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Hammer Horror - Page 3

post #101 of 320
THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955)

I've seen this before so the plot didn't surprise me one bit on this viewing. What did surprise me was how much of the setup really doesn't work. Brian Donlevy's Prof. Quatermass barks orders that work, just because. Margia Dean's Judith Carroon is one note shrill. There are some howlers of lines like "There's no room for personal feelings in science!". Other than some nice makeup work on Richard Wordsworth as Victor Carroon as he slowly transforms into something other and some fine supporting turns by Jack Warner as Insp. Lomax and David King-Wood as Dr. Gordon Briscoe, in the standard British tradition, it's tough sledding getting the pieces into place.

But, suddenly they click into place and the film zooms towards the top rank of 50s sci-fi horror. I think it really starts in the scene where they watch the flight film of the astronauts. One astronaut falls over dead to weird lighting effects. Then another. And apparently a third. There's no readily apparent identification what exactly happened, but it's clear that it's something alien and weird. (I'll note that Fantastic Four has a similar setup; astronauts go into space, they encounter something, and they come back changed.) With the silence after the film interrupted by the ominous "Run it again" from Quatermass.

This is also the point where Judith Carroon leaves the picture and Richard Wordsworth gets up and moving. And cactus and people start getting absorbed. Richard Wordsworth really turns in a remarkable mime performance. Sometimes alien. Sometimes human horrified by what he's becoming and trying to fight it off. There's a scene reminiscent of Frankenstein between him and a little girl in this sequence.

And then things get really inspired. There's a very quiet zoo sequence where Carroon comes to feed that's dripping with atmosphere. In many ways reminiscent of the dog kennel scene of Carpenter's The Thing. The reveal of something in the bushes is also handled like The Usual Suspects opening. And we get the first hints of just how far they're willing to go as it's evident that Carroon is changing into something that's not remotely human. We're definitely not in James Arness in a suit territory by this stage.

Things progress quickly. There's a scene with a slime trail up a 30 foot wall. And a little part of the creature that has it's own life. Again, reminiscent of what Carpenter will later do. And a funny horrific scene of the small blob like creature in a glass cage with a single mouse after feeding on the rest.

Ultimately it's tracked down to Westminster Abbey where we have a reveal of the creature. Unfortunately, the wide shots aren't very convincing as far as special effects go, it looks like a puppet, but it does have an otherworldly almost Lovecraftian design. And the closeups of the creature are very effective, making it look like a living, creeping, slimy octopus-like creature.

This being Hammer, there's a remarkably straightforward solution to the problem. Electrocute the creature. Perhaps an idea lifted from the Hawks/Nyby Thing. And it's a solid solution.

But, it's the aftermath that really sells the ending. Quatermass stalks out of the Abbey, unshaken, and determined to keep on launching rockets into space. He stalks off into the night, in a scene framed like the last panels of Alan Moore's and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta and the final shot is of a rocket blasting off into the night. Donlevy's one note stubbornness through much of the film has a payoff that puts the character into perspective and makes him almost an anti-hero. (A perspective that Nigel Kneale evidently didn't share.)

Ultimately, it's not as good as the two sequels. And the setup is really labored. It's not in the tier of the top US sci-fi horror films of the decade. But it's right in the second tier and it's an obvious influence on John Carpenter. So obvious that the cast names repeat themselves in Prince of Darkness.
post #102 of 320
Someone kick Anchor Bay in the ass to get them to start releasing Hammer Film boxsets in Blu Ray. NOW.
post #103 of 320
Right after Universal gets my Blu Ray money, I suppose. Although as far as I know the rights issues are a mess.

The Quatermass Xperiment is something that I wouldn't mind seeing remade. It's not that well known and there are plenty of issues with the original to begin with. Get someone like Croenenberg to direct and let him have fun with the corruption of the flesh angle. Or Carpenter. Or Del Toro. Heck, I think Scorsese even danced around it at one time.
post #104 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
Right after Universal gets my Blu Ray money, I suppose. Although as far as I know the rights issues are a mess.

The Quatermass Xperiment is something that I wouldn't mind seeing remade. It's not that well known and there are plenty of issues with the original to begin with. Get someone like Croenenberg to direct and let him have fun with the corruption of the flesh angle. Or Carpenter. Or Del Toro. Heck, I think Scorsese even danced around it at one time.
There's the 2005 BBC version, though I've no idea as to the thing's quality.
post #105 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xagarath Ankor View Post
There's the 2005 BBC version, though I've no idea as to the thing's quality.
It's a disappointing mess.

I'm not holding my breath on Hammer Blu-rays, but I haven't gone Blu yet anyway.
post #106 of 320
I haven't watched the 2005 BBC remake. But, I'm imagining that The Quatermass Xperiment could be updated in an intriguing way to emphasize themes and points that are already there. Cronenberg could play up the "decay of the flesh" angle. You could get someone like Rob Bottin to work up the final stage of the creature in an up to date manner. Heck, The Quatermass Xperiment is obscure enough that it would probably surprise the majority of the fanbase for this type of material.

That's more than you can do than a quick remake of the teleplay.
post #107 of 320
VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)

One of the harder to find of Hammer's vampire films. It's a shame too as it has a lot to recommend it and falls outside the Hammer formula in many aspects. Plus plenty of juicy subtext.

