ , ‘The Ash Tree’ , ‘Wailing Well’ , ‘The Rose Garden’ and ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ .

Also included as an exclusive bonus on this release are the M R James episodes from the 1980 BBC TV series Spine Chillers – ‘The Mezzotint’ , ‘A School Story’ and ‘The Diary of Mr Poynter’ presented by celebrated actor Michael Bryant (star of the 1974 Ghost Story for Christmas episode The Treasure of Abbot Thomas ).

Release Date: 23 September, 2013

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Classic Ghost Stories of M R James [DVD]

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CHILDREN’S FILM FOUNDATION COLLECTION: SCARY STORIES (DVD)

Scary Stories – a collection of creepy kids films from the Children’s Film Foundation featuring The Man from Nowhere, Haunters of the Deep and Out of the Darkness.

The Man From Nowhere | Haunters of the Deep | Out of the Darkness

For over 30 years the Children’s Film Foundation produced quality entertainment for young audiences, employing the cream of British filmmaking talent. Newly transferred from the best available elements held in the BFI National Archive, these much-loved and fondly remembered films finally return to the screen after many years out of distribution in this specially curated DVD release from the BFI.

The first time on DVD for these three scary stories from the archives of the Children’s Film Foundation featuring tales of ghosts, mysteries and spooky mansions

The Man from Nowhere (1976) is a beautifully told Victorian gothic thriller from acclaimed director James Hill. Young orphan Alice has been invited by her rich uncle to live in his country mansion but she soon finds herself persecuted by the apparent visitations of an unsettling stranger. Who is this man from nowhere and just why is he tying to scare her away?

The events in Haunters of the Deep (1984), take place along the dramatic Cornish coastline. Intent on re-opening a disused tin mine, an American businessman ignores warnings about the site s grisly past. It’s left to his bored daughter and local lad, Josh, to attempt a daring rescue when history threatens to repeat itself.

In John Krish’sOut of the Darkness (1985), a Derbyshire village is haunted by a tragic secret from the era of the Black Death. When the Neils decide to buy a run-down cottage they are unaware that it was once inhabited by a plague-stricken family. Soon, the Neil siblings find themselves in the middle of a thrilling adventure, assisted by their friend, Tom, and a local folklore expert (played by Michael Carter – The Keep, Return of the Jedi).

Release Date: 23 September, 2013

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Children’s Film Foundation Collection: Scary Stories (DVD)

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October Highlights Include:

Robin Redbreast

ROBIN REDBREAST (DVD)

A film by James McTaggart

DVD premiere of this legendary BBC TV folk horror from 1970.

The legendary Play for Today drama Robin Redbreast (1970) – an unsettling tale of ‘folk horror’ that’s considered a precursor to 1973’s The Wicker Man.

Norah Palmer (Anna Cropper) is a television script editor who temporarily moves to a remote English country village to rebuild her life. At first, she finds that the villagers are friendly, if a little eccentric. When she becomes pregnant to the handsome villager Rob, she begins to suspect the locals of conspiring against her, preventing her from leaving the village for her home in London.

With its combination of unsettling folk rituals and insular regional communities, Robin Redbreast is considered to be an influence and precursor to The Wicker Man (1973), and has built up a cult following over the years since its original broadcast.

Made during the golden age of British TV drama, and originally shown in the Play for Today strand, this provocative and unsettling drama was directed by the renowned producer / director James McTaggart from a script by John Bowen.

Release Date: 28 October, 2013

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Robin Redbreast (DVD)

Dead of Night

DEAD OF NIGHT (DVD)

Films by Don Taylor, Robert Holmes and John Bowen

After years of unavailability, the three surviving episodes from the legendary BBC horror anthology series, Dead of Night, finally comes to DVD. Originally screened on BBC 2 in 1972, and rarely seen since, Dead of Night has been highly sought by fans of the BBC and British Horror for decades.

In The Exorcism – perhaps the most terrifying of the episodes four wealthy, middle-class friends (Clive Swift, Edward Petherbridge, Anna Cropper and Sylvia Kay) gather for a Christmas dinner in a country cottage only to find that the past will not rest while they feast.

In Return Flight the professionalism of an experienced and respected airline pilot (Peter Barkworth) is placed under scrutiny when he encounters the ghostly apparition of a WW11 Lancaster bomber.

In A Woman Sobbing a middle-class wife (Anna Massey – Peeping Tom) becomes increasingly paranoid when her nights are interrupted by the terrifying and unexplained sound of a female crying in one of the rooms in her new house.

