Hammer Time

There has never been a British film studio like Hammer. From the mid-fifties through to the early seventies, they were an almost unstoppable engine-room of genre fare. Anchored by the Dracula movies, but also covering many other horror sub-genres, as well as SF, thriller and suspense, they delivered movies which were often critically reviled at the time, but were beloved by their audiences – and over time, their artistic qualities have increasingly come to be recognized. Icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee delivered many of their best performances in Hammer films, along with a slew of supporting actors whose faces you will recognize, if not necessarily their names.

The impact of Hammer personally is significant. They were probably the first “horror” films I appreciated, when screened by the BBC in my youth. I was already fan of Victorian fiction, like The Woman in White, and their adaptations of Frankenstein, Dracula and the rest touched a similar nerve. The performances of Cushing and Lee remain favourites to this day: Peter Cushing, in particular, is potentially the actor for whom I have most respect, both for his acting talent and his unimpeachable character off-screen [not least his absolute devotion to wife Helen]

For 2020, my Film Blitz project is to go through the heart of the Hammer filmography. This will not be exhaustive. That in-depth analysis of their On the Buses adaptation, for example, is going to have to wait, since I’m skipping the comedy, war, etc. fields. I’m also not going to all the way back to the pre-war era, when they started production. But I aim to cover all their more traditional genre fare, beginning with The Quatermass Xperiment in 1955, and running through The Lady Vanishes, the final movie of their “classic” era, released in 1979. Reviews will vary in length, format and content. Some may be historical and fact-based, others anecdotal and thoroughly subject to personal whim.

I’ll be going through them in chronological order (with adjustment for availability as necessary): probably one or two a week, so this is probably going to run until well into 2021. Yes, this is one of those projects where I just realized I have bitten off considerably more than I can chew. A number have been reviewed by me before, but only Dracula since I moved to this site. I’ll probably fold that one in; everything else will be written from scratch. Below you can find a playlist with the trailers as I find them, and then the movies which are scheduled: firstly in chronological order as I review them, followed by all the films which will be covered, broken down roughly into their categories.

Chronological

By category

The Birth of Hammer Horror

The Dracula films

  • Dracula (1958)
  • The Brides of Dracula (1960)
  • Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966)
  • Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
  • Scars of Dracula (1970)
  • Countess Dracula (1971)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974)
  • The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

Other vampire films

  • The Kiss of the Vampire (1963)
  • The Vampire Lovers (1970)
  • Lust for a Vampire (1971)
  • Twins of Evil (1971)
  • Vampire Circus (1972)
  • Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1974)

The Frankenstein films

The Mummy films

  • The Mummy (1959)
  • The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
  • The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)
  • Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)

Suspense/Thriller

  • Women Without Men (1956)
  • The Snorkel (1958)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
  • The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)
  • Ten Seconds to Hell (1959)
  • The Stranglers of Bombay (1960)
  • Hell is a City (1960)
  • Never Take Sweets From a Stranger (1960)
  • The Full Treatment (1960)
  • Cash on Demand (1961)
  • Shadow of the Cat (1961)
  • The Terror of the Tongs (1961)
  • Scream of Fear a.k.a. Taste of Fear (1961)
  • Captain Clegg (1962)
  • The Old Dark House (1963)
  • Paranoiac (1963)
  • The Maniac (1963)
  • Nightmare (1964)
  • Fanatic AKA Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)
  • Hysteria (1965)
  • The Nanny (1965)
  • The Witches (1966)
  • Rasputin, The Mad Monk (1966)
  • The Devil Rides Out aka The Devil’s Bride (1968)
  • The Anniversary (1968)
  • Crescendo (1970)
  • Hands of the Ripper (1971)
  • Demons of the Mind (1972)
  • Straight on Till Morning (1972)
  • Fear in the Night (1972)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1979)

Prehistory

  • One Million Years B.C. (1966)
  • The Viking Queen (1967)
  • Slave Girls (1967)
  • The Lost Continent (1968)
  • When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
  • Creatures the World Forgot (1971)

Miscellaneous

  • The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
  • The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1962)
  • The Pirates of Blood River (1962)
  • The Damned a.k.a. These Are The Damned (1963)
  • The Scarlet Blade (1963)
  • The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964)
  • The Gorgon (1964)
  • The Brigand of Kandahar (1965)
  • She (1965)
  • The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
  • The Reptile (1966)
  • The Witches (1966)
  • Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
  • The Vengeance of She (1968)
  • Moon Zero Two (1969)
  • Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)
  • Shatter (1974)
  • To the Devil a Daughter (1976)