Hammer Films had their horror movie hayday in 1950-1970s. Cannot be denied they produced their best output in the late 1950s to 1960s with those films centred round the iconic horror figures of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and the like.
Fast forward to 1980, the horror movies had dried up but the HAMMER name was still popular in people’s minds. The movie to TV went with the times, and a modern day anthology series came about.
Modern setting = reduced productions costs for a series taking new characters to the screen each week.
The standard of story is fair, but it is just as fair to say that the series is quite dated and an obvious product of the times. Often touching on the horror trope of a descent into madness.
Peter Cushing makes an appearance in just one episode THE SILENT SCREAM, and that is a welcome addition to the series.
Despite quite a cast of greats including the aforementioned Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Denholm Elliott, Brian Cox and Sian Phillips the biggest draw to this series is the nostalgia element. The series is nearly 40 years old and without an ongoing arc or characters it is actually good thing that the series didn’t persist into a second series.
It bears the name HAMMER so is a must have for the completest, and any Hammer fan that hasn’t seen this series before should check it out, but not expect too much.
This Blu Ray is the first time the complete series is available in High Definition restoration from the original film elements. The Blu Ray keeps the fullscreen (4:3) aspect ratio from the original transmission, though I suspect there was a temptation to release these as wide screen. As it is just the one episode, Guardian of the Abyss, is presented in widescreen.
Hammer, Icon Film Distribution and Lionsgate are proud to present a major event in British film history.
Terence Fisher’s 1958 classic DRACULA, fully restored in High Definition and available on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time. The release will contain two versions of the feature (seamlessly branched on the Blu-ray):
The 2007 BFI restoration plus the 2012 Hammer restoration, which adds additional footage that has been unavailable for decades.
The additional footage comprises two of the scenes that were originally censored by the BBFC in 1958 that have now been restored to the film from the “Japanese reels”:
• Dracula’s seduction of Mina
• Dracula’s sunlight disintegration
These will be the most complete versions ever released and taken together fully deserving of the description DEFINITIVE.
‘Censoring Dracula’ 10 min clip from the new Blu-ray/DVD
video added 22 Feb 2013
DRACULA has been unavailable on any UK home entertainment format for many years. This release will be at the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1 which has never been available for home viewing.
Available 18th March in the UK on 3-disc Double Play, the pack comprises 1 x Blu-ray and 2 x DVD, the release also includes brand new featurettes, a new commentary track, multiple bonus extras and a stills show (see below for full list of extras).
DRACULA is the first in the series of Hammer films inspired by the Bram Stoker novel Dracula. It was directed by Terence Fisher, and stars Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Carol Marsh, Melissa Stribling and Christopher Lee.
Dr. Van Helsing, investigating the death of his friend Jonathan Harker, concludes that Harker was the victim of a vampire. When Harker’s fiancée, Lucy, becomes affected by the terrifying force and hypnotic power of Count Dracula, Van Helsing releases her tortured soul by driving a stake through her heart. But Dracula seeks revenge, targeting Lucy’s beautiful sister-in-law, Mina. Van Helsing, now aided by Mina’s husband Arthur, swears to exorcise this evil forever by confronting the vile and depraved Count himself.
DRACULA Technical Information:
• Region: B/2
• Barcode: 5060223769196
• Catalogue number: LGB95006
• Double Play: 1 x BD & 2 x DVD
• Languages: English
Four Brand-New Featurettes:
• “Dracula Reborn”. New 30 min. featurette about the film’s creation and history, featuring, among others: Jimmy Sangster, Kim Newman, Mark Gatiss, Jonathan Rigby and Janina Faye (Tania in the film).
• “Resurrecting Dracula”. New 20 min. featurette about the film’s restoration, from the BFI’s 2007 restoration through to the integration of “lost” footage, featuring interviews with key staff at the BFI, Molinare and Deluxe142. Also covers the February 2012 world premiere of Hammer’s interim restored version including “vox pop” interviews with fans after the event.
• “The Demon Lover: Christopher Frayling on Dracula”. New 30 min. featurette.• “Censoring Dracula”. New 10 min. featurette on the original cuts to the film ordered by the British Board of Film Censors.
• New commentary by Hammer historian Marcus Hearn and author & critic Jonathan Rigby.
The Woman in Black set for release from 10th of February
While British audiences continue to enjoy The Woman in Black on stage, horror institution Hammer Films alongside Momentum Pictures is releasing the theatrical version from the 10th of February. Directed by James Watkins, written by Jane Goldman, and starring Daniel Radcliffe the film-version of this horror classic is set to frighten and disturb audiences all over the world. Here, let?s take a look back at some of the classic Hammer horror films that laid the pavement for British horror stories.
Missed your favourite Hammer Horror – please comment below, or tweet @scifind.
One of the most iconic vampire films ever made, Hammer’s first foray into vampire lore has become one of the most recognisable and famous of the cinematic adaptations of Stoker’s novel.? Hammer made seven sequels, and as explicit as the censors would allow in the day, Dracula was a groundbreaking and subversive punctuation in the neck of horror cinema. And not mention Van Helsing’s memorable trick with the cross improvised from candlesticks.
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Based on a Dennis Wheatley novel, Hammer’s first foray into the realm of satanism proves to be a thoughtful and serious attempts to realistically portray the practice of magic. Containing large doses of action and horror, the film is a constant battle of wits between good and evil resulting in a satanic tour de force wherein the heroes must survive a night of devilish oppression by satanic followers, a giant tarantula and the Devil himself atop a hellish steed. The Devil Rides Out remains a genuinely chilling occult thriller, even after more than four decades.
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Curse provides the perfect pairing of the dream team ? Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. While Americans were under attack from wild teenagers and atomic monsters, the Brits usher in the return of gothic horror (and in graphic color, no less) with this indisputable masterstroke.? The role of the duplicitous and brutal Baron is played masterfully by Cushing and Christopher Lee as the creature is shocking and brilliant.
Curse of the Werewolf (1960)
Considering the main focus of the movie resulted from a rape of a mute servant girl by a half man, half animal beggar, the censors objected to the visualization of both bare flesh and fangs onscreen simultaneously. Leon?s only hope for redemption is true love, and we all know it?s not easy finding a girl who will put up with his type of moonlighting.? Excellent performances, especially from Reed, help to make this a fascinating character study that shares little in common with most of its counterparts – aside from the requisite silver bullets.
The Mummy (1959)
Hammer’s first stab at the shuffling Egyptian shambler sees Chris Lee undertake the role of the creature again and plays him as a far more pitiable monster and one that moves in a more hasty fashion. The story is essentially the same as the Universal entries only with the addition of color and some brutal violence some of which was trimmed before the film was released.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Not completely horror, but close enough. This Sherlock Holmes entry contains enough elements of dread and terror to qualify as a horror film. Peter Cushing truly delivers a whole heartedly memorable performance rife with self assurance and witty banter. A classic since the 1980s, this brilliant series can still be timelessly enjoyed today. A most unusual Hammer film, it would be the company’s only Sherlock Holmes picture.
Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)
You know what a great idea would be? To retell the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde, only instead of turning into a child-beating monster, Jekyll would turn into a hot and murderous lady who liked to wear halter tops all over Victorian England! A gender switching storyline lends the film some relevance and Ralph Bates shines as Dr. Jekyll who not only battles with leading something of a normal existence, but also with suppressing the murderous tendencies of Hyde, his evil half, here played with sexual glee by Martine Beswick.
Quartermass and the Pit (1968)
Hammer had already enjoyed success with two Quatermass films (in 1955 and 1957), based on the BBC TV serial, and returned to the sci-fi subject a decade later, with Andrew Keir as the subversive scientist of the title. Here he gets involved with an excavation in a London Underground station, where he uncovers evidence of an alien spaceship and ancient satanic powers. It’s a tense film, with an unrelenting pace and plenty of suspense.
At its peak in the 1960s, the legendary Hammer Films embarked upon an ill-fated new horror movie that was Dracula, Frankenstein and Dr Terror?s House Of Horrors all rolled into one?
Hell Train by Christopher Fowler
Careening into the UK on 5th January and the US/Canada on 27th December
Christopher Fowler, who created some of the most memorable taglines in movie history ? including Alien?s ?In space, no-one can hear you scream? ? and whose company designed the iconic Trainspotting and Reservoir Dogs film posters, has crafted a terrifying tale set in the halcyon days of British horror cinema.
In his first book for Solaris, the multi-award winning author of the Bryant & May mysteries conjures up bizarre creatures, satanic rites, terrified passengers and the romance of train travel, all in a classically-styled horror novel that evokes the real-life spirits of this most British of movie studios.
When American screenwriter Shane Carter is asked to revive the classic studio?s fortunes and, inspired by an old board game, writes a script where four strangers who meet on a train journey through Eastern Europe during the First World War must solve a terrifying mystery if they are to survive.
As they race through the war-torn countryside, they must uncover the secrets of a locked casket and of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them. And what exactly is the devilish riddle of the train itself?!