Hammer Films

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I was late to the Hammer party - actually, it was Warren Ellis’s comic series “Injection” that turned me on to it, as he mentioned in an interview that one of the story arcs was inspired by Quatermass. I’d never seen Quatermass… thought I’d give it a shot, and loved it. After that, the Hammer flood gates opened. I gobbled them up one after the other.

Share your Hammer stories and picture and lists - what was your first, what were your favorites, what movies are in your collections, and what actors did you come to love? Anything and everything Hammer is welcome here.

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The Hammer adaptation of Quatermass and the Pit (released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth) was probably my first introduction watching it as a kid. Given the Quatermass material (and original TV series) was so similar to Dr Who which I was a huge fan of - it was instant love for me.

Happy to say I have the recent blu ray of it.

Interesting enough while I love me some hammer stuff - i’m actually also quite fond of their rival studio Amicus (which interestingly enough did the two not super great Dr Who movies with Peter Cushing.)

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I’m a Hammer Films and Quatermass fan. A broadcast of Quatermass and the Pit in my childhood was what introduced me to Hammer and cemented my appreciation of their work. Some of their other titles are similarly strange and innovative, like X the Unknown and The Abominable Snowman. Can further recommend The Devil Rides Out, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, and To the Devil a Daughter. I also enjoyed the recent release The Lodge from the reconstituted brand.

They did a great anthology horror series called Hammer House of Horror, with some fine episodes in the mix. Check that out if you haven’t seen it yet.

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Shout Factory TV is showing all of those in their correct aspect ratio, unlike YouTube that has them in widescreen. I highly recommend the Silent Scream with Brian Cox and Peter Cushing.

ShoutFactoryTV : Watch full episodes of Hammer House Of Horror (zype.com)

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Good choice. Guardian of the Abyss is a personal favorite of mine from the series, as is Rude Awakening.

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Both of those are really good… and doppelganger stories always freak me out, so The Two Faces of Evil is another stand-out for me.

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Hammer also did some fantastic films outside of horror…

Never Take Sweets from a Stranger - about a child predator, which was way ahead of its time. It’s hair-raising and as frustrating and as horrifying as any of their scary movies.

Cash on Demand - It’s basically Scrooge in a tense heist thriller. COD is a pulse-pounding chamber piece; heavy on character, which is boosted by superb acting (the battle of wits between Peter Cushing and André Morell is to die for).

And despite some Holmes purists grousing about it, I really liked their take on The Hound of the Baskervilles - Cushing and Morell were great in the lead roles.

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The Quatermass films are excellent (as are the TV versions) and I would also recommend The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

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I love the Quatermass movies (and I like Brian Donlevy, despite some complaints). Phibes wasn’t a Hammer, but I agree, it’s a goodie.

I’ve enjoyed several from Amicus, and it didn’t hurt that they used several Hammer actors and directors. Asylum (1972) was one of my favorites, and of course, MST has done 3 of them.

Cushing was noteworthy in his segment in “Tales From the Crypt”

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Hammer films are directly responsible for my love of both the horror genre and cheesy movies. When I was a teenager in the mid 1990s, BBC2 in the UK used to regularly run a late Friday night horror film, which was often from the Hammer catalogue. The first one I’m sure of seeing is The Ghoul with Peter Cushing in the lead and a fairly early film appearance by John Hurt.

I really enjoyed Warren Ellis’s Injection also, hoping he returns to the series at some point.

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That’s the curse of reading Ellis, you take a chance you’ll never get to see an ending. But yeah, I’d love to see him finish that one.

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I was looking over my collection to see what I have. The thing I like about these BD releases is that they are packed with extras. So you get a cool movie and lots of backstory and trivia and such.

So from SHOUT, er, rather Scream Factory, unless otherwise noted

  • Dr. Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (this was also my 50th Hammer film seen)
  • The Devil Rides Out
  • Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb
  • The Brides of Dracula
  • Kiss of the Vampire
  • Quatermass Xperiment (from Kino Lorber)
  • Quatermass II
  • The Curse of Frankenstein (2-disc edition from Warner Brothers)
  • Let Me In (Achor Bay - The only Hammer-revival film I’ve truly liked)

and the Karnstein Trilogy

  • The Vampire Lovers
  • Lust for a Vampire
  • Twins of Evil (my favorite of the 3, comes from Synapse films)

Some of these I just bought as they were released, without seeing them first (Mummy’s Tomb).

I’d like to add Dracula, but I’m waiting for an upgrade with all the bells and whistles, the Warner Archives edition is too bare-bones. I’m thinking of picking up Plague of the Zombies, and the third Quatermass, when I put in my order for the Kino “Kolchak” series BD release.

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Whoa, didn’t know about this. Thanks, I’ll be having that!

