Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films

Encyclopedia of Hammer FilmsThe Encyclopedia of Hammer Films
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2019. 589 pages.
By Chris Fellner

Being a die-hard fan of all things Hammer Films, I’m always ecstatic to learn of another book on one of my favorite studios coming out. Now before we get into the blood and guts of this release, we need to cover the obvious… the price. Retailing at $145 (though Amazon has it listed for just under $100), while this is a good size hardcover edition, at 589 pages, that is still a hefty price tag. Though with the recent release of Howard Maxford’s Hammer Complete, published by McFarland, it is impossible not to compare the two. Maxford’s book is 984 pages, a bit larger in size and has much smaller type, and retails at $95. What this means is you get just what the title says… Hammer Complete! So the cost alone would make the decision even easier if you only had to pick one volume.

Because of the huge scope of the film studio, it is difficult to cover everything and everyone, which is where Fellner’s book falls short. There were more than a few names missing having their own entries, such as John Carson, who appeared in three different Hammer titles and one appearance in one of their television series. Other notables excluded were talents such as Richard Wordsworth or George Woodbridge. These actors usually never played the main characters but were one of the many reasons these films stood out. Being wonderful character actors in the background, they filled out a scene as if it was a brilliant painting. Even Guy Rolfe, who played the title character in Mr. Sardonicus for William Castle, starred in The Stranglers of Bombay, does not have his own mention. But again, it is going to be a difficult task to include every single thing that has to do with Hammer. Except, Maxford’s book sort of does that. Continue reading

Encyclopedia of Hammer Films!

Encyclopedia of Hammer FilmsLast year, McFarland published Howard Maxford’s massive volume on Hammer films, The Complete Hammer. Now comes another huge tome on the Studio that Dripped Blood, by author Chris Fellner, entitled The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films.

This 606 page book is a pricy one, retailing at $145 (though Amazon has it listed for $106.74), covers not only the films that made the studio famous, but it seems to go into much more detail about the productions the studio was involved with. From feature films, to featurettes, television, and much more. You’ll get production details, synopses, reviews, quotes,  and biographies. There is information on the people that worked both in front of and behind the camera, as well as things that Hammer had a connection to, such as the tax shelter companies to the British Board of Film Censors, as well as the many projects that Hammer never got off the ground.

We haven’t gotten our hands on this title yet so we’re just going on what we’ve read about it. Will it be worth the hefty price tag? I know at once point I’ll be trying to get a copy for myself, so we’ll have to see. But in the meantime, any book that comes out on Hammer, I’m going to be excited about. Titles like this help keep not only the movie titles alive and remembered, but also, more importantly, the people behind them that help create them for audiences to enjoy for decades to come.

Stay tuned for more details!

Movie Review: Greasepaint and Gore

greasepaintbanner

Greasepaint and Gore (2004)
Directed by Russell Wall

Tom Savini. Rick Baker. Rob Bottin. Steve Johnson. All of these names are pretty well known to most horror fans. What about Phil Leakey and Roy Ashton? I’m sure you’re familiar with the films put out by Hammer Studios throughout the 50’s to the 70’s, right? If so, then even if you might not know their names, you know the work of Leakey and Ashton. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: The Devil Rides Out

devilridesout1cdThe Devil Rides Out
Released in 2000 by GDI Records
28 tracks with a total running time of 1:01:26 minutes
Music composed by James Bernard

Any fan of Hammer films should know the name of James Bernard. If not, start taking notes. Bernard was one of the main guys responsible for making Hammer films sound like they did. He created the music that surrounded the incredible colorful images that we were watching. Probably his most famous score was that of Horror of Dracula (just Dracula in the UK) where he would use the name of the film to create the main theme. The music is one of the things that let audiences know they were watching a Hammer film. Continue reading

Hammer Horror & More from Scream Factory

How to make the beginning of the week better? Easy. Hearing a slew of great titles announced from Scream Factory that will be hitting Blu-ray last this fall!

Of course, anytime a Hammer title is release, there should be much rejoicing! No matter the title, to have these in a nice Blu-ray edition, with the blazing colors and clarity, it will be great to see these titles looking their best. Being release on Sept. 10th is Scars of Dracula (1970) starring Christopher Lee and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1972) starring the stunning Valerie Leon! I know these titles don’t have a lot of fans, compared to maybe Hammer’s earlier titles, but they are still fun and entertaining.

Continue reading

Hemisphere Horrors!

Hemisphere HorrorsOnce again, Severin comes through in delivering the goods! After wetting fan’s appetite with the Blood Island box set, now you can experience more that Hemisphere Pictures released back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, all collected together in great little box set. Here are the films you get:

The Blood Drinkers (1964)
Curse of the Vampires (1966)
Brain of Blood (1971)
The Black Cat (1966)
The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967)

While the first 3 titles will be available separately, the last two are only available in the box set, which will retails at $59.99. Not a bad deal when you consider you’re getting 5 features, all been given 2K and 4K scans from vault film elements. These are probably going to look the best they ever have!

I remember back in the early days of me collecting films, trying to find some of these films were tricky because they sometimes would go under several different names. The distributors would change the names and release them over and over again, hoping the public wouldn’t notice that they might have seen this picture already! That is why Curse of the Vampires is also known as both Creatures of Evil and Blood of the Vampires.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading