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.
As a reference book collector, there are no two words that can fill one with both excitement and dread at the same time as “revised” and “updated” do. The excitement comes because we imagine there is new information that is going to make it worth double-dipping, but at the same time, the dread comes in because we wonder if these ‘extras’ are going to be worth it? Granted, this goes the same for the countless DVD and Blu-ray editions over the years. But this is where I found myself today when I was at the local bookstore and seeing not one, but two volumes that I already had in my library, but both had these words blazing across the top of the front cover.
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.
The Art of Hammer: Posters from the Archives of Hammer Films
By Marcus Hearn
Published by Titan Books, 192 pages.
There was a time when movie posters were created not only before a single frame had been shot, but sometimes even before a script had been written. An artist was simply given a title and told to come up with a movie poster design for it. This was then used by the studio to try and sell the film before it was even started. Hammer Films did this, but they weren’t the first. But some of the artwork that came out for those movies is just stunning. Now, thanks to Hammer scholar Marcus Hearn, we all can enjoy these incredible pieces of art, but also keep these images alive and well for us collectors.
I know this as cliché as this sounds, this book really is a must. But not just for fans of Hammer Films, fans of movie posters in general, This coffee table size book is filled with beautiful images from Hammer movies from the ’50s to their end in the late ’70s. They display a mixture of close to 300 posters from around the world, from British quads, American 1-sheets, Spanish, Polish, and many others that will make any poster collector just drool. They are divided by decades, with a great index at the end in case you’re looking for a certain title. Each poster has the country from it is from listed, as well as the size of it.
Followers of this site know my love for Hammer Horror. So when I heard the news that there was a new feature length documentary in process about the work Hammer did with Warner Bros, I immediately got excited. But they need a little help getting the funds to get this made. As of this writing, they are almost half way to their goal and have around 20 days left to meet it. So read on and hopefully you can show your support. Every little bit helps.
Authors and Hammer scholars Marcus Hearn and Jonathon Rigby are the two behind this project, so we know the end result is going to be well worth it. They wanted to explore the work that Hammer did when they had a working relationship with Warner Bros Studios in the late 60s / early 70s, on features like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and Taste the Blood of Dracula. They have plenty of great rewards to those that contribute, from copies of the documentary to some incredible newly commissioned artwork designs by Mark Spears. These look amazing. This one here is just one that they have available. Check out the Kickstarter page to see the rest of them, as well as checking out all the different rewards. Again, every little bit helps. If this would be a documentary that you would buy anyway, then this is just like pre-ordering it!
For all the details, just click HERE. Hopefully we can see this come to life. You can see some of the updates on their Facebook page HERE, such as that they’ve announced they will have interviews with Hammer actress Madeline Smith and actor John Carson. Stay tuned for more details, but please contribute if you can.