Horror History: Barbara Shelley

barbarashelley1Barbara Shelley
Born Aug. 15th, 1933

Barbara Shelley was a staple in the British horror cinema for about 10 years, starting in the late ’50s. The fact that she only made a handful of horror pictures during that time, and is so remembered shows the real talent that she was.

Starting with films like Cat Girl (1957) and Blood of the Vampire (1958), before appearing in one of the genre classics, Village of the Damned (1960). Then she would work with Hammer Films on her next four pictures, which shows some of her best work: The Gorgon (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), and Quatermass and the Pit (1967). Her performance in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, as the uptight Helen, once transformed into a vampire is one of the highlights of that film. Her last role for the genre was the 1974 film Ghost Story (aka Madhouse Mansion), and moved to working more in television, even having a small stint in the Doctor Who series.

So the next time you’re in the mood for a British horror film, and maybe even a Hammer Film, think about choosing one of the ones that feature the lovely Shelley and see just what she gave to the genre.

Horror History: Bernard Robinson

Bernard RobinsonBernard Robinson
Born July 28th, 1912 – Died Mar. 2nd, 1970

If you are a fan of Hammer Films, then you are a fan of Robinson’s work, even if you don’t realize it. Robinson was the art director and later production designer that worked on good number of their films, from Quatermass 2 (1957) to Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The first actual film that he worked on was as an art director on The Case of the Frightened Lady (1938). Over those early years, he became good friends with Tony Keys, who would later invite Robinson to come work for Hammer.

Robinson could not only create unbelievable sets out of very little money, he also designed sets that could be used over and over again but moving things around and a little re-dressing. In fact, he was a master of his. Director Terence Fisher had stated that with one of Robinson’s sets, he could point the camera anywhere and he knew it would look fantastic.

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Movie Review: Hammer Horror – The Warner Bros. Years

Hammer Horror Warner Bros YearsHammer 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.

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Movie Review: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1973)

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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1973)
Directed by Brian Clemens
Starring Horst Jansen, Caroline Munro, John Carson, Shane Briant, John Cater, Lois Daine, and Ian Hendry.

Trying to come up with a new series with a different kind of twist to it, Hammer gave us a swash-buckling vampire hunter. This is not your ordinary vampire movie, or vampires for that matter, as Kronos and his faithful companion Prof. Grost, travel the countryside seeking out and destroying vampires, in all of their varying guises. They are called on by an old friend for help. It seems that some of the local girls are being found basically drained of their youth, left dead as an old withering hag. But what is underneath the black cloak that stalks them?

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Suzanna Leigh – Rest in Peace

Suzanna Leigh - RIPHammer fans have lost another name from the studio we love so much. Suzanna Leigh, who appeared in The Lost Continent (1968) and Lust for a Vampire (1971), passed away yesterday at the age of 72.

The Lost Continent is a favorite of mine since it is just so damn crazy, but so much fun. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet her at a couple of conventions over the years and she was always such a sweet person to talk to. She had plenty of great stories to tell as well. Other genre titles she appeared in are The Deadly Bees (1966) and the cult film Son of Dracula (1974) with Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson. But probably even scarier than any of those films was probably working with Klaus Kinski in the 1965 film The Pleasure Girls.

Oh yeah…and she worked with some guy named Elvis.

That is one of the real shames of being a fan of a studio that (realistically) stopped making films almost 30 years ago, that the stars that we loved to watch and follow are sadly slowly leaving us. But as I always say, we will always have their movies to remind us of their talent, and their work will continue to give audiences both old and new, entertainment for years to come.  Gone, but never forgotten.

Our thoughts go out to her friends and family during this difficult time.

Little Shoppe of Horrors # 39 Available Now!

LSoH39This is simply the best magazine out there covering Hammer Studios, not to mention the longest running. And there is a reason for that. The quality of work that goes into each issue, from the research and writing, to the wonderful illustrations, it doesn’t take long to realize that this is a work of passion and love for those involved. A fan of Hammer Studios can learn so much about this amazing studio and the people that worked there by reading through each and every issue. I know I do!

And now, issue # 39 is available to order!

The cover story for this issue is one of the last Hammer horror titles made: To the Devil…A Daughter! Author David Taylor has the complete story of how this film came to be. There is also an interview with the young star of the film, Nastassja Kinski as well!

Other features in this issue include an article on Peter Sallis, a brilliant character actor that appeared not only in several Hammer titles, but also was the voice of lovable Wallance in the Aardman animated Wallace and Gromit series. There is some coverage on Hammer’s space western, Moon Zero Two, which has a making-of article by Hammer scholar Bruce G. Hallenbeck, as well as an interview with actress Catherine Schell, as well as a piece on Mike Tilley, who worked for special effects artist Les Bowie on the film. Plus the usual great tidbits in every LSoH issue.

You can order your copy now by going to their website HERE.

Hammer Frankenstein Scrapbook Now Available

Hammer Frankenstein ScrapbookFans of Hammer and their Frankenstein series now have the chance to order an incredible volume for their library. Peveril Publishing just announced that this volume is now ready for orders. If you own one of their Dracula Scrapbook editions, then you know the kind of quality put into these. Simply stunning.

This hardcover volume is 344 pages, color throughout, is filled with stills, script pages, schedules and call sheets, press books, press reviews, set design notes, contracts, and so much more. It is like walking back in time, with so much information and little tidbits of nostalgia for Hammer fans. Kinsey and Peveril always do an exceptional job on their books and each one of them is a glorious piece of work. They are so cool just to page through and look at all the history laid out within the pages.

Keep in mind that there are only 700 copies of this book and that their Dracula edition sold out in 5 weeks, so don’t wait too long. And while these volumes are a bit pricy, keep in mind that their value will only go up. You can see the Dracula Scrapbook on ebay for close to $250 now.

To order your copy now, head over to their website HERE.