Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros. Years (2018)
Directed by Marcus Hearn
Starring Veronica Carlson, John Carson, Steve Chibnall, Joe Dante, Jonathan Rigby, Peter Sasdy, Madeline Smith, Caroline Munro, Christopher Frayling, Wayne Kinsey, Denis Meikle
So…a new documentary on Hammer Studios? I’m there. Simple as that. Add to the fact that when the producers of this documentary started a Kickstarter fund to get this project off the ground, I immediately signed up. Honestly, I don’t remember which level I put in for, but I did get a nice poster print as well as the Blu-ray. Being a huge fan of this famous British studio, this review might be a little jaded, but I will try to be as honest and straight forward as I can.
If you ever wondered just what happened to Hammer Studios, as to why they went under, then this feature length documentary will either answer that, or at least give you some very strong contributing factors that might have caused it. Even though this studio was very successful in the late ’50s and ’60s, by the time the ’60s were coming to a close, things were starting to change. Not with just the audiences, but the ratings boards, other movies the studios were releasing, as well as where Hammer was getting their funding from.
During this feature, we get to hear from a lot of different people, from those that worked for Hammer on the films, to the fans that grew up watching and loving what they were seeing. Since the last film to come from the original studio (not talking about the new regime for them) is close to 40 years ago, many of the people that worked on these films are already gone. So being able to hear directly from these people is just a treat. While I’ve seen plenty of interviews with Veronica Carlson and Caroline Munro, I never get tired of hearing them talk about these movies, and their co-stars. We also get to hear from Madeline Smith and John Carson (who has a wonderful story about the brothel scene in Taste the Blood of Dracula), as well as director Peter Sasdy. But we also get to hear from film historians and authorities on Hammer, such as Jonathan Rigby, Denis Meikle, Wayne Kinsey, Christopher Frayling, and even Joe Dante, with all of them giving a lot of insight into the films and the studio.
While this does briefly cover the early days of Hammer, it is mainly the later decades when things started to change, which offers up a lot of really good explanations as to what might have caused the downfall of the famous Studio that Dripped Blood. Well produced, very informative, that even if you don’t learn anything about Hammer, at least it will be like a nice visit with an old friend. Yeah, it is a bit depressing when you think about how much we enjoyed the films this studio turned out year after year and that most of those people are gone, at least we know that we have these films now that we can bust out and revisit anytime we want. Their work will always be remembered, loved and admired for many years to come. And documentaries like this one will only help that cause. Highly recommend.