Book Review: Hammer Complete

Hammer CompleteHammer Complete: The Films, the Personal, the Company
Published by McFarland, 2018. 992 pages.
By Howard Maxford

Wow.

It’s really hard to be not excited when a book comes out on one of your favorite studios that is just a few pages shy of a 1000! Sure, some of you that ask, “do we really need another book on Hammer Films?” Well if it is as massive and thorough as this one, then that would be a definite yes! I have been waiting on this book to come out since McFarland announced it well over a year ago, but had no idea how colossal of a tome this would be. Maxford states in his introduction that it has taken over 15 years to complete this and it looks like it.

I’ve been reading and researching and learning about Hammer Studios and the people behind it for somewhere around three decades, but there is always still more to learn. That was proven once again as I started browsing through this before I read some little tidbits that I didn’t know about. Such as that Jimmy Hanley, who played the friendly bartender in The Lost Continent (1968), is actually the father of Jenny Hanley, who appeared in Scars of Dracula (1970)! Sure, it’s just a little bit of trivia, but that is a sign of a good reference book.

While continuing to page through this, I came across a couple of names I’ve never heard of before. W.H.V. Able is listed in here. He was one of the accountants that worked for Hammer. Why is he even listed in here? Because like the book’s title states, this is Hammer Complete! I also read up on Hugh Harlow that I don’t remember reading about before. He started with the studio right out of school, being an office boy, then a runner, moving his way up to assistant director and eventually production manager! Here’s a guy that worked on the early Hammer titles like The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Brides of Dracula (1960) that would then go on to work as a production supervisor on films like Ridley Scott’s Legend (1985) and James Cameron’s Aliens (1986)! Can you imagine working on one of those films and realizing one of your co-workers work with Hammer back in the day?!?!

Yes, there will be some that will scoff at the $95 price tag, which seems a bit high at first glance, but if you regularly buy a magazine, just figure out what you’re paying for that. A usual issue might be 75 pages, and you’re paying close to $10. That’s like 13 cents per page, double that if half the pages are ads. Hammer Complete is about a 1 cent per page. Simple math, my friends.

As the author states in his introduction, this is not a book to be read through cover to cover, but to use it as an encyclopedia, looking up different movie titles, or people that worked on them, as well as anything else about this famous studio. It’s in here. I know I will be pulling out this title each and every time I’m going to be writing something about Hammer, just to double check for any bits of information I didn’t know, or had forgotten about. Maxford has done an incredible job here, bringing together so much research and information, from anybody and everybody associated with Hammer. You’ll even find information on people that might not have been working for Hammer, but had some sort of association with them, like American International Pictures or Robert Lippert.

Buy this book. Save up the money if you need to, but buy it. If you are any kind of Hammer fan that craves information about the studio that dripped blood, then you must owe this. It will be a never ending source of not only information, but entertainment as well, as you learn more and more of your Hammer Horror History! All it would take is a few minutes to browse through this before you come across a few titles that is going to make you want to go watch them again. That is a sign of a great book. I know I will be pulling this out each and every time I do any research on Hammer.

You can order this book from McFarland’s website (mcfarlandbooks.com) or call them directly at 800-253-2187.

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