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Old 13-10-2005, 19:55   #1
John Hodson
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Thumbs up The Absolutely Diabolical Hammer Films Thread

Time I think that we had a Hammer films thread; a place to discuss the films, the DVDs, the stars, pointers to useful websites, all thing associated with the output of Hammer Films Ltd.

I read a review recently that described one Hammer title as total tosh, but 'executed with the style and panache that only the British can pull off'; some Hammer films were indeed total tosh (that was sometimes the point), others were wonderfully done; at either end of the scale Hammers usually entertained, boasting a stock company of great experience and talent.

They almost single handedly brought back to life some of the most famous movie monsters in history, but their diverse output also included comedy films, sci-fi, thrillers, TV series, documentaries and more. Of the TV and radio spin-offs, their most famous were probably the 'Quatermass' films, but they also produced the 'On The Buses' films, 'Nearest and Dearest' and many more.

Let's celebrate a great British institution - Hammer Films!

A few useful links:

Zeta Minor's Hammer DVD Guide
HammerWeb
Mondo Esoterica Hammer Reviews

Anyone got any particular memories of their favourite Hammer?
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Old 13-10-2005, 20:21   #2
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Hammer films are more often than not unjustly maligned,often by those who have little knowledge of the variety of their output and the conditions under which the films were made-with tiny budgets and tinier sets,dedicated teams worked small miracles to produce often beautiful looking films.The films were commercial entertainments,and Hammer's specialism in horror was,at least to begin with,a response to apparent public demand for this type of film rather than any kind of "in house" specialist directors.It is insulting to the film makers to lump all of the studio's output into a "Hammer Horror" bag,a reflection of lazy journalism and marketing that has no doubt added to Hammer's coffers if not to their director's reputations.A shame that many of the more interesting features-"Never take sweets",etc.etc. are seldom seen,also a shame that Hammer films are being shown less and less on tv,gone are the days of late night showings on regional itv which were no doubt part of most readers horror film education.
My dad was in the year above Edward De Souza ("Kiss of the Vampire"etc) at school by the way.
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Old 14-10-2005, 02:36   #3
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The first X rated movie I ever managed to get into as an eager under 16 year old was 'The Gorgon' and it scared the ***** out of me. I fondly remember now the nightmares it gave me. A couple of years later I sneaked my younger brother into 'Dracula Prince Of Darkness' through the exit door at the Ritz in Woking and was severely dealt to by my parents when he ended up in their bed that night and they coudn't figure out what was wrong with him. Many of these films in the sixties were an institution, with young lads like us trying to get in and find out what it was all about. Good on you Hammer, it was part of the growing up process!
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Old 14-10-2005, 09:03   #4
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I'm particularly overjoyed that this month sees the release of Dracula A.D. 1972, as this was the first of Hammer's Dracula series I saw (back around August 1978). I was hooked on this film and could never see why it was given a hard time by both fans and critics. For me this film had it all, a great cast (especially Stephanie Beacham), good pacing and Mike Vickers' funky soundtrack.

I used to love watching the Appointment With Fear seasons that Thames used to run every so often during the 70's. These together with the BBC2 double bills, gave me the oppitunity to see most of Hammer's horror output for the first time.

At least now Hammer seems to be receiving a tiny bit of the respect they desrve, although this has come too late IMHO. As far as I'm aware, apart from the Queen's award in 1970, Hammer have never received any official recognition. I would have thought that BAFTA, could have made some sort of posthumos award by now.

I hope that it won't be too long before we see a DVD release of The Snorkel. I saw this film around the early 70's on Anglia and it scared the crap out of me. I keep looking in the tv scheduals to see if it's on, but no luck so far.

I also wish that Warner's would get a round to releasing Moon Zero Two, aother derided film. Again I liked this since I first saw this on BBC2, I loved the quasi- Gerry Anderson feel to the production.

