Hammer announced today that it is partnering with STUDIOCANAL and a few others companies to undertake a major restoration of the famous Hammer film library — with some materials for the project being provided by Hammer’s original US production partners Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Paramount.  The project will bring over 30 Hammer films to HD format for Blu-ray and “new media exploitation.” 1966’s Dracula Prince of Darkness, starring Christopher Lee, is the first title up, and will be released in the UK in March 2012.  This year will also hopefully see the release of The Reptile, The Plague of the Zombies, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Devil Rides Out, Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Mummy’s Shroud, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Witches, The Lost Continent, Slave Girls, The Viking Queen, The Vengeance of She, and Lee’s first appearance as the prince of darkness, 1958’s Dracula.

Recently unearthed footage – that was originally cut from the British version of Dracula – has been restored courtesy of The National Film Center at The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.  The Japanese footage features an extended and particularly gruesome death scene for Dracula, as well as a moment considered too erotic by the prissy Brit censors of the day. Hammer is also eager to unearth further “lost” scenes and on-set footage from other titles in their library. As well as featuring a fully-restored HD picture and restored sound, the remastered films will boast a host of newly-filmed extras produced by Hammer historian, Marcus Hearn (author of The Hammer Vault). Hammer will regularly be posting to a “Restoration Blog”, which will give a “unique insider’s view on the entire process.”

Having shut their doors in the 1980’s, Hammer popped back on the scene in 2010. February will see the release of their Daniel Radcliffe starring ghost story The Woman in Black.