The Mummy (1959 Britain)

hammer_classics_1This was the third time a visceral contest between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee had been crafted for an ever increasing box office audience. And yes, there is much dignified violence and spectacle, but there is a melancholy undertow as well. Hammer’s Mummy is less a remake of Karloff’s 1932 version, more a re-imagining. And, like its Dracula and Frankenstein bedfellows, it’s a cracker. Do not let the PG rating put you off. Or the obvious studio backlot that has to convince you its a swamp. This was part of the low budget charm of Hammer. There is enough colour and elegance to The Mummy to off-set the weaknesses. [Read more…]

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The Brides Of Dracula (1960 United Kingdom)

brides-of-dContinuing the theme of bloodsucking from my previous post, (and before they made a deal with the Fox/Seven Arts mafia distributors) Hammer’s artists and technicians were still carefully keeping the camera lens focused on the best aspects of their productions when this sparkling gem was conceived – in this case a most lovely Yvonne Monlaur, well-dressed Bray Studios interiors, a memorable exterior windmill set-piece, and yet another unforgettable protagonist courtesy of the great Peter Cushing. Hammer’s best films are a model of efficiency and economy, and this film definitely looks a lot better than it should. [Read more…]

The Abominable Snowman (1957 UK)

abominable snowmanThe Abominable Snowman treats its subject matter with the kind of respect usually reserved for something far more serious than a low-budget film about the mythical Yeti. It would have been easy to allow the whole production to sink to the level of exploitation, but it never does. The horror is subdued and really only surfaces in the final act. The film is not without its creepy moments as the men fear for their lives in an alien landscape of ice and mountains. [Read more…]

The Camp On Blood Island (1958 United Kingdom)

Camp-on-Blood-Island-hammer-horror-films-830817_501_383Dig the poster above. Back in the days when they were worth looking at. I love this film. Its really sweet in an old-fashioned, British way. By that I also mean to warn any future viewer to not expect to see Japanese actors actually playing the Japanese roles. This was Hammer Studios after all and their budgets barely even allowed for toilet paper on the set. [Read more…]

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967 United Kingdom)

lastronave degli esseri perduti 320x240It is difficult for me to post at this time (too busy) but here is one more. This may be the mother of all my film reviews. We are talking about cinema that grabs me by the hair. The amazing Nigel Kneale was England’s answer to Richard Matheson, and his powerful story is given the glossy Technicolour treatment by director Roy Ward Baker. The first two monochrome Quatermass movies in the 1950s were spoiled by the inclusion of Brian Donlevy playing the main protagonist. A blank, shouting trench coat is one way to describe Donlevy. [Read more…]

THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973 Britain)

4j9yflMark my words, “The Satanic Rites of Dracula” is indeed a very silly film, but vampire movies are silly in the first place so why not go for broke? Hammer Films were at the end of their rope by 1973 and knew it, so they mixed vampire hijinks with spy movie intrigue, then cast Dracula as the megalomaniac villain named D D Denham. [Read more…]

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