Customer Review

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 4th volume in this series could be better., 8 Oct 2013
This review is from: Childrens Film Foundation Collection: Scary Stories (DVD) (DVD)
This is the fourth volume in BFI's three CFF features on a DVD series. All the previous volumes have featured films remastered from the original 35mm negatives and have looked marvelous. However, on this volume, only "The Man From Nowhere" (1975) has been remastered in 1.85:1 anamorphic wide screen from the original 35mm film negatives, while both the excellent "Haunters of the Deep" and the less than excellent "Out of the Darkness" have been remastered not from the 35mm versions, but from 4 x 3 ratio 16mm versions and it shows. Although they look as good as any 16mm film from the mid-1980s could look (which isn't saying much), they both have a softness of focus about them and look rather grainy. The difference in image quality between the 35mm "The Man From Nowhere" and the two in 16mm is very noticeable indeed. So what are the BFI saying by doing this? That the original 35mm negatives from "Haunters of the Deep" and "Out of the Darkness" no longer exist? And if so, why not, as they are both less than thirty years old. I was expecting a really clear image on the "Haunters of the Deep" transfer, but as it is, it looks no better than the bootleg copy I've had for years. 4 out of 5 for this one.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Oct 2013 15:26:53 GMT
Though a nitpick, another problem with Haunters of the Deep is the CFTF logo at the start. It is visually OK, but none of the later films with the updated CFTF logo had the bell chimes - they were either silent (eg 'Breakout) or had a relevent effect over them (like the 'Pop Pirates' intro song). This film should have had an eerie wind howl over the CFTF logo but they seem to have just added the bell chimes back in from a more generic CFF logo. Kind of spoiled the atmosphere really! And you're right, this film WAS 1.85:1 compatible because we ran it several times over the years at our CFF Saturday Morning slot (we ran them till 1996!) and since we couldn't do 1.37:1 (4:3) the film would have looked horrible cropped top and bottom (which it didn't).

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Oct 2013 16:50:33 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Oct 2013 16:55:33 GMT
The cinema where I was a projectionist stopped having children's Saturday matinees in 1974, after running them for decades, so I never got to show any CFF or CFTF films as late as the mid-1980s. But of course, even if the print was open matte, the image would have been composed for 1.85:1 and could be cropped without affecting the composition of the image. I agree with you about the inappropriate generic title on the beginning of "Haunters of the Deep".

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Oct 2013 18:05:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Oct 2013 18:10:15 GMT
I noticed a lot of face close ups which would have been lost from the eyebrows up had we played it 1.37:1 on 1.85:1... We stopped CFF in 1996 and from 1988 onwards, the packages were reconfigured for the final time and never again altered. Haunters of the Deep played these years with Episode 7 of ALI AND THE CAMEL though I forget which cartoon and featurette accompanied it. Originally, when the film was new it was given a 'special' slot as was POP PIRATES and BREAKOUT (the only 1980s CFTF logo films to be shown on 35mm). When each of these films were new, they replaced the cartoon, featurette and serial episode and were instead shown as part of a double feature. The new film was shown first as a way of 'premiering' it and was followed by a regular. Haunters of the Deep was first shown with SMOKEY JOE'S REVENGE before becoming part of the standard package. It did disappear briefly along with several other titles during the period when the BBC were showing them meaning some old black and whites re-appeared, but they resurfaced in 1988/89 and all black and white features were permanently removed from the CFF packages. Only Danny the Dragon, a few REX THE DOG episodes and a couple of Peter Butterworth featurettes stayed till the end. With regards to the CFTF logo on 'Haunters' it is correct in that it carries the CFTF logo rather than CFF, but I feel it may be doctored. The CFTF logo was basically a re-edit of the final CFF logo using the same footage but changing the logo (up till then all altered CFF logos had reshot backgrounds). However, even on 35mm prints it lost resolution and became soft looking, a bit like video tape (a typical flaw when exisiting footage was reused but altered or edited back then). The one on the DVD seems to look good albeit grainy, so it would seem they married up the mid-70s CFF logo (which has the correct background footage) with the CFTF logo but digitally rather than the way it would have been done in the 80s. At least though BFI are using the correct style of logo on the films - the old Rank VHS films and earlier DVD releases put the CFTF logo on ALL of them!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Oct 2013 18:56:58 GMT
I've just been having a look at my old film dispatch books and according to those, the last CFF Saturday matinee we had was in August. 1974, with the 1964 feature "Go Cart, Go!" and the last serial was the 1967 "River Rivals", both of which would have had the usual Trafalgar Square setting CFF logo on the beginning. Films were repeated on a regular basis to cater for a new generation of children coming to the matinees who wouldn't have seen the earlier ones. These were usually the older type of features and serials, such as "Ali and the Camel" and "Valley of the Kings", ect, with the occasional more modern Eastman Colour features such as "All at Sea"; "Lionheart"; Danger Point" and "The Boy Who Turned Yellow" shown as well. All these films were open matted at 1.37:1, but could be safely cropped to 1.85:1.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Oct 2013 23:10:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Oct 2013 23:12:00 GMT
All the serials you mention above continued until the mid 90s. River Rivals last played with us around 1995, but things like Go Cart, Go! were retired by the late 80s. From about 1988, CFF no longer distributed them, they went to a company that I believe was called Glenbuck Films who kept the packages until they were no longer hired (which to be honest probably wasn't long after us). You're right though, all the 1.37:1 films looked fine on our screen, though being a 1970s conversion our 'widescreen' ratio and plates on the old Westrex 7000 machines were probably closer to 1.78:1. Sadly, a few films have been lost since 96. The serials Danny the Dragon and Rangi's Catch are no longer complete, despite both playing during the last year with us (Danny the Dragon was the final serial!). Also, RAISING THE ROOF disappeared in the mid 90s. It originally played with Episode 1 of THE BOY WITH TWO HEADS, but for the last 2 occasions it was replaced by some short featurettes and was the only package to not have an hour feature for Act II. The print probably got damaged, but I'm unsure if that means the masters have gone. Somewhere I have the playlists for the 80s and 90s, and you can see the difference after they reconstructed the packages. On average, they repeated after only 2-2 1/2 years once a lot of old films were eliminated. The Haunters of the Deep print was pretty immaculate, as not many cinemas were doing CFF by 1984 so the wear and tear was much less. The Man From Nowhere one year played last Saturday before Christmas (1987 I think) giving that programme a bit of an MR James feel! Man From Nowhere was also one of several features that had 'trailers' playing the week before it showed! This mainly on mid-70s titles like SCRAMBLE, WHAT NEXT and CRY WOLF.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2013 22:42:50 GMT
Thanks for these comments, they make very interesting reading, I only saw Haunters of the Deep during the 80s on BBC Childrens TV, I think they had a Friday Film hour running up to Newround possibly. It terrified me at the time, but had been looking forward to its DVD release, the review is correct the quality is not much better than a bootleg I picked up a year or so back of it. Same with Out of the Darkness, watching the start when the mum gets out of the car to make a call, the shot of car is so grainy, you can't even read the number plate. Guess I am being a little picky, but the last 2 films really show difference in quality to the first film on the DVD. Saying all that I am glad they have been released no matter what.
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