The 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
One of my favorites from Hammer Studios is one of their 1966 “Cornish Horrors”, Plague of the Zombies, made back to back with The Reptile. From the incredible look of the zombies, to the bad-ass villain played by John Carson, to the straight-laced hero played by André Morell, it always delivers the goods, each and every time I watch it. Another one of the reasons is the rest of the stellar cast, including Jacqueline Peace, who plays the doomed Alice. Pearce’s performance gives the viewer such a feeling of dread because we all know what is going to happen to her and we can’t stop it. And then in The Reptile, she gives another performance to draw the audience in with her pathos.
In both of these films, not only did she have to create these characters and grab hold of the audience, she also had to endure quite some time in Roy Ashton’s makeup chair. But she not only played a couple of iconic Hammer characters, she caught the attention of many fans. So we are very sadden to hear of her recent passing.
Hammer 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.
This is a name that might not be too familiar, but if you’re a Hammer fan, then you’ll know the face. Farmer appeared in several titles from Hammer, including two of their swashbuckling movies, The Crimson Blade (1963) and The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964). But it was mainly for her role in Dracula, Prince of Darkness when horror fans took note. She followed that film up immediately with Rasputin: The Mad Monk, once again coming up against the sizeable Christopher Lee. Another non-Hammer picture that she made that I remember fondly is Die, Monster, Die! (1965), starring alongside Boris Karloff. This was one that I saw in my youth and really made an impact with me. While she might not have been as glamorous or as known as some of the other Hammer starlets, her performances always stood out and are very memorable.
She passed away on Sept. 17th. Our thoughts go out to her friends and family. Thankfully, like all of our movie heroes and heroines, they will live on for fans of their films, especially for Hammer fans!
For those that didn’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of Hammer Films. Just love the look, the sound, the style, and of course the incredible cast that they would fill their pictures with. Of course, one element of that would be what has become known simply as Hammer Glamour. With such a wide array of not just beautiful women, but also talented ones. They were much more than just a pretty face or a pair of ample bosums.
By Marcus Hearn
Published by Titan Books, 2009. 160 pages.
One of the things that Hammer was known for was the lovely ladies that filled their movies. This book is a celebration of those women. At first glance, you might be disappointed that this isn’t the cheesecake type of book that most would have thought (and probably hoped). Sure, there are plenty of photos throughout this tome, and a few of them a bit cheeky, but most of them are just studio glamour shots of the actresses. But it is an excellent mini-biography book of the many beautiful women that graced their films. We all know the names of Ingrid Pitt, Veronica Carlson, and Caroline Munro, but there are so many others like Diane Clare, all are given a little spotlight, giving us info about their careers and their lives.