The British Horror Film: From the Silent to the Multiplex
Published by Fonthill Media, 2017. 222 pages
By Ian Fryer
I’m a sucker for any books on British horror films, especially when they are going to cover Hammer. But then there are still so many other great pictures and talented filmmakers that came out of the UK, so there is much more of a history than just Hammer. Whether it is a good thing or not, but Fryer spends more of the time covering the famous Studio that Dripped Blood. So it’s a toss-up to find that a complaint or not, because they were such a dominating force in that country’s horror film output.
He does do a decent job covering other entries, such as Amicus, Tony Tenser, Pete Walker and the likes, so it’s not just Hammer. Even when we get to the modern day, he mentions quite a few of the people making a name for the genre, like Neil Marshall, Christopher Smith, and Ben Wheatley.
This is a first for my little year-end round-ups and kind of surprised I didn’t about this before. With all these new Blu-rays coming out, there are times that seeing a film that we’ve seen countless times before, but now seeing in a restored, cleaned up, or whatever those crazy Blu-ray producers do, sometimes can be like watching the movie for the first time. I had more than a couple of those instances happen this year.
The first one was seeing the new Blu-ray of Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (1979). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this amazing film, from in the theater, at drive-ins, countless times on VHS and even DVD. But when I started watching the new Blu-ray…wow. When the part comes up with Tommy’s funeral, and Michael is watching the Tall Man put his casket in the hearse by himself, I could hear this noise coming from the back speakers. Wait…is that rain? Then I notice the beads of rain running off the casket as the Tall Man picks it up. W-T-F? That is the kind of clarity these guys did on this film. Simply amazing. If you’re going to be one of those that complains because they changed something with the spheres, in a shot that last seconds, then you are missing out on so much more. I’m not one for double-dipping, but this is a must.
I don’t think there is a horror fan out there that doesn’t love Peter Cushing. I mean, how could you not love this incredibly talented actor that appeared in so many great films, let alone in the horror genre? Well, the fine folks who publish the We Belong Dead magazine, as well as the books 70’s Monster Memories and Unsung Horrors, have now published a new volume solely dedicated to this fine actor, simply called A Celebration of Peter Cushing.
This new book is 300 pages in a large format, and in full color, with introduction by Veronica Carlson. It covers not just his horror films, but all of his career, such as his roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who.
Now the one thing that might sting a bit for us Cushing fans in the US is the price. It is £25.00, with another £20.00 for shipping. That makes it about $60 for us. Now that is a bit high for a single book. But I have their previous two volumes and they are just gorgeous volumes. Their 70’s Monster Memories sold out upon publication and now goes so a ridiculous amount, so it might be a wise ‘investment’ to take the plunge. Plus, it is about one of our most beloved actors, so why not get something that gives a fine tribute to this uncommon human being.
You can place your order, or get more information about it from their website HERE.
This 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.
Fans 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.
One of the things that made Hammer Films stand out was their music. Yes, we had the boobs, blood, and beasts, not to mention an array of incredibly talented actors and technicians that worked on them, but the amazing soundtrack coming through the speakers made the impact even deeper. How can you not hear the blasting opening cues of James Bernard’s score for Horror of Dracula and not immediately get into the mood for some horror! Or even Harry Robinson’s march for the opening of Twins of Evil? Makes you want to grab your cross and stakes and go hunt some vampires! That is the beauty of the music that Hammer layered throughout their films. And now, thanks to the fine folks of Silva Screen Records, you can have a taste of themes from 18 different films, that range from 1957 to 1974.
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!