Let's start with the plot. Prof. Mueller (Laurence Payne) witnesses his wife leading away a young girl to the castle of Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman), who looks a little like a debauched 70s rocker. Soon the Count puts the bite on the girl and proceeds to get down with Mueller's wife. "One lust feeds another." But Mueller leads an angry group of villagers to the Count's castle and pretty soon they drive a stake through his heart. And the Count, with his dying breath, proceeds to put a curse on the villagers that attacked him and their children.

The villagers then proceed to whip the Prof.'s wife, in a scene with imagery invoking a gang rape. Mueller ultimately intervenes and she runs into the castle, which the villagers proceed to burn down and blow up in a case of overkill. She pulls the count's body to the crypt below the castle and hears psychic emanations that she's to find the Count's cousin Emil and enact revenge while the castle burns above her.

15 years later and the village is subject to plague. The village is being blockaded from surrounding villages as a result. But, the Circus of Night pulls into town to provide relief, while Dr. Kersh heads to Vienna to find a cure for the plague, leaving his son Anton (John Moulder-Brown) to carry on in his stead. And the Circus turns out to be both kinkier than expected, there's a "tiger lady" dance that's decidedly not family entertainment, and to contain shape shifting vampires who prey on the children.

There's more to it beyond the initial setup plot wise, but what makes the film a success is the sense of experimentation and a creepy mood it hits on a regular occasion. And it's partcularly effective at putting children in peril.

There's also plenty of nudity and kink. And some juicy subtext. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children. Authority, whether it's the Count's or the village elders, is brought down. The Circus and Village are contrasting communities that come into conflict. Lots of strong stuff here.

Some problems too. Some of the special effects don't hold up. And the village has a peculiar passive-aggressive relationship with the Circus. They're ready to be suspicious about the Circus, except when it's not convenient to the plot and then it's just a harmless Circus. There's quite a bit about the Circus that's overtly supernatural, but it doesn't seem to be commented upon. Act III is pretty standard Hammer fare and Anton Kersh, like many of Hammer's callow heroes of the period, isn't particularly interesting. There are plot holes and the budget doesn't seem to allow for enough extras.

But, overall, it's an interesting, atmospheric film. Less formulaic than most of the latter Dracula films as well. It's one of the better Hammer vampire entries, all the more interesting since Hammer probably had done about a dozen vampire films previously and they still were able to come up with something different and effective.

Well worth seeking out.
post #108 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
And, non-Hammer, HORROR EXPRESS which is a little, whacked out, gem.
For years I thought "Horror Express" WAS a Hammer film. I guess I saw Cushing & Lee and then put two and two together to make five.

I'm not a big fan of the genre, but I can watch this again and again. A good horror movie must strike the perfect balance between horror (cheap frights, man in a monster suit, gore etc.) and terror (inducing near-primal feelings of unease, fear etc. through music or lighting or backstory). HE gets this balance absolutely right and even today there are points where I'm fighting the urge to turn away.

The movie is cool enough with Cushing & Lee, but when Telly Savalas (one of my favourite actors) turns up as a COSSACK(!?!) the whole thing powers into space and then disappears down a phase III quantum weirdness singularity.
post #109 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)

Let's start with the plot. Prof. Mueller (Laurence Payne) witnesses his wife leading away a young girl to the castle of Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman), who looks a little like a debauched 70s rocker. Soon the Count puts the bite on the girl and proceeds to get down with Mueller's wife. "One lust feeds another." But Mueller leads an angry group of villagers to the Count's castle and pretty soon they drive a stake through his heart. And the Count, with his dying breath, proceeds to put a curse on the villagers that attacked him and their children.

The villagers then proceed to whip the Prof.'s wife, in a scene with imagery invoking a gang rape. Mueller ultimately intervenes and she runs into the castle, which the villagers proceed to burn down and blow up in a case of overkill. She pulls the count's body to the crypt below the castle and hears psychic emanations that she's to find the Count's cousin Emil and enact revenge while the castle burns above her.
And all that before we even see the title onscreen! What an opening!
post #110 of 320
Yeah, the opening is like it's own mini-horror movie. A slightly more perverse one than Hammer's standards at that.

It occurs to me that the nomadic circus vampires have their own unique niche. Might even be seen as a precursor to NEAR DARK.
post #111 of 320
This doesn't quite count as horror, but Sony just released a damn good box set of Hammer black and white thrillers called Icons Of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films. You get 6 beautiful mint anamorphic transfers for a few bucks a flick.
post #112 of 320
Here's a very important question, who's the sexy blonde vampire at the bottom-left of Hammer's website?
post #113 of 320
Probably time for another spin through Hammer this year to catch up on ones I haven't seen before. One loose end to clean up first.

HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970)

The CW does Frankenstein. It's a horror film that's not very horrifying. It's a semi-spoof that's only intermittently funny. And it's a sex romp that mostly withholds the goods.

It is pretty much a remake of CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, reworking some relationships, etc., but it's one lacking surprise. The closest we actually get to a surprise is the ending, which is kind of clever, but cleverness is no substitute for a climax that's exciting and/or visceral.

On the plus side:



And there is some handsome art direction and photography in general.

Ralph Bates basically gets to do the origin of Victor Frankenstein and although he has his moments, he's no Peter Cushing. He's fine at playing arrogant, but there's not much obsessive or driven in him.

Although limited, Bates still is much better than the rest of the cast where one-dimensional would perhaps be giving them too much credit. Kate O'Mara, pictured above, as Alys perhaps fairs best of them, but she grows shrill as the movie wears on.

