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
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.
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!
Born April 16th, 1909 – Died Jan. 10th, 1995
You cannot be even the slightest fan of Hammer Films and not have seen the work of Roy Ashton. He started as an assistant makeup artist back in the ’30s, before starting to work with Hammer Studios, where he created some of their most memorable monsters. But Ashton wasn’t just a makeup man, he almost had a career as a musician and opera singer. But the hours of devotion needed to learn the makeup craft pulled him away from his true love of music. He was the assistant makeup man to Phil Leaky for Hammer, who was the man behind the Quatermass films and Curse of Frankenstein. After Leaky and Hammer had a falling out, Ashton became their head makeup man. He created the look for their films like Curse of the Werewolf, The Reptile, Plague of the Zombies, as well as doing Peter Cushing’s zombie makeup for Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt.
It is a real shame that his name is not as common as Rick Baker or Tom Savini, since his work is still watched and enjoyed today by countless horror fans. But hopefully we can do our little part and hopefully change that. For more information on Ashton, there is an excellent book on him called Greasepaint and Gore, which is filled with great stories and plenty of artwork and photos of his work.
Greasepaint and Gore: The Hammer Monsters of Roy Ashton
Bruce Sachs and Russell Wall
Published by Tomahawk Press, 167 pages.