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.
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.
Horror Express (1972)
Directed by Eugenio Martin
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Peña, Helga Liné, Telly Savalas, George Rigaud, Victor Israel
For any horror fan that is just starting his long journey into the depths of genre, one path that is easy and most followed are the ones that feature certain iconic actors known for their work in the genre, such as names like Karloff, Price, Chaney, Lorre, and of course Cushing and Lee. With the work Cushing and Lee did with Hammer Films, as well as many other genre pics, it gave a young and eager fan plenty of titles to investigate. If you found one of the many films that they both appeared in, then it was an even better deal!
I know a lot of people spend this upcoming 3-day weekend grilling or spending time outside. But if you’re trying to think of some alternative way to spend your Memorial Day, might I offer up a suggestion? There are three very important figures in the horror genre celebrating birthdays this Thursday and Friday. And even though they have left us, it is just as important now to celebrate their work and remember them as when they were still with us. Of course, I’m talking about Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price.
The Unknown Peter Cushing
By Michael G. McGlasson
Published by BearManor Media, 2011. 107 pages.
Could we ever have too many books on this amazingly talented actor, one that wore the title of the Gentleman of Horror with pride? I don’t think so. But the problem can be that they can often tread of the same material over and over again. I mean how different can a biography be if they are all coming from the same facts and information. But McGlasson has done something quite different here, but not necessarily a good thing. While the book looks to be about Peter Cushing, a good deal of it is actually about his ancestor’s, particularly the ones that worked in the theater, such as his grandfather Henry William Cushing. McGlasson seems to have done some extensive research in tracing back Cushing’s linage, going way back to the 1500’s, so for that we give him a lot of credit. But while this is pretty interesting stuff, only about 30 or so pages in this small book is actually about Peter Cushing himself.
Peter Cushing: A Life in Film
By David Miller
Published by Titan Books, 2013. 192 pages.
Previously published in 2000 under the title The Peter Cushing Companion, this is a newly revised hardcover edition. While the text has been edited and tweaked a bit here and there, it is pretty much the same book in respect to that. But this edition is a beautiful hardcover edition that has 16 full color pages that the previous edition did not have. Sure, it would have been nice for the publishers to advertise it that way instead of making it seem like a totally new book, but none the less, it is a worthwhile book in any movie fan’s collection.
Peter Cushing: An Autobiography and Past Forgetting
By Peter Cushing
Published by Midnight Marquee, 1999. 256 pages.
Peter Cushing is probably one of the most famous British actors known for his horror roles, primarily due to his work with Hammer Films. Though he played in countless other types of genres, he loved to give his fans what they wanted. Turning the spotlight of Hammer’s Frankenstein films from the creature, Cushing made the doctor himself the real monster, always giving 110% to his role, making his character and the films unforgettable.
These books cover his life, his start in pictures, and his work with Hammer Films. This book combines the two autobiographies that Cushing wrote and published, the first one An Autobiography in 1986 and the second one Past Forgetting in 1988. The second book was done due to many people asking him why he didn’t talk a lot about his film work, especially his work with Hammer Films.