I agree with Nick, Hammer formed an important part of my childhood.
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Old 14-10-2005, 09:28   #5
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Glad to see someone stand up for A.D 72. I always thought that was unfairly derided. That, along with Satanic Rites, are probably my two favourite Hammer Dracula movies (not Vampire movies though).

I particularly like the way Satanic mixes 70's culture/cop drama/horror movie together.

I think they got released the same time Texas Chinsaw and Exorcist and this made them look like watered down horror.

These days you cant look at them and feel scared but they're still both fine entertainment.
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Old 14-10-2005, 10:18   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollocop
I think they got released the same time Texas Chinsaw and Exorcist and this made them look like watered down horror.
Well ultimately it was this that put the end to Hammer Horror. People wanted gritty contempory horror, so you could believe it was really going to happen - upping the scare factor. The Hammer films, in contrast, were 'safe' period horrors for the most part, that may have looked great, but were pure fantasy.

Hammer did try to respond, To the Devil, A Daughter (1974) being a good example, as they tried to put a contempory spin on things. But ultimately it was not to be, and without distributors willing to buy the films for the US market, Hammer was finished, and with it, a chapter in British cinema history. Afterall, could Amicus or Tigon have ever got by without the Hammer-bolstered British horror scene. Even the British exploitation directors, Warren, Walker and Tenser likely got quite a boost from the Hammer era - their films often offering daring viewers an alternative to the period-set Hammer films.

Pity really that the films are so overlooked by non-horror fans. Most run-throughs of British cinema merely gel over the whole exciting period, prefering to spend an extra few minutes/pages discussing Laurence of Arabia or Brief Encounter.

Its a fascinating period. On that note, can anyone recommend any good books about Hammer studios?
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Old 14-10-2005, 11:46   #7
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love all things Hammer, especially post 1970, when it started to get sleazy!
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Old 14-10-2005, 11:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-T-C
On that note, can anyone recommend any good books about Hammer studios?
what about:
House of Horror

Hammer Films

Inside Hammer

Hammer Films: The Bray Studios Years
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Old 14-10-2005, 11:58   #9
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In my view, the last word on Hammer - and on British horror in general - is Jonathan Rigby's remarkable "English Gothic". One of my very favourite books.
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Old 14-10-2005, 12:44   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
In my view, the last word on Hammer - and on British horror in general - is Jonathan Rigby's remarkable "English Gothic". One of my very favourite books.
Strange, it seems to be OOP, neither Amazon or Play (or any other online bookseller I know) have copies in stock.
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Old 14-10-2005, 13:07   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-T-C
Strange, it seems to be OOP, neither Amazon or Play (or any other online bookseller I know) have copies in stock.
Well, as a birthday treat to myself, I've placed an order for the hardcover version - we'll see how long it takes to get here.

One of my earliest memories of Hammer was a short clip from Mike Parkinson's Granada review show 'Cinema' of Plague of The Zombies which totally freaked me out then (and still gives me the creeps now TBH). But I fell in love with the Hammer horrors at the school Film Club where we had screenings of, among others, The Vampire Lovers; forbidden fruit - the product obviously of enlighted teaching . It's my one abiding memory of my school years. Right now, I'm rediscovering the Hammer thrillers; after thoroughly enjoying Nightmare and Paranoiac from the great Universal set, I've just received Fear in The Night, which I've never seen, (plus Lust for a Vampire) quite cheaply from www.deepdiscountdvd.com.

