Fifty years ago, Hammer Films released their first ‘gothic’ horror movie, The Curse of Frankenstein, beginning a series of films that changed the face of horror cinema. ‘Hammer Horror’ made international stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and inspired a generation of Hollywood filmmakers, including George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, earning the company an esteemed place in cinematic history.
Over the decades, Hammer Films (now under new ownership) has been the subject of dozens of books, essays and documentaries; now, Hammer has given active backing to a fully-authorised history of the company. Compiled with unlimited access to the Hammer archives this new edition of The Hammer Story from Titan Books, due for release 26 October 2007, provides a film-by-film dissection of the history of Hammer Films, dripping with rare promotional material and previously unpublished photographs.
Co-author Marcus Hearn is a highly acclaimed expert on Hammer Films (and he did some brilliant work for me when I edited Doctor Who Magazine) and was the editor of the short-lived Hammer Horror magazine, for which Alan Barnes wrote features.
The first edition was excellent and Marcus tells me this second revised edition is packed with new pictures and considerably improved versions of the old ones. Titan are also doing a limited edition with a leather cover, which sounds very fancy.
The Hammer Story is, frankly, one of the best books on Hammer Films ever written, in my opinion, and well worth grabbing if you’re a fan.
Top Ten Hammer Facts
• 2007 is the 50th anniversary of the release of Hammer’s first gothic horror movie, The Curse of Frankenstein.
• Hammer films influenced a whole generation of film directors, including Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton and George Lucas.
• Though best known for their horror films, Hammer also made thrillers, swashbucklers, war movies, and comedies. In fact their comedy On the Buses was the British box office champion of 1971!
• Hammer were also responsible for the indelible image of Raquel Welch in a fur bikini, in their historically inaccurate but hugely entertaining dinosaurs vs. humans epic One Million Years B.C.
• Hammer’s films were exported around the world, and benefited the British economy to such an extent that the company was presented with The Queen’s Award to Industry in 1968.
• The ‘vampire bats’ which menaced the cast in Kiss of the Vampire were actually toys bought from Woolworths.
• Hammer were masters of the poster tagline. One of their best was for The Mummy’s Shroud: ‘Beware the beat of the cloth-wrapped feet!’
• The even more legendary Oliver Reed scored his first leading role in Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf.
• Hammer Films Limited was recently bought by a company owned by John de Mol (the Dutch media giant behind Big Brother). With several new films in development, Hammer is set to rise from the grave!
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