Peter Jackson has a new film headed our way, and this time the man behind such blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit trilogy, and King Kong is bringing us a documentary on WWI. But rest assured when it's Jackson we're talking about, this documentary is anything but what we've seen before. They Shall Not Grow Old is a film that stitches together more than 600 hours of archival footage and then updates it with today's top technology, bringing the once silent and black and white footage to colorful 3D life in a way never before seen. It really is stunning.
And today we have word that Jackson had such a ball updating the old WWI footage that he's planning to put his early splatter films through the treatment as well.
"I've decided to go back and do this to my old films - the first four I made, which I own but never re-released. I've done some tests on Braindead, where we took the 16mm negative and put it through our World War I restoration pipeline - and shit, it looks fantastic!"
Jackson's first four films include the likes of such cult-classics as the alien invasion horror-comedy Bad Taste, the puppets run amok flick Meet the Feebles, one of the absolute goriest movies of all-time, Brain Dead aka Dead Alive, and then, changing gears, there's Jackson's Oscar-nominated psychological drama Heavenly Creatures, which starred a young Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey in their film debuts. Of the four, Jackson says Bad Taste is the film in most desperate need of restoration. After all, the movie was shot on 16mm, and Jackson stored the negative under his bed during production.
"I knew it was a precious thing, but I didn't have anywhere to put it, so I shoved it under my bed. Then when I finally got the funding to do the finished Bad Taste film, there was damp mold and mildew all through the bloody neg, and you can sort of see it in some shots. So I'm looking forward to tidying that up! Even if it's just removing the mold from Bad Taste, that will be a very good thing to do."
In addition to using his new tech to upgrade the films into 4K, Jackson also plans to retool the audio in high definition sound. And on top of restoring the films themselves, Jackson and his team also plan to search through tons of behind-the-scenes footage collected during the making of his early movies, restore it as necessary and assemble a documentary.
"I've always had video diaries being shot. So I've got about an hour or two of us shooting Bad Taste, seven or eight hours of us shooting The Feebles, 50 to 60 hours of us filming Braindead, and at least 70 hours of us doing Heavenly Creatures. And it's not just people talking to the camera. It's actually a guy on the set filming us making the film. So there's some pretty interesting stuff there and none of it has ever been out."
None of the films have been digitally restored and reissued on Blu-ray or HD streaming, but Jackson says he's been approached to do so over the years. He just wanted to wait until he could oversee the transfers himself - and now he can!
"I'm pretty keen to actually just get them back out there again. That's sort of my plan for now: to do a nice little box set - the early years! The naughty years!"
But all of this awesome news out of the way, is it possible that Jackson would ever return to the world of splatter films again?
"Oh, I'm very happy to be disgusting again if the right project comes along. It would be interesting to see how disgusting Fran and I could be in our older age compared to our younger years because we've learned a few things since then. We know a little bit more about the world than we did then, so maybe our levels of disgusting could go into whole new places!"
Let's hope he does! Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter for the story.