The movie drags. It's over an hour before the monster is created. In a scene that's surprisingly short. A couple of rampages later and the movie is over. The design of the creature is very dull. As is David Prowse's performance. Karloff obviously ran away with the role. Christopher Lee imbued the role with a sense of anger and menace. David Prowse looks bored.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the spoof nature. It's just not very funny. And it goes in all the obvious, easy directions. The elder Baron tells Victor that he'll go to university "over his dead body" and then we get to see Victor set up his death without even a twist. There are a couple of points I found amusing, the graverobber asks Victor whether he wants male or female bodies, that seemed to be bringing the sex romp side and horror side together. But, otherwise, the films schizophrenic nature really has no payoffs.

CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was a film for adults. Shocking, full of energy, and bold. HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN is a film for teens that aren't very discerning and completely lacking in energy and inspiration. Hammer had done the horror better just a few years earlier in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. Mel Brooks would show the world a classic horror spoof in just a few years with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN comes up short in both directions.
post #114 of 320
Probably worth mentioning, VAMPIRE CIRCUS is available through streaming via Netflix.
post #115 of 320
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964)

Probably about as generic a mummy film as possible. And, honestly, there aren't many mummy films that rise above the generic. For a famous monster, there sure are a lot of lame, uninteresting mummy movies.

After a pretty decent opening when an archeologist in 1900 Egypt gets murdered and his hand chopped off, nothing particularly interesting happens for a long stretch. It turns out that the archeologist is the father of Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland) who is engaged to the archeologist John Bray (Ronald Howard), who looks like he's old enough to be her father frankly, and under the guidance of elderly archeologist Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim), who drinks too much under stress. The finds of the tomb of Prince Ra are diverted away from museums for study by American expedition backer Alexander King (Fred Clark), who's a showman of the P.T. Barnum / Carl Denham school. Annette has one scene when she learns of her father's murder and then acts completely normal the rest of the film. One the trip back, Sir Giles, Bray, and Annette are saved from an attack by Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan) who proceeds to blatantly put the moves on Annette while Bray does literally nothing about it. (It doesn't help that the romance scenes are blatantly cliche.) It's definitely not a character piece. It's not much of a mystery either as it's pretty darn obvious who the villain of the piece is.

It's not much of a horror movie either. The mummy doesn't disappear and the killings don't start until over halfway through the movie. And while the movie picks up some there, it's pretty clearly an inferior rehash of Hammer's THE MUMMY. There's one decent scene, one victim gets flung down a long flight of stairs in the fog with the camera looking up the stairs. And there's a lot that's inferior. There's a great scene in THE MUMMY where Christopher Lee literally busts doors off hinges in a fury. It's recreated with the mummy here breaking in a pair of french doors, only without any of the energy and fury. The ending, in the sewers, is pretty lame as well.

To add to all of that, it looks cheap. The colors don't pop. There's almost no atmosphere. There's no real compelling performance, although Fred Clark is at least energetic as an obnoxious American. OTOH, Michael Ripper is embarrasing as an Arab and the "comic relief" workmen are beyond annoying. And it has zero new ideas.

It's definitely one of Hammer's worst monster movies. I suppose that the color makes it superior to some of the Universal Kharis films of the 1940s, but that's pretty faint praise. Eminently skippable.
post #116 of 320
I'm going to get around to THE MUMMY'S SHROUD this week.

But, as a digression, I think it's rather interesting how they're attempting to revive the Hammer brand. They really seem to be on the ball with what they're trying to do and really targeting this October. LET ME IN obviously, but I don't think it's any coincidence that TCM is showing a lot of Hammer movies in October. And I certainly expect to hear much noise in the coming weeks.

Aside from nostalgia, this is really interesting to me from a business perspective. Has anyone really attempted this big a brand comeback after so long away?
post #117 of 320
I was reading the Quint interview with Simon Oakes and I found it strange that he would talk about how they don't want to be a "gore" studio.
I imagine Mr. Oakes would know more than I, but wasn't violence a major part of what moved Hammer out of the shadow of Universal's monsters?
I always loved Hammer Horror films because of that collision of stuffy British acting and the exploitative use of violence and sex.
post #118 of 320
Yeah, there's no shortage of exploitation elements in Hammer films.

That said, Hammer had enough craftmanship so that the exploitation elements weren't the only reasons to watch their films. You could generally count on fine art direction, good cinematography, fine acting from the likes of Cushing, Lee, and Oliver Reed, solid direction from the likes of Terrence Fisher and Val Guest, a pretty good score, and generally a script with a good idea or two. The fact that Hammer wasn't just a horror film studio brought some balance. Although, yeah, from the mid-60s to the end, Hammer was churning them out more than actually doing really good work on a regular basis. They were passed pretty early in the 60s by the likes of PSYCHO, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, REPULSION, and even Corman's Poe pictures.

I do think that the nature of horror has changed so much that new Hammer's trying to find their niche. They're definitely not going to be able to compete with Saw for gore. And they're definitely not going to be able to compete with the big studios for special effects. But, I think there probably is some room for smaller horror films with actually decent production values and ideas. I tend to think that LET ME IN and THE WOMAN IN BLACK are the keys for new Hammer.
post #119 of 320
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1967)

There's absolutely nothing new here. CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB actually had an original idea for the motivation of the villain, but here it's "you desecrated a tomb, you must die". Still there's some pulpiness to the material and a bit of energy that bumps it above the earlier snoozefest.

