Discover the Horror Episode 17: Hammer (Is It) Horror

Never Take Candy from a Stranger (1960), The Damned (1963), Plague of the Zombies (1966). These are the three titles covered in this episode, as well as a little discussing on what can be considered “horror” when talking about the famous Studio that Dripped Blood. While some of these titles don’t immediately come to mind when you think of Hammer Horror, digging a little deeper, you might discover it to be there after all. After all, isn’t the whole point of being a horror fan is to go beyond the borders? You never know what you might find and even might be surprised.

These are the titles mentioned in the episode:

Cross of the Devil (1975), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Damned (1963), The Ghost Breakers (1940), Horror of Dracula (1958), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Never Take Candy from a Stranger (1960), Night of the Living Dead (1968), Plague of the Zombies (1966), Paranoiac (1963), The People Who Own the Dark (1976), The Quatermass Xperiment (1955), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), To the Devil a Daughter (1976), White Zombie (1932)

A Pictorial History of Hammer Horror

The time is now! You can now order your copy of the latest book from the fine folks of We Belong Dead, this time tackling all things Hammer! The book, A Pictorial History of Hammer Horror is over 450 pages, in full color, with essays on every Hammer horror title from The Mystery of Mary Celeste (1935) all the way to The Lodge (2019). Just like their previous publications, this one is packed with rare photos, posters, and lobby cards from all over the world.

The book is available in both hardcover and softcover. But if you’re ordering from here in the US, when you add in the postage, it is a bit pricy. For the hardcovers, it is £45, which is about $62, and the softcover edition is £35, which is about $45.50. Throw in $40 to $50 for postage, it does make for one expensive book. But here is the thing, I’m guessing that like a lot of their books, they go out of print rather quickly and will be a nice collector’s item, especially since is on Hammer Films. But more important than that, it is a pretty nice size book with a ton of essays about one of our favorite film studios and the films they produced. So while this might a great investment, and will be well worth the price, the real key is to read and learn more about one of our favorite British film production companies. Because at the end of the day, that is the purpose for any book, to educate and entertain. Can’t wait for my copy to arrive!

For all the information and how to order, just click HERE.

Horror History: Shane Briant

Shane Briant
Born Aug. 17th, 1946

Briant had studied law at Trinity College Dublin, but felt the calling of another profession: that of the actor. He started acting at a young age, even nominated by the London Theatre Critics in 1973 for The Most Promising Newcomer from his performance in ‘Children of the Wolf’. He had signed a contract with Hammer Films and made 4 films for them back to back. They were Straight on Till Morning (1972), Demons of the Mind (1972), Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974), and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). He also appeared as the title character in a TV movie remake of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973).

In 1983, Briant moved to Australia and has worked in both film and television over there since. He also has become an accomplished writer, publishing 7 novels so far, as well as publishing his autobiography, entitled Always the Bad Guy, in 2011.

Granted, for me, Briant will always be known as one of of the actors that Hammer was trying to use as the next generation of Hammer stars, once held by Cushing and Lee (even though they both continued to work for the studio). Unfortunately, the end of the studio was already on the horizon so as good as Briant was in the few pictures he appeared in for Hammer, it was too late for the studio that once dripped blood.

Soundtrack Review: Scars of Dracula

Scars of Dracula
Released by GDI Records,
22 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 48 min.
Music by James Bernard

No matter how you might feel about this entry in the Hammer / Dracula saga, I don’t think anyone could argue about how good the music is. Once again, James Bernard has created a score that encompasses what we love about these films. It has that rich and powerful score that seems to burst through the screen.

With the second track, Innocent Victim / Opening Credits, we hear those strings that immediately bring a sense of sorrow followed by those strong tones of the darkness. Bernard was able to bring visuals just from the themes that he created, whether it was villagers storming the castle, or Dracula’s resurrection, you could feel it in the music. That was one of the key elements to Hammer Films, and a lot of that had to do with Bernard. With just a couple of notes, like in Slaughter in the Church for example, you knew something bad was coming. I think that is where Bernard excelled so much in bringing an immediate emotion with just a few seconds of music.

While this CD might not be the easiest to find these days, if you are a fan of Bernard and of Hammer, then you really do need this in your collection. It will bring back memories of old castles, crazy servants, and the Prince of Darkness, and all with a smile.

Terence Fisher: Master of Gothic Cinema

Terence Fisher Master of Gothic CinemaWhile there are a few books previously on Terence Fisher, from authors like Peter Hutchings, Paul Leggett, and Wheeler Winston Dixon, I think it is still not enough coverage on this director, who’s name should be right up there with the likes of Romero, Carpenter, Cronenberg, Bava, Argento, and the rest of the horror elite. Now hopefully with this new book by Tony Dalton, Terence Fisher: Master of Gothic Cinema, that will make the change.

Dalton has had full cooperation from Fisher’s family, making this a fully authorized biography of Mr. Fisher. Long before he started cranking out tales of Frankenstein and Dracula (and so much more) for Hammer Films, he had been working in film for quite some time, starting as a clapper boy and eventually moving into the editing department. Maybe now we can learn even more about this talented man and how he help change the face of horror.

FAB Press is taking pre-orders for a special signed hardcover edition of this book, for only £29.99 (approx. $37.50). The regular price is £39.99. Plus, by pre-ordering it is the only way to get the signed hardcover edition. A paperback edition will be released at a later day. This 480 page book, filled with 250 illustrations, won’t be published until next year, but I’m sure this limited edition hardcover edition won’t last long. 

For more information, just click HERE.

More Hammer Horror on Blu-Ray

Curse of Werewolf Blu-rayTrust me, I’m not one for double and triple dipping. But when it comes to Hammer Films, when they are released on Blu-ray, usually looking just freaking stunning in all their glorious color, it really is hard to pass up. Even more so, when they have a special offer to get a limited edition poster print of the cover art by Mark Maddox! Which is exactly what they have announced for their release of The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)! Just look at that amazing artwork, which would look just beautiful hanging on any Hammer fan’s wall. But don’t wait too long because this offer is only until the supply of posters runs out. Just click HERE to pre-order yours now. You may think it is a bit pricy but considering the poster you’re getting, it is one hell of a deal. The Blu-ray is set to be released on April 21st, with no extras announced just yet. But I’m sure Scream Factory will do their usual stellar job. Continue reading

Infogothic: An Unauthorized Graphic Guide to Hammer Horror

InfogothicEven though this book was released October of 2018, this is the first time I’ve come across it, or at least that I’m remembering! Of course, being on Hammer Films, I know I’m going to need to add it to my library. But at only 96 pages, it does raise some concerns on the content. Sure, I’ll be ordering it anyway, if only to be able to review it here and let other Hammer fans out there know whether it is worth their $25!

According to the blurb from the publisher, author Alistair Hughes gives us “Everything you ever wanted to know about Hammer’s horror films is contained in this incredible graphic guide. Charts, templates, diagrams and illustration take you through all the facts and figures. From the relative heights of Frankenstein’s Monster, to the actors to have played Dracula … no stone is left unturned in this compelling and fascinating look at the films which redefined ‘Horror’ for a generation.”

Not sure if everything I ever wanted to know about Hammer’s horror films could be contained in only 96 pages, but we’ll see.

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

Movie Review: Greasepaint and Gore

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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