Yeah, 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!
Fans 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.
Any Hammer fan worth their weight in blood knows of the infamous Bray Studios, where the they unleashed countless horrors onto the willing masses. But now with it being gone forever, we can be thankful that Peveril Publishing will be immortalizing it in their new book, Inside Bray Studios, coming early next month.
By Hammer authority Wayne Kinsey, we get a virtual tour of the studio, both inside and out, as well as the history of the place once Hammer took over. We’ll get to see how Hammer used the cramped space in the studio to create some of the most unbelievable movie sets, making these period pictures come to life and jump off the screen.
There is also three separate chapters on the “Bray Days”, back in 1998, 1999, and 2007, where the studio opened its doors to both fans as well as a ton of Hammer alumni, with a ton of photos. I wish I could have made it to even one of those events.
At 344 color pages, this hardcover edition will be another must-have for any fan of this famous British Studio. The price is set at £35 plus postage, but it really is an investment, since most of Peveril’s books go out-of-print quickly and their prices skyrocket shortly there after. So don’t be left out!
Head over to Peveril’s website HERE and sign up for their newsletter so you’ll know when the pre-orders start.
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.
Last weekend we spent in Mars, PA, for the Monster Bash Conference. This was our fourth year there and it is becoming one of our favorite shows to do. So much fun, each and every time. Ron Adams puts on one hell of a show, with plenty of stuff to keep any monster fan busy from the early morning to the wee hours of the next morning!
It’s not often that I get excited about a guest these days, but I was able to add one more Hammer alumni to my Hammer Films: An Exhaustive Filmography book at the show. That was Janina Faye, who played the young Tania in Horror of Dracula (1958). She is now the fifteenth person to add her signature from people that wrote, directed, or appeared in a Hammer film. Sadly, seven of the names in there have already left us. And since the original studio’s last movie came out almost forty years ago, well… none of us are getting any younger.
The Riverside Drive-In and DVD Drive-In have announced the titles for this fall’s Drive-In Super Monster-Rama and it is a Hammer fans dream! They will be screening four classic Hammer titles each night on Friday, Sept. 7th and Saturday, Sept. 8th. Each of the titles will be screened from a restored DCP presentation, with four of the titles being screened uncut at a drive-in theater for the first time! Here is the list of what is showing:
Born July 28th, 1912 – Died Mar. 2nd, 1970
If you are a fan of Hammer Films, then you are a fan of Robinson’s work, even if you don’t realize it. Robinson was the art director and later production designer that worked on good number of their films, from Quatermass 2 (1957) to Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The first actual film that he worked on was as an art director on The Case of the Frightened Lady (1938). Over those early years, he became good friends with Tony Keys, who would later invite Robinson to come work for Hammer.
Robinson could not only create unbelievable sets out of very little money, he also designed sets that could be used over and over again but moving things around and a little re-dressing. In fact, he was a master of his. Director Terence Fisher had stated that with one of Robinson’s sets, he could point the camera anywhere and he knew it would look fantastic.