The biggest problem is that it looks cheap. There's a narrated prologue showing the betrayal of the Pharoah, who looks like he could fit in as King Tut opposite Adam West, and the Prince Kah-to-Bey and the "loyal slave" Prem flee into the desert. Where the party, including the Prince, die off for lack of food and water. And the Prince is buried in a tomb with a sacred shroud. Much of this would have been effective, but it's pretty much bungled. Prem looks like a balding, fat middle aged Englishman. The desert looks like a quarry. And it helps for the "cardboard doors knocked off their hinges" effect if you even bother to put hinges on the doors.

But if the prologue is ineffective, at least stuff happens. And the best part about THE MUMMY'S SHROUD is that there aren't too many lulls. Right away we're introduced to the concept of a lost expedition in the desert, rescue parties searching, and a sandstorm. The leader of the party Sir Basil (Andre Morrell, from the BBC version of Quatermass and the Pit) is joined by the son of the expedition's backer Paul Preston (David Buck), the photographer Harry (Tim Barrett) and the expert in ancient languages Claire (Maggie Kimberly). There's a rescue party being arranged by the egocentric backer Stanley Preston (John Phillips) with help from his bootlicking toady Longbarrow (Michael Ripper). That's followed up by the expedition's encounter with the mad keeper of the tomb (Roger Delgado) and an asp bite to Sir Basil before they're rescued by Stanley Preston's party. All six of the major characters enter the tomb, which gives an excuse for a higher body count than your typical mummy movie.

Once back in Cairo, Stanley Preston starts taking all the credit, to the consternation of his son, and Sir Basil takes ill and is sent to an insane asylum where he promptly escapes. At that point, Roger Delgado revives the mummy and sends it to pick off the desecrators one by one. You can probably guess the survivors at this point. Toss in a police inspector to complicate matters and keep the "suspects" from fleeing and an over the top fortune teller to help move the plot along and you have the plot.

One of the things that helps the movie along is that the mummy attacks tend to be pretty vicious. It's almost a proto FRIDAY THE 13TH in that respect. It's not enough for this mummy to strangle his victims. One gets his head crushed. Another gets splashed with acid and set on fire. One gets thrown out a high window and there's quite a bit of Hammer blood at the bottom. And another gets his head bashed against a stone wall, again with a lot of Hammer blood. The hero even takes an ax to the mummy.

Surprisingly Michael Ripper turns in a really solid performance in a part that's much bigger than his usual bartender bits. Yeah, he's a toady, but he basically just wants to do a good job and go back home to England, he didn't sign up for any of this mummy's curse business. He's treated shabbily by the elder Preston, and is even brought to a low ebb by the simple accidental breaking of his glasses before he encounters the mummy. It's a part that drips with being humiliated, but is still somehow effective.

Overall, I can't call it a good movie. But, if it's the FRIDAY THE 13TH of mummy movies, at least that's an identity. They pretty much throw everything but the kitchen sink into this one, but the pulp action and a decent performance or two at least means that it's not boring.
post #120 of 320
I've recently begun watching all the Hammer films for the first time with an intense interest. I am loving most of them and have decided that I need to own most of the big ones.

My favorites at this point are THE HORROR OF DRACULA/DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN/FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED.

I still have many to get to though.

I've been making screenshots of all of them as well.

http://goatsword.blogspot.com/search/label/Hammer
post #121 of 320
So I've found quite a few used copies of Hammer DVDs over the last few months. I absolutely loved Curse of the Werewolf, it's gotta be close to the studio's best. Phantom of the Opera may also be my new favorite version of the story. Paranoiac and Night Creatures were a big surprise. Blood from the Mummy's tomb was pretty inept, and I unfortunately did not enjoy Vampire Circus all that much, though it did give me some pleasant flashbacks to Santa Sangre.
post #122 of 320
Paranoiac is fun. Loved Oliver Reed's crazed walk down the staircase near the end, he hams it up a treat.

These are The Damned is finally getting it's own Region 2 DVD release on the 4th of October. Joe Dante recently stated in an interview that it was his favourite Hammer film. I watched this and Paranaoic closely together and was suprised at the brother/sister incest (sub)text that was present.

The last Hammer film I saw was Dracula: Prince of Darkness which didn't do much for me until the climactic ending.
post #123 of 320
BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1971)

This one is almost a classic. It's got a novel approach, a beautiful lead, and plenty of atmosphere, but it stops short of where it needs to be.

The movie is based on Bram Stoker's "Jewel of Seven Stars" which I haven't read. But the basic plot is that Margaret Fuchs (Valerie Leon) is having nightmares related to Queen Tera (Leon). Tera was apparently an Egyptian witch that is killed and entombed in the opening scene by a bunch of priests. The priests are then killed in a violent windstorm with their throats slashed open. At the moment of Margaret's birth, her father Julian Fuchs (Andrew Keir) found and entered the tomb and uttered the name of Tera, which apparently connects to Margaret's mother dying in child birth and Margaret at first seeming dead at birth. Now Margaret's birthday is approaching, her father gives her an enormous ruby ring with a constellation seemingly inside it, and a former member of the expedition, Corbeck (James Villiers), is spying on her. She and her boyfriend Tod (Mark Edwards) try to sort things out after her father has a stroke in the basement, which contains the imported Queen Tera's tomb including the Queen herself and the right stump of an arm which still bleeds when there's a murder. Their investigation leads them to former members of the expedition who soon get bumped off in supernatural fashion. Queen Tera is coming back and using Margaret as her vessel. But where does Margaret begin and Tera end?

