More Hammer from Scream Factory!

Frankenstein Created WomanNever a bad bit of news when there is an announcement of another Hammer film hitting Blu-ray, especially when it is coming from Scream Factory. If the fact that it’s another Hammer title doesn’t get your attention, then this amazing cover art from Mark Maddox probably will. Coming out on June 11th, the extras haven’t been finalized yet, but if it is what we’ve come to expect from Scream Factory, it will be well worth it. If you pre-order it now, you’ll get an 18×24 poster of the Maddox artwork!

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) was Hammer’s fourth entry in their Frankenstein series, with Peter Cushing returning once again as the evil doctor. This time out, instead of sewing bodies together, he is experimenting with soul transferring! Starring the lovely Susan Denberg, and the always entertaining Thorley Walters, this is a must for Hammer fanatics!

For ordering information, just head over to Shout Factory’s site HERE.

Horror History: Les Bowie

lewbowieLes Bowie
Born Nov. 10th, 1913 – Died Jan. 1979

Bowie was one of the men responsible for making Hammer Films, as well as plenty of other films, look as good as they did. While he did work on a varying type of special effects, he was mainly known for working on matte paintings and models. A lot of the shots in the films where you see a mountainous landscape was due to Bowie. The first film he worked on for Hammer was The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), where he created the title monster. But he also worked on some of their classics like Horror of Dracula (1958), Plague of the Zombies (1966), and many more films.

He also worked on the original Superman (1978) movie, where he would eventually win both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his work. Unfortunately, he passed away on the same night that the rest of the team that worked on the special effects for that movie had won. So he never knew.

Bowie’s work was one of those little things in the movie that might only be shown on screen for a few seconds, but really made an impact on the look of the movie. So that is the reason that he needs to be remembered for the hard work that he would go through, for very little money, for something that is only glimpsed at.

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

Horror History: James Bernard

James Bernard2James Bernard
Born: Sept. 20th, 1925 – Died: July 12th, 2001

There are some composers that make a cinematic impact, just as much as an actor or director. James Bernard is one of them. The music he created for films, especially the ones he did for Hammer Films, became part of the movie’s unique look and feel. When the music started, you knew you were watching a Hammer picture, just from the sound of it. It was always able to grab your attention and never let go.

His score for Horror of Dracula (1958) will be remembered as one of the greatest opening titles ever known to fans of cinematic music. It is still as powerful today as it was then. But he also created music for films like Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The House of the Baskervilles (1959), The Plague of the Zombies (1966), as well as the first two Quatermass films.

Most composers are hidden figures in the movie world, with only a few making a name where film fans would actually recognize. When it comes to horror fans, Bernard’s name is right up there at the tope. Thankfully a lot of his work has been archived on CD so we can still enjoy it, as well as fans to come. Truly a great and talented man.

Hammer Horror Soundtracks!

 

Coming in 2019, Hammer fans will finally get the complete scores from Horror of Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, created by the late, great James Bernard. The scores have been reconstructed by Leigh Phillips, with booklet notes by David Huckvale, and produced by James Fitzpatrick and Leigh Phillips. They will be created through the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine.

To say that I’m excited to see these two scores finally get a release is a slight understatement. Hopefully they can get the right sound and feel of the originals, but I know I’ll be adding them to my audio library once they come out. Once I hear more info, I will pass it on here.

Hammer’s Plague Hits Blu-Ray

plague of the zombies 1

Plague BlurayYeah, I know this was all over Facebook yesterday, but damn if I’m not going to help spread the word a bit more! While I may be a huge Hammer fan, their 1966 film The Plague of the Zombies is one of my all time favorites of theirs. So I am more than thrilled to see this hit Blu-ray, thanks to Shout Factory!

This was Hammer’s only movie that dealt with zombies, though these are the voodoo type, not the flesh-eating type. Maybe because Romero didn’t unleash his until two years later. But this is a prime example of what Hammer did best. They had an great cast with two powerful leads, André Morell as Sir James Forbes and John Carson as Squire Hamilton. Morell is so much fun to watch, being so proper and the whole stiff upper lip, but yet still has a dark sense of humor. Carson, who plays the villain, was born to play this part. Whether it is his voice, which is very similar sounding to James Mason, or his evil stare, that can easily hide behind a smile. Of course, throw in Michael Ripper in a minor role, and it makes it even better!

Continue reading

Ralph Bates Biography

Ralph Bates BiographyFans of Hammer Horror should be well aware of the name of Ralph Bates. He was one of the next generation stars of Hammer, one to take the lead from the likes of Cushing and Lee and continue the tradition that they started. Unfortunately, Hammer didn’t last that much longer. In that short time though, Bates did appear in a few of their pictures and always turning a memorable performance. He appeared in Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), Lust for a Vampire (1971), Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971), and Fear in the Night (1972). It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Hammer would have continued their ran of cinematic terrors.

But now you can learn all about those films, as well as the rest of Bates career and life in this new biography from author Christopher Gullo, entitled simply Ralph Bates: A Biography. Published by Midnight Marquee, it covers the actor’s life from his childhood, where he started to develop an interests in the theater, as well as once he started working with Hammer, and the multiple television appearances that he made.

With 165 family photos, including many never-before-seen ones, as well as getting to hear from over 70 different family, friends, and co-workers that the author sought out for this book, all helps to show the life of this incredibly talented man. Gullo is donating all his personal proceeds from the sale of this book to the Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. This was created to honor Bates, who passed away in 1991 from this disease.

To order it from Midnight Marquee, just click HERE.