The 1970 horror flick Count Dracula, starring Christopher Lee, and the 1980 gorefest Doctor Butcher M.D./Zombie Holocaust are due Nov. 28 on 4K Ultra HD from Severin Films and MVD Entertainment Group. The making-of documentary double feature Vampir-Cuadecuc/Umbracle will also be released on Blu-ray Disc Nov. 28.
In early 2023, a Madrid film archivist made a startling discovery: the uncut camera negative of Count Dracula, in pristine condition and untouched for more than 50 years. The gothic masterpiece from writer/director Jess Franco features Christopher Lee as the Count, Herbert Lom as Van Helsing, Soledad Miranda as Lucy, Maria Rohm as Mina and Klaus Kinski as Renfield with an eerie Bruno Nicolai score. With the film newly scanned in 4K, the release includes more than five total hours of special features, including the U.S. premiere of Carles Prats’ 2017 documentary Dracula Barcelona, which chronicles the simultaneous filming of Vampir-Cuadecuc by Pere Portabella and Franco’s horror classic. Special features on the Ultra HD disc include audio commentary with horror historian David Del Valle and actress Maria Rohm and the trailer. Special features on an included Blu-ray Disc include the same audio commentary; an illustrated 1973 Christopher Lee audio interview with filmmaker Donald Glut; “Beloved Count,” an interview with director Jess Franco; “Handsome Harker,” an interview with actor Fred Williams; an interview with actor Jack Taylor; “Stake Holders,” an appreciation by filmmaker Christophe Gans; and the trailer. On another Blu-ray are “Dracula Barcelona,” a 2017 documentary (90 mins); “Jess Franco’s Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula —Stephen Thrower on Count Dracula”; the “In the Land of Franco” bonus sequence with Alain Petit and Stephen Thrower; and alternate title sequences. The final disc is a soundtrack CD.
Sparking riots on 42nd Street, the film was originally known as Zombie Holocaust until a notorious American distributor would then re-edit and re-title it as Doctor Burcher M.D. and and re-release it. Ian McCulloch (Zombie), Alexandra Delli Colli (The New York Ripper), Sherry Buchanan (Tentacles) and Donald O’Brien (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals) star in this unabashed EuroTrash orgy of gut-munching, eyeball-gouging and face-chopping. Severin Films now presents both films scanned in 4K from original vault elements discovered in Manhattan and Rome with four hours of archival and new special features. Special features on Doctor Butcher M.D. include an interview with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levene; Rue Morgue’s Michael Gingold tours New York Locations of Italian horror; a nostalgic tour of 42nd Street with Temple of Schlock’s Chris Poggiali and filmmaker Roy Frumkes; “Tales That Tore Our Heart Out,” in which filmmakers Frank Farel and Brendan Faulkner discuss Unfinished Anthology Film; an interview with Gore Gazette editor and Butcher Mobile Barker Rick Sullivan; and an interview with editor Jim Markovic. Special features for Zombie Holocaust include an interview with star Ian McCulloch; an interview with SFX master Rosario Prestopino; “Filmmaker Enzo G. Castellari Remembers His Father, Director Marino Girolami”; an interview with SFX artist Maurizio Trani; an interview with actress Sherry Buchanan; and “New York Filming Locations: 1980 & 2015.”
Vampir-Cuadecuc/Umbracle are having their North American Blu-ray premieres. Pere Portabella has been a pioneering movie producer and celebrated Spanish statesman, denounced by both the Franco dictatorship and The Vatican. But it’s his subversive work as a director that has rewritten the rules of genre narrative. In 1970, Portabella was invited by Jess Franco to make a behind-the-scenes documentary on the filming of Count Dracula. Instead, Vampir-Cuadecuc became a dreamlike deconstruction of myths, monsters and moviemaking featuring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom and Soledad Miranda. Christopher Lee also stars in Portabella’s companion piece Umbracle, an unsettling journey through dread, violence and discontinuity with Lee at his most candid. Both films are now scanned in HD from Portabella’s own vault elements for the first time ever in America. Special features include “A Cinema of Vampires: Pere Portabella, Jess Franco and the School of Barcelona,” an interview with Spanish film scholar Dr. Álex Mendíbil; the Vampir-Cuadecuc trailer; and a booklet featuring text by Pere Portabella and film critics Jonathan Rosenbaum and Federico Karstulovich.