As you can tell from that short plot synopsis, there's plenty of material to work with here. Perhaps too much material than Hammer was capable of at this time. And it assuredly didn't help that it was a troubled production. Peter Cushing had to leave after one day of filming, replaced with Keir. And the director, Seth Holt, died before filming was complete. And there's evidence of these problems carrying over to the final production. And the script really isn't as sharp as it needs to be, the former members of the expedition that get bumped off are complete ciphers whose death have no real meaning. And I'm still not sure what Corbeck was hoping to accomplish. Or how Prof. Fuchs was hoping to prevent Queen Tera's return. There's a difference between ambiguous and confusing and BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB falls too far into confusing.

It also doesn't help that the death set pieces are pretty underwhelming. Some turns on the fans, papers blow around, there's some quick cutting, and ultimately the victim ends with a slashed throat. THE MUMMY'S SHROUD delivered on the death scenes, and we weren't too far away from THE OMEN, but BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB really can't deliver the basic goods there.

It's too bad, because there's a lot that flat out works. The camera flat out loves Valerie Leon here and she does a fine job with what she has to work with. Frankly, it's one of the best performances by a female Hammer lead.

And the plot is unique as I've seen enough "guys wrapped in bandages pursuing their victims" movies. There's even a pretty solid twist involving the purported male hero/love interest. There's plenty of atmosphere. And it looks good too.

If intentions were enough, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB would be up with the best of Hammer. A muddled screenplay and not being able to deliver memorable set pieces hampers the movie though. It's almost up to legitimately good, which is more than I can say for THE MUMMY'S SHROUD and THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB.
post #124 of 320
My rankings of Hammer's mummy movies:

The Classic
The Mummy

Flawed, but worth a watch
Blood From the Mummy's Tomb
The Mummy's Shroud

For Completists Only
Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
post #125 of 320
An under-appreciated Hammer gem I can vouch for is THE NANNY (1965) with Bette Davis.
post #126 of 320
I need to get around to Hammer's thrillers soon. Most of them have a solid reputation with good actors.

I was thinking about what I'd like to see from "New Hammer" and I'd certainly would like to see them get away from the old stock Universal/Hammer canon. I don't know if there's a niche for it in the current market, but there are plenty of authors that haven't been touched that would be fresh. Arthur Machen (The Great God Pan), Algernon Blackwood, Ramsey Campbell, M.R. James, and even Lovecraft all could be fertile ground for continuing the Hammer tradition. Unfortunately, I don't know if there's a market for upscale "literary" horror, even if it's enlivened with gore and nudity.
post #127 of 320
Last night I watched 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' and the ending was making me laugh. Dracula is surrounded by crosses so he heads up to the second floor of the pipe organ and begins to pull the pipes from the instrument to toss them down at our hero and heroine. But they're so busy arguing with each other, they don't even notice the giant 400lb pipes that are smashing down everything around them. Poor Dracula, he comes off like a child throwing a tantrum.
post #128 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
I need to get around to Hammer's thrillers soon. Most of them have a solid reputation with good actors.
CASH ON DEMAND is dynamite, obviously based on a stage play and confined to interiors but suspenseful and superbly acted by Hammer's Holmes and Watson, Cushing and Andre Morell. The story can best be described as a holiday heist thriller, or 3:10 TO YUMA by way of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
post #129 of 320
Well, earlier tonight I saw my second-ever Hammer film (the first one being the '59 House of the Baskervilles, which I saw so long ago I don't remember a lick about it except that I believe I enjoyed the film), Horror of Dracula. EvilTwin's recap of it on the preceding page explains things pretty well, but I can see why it's considered a classic by many horror fans. The two big names in the cast more than delivered and I enjoyed just about everything else. Its pace was great; its 82 minute runtime was fully used and it was never boring. As EvilTwin said then, "So, basically, this still works like gangbusters. Handsome, sexy, and exciting. Sure, it's over the top and blunt at points, but I'd say that Nosferatu is the only Dracula adaptation that's markedly superior."

Now, I just need to try and see at least a few more movies from this great studio.
post #130 of 320
THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966)

Not one of Hammer's more famous outings, perhaps because of a lack of Lee and Cushing, and it's a bit of a shame. This is absolutely one of Hammer's better offerings and likely more influential than is let on. It occupies pretty squarely the middle between traditional zombie matieral like I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

The plot involves a Cornish village that's beset by a plague. And, unbeknownst to the villagers, but not the audience, voodoo rituals. The young village doctor Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) writes to his old professor Sir James Forbes (Andre Morrell) in regards to his problem. His daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) encourages her father to go visit the village personally, not the least because she's friends with Peter's wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce). Unfortunately, Alice is starting the display signs of the plague that have gripped the town.

It's a pretty simple setup, which allows us to get to the mystery almost immediately. Sylvia manages to run afoul of a group of fox hunters almost immediately. Fox hunters who bear a grudge and appear to be would be rapists. "Luckily" for her, the squire of the village, Clive Hamilton (John Carson), who's the sponsor of the fox hunters isn't amused at all by their excesses. Then again, he has his eyes on Alice and Sylvia. And he seems to have a mysterious form of wealth even though no one will work his tin mine because of unsafe conditions.

