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

Hammer Horror Music!

Last October we reported that the complete scores that James Bernard created for Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula would be coming out on CD, in their complete form, for the first time ever. And now, they are here! 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!

Horror History: James Carreras

jamescarrerasJames Carreras
Born Jan. 30th 1910 – Died June 9th, 1990

James Carreras was the son of Enriqué Carreras, who along with William Hinds, would form the company that would later evolve into Hammer Films. First starting just as a distribution company, they figured instead of buying other films to distribute, they could make their own films and distribute them, cutting out the middle man. Then Hammer Films was born. James Carreras would be the head of that division until he retired.

The great thing about Carreras was that he knew little about the actual making of films. He left that up to the people who knew what they were doing. But he did how to sell the movies. In fact, he was known for selling a movie before a script was even written! They would come up with a title, create a poster, and sell the movie on that alone. Then it was up to the screenwriter to whip up a story and go from there. And it worked. A lot.

Carreras’ policy was about as simple as you could get: make films that are guaranteed to make a profit. In those days, with these smaller film companies, sometimes your financing on the next film would rest on how well your last one did at the box office. And this is something that Carreras seemed to excel at. He was always bringing in fresh female faces to appear in their newest films. Starting the trend that would become known as Hammer Glamour. Again, he knew what would sell.

He was the head of the company until 1971, when he gave control over to his son, Michael.

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