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Old 14-10-2005, 16:51   #12
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I'm very fond of "Straight On Til Morning", a film which seems to have virtually no fans. It's a psychological thriller, very nasty and well played by Shane Briant and Rita Tushingham. The ending is splendidly cruel.
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Old 14-10-2005, 17:49   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I'm very fond of "Straight On Til Morning", a film which seems to have virtually no fans. It's a psychological thriller, very nasty and well played by Shane Briant and Rita Tushingham. The ending is splendidly cruel.
I think Shane Briant was a very under used actor,like Robert Tayman he had an amazing androgenous look.He was in "Demons of the Mind",another unfairly maligned latter day Hammer with Paul Jones,later they starred together in the great Sweeney episode "Chalk and Cheese"."Vampire Circus" star Tayman has a brief appearance in one of the best episodes of the 1st series of "Survivors",it's strange to watch as he looks and sounds so ordinary (though he was re voiced for "V Circus") compared to the few films he did ("House of Whipcord" the other I can think of).Interesting to note that due to tv scheduling times (everything on the hour/half hour) shorter Hammer features such as "Cash on Demand" are very unlikely to ever be shown,I remember C4 showing a Hammer short by Joseph Losey called "A Man on the Beach" which lasts less than 30 mins...
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Old 14-10-2005, 18:18   #14
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What really annoys me is all the Hammer movies only out in the USA
I had to get "The Lost Continent" and "The Reptile" from the US

made in the UK using English actors, only for sale in the USA ..... makes me MAD
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Old 14-10-2005, 18:28   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjclark1
What really annoys me is all the Hammer movies only out in the USA
I had to get "The Lost Continent" and "The Reptile" from the US

made in the UK using English actors, only for sale in the USA ..... makes me MAD
And Germany...

Das schwarze Reptil
Bestien lauern vor Caracas

..but I take your point.
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Old 14-10-2005, 21:47   #16
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I'm very thankful for the recent Universal box set for introducing Night Creatures [a.k.a. Captain Clegg] to me. Definately a Hammer classic. I thought the ending with Michael Ripper and Peter Cushing [don't wanna give anything away for anyone who hasn't seen it] was very moving. Plus Olly Reed was as good as ever.

Has anyone got the Devil Ship Pirates dvd? It seems a fairly elusive disc and when I do find it it seems horribly overpriced! Is the film anygood? Actually I believe it was referenced along with Pirates Of Blood River as being good in the DVD Times Universal Hammer review [courtesy of Mike] but any further comments would be interested. I gather the disc is non-anamorphic but I'd like to pick it up eventually.
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Old 14-10-2005, 22:03   #17
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I think appreciation for Hammer and possibly British cinema generally is greater outside of Britain,I'm thinking of people like Scorsese who aren't afraid of taking them seriously.Having said that David Pirie and other British writers have championed them for decades,even if some of the people responsible for making them were rather they were forgotten-why is it that Freddie Francis can remember working on "The Innocents" clearly enough but when asked about his Hammer work (or other horror stuff) he develops Alzheimers?But then Britain invented snobbery didn't it?...or was it the French?

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Old 15-10-2005, 08:13   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bes
Has anyone got the Devil Ship Pirates dvd? It seems a fairly elusive disc and when I do find it it seems horribly overpriced! Is the film anygood? Actually I believe it was referenced along with Pirates Of Blood River as being good in the DVD Times Universal Hammer review [courtesy of Mike] but any further comments would be interested. I gather the disc is non-anamorphic but I'd like to pick it up eventually.
Bes; I've been trying to work up the enthusiasm to add another non-anamorphic DVD to my collection (and while I really prefer The Pirates Of Blood River DSP is quite watchable), but it looks to me like it may be too late already - seems like Devil Ship Pirates is going OOP..?
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Old 15-10-2005, 09:13   #19
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I have "Devil Ship Pirates" it's good and has Mike Baldwin (knicker maker from corrie aka Johnny Briggs) playing a pirate when he was 20 (ish)

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Old 15-10-2005, 09:48   #20
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The Hammer film I always come back to (and enjoy more than any other, which is quite something as nearly all of them are enjoyable for one reason or another) is Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter. Horst Janson makes quite the striking hero and Caroline Munro... well, words cannot do her beauty justice, she's simply stunning. It was originally intended to be a series featuring these characters but sadly they never materialised.

Incidentally, whatever happened to the planned Hammer revival that was quite big news a few years ago?
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