You can probably guess rather easily how things will work out from the above description. Which would be a problem if the setpieces of the story didn't work very well. There are late night excursions to the graveyard. Empty graves. An autopsy scene perhaps made a little more gruesome as the possibility exists that the subject is only half dead. A useful set of local police, complete with Michael Ripper as a sargeant. A nightmare sequence. And, of course, zombies.

And these zombies seem to bear quite a resemblance to Romero's, although Romero doesn't go quite as far in the makeup department, these zombies are a little over made up. Still they look good. And pretty much every scene they show up in packs a punch.

The sets and locations look awfully good. Probably because they were able to get more bang because they reused the sets for THE REPTILE.

Andre Morrell is very solid as the lead. He's fussy and crusty with his daughter, although you can sense the warmth underneath the performance and he's used to his privilege, albeit he doesn't abuse it. He's not as solid in the action scenes as Cushing would have been, but he brings a warmth to the role that Cushing might not have. I could see Diane Clare's performance rubbing some people the wrong way, but I found her charming. She's definitely daddy's little girl and used to getting her way, but instead of being selfish and spoiled, she comes across as sweet and big hearted. John Carson as the squire is kind of underwhelming. He's sufficient but his motivation consists of little more than greed, and his plan could perhaps be read as corporate greed or colonial greed transplanted to Britain, but there's little to distinguish the role other than ceremonial costume. Brook Williams is pretty forgettable and if it wasn't for a last minute save at the end he'd be completely useless. He comes this close to being the helpless male. Other than Michael Ripper, nobody else makes much of an impression.

Overall I was pretty impressed. It's perhaps a better villain and better supporting characters away from being one of Hammer's best, but there's a lot to enjoy here. Worth hunting down.
post #131 of 320
Just wanted to mention that I've been enjoying your write-ups, EvilTwin. I've been revisiting these classics myself lately and finding myself in agreement with you more times than not. As I watch more (Frank and Mummy after vampire), I'll go back and read your takes on those as well. Plan on checking out the Ingrid Pitt and Karnstein entries?

Cushing's Van Helsing was such a great presence in the earlier Dracula films. He was a sensitive and knowledgable badass to be sure. I love the climax of BRIDES between the throwdown/chase, him cauterizing his own neck wound, and the windmill-cross "trap". Gangbusters. He is sorely missed in the subsequent flicks. Anyone know why it took so long for his character to return? Cushing too busy with Amicus?

SOme of Dracula's resurrections are pretty ridiculous. And great. And silly. And ridiculously silly. What are the odds that the priest would fall and bleed exactly where Dracula is frozen under the ice???

My favorite? Dracula revived by bloody bat puke. Reminded me of Freddy being revived by dog piss in the NOES series.
post #132 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
SCARS OF DRACULA (1970)

Hammer's last period Dracula movie shows all the signs of Hammer's upcoming collapse in the 1970s. What's shocking is that it's lacking in the relative polish that Hammer was known for. There are a couple of interesting things going on in this one, but I think it's easily the worst directed of the bunch to date.

I'm not sure what was the purpose of this film other than as program filler. Dracula's resurrection, always fun for the continuity minded, is handled in the first minute. A vampire bat drools blood on Dracula's powdered remains in Castle Dracula reviving the Count. How Dracula's remains got back to Castle Dracula after TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA is never explained. Worse, the bat is a laughably bad special effect. And it returns, again and again, throughout the film.

So, Dracula is revived quickly and the opening credits feature a villager carrying Dracula's latest victim. The villagers have finally had enough and they set out to burn down Castle Dracula, dragging along the reluctant Priest. The villagers encounter Dracula's servant Klove (Patrick Troughton) who warns them that his master will have his vengeance if they touch his castle. And Dracula does have his vengeance, unleashing a swarm of laughably bad bats which kill all the women of the village who had holed up in the Church. The scar covered faces of the victims being one of Hammer's goriest makeup jobs to date.

And then the film switches gears and we get bland Hammer leading man Simon (Dennis Waterman) who's in love with bland but pretty Hammer leading lady Sarah (Jenny Hanley). And Sarah is mildly smitten with Simon's brother Paul (Christopher Matthews) who apparently thinks he's in a version of Tom Jones as he's busy bedding the burgomaster's daughter, who we get a nice view of her naked rear at the beginning, before having to flee from the burgomaster. All the way, after a stop with the unhelpful villagers and a friendly barmaid, to Castle Dracula.

The usual things happen after that, although at least in this version they borrow heavily from Stoker as SCARS contains the most bits of the original novel since HORROR OF DRACULA. Paul disappears, Simon and Sarah follow and wind up at Castle Dracula, and Dracula intends to put the bite on Sarah. You can pretty much take it from there.

The one thing that's really fresh about the movie is Patrick Troughton's Klove. He's easily the most interesting character as he falls for a photo of Sarah and is constantly shifting sides throughout the rest of the movie. Troughton's flat out great in the role, whistling while he chops up and disposes of one of Dracula's victims, which is easily the best servant role of the whole series.

The other thing that's really interesting is that this is easily Christopher Lee's biggest part since HORROR OF DRACULA. Parts are taken directly from Stoker's novel, he gets to climb straight up a wall from his inaccessible resting place, he gets the most lines of dialogue of any Dracula movie, and he gets to be really sadistic, torturing Klove with a sword pulled from a fireplace for instance.

