Category Archives: Hammer Films
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS-United Kingdom/United States-1970
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Screenplay by Tudor Gates
Based on the novella “Carmilla” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Adapted by Harry Fine, Tudor Gates and Michael Style
It is with a very heavy heart that I come to you, oh lovers of Hammer films and vampires and heaving natural bosoms, and that I make a confession that shake you to the very core of your foundation. Oh, dear God, I can only beg the forgiveness of those who have gone before me. Please, I beg of all of you; please forgive me when I say:
Before “The Vampire Lovers”, I was an Ingrid Pitt virgin.
There, I have said it. Are you satisfied? Do you want to gloat and rub it in my face that until now I never enjoyed the pleasure of those eyes, that mouth, those knockers and that exquisite voice? Screw Helen of Troy; Miss Pitt is the true face that launched those thousand ships. Her beauty is the stuff of legend!!
The story of “The Vampire Lovers” is quite simple. It is a tale that is based on the story “Carmilla” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Ingrid Pitt does triple duty as she portrays Marcilla, Carmilla and Mircalla Karnstein; a vampire whose sole intent is sucking the blood from the boobs of every hot babe within a five mile radius of her coffin. She moves from house to house, feeding off the innocent girls who reside there, occasionally feasting on the blood of a village girl to sate her unquenchable thirst for blood.
“The Vampire Lovers” is the first in what would become known as The Karnstein Trilogy. The other two films in the series are “Lust for a Vampire“, starring Yutte Stensgaard; and “Twins of Evil” featuring twin centerfold beauties Madelaine and Mary Collinson. There are no lethargic heroines and no sparkly vampires playing softball looking brooding and forlorn. There are only vampires, beautiful women and enough boob action to make Hugh Hefner get it up without the aid of hydraulics or Viagra. In other words, Hammer did it right.
Peter Cushing was cast at a late stage.
This film was given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to the vampire bites inflicted on the women’s bosoms.
James Carreras rejected a suggestion that Bond girl Shirley Eaton play the lead on the grounds that she was too old. Ingrid Pitt, actually older than Eaton, was eventually cast.
- Write For You (descentintoslushland.wordpress.com)
- Vampire in My Bed (mysubheart.com)
- In the UK? Don’t Forget Grimm Up North’s Vampire Sunday on 22nd July! (dreadcentral.com)
- “We exist… only in Hell!” (moviemorlocks.com)
- Look of the Day: Twilight Inspired (fabsugar.com)
- Dark in August: three vampire films at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center (mrmovietimes.com)
- The Lesbian Vampire Genre: From Taboo to Spoof (houseofgeekery.com)
- ReVamped – Book Review (angela-mommytimeout.blogspot.com)
- The Seven Ultimate, Bite Inducing, Valentine’s Day Gifts for Vampire Lovers (prweb.com)
- 100 ‘Vampire’ Graves Discovered in Bulgaria (newsfeed.time.com)
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-United Kingdom-1962
Directed by Terence Fisher
Screenplay by John Elder
Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux
Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”, or “The Phantom of the Opera”, has been told in many forms over the years. There was, of course, the classic 1925 film starring Lon Chaney, Sr. as Erik and Mary Philbin as Christine. Then there is the 1943 edition starring Claude Rains and Susanna Foster. Even director Dario Argento has aimed his directorial vision at this tragic tale.
But it is the 1962 Hammer Films edition of the film that I remember best. Not because I remember seeing the film; until now I had never seen the film. I remember it because I was not allowed to watch when it first premiered on television as the movie of the week for Saturday night. The film premiered in theaters in August of 1962; so I can only guess that I may have been 3 or 4 years old when it made its TV debut. Thinking I was too young, my parents sent me away to bed. However, they didn’t bother turning down the volume. I remember hearing Christine’s beautiful voice as she sang for the Phantom (Herbert Lom, “The Dead Zone”). I remember that the Phantom would tell her that she would sing ‘only for me’. Finally, my memory is hearing the announcer’s voice saying ‘We continue now with…The Phantom of the Opera.’ I knew that one day I would see this film and that I would wonder if I would be as scared to see it as my parents thought I would be. Honestly speaking, that is not the case at all.
