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
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
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
How to make the beginning of the week better? Easy. Hearing a slew of great titles announced from Scream Factory that will be hitting Blu-ray last this fall!
Of course, anytime a Hammer title is release, there should be much rejoicing! No matter the title, to have these in a nice Blu-ray edition, with the blazing colors and clarity, it will be great to see these titles looking their best. Being release on Sept. 10th is Scars of Dracula (1970) starring Christopher Lee and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1972) starring the stunning Valerie Leon! I know these titles don’t have a lot of fans, compared to maybe Hammer’s earlier titles, but they are still fun and entertaining.
Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personal, the Company
Published by McFarland, 2018. 992 pages.
By Howard Maxford
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.
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.
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.