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Yup I’m pre-ordering Kolchak soon. It looks great - details at Kino.

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A brief questionnaire (and if you’d like to change ? or add to it, feel free)

First Hammer? Was probably Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966) at the drive-in. I’m just sad I never got a free beard!

Top 3 Hammer Horror’s? The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - The Devil Rides Out (1963) - The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

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Underrated Hammer Film? Dracula A.D. 1972 - some hate this, I think it’s groovy and entertaining, a real kick.

Aside From aces Lee and Cushing, Favorite Hammer Actor? André Morell (Cash on Demand, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Plague of the Zombies, to name 3) - Superb actor, aside from Hammer he’s brilliant in The Caesars, and if you’ve never seen it, check out BBCs Nineteen Eighty-Four (1954) the teleplay was written by Quatermass creator, Nigel Kneale, and is lifted by some incredible acting from future Hammer kings, Morell and Peter Cushing - as well as Yvonne Mitchell and Donald Pleasence.

Favorite Actress? Martine Beswick - she stole the show in Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, just a stand-out performance. Was also featured in 2 from Hammer’s exotica period, One Million Years B.C., and Slave Girls (aka, Prehistoric Women), aside from that, she was in 2 Bond films!

Aside from Terence Fisher - Favorite Director? Val Guest, not only for the 2 Quatermass films but also the crime and war movies he did for Hammer, Hell is a City, and Yesterdays Enemy. He also directed The Abominable Snowman. Outside of Hammer, he directed the memorable, The Day the Earth Caught Fire. (honorable mentions: Roy Ward Baker and Seth Holt)

Favorite Everything Else? Cinematographer Jack Asher, composer James Bernard, and art director & production designer Bernard Robinson - yeah big surprise here… Not!

Supporting MVP? Michael Ripper

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First Hammer? The first I vividly recall as impressing the Hammer Films brand to me was Quatermass and the Pit.

Top 3 Hammer Horror’s? At the moment they are Quatermass and the Pit, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, and The Devil Rides Out. I’ve just picked up a Hammer collection however and may have some new favorites from that. Also, I’d love for them to re-release The Dark Light, as that sounds very much like my kind of film.

Underrated Hammer Film? To the Devil a Daughter is probably less well-known than it deserves to be. The Abominable Snowman is also an obscure gem.

Aside From aces Lee and Cushing, Favorite Hammer Actor? Equal props to Julian Glover and Charles Gray, who could portray punctilio, officiousness, and menace with the same aplomb.

Favorite Actress? Caroline Munro and Honor Blackman. Two queens of the cinema from this age, thanks to their riveting presences in so many films.

Favorite Director? Going to go with Roy Ward Baker, though Brian Clemens is right there with him.

Favorite Everything Else? Soundtrack artist Tristram Cary, who composed and scored a number of good things.

Supporting MVP? Richard Widmark, an intense actor with a deceptive everyman veneer.

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It’s too bad Munro didn’t make more with Hammer. But she wouldn’t do nudity (which I can respect, I’m not knocking her for that) - plus we didn’t get a planned series of Captain Kronos movies. I know they said goodbye to her at the end, but she was so good I could see her joining the duo on further adventures.

I went and ordered some Hammers, and Quatermass and the Pit just arrived, and I liked it much, much more this time out. Originally I found the set-up dry, but no, it’s nice and mysterious and builds and builds on that mystery and terror.

And it’s a lot deeper than I remembered, pondering the nature and origins of evil and prejudice, and the evolution of humankind. Plus it takes a piss out of bureaucracy.

Also after watching I’d have to add Barbara Shelley to the list of top drawer Hammer actresses.

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I’m with you there on more Munro and more Captain Kronos. It is a shame Hammer couldn’t continue with those.

Glad you got a chance to rewatch Q&TP and could appreciate it. And of course I concur with Barbara Shelley. She’s also in The Gorgon, which is slated as my next Hammer watch.

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I posted a new list at Letterboxd, inspired by a list by BFI (I included a link to that article as well)

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Just watched The Gorgon at last. Man, they did a great job remastering these, the film is so crisp and the colors so vibrant. Good little horror story in a nice setting, parallels the traditional “monster in an insular community” motif, but both the monster and the setting are fresh takes. And bonus, it has Pat Troughton in it!

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I remember when I first saw “Rude Awakening”, I was thinking that the guy portraying the real estate agent looked naggingly familiar. After I finished, I went to IMDB, figuring he must have been in some Britcom. Turns out it was Marcus from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade.

The second half of Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders would be a good fit for HHoH. If you were to return the original downbeat ending, flip all the scenes with vehicles, dub everyone with British accents, and CG alter the kid’s Return of the Jedi shirt (HHoH came out in 1980), you could probably pass it off as a lost episode.

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