Release Date: 28 October, 2013

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Dead of Night (DVD)

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An extended six-disc repackage of the best-selling BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas.

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November Highlights Include:

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GASLIGHT (Dual Format Edition)

A Film by Thorold Dickinson

Blu-ray and DVD premiere release for the newly remastered version of Thorold Dickinson s dark and menacing psychological 1940 classic.

Based on Patrick Hamilton’s celebrated stage play Gaslight is a harrowing and claustrophobic film about domestic fear. Anton Walbrook (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The Red Shoes) stars as the terrifying husband who puts the sanity of his fragile and tortured wife (Diana Wynyard) under siege.

The success of Gaslight on stage and film encouraged Hollywood studio MGM to buy the remake rights in the early 1940s, with a clause insisting that all existing prints of Dickinson’s British version be destroyed. Unseen for many decades, this definitive version has been digitally restored by the BFI.

Release Date: 18 November, 2013

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Gaslight (Dual Format Edition) [DVD]

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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (3-Disc Dual Format Edition)

A film by Rupert Julian

BFI Video proudly present this definitive three-disc Dual Format Edition of this celebrated classic of the silent era and horror cinema

Lon Chaney, ‘the man of a thousand faces’, gives his most famous performance in this first version of the oft-filmed tale. Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, Chaney stars as the Phantom , who lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, and falls in love with the voice of a young opera singer. Infatuated, he kidnaps her, dragging her to the depths below where she will sing only for him.

Directed by Rupert Julian, this lavish 1925 production launched the Hollywood Gothic style which would become the trademark of Universal horror films.

Original prints of the film were fully tinted, with some sequences in Technicolor, and a rooftop scene using a special process that enabled the Phantom s cloak to show red against the blue night sky. This Photoplay restoration replicates all these effects, and is accompanied by Carl Davis celebrated score that draws heavily on Gounod’s Faust, which is the opera being performed in the film.

Release Date: 18 November, 2013

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The Phantom of the Opera (3-Disc Dual Format Edition) [DVD]

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SCHALCKEN THE PAINTER (Dual Format Edition)

A film by Leslie Megahey

World premiere of this highly sought-after ghost story from the BBC, released in the BFI’s acclaimed Flipside series.

Based on a short story by Sheridan Le Fanu, Schalcken the Painter was originally shown in the Omnibus strand on BBC 2 during Christmas 1979. The story follows a young seventeenth century Flemish painter Godfried Schalcken, who forsakes love for ambition, but discovers that there is still a terrible price to pay for his choice.

One of the most frequently requested programmes in the BBC archive, .Schalcken the Painter is an exquisitely shot, atmospheric horror film which explores the uneasy, dark relationship between art, commerce and erotic desire.

The superb cast includes Jeremy Clyde, Maurice Denman and Cheryl Kennedy.

Newly transferred to High Definition from the film materials preserved in the BFI National Archive, the release also includes the rare, experimental Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, The Pit (1962), assistant directed by Peter Collinson.

Release Date: 18 November, 2013

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Schalcken the Painter (Dual Format Edition) [DVD]

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SUPERNATURAL (2-DISC DVD)

Werewolves, vampires and ghosts haunt the living in this long-awaited double-disc presentation of the much sought-after BBC horror series Supernatural).

Originally broadcast on BBC 1 in 1977 and rarely seen since, this classic series ran for eight terrifying episodes. In each, a different prospective member of the Club of the Damned is required to tell a story that will chill the blood of the club’s members, and their application for membership would be judged on how frightening the story was. Failure to induce terror in all who attend would lead to the death of the storyteller…

A timeless example of British Gothic horror at its best, Supernatural boasts a superb cast of acting talent, including Billie Whitelaw, Jeremy Brent, Robert Hardy, Gordon Jackson, Sinead Cusack, Denholm Elliott and Ian Hendry.

First ever DVD release of this much sought-after and highly acclaimed BBC TV series

Release Date: 18 November, 2013

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Supernatural (DVD)

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October also sees the long-awaited Blu-ray premiere of Seven Samurai – presented as a steelbook exclusively at zavvi.com (click here to pre-order).

Rescheduled releases for December include the Dual Format editions of StromboliJourney To ItalyTrans-Europ-Express and Successive Slidings of Pleasure.

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For more information on the BFI’s upcoming Gothic Film Season, please click here.