And there's easily the most gore in the series too. Mostly from the bat attacks, but Paul ends up with a meat hook sticking out of his chest.

Unfortunately, I really don't have much else to call a positive. The bat special effects are terrible and it's compounded by the director, Roy Ward Baker, lingering on them. The sets look cheap and its compounded by them being overlit. Some shadows in the vein of Val Lewton would have helped tremendously. And even by bland Hammer leading man standards, Dennis Waterman is terrible.

The finale is handled poorly too. Dracula menaces Sarah outside his castle, but she's protected by her crucifix. Which leads to a laughably awful reaction shot of Lee. Lee sends the laughably bad bat to remove the crucifix with the camera lingering on Sarah's bloody cleavage. Another laughably bad reaction shot from Lee. Simon runs to the rescue and throws an iron bar into Dracula, the one good part of the scene. Dracula pulls it out and intends to skewer Simon but lightning hits the bar instead and starts Dracula on fire. Perhaps this could have worked but the shock value as the director lingers on the bad special effects too long, as well as the looped scream of Dracula, until a bad flaming model falls off a bad model castle.

I'm perhaps making it sound worse than it is, it's really not that much worse than several of the preceding Dracula films, but it's a real tired endeavor without many of the charms of previous Hammer films. Usually you can count on a Hammer film at least looking good, no such luck here. It's no wonder they tried to reboot the series after this.
I definitely enjoyed this one more than you I think. Sarah may be bland, but that cleavage? Wow. And it should be noted that she's the first female to resist Dracula's gaze, whilst trapping him with the cross. Every other female before her submits to the Count quickly. I love the secret tower entrance idea too. I think it creates some tension in those particular scenes.

One thing to note about the Hammer Dracula flicks I've noticed, is that they use some of the same actors (Miles Malleson, Michael Ripper, etc) again and again in unrelated roles and they even reuse some of the same character names (who aren't the same characters) during the franchise. There's a couple of Alices, Pauls, and Lucys... all totally unrelated (well besides being terrorized by Lee).

EDIT: Found more Bruce Timm covers...





I posted it on page 1, but I love the way he depicts Munro...

post #133 of 320
The Bruce Timm art is fabulous. I'm also really fond of the work of Belle Dee, a talented gal who's head over heels in love with all things Hammer:

http://doowackadoodles.blogspot.com/search?q=hammer

A lot of her best Hammer stuff can be found in her Facebook galleries.
post #134 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Phibes View Post
The Bruce Timm art is fabulous. I'm also really fond of the work of Belle Dee, a talented gal who's head over heels in love with all things Hammer:

http://doowackadoodles.blogspot.com/search?q=hammer

A lot of her best Hammer stuff can be found in her Facebook galleries.
Cute! A weird word to associate with Hammer, but it's true!
post #135 of 320
Anyone familiar with LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF? Not available on DVD. Not a Hammer flick, but it's nearly one.



1st: the lycanthrope looks very similar to the one on Hammer's CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.

2nd: Peter Cushing is in it.

3rd: Anthony Hinds (who wrote CURSE) wrote this one as well, using the same source material... close enough to be a "remake"?

Here's some more background. Going to have to hunt this one down...


post #136 of 320
INGRID PITT, RIP (1937-2010)
post #137 of 320
So sad about Ingrid. But God has given me respite in the form of that werewolf movie Darkmite posted. A new quest!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post

I posted it on page 1, but I love the way he depicts Munro...

It's all about the teeth.
post #138 of 320
That's a shame about Ingrid Pitt.

And that werewolf movie look really cool.
post #139 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
Plan on checking out the Ingrid Pitt and Karnstein entries?

I'm definitely up for those, especially in regards to the news about Pitt. I'm planning on getting to The Reptile and Dr. Jeckyl and Sister Hyde first, but those films are definitely on my list.



Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
Cushing's Van Helsing was such a great presence in the earlier Dracula films. He was a sensitive and knowledgable badass to be sure. I love the climax of BRIDES between the throwdown/chase, him cauterizing his own neck wound, and the windmill-cross "trap". Gangbusters. He is sorely missed in the subsequent flicks. Anyone know why it took so long for his character to return? Cushing too busy with Amicus?
I agree that Cushing is really missed in the later Draculas. I get that they were trying something different and it's not like Cushing wasn't working with Hammer, but Hammer didn't even come close to replacing his presence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
SOme of Dracula's resurrections are pretty ridiculous. And great. And silly. And ridiculously silly. What are the odds that the priest would fall and bleed exactly where Dracula is frozen under the ice???

My favorite? Dracula revived by bloody bat puke. Reminded me of Freddy being revived by dog piss in the NOES series.
I'm still going with bleeding Priest with frozen Dracula as my favorite. It's so unlikely, but played so straight with such a setup.

As ridiculous and silly as they are, they just play to my inner continuity loving geek side.
post #140 of 320
I'm going to have to hunt down that werewolf movie as well. Who knew?
post #141 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
SOme of Dracula's resurrections are pretty ridiculous. And great. And silly. And ridiculously silly. What are the odds that the priest would fall and bleed exactly where Dracula is frozen under the ice???
From the first time I saw Dracula Has Risen From The Grave as a kid, I just took it for granted that the powers of darkness were manipulating events. Maybe it was the thunder and lightning, Francis' camera filters, Bernard's music, something... I don't know, I just accepted it just as much as I accepted that Patrick Troughton would happen to be in the exact right spot to get skewered by that lightning rod in The Omen.

I'm not saying it's tight writing. But all the elements of the movie coming together made me buy it. Now, Dracula sleeping in an open coffin in a high tower with open windows facing the sun? That one's a bit much!

And as for Legend Of The Werewolf? It has a really horrible reputation. I have a crummy 315 MB file of it that I've not been able to get through yet, regardless of my rabid horror fan status. The werewolf talks in this one, which is already a minus for me. But, if people are really curious about it, I'll suffer through and report back.
post #142 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Phibes View Post
The werewolf talks in this one, which is already a minus for me.
You're really failing to undersell it with that kind of chatter, my friend.

Edit: you have any idea how bummed I am he doesn't talk in this clip? Very.
post #143 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil View Post
So sad about Ingrid. But God has given me respite in the form of that werewolf movie Darkmite posted. A new quest!
I knew I was good for something.

RIP Ingrid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil View Post
It's all about the teeth.
Yeah, he gets her mouth just right.
post #144 of 320
Coming in a couple weeks...

post #145 of 320
Not every day you get to see David Prowse, Lalla Ward, a creepy dwarf, lots of tits, some gore, and a big body count all in the same movie. I've probably oversold Vampire Circus to an extent in the past, it has its flaws, but there's also no good reason for it to have been so hard to get ahold of in the past.

Who knows, some Twilight fans might even rent this by accident.
post #146 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTwin View Post
Who knows, some Twilight fans might even rent this by accident.
"Mommy, I think that's the sequel to CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT... can we rent it?"
post #147 of 320
Legend Of The Werewolf (Freddie Francis, 1975)

For Cushing completists or really desperate werewolf completists only. It's a fairly dull and uninteresting retread of Curse Of The Werewolf, except the lycanthrope lead is so boring that the movie abandons him for much of the running time. There's no reason to be interested in this guy*, save for the fact that we know he's going to turn into an Oliver Reed werewolf rip-off. We only know him through Ron Moody as Cor Blimey the Zookeeper, who gives him a job shoveling animal crap, and the supposedly romantic female lead, a prostitute who doesn't seem to care about him any more than the movie does.

And for most of the time, we don't even see the werewolf. Somehow, Terence Fischer made this sort of cheat enjoyable. Francis, not so much. In fact, I thought the guy had actually turned into Francis' red-filtered camera, since most of the attacks are these blood-red POV shots moving into peoples' necks. Then we see close-ups of the werewolf's bloody fangs over and over, which leads me to believe those shots were actually tooth POVs. The brief Michael Ripper cameo you saw in Phil's clip is as good as it gets with the kill scenes.

Eventually, the movie gives up on telling the Legend of this werewolf and hangs out with Cushing the Jolly Police Surgeon. At first, I feared the worst when The Cush showed up, as the movie introduces him with the cliche of Cushing cutting up a body off camera (holding up some guts into frame so everyone gets the point). But you just can't go wrong with Cushing. He is just too charming, even if he could do this shit in his sleep at that point. The police just want him to shut up and keep slicing up corpses like a good coroner, but The Cush knows something's up with all these torn out throat victims they keep wheeling in. So, we forget Sadsack Werewolf Guy and follow Cushing's amateur sleuthing. Along the way, they establish a new werewolf rule I like: once you make the silver bullet, you can't touch it with your bare hands or you'll ruin it.

But that's basically it. The movie looks fairly impoverished, cycling through the same sets over and over. Maybe it was the dull VHS transfer, but I was really aching for the old Hammer vivid Eastmancolor look. I recommend you all just watch Curse Of The Werewolf again, as it does so many things this movie tries to do, but a hundred times better. Or, if you're looking for obscure old-style Wolf Man action, check out the recent DVD of Paul Naschy's The Night Of The Werewolf, which has plenty of werewolf action, vampire babes, nudity, gore, fight scenes, and lots of extra B-movie cheese that's lovingly filmed. But Legend Of The Werewolf? I dunno... I guess I'm glad I finally saw it. And Cushing was enjoyable enough doing the same things he already did in about two dozen previous movies. But there isn't much to get excited about here.

*Don't ask me the name of the actor. He was fourth billed in the end credits, losing out even to Comedy Relief Photographer Guy. Which should clue you in that he ain't no Ollie Reed.

(Edit to add: Okay, I looked him up. David Rintoul. And he was in The Ghost Writer this year. Good on him.)
post #148 of 320
This DVD just arrived recently...

post #149 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
This DVD just arrived recently...
Great fun, with some gorgeous transfers. The Gorgon and Scream Of Fear are the real meat of the package, two of the greatest and scariest flicks Hammer ever produced. Two Faces of Dr Jekyll is a misfire, but a very interesting one. Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb is your typical dumb mummy movie, but still fun. Enjoy the eye candy of this must-buy.
post #150 of 320
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
Coming in a couple weeks...

It's out. And pretty fabulous entertainment, I must say. Selling pretty well on Amazon, too.

Check out the sexy screencaps in this DVD Beaver review:
(NSFW Warning: The Beaver doesn't care what your boss thinks of naked girls covered in body paint)
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-r...us_blu-ray.htm


"GREAT ASS!!!"
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