Horror films are filled with creatures of all kinds. Many of them are evil and deserve our disdain. They are hideous to behold and are the stuff of our nightmares. As for the Phantom of the Opera, that is not so. He is a man to be pitied. He had a gift and it was stolen from him. He lashed out in anger and was punished. Here is a man who merely wanted his songs to be sung and his music to be heard. For Hammer’s Phantom, the monster is not the man behind the mask, but the cruel and unscrupulous Lord D’Arcy (Michael Gough in a deliciously over the top performance). He is a thief, a scoundrel of the lowest morals. He is the most inhuman of monsters because he is all too human in the first place. The Phantom hides a beautiful soul behind a hideous mask. Lord D’arcy is hideous through and through; no mask in the world could hide such corruption.
Looking back, I’m actually glad my parents sent me off to bed. My impressionable young mind may not have understood that the bad guy is not always who we think it is.
The film was originally written for Cary Grant, who wanted to do a horror film. The Phantom’s character was rewritten as a more tragic figure, with the dwarf (played here by Ian Wilson) doing the actual violence, to suit Grant’s image. Grant declined the part (possibly unhappy with the watered down character) and it went to Lom.
The mask was made on the fly just before shooting out of cloth, tape, string and paint.
At one point, Christopher Lee was seriously considered for the Phantom part.
- STAGE TUBE: Sneak Peek at New Video of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA’s Redesigned UK Tour! (broadwayworld.com)
- Review: Love Never Dies (sequel to Phantom of the Opera) (christophergorhamcalvin.com)
- Books & Movies: Phantom of the Opera Wedding Inspiration (daweddings.wordpress.com)
- The Dalek of the Opera (tanaudel.wordpress.com)
- The Phantom of the Opera (drinkingbeerwatchingmovie.wordpress.com)
- Universal to release 8 classic studio horror films! On Blu Ray! The Biggies! Yes!!! (aintitcool.com)
- How the CCP will transform into Paris Opera House – Inquirer.net (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- Phantom Of The Opera Instrumental (nobackgroundvocals.com)
- Casts of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, PORGY AND BESS, STOMP to Perform at Broadway in Bryant Park, 7/12 (broadwayworld.com)
- The Ever-Expanding “To Read” List (goldenbookwyrm.wordpress.com)
- FLASH: Andrew Lloyd Webber Writes The Music Of The Night (broadwayworld.com)
- Great Performances: Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall (girlygirl.typepad.com)
- Book Review: The Phantom of the Opera (integrated4.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: The Phantom Of The Opera (integrated4.wordpress.com)
THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN-United Kingdom-1957
Directed by Terence Fisher
Screenplay by Jimmy Sangster
Based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Although it was not their first movie together; that would be Lawrence Olivier‘s “Hamlet” in 1948, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee begin with “The Curse of Frankenstein” what would be a pairing that is yet to be matched in the horror genre. Cushing is Victor Frankenstein; a man obsessed with the creation of human life and who will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. Lee is his hideous creation, a creature so foul that the faint of heart would be very wise not to see this film.
Well, maybe I should say the faint of heart in the year 1957, the time of the film’s release. Hammer Films retelling of the Frankenstein could actually be considered quite a gory affair for its day. One scene in particular has blood pouring from the creature’s eye as he shot by rifle at close range. Even more shocking than the gore is Cushing’s portrayal of Victor Frankenstein. Colin Clive’s rendition in the 1931 “Frankenstein” was one that elicited sympathy for his character as he was torn by his desire to create life and his guilt over his monstrous achievement. Here, Cushing portrays Victor as uncaring, lecherous and capable of cold-blooded murder. The creature is merely a hideous reflection of his creator.
This is literally my first time seeing “The Curse of Frankenstein.” It is a film that for one reason or another has eluded me for all these years. I found it to be an incredible addition to the Frankenstein saga and was more than pleased at the pairing of Lee and Cushing in the key roles. Each actor brings strength to their role that comes from years of honing their craft to the level of masters. If you’re looking for an old fashioned film to watch late at night with the lights out and a bowl of popcorn on your lap then you need look no further than “The Curse of Frankenstein.”
For many years this held the distinction of being the most profitable film to be produced in England by a British studio.
The idea originated with Milton Subotsky, who went on to co-found Amicus Films, Hammer’s main rival during the 1960s and early 1970s. The script was revised several times to avoid repeating any elements from the Universal Frankenstein series. As part of this effort, new monster make-up had to be devised especially for this film.
The original concept for this film was a black-and-white feature with Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster. Universal threatened a lawsuit if Hammer copied any elements from the classic Universal version. Hammer had Jimmy Sangster completely redo the script and had Jack Asher shoot it in Eastmancolour.
- Ales Hemsky played in the world roller hockey championships (prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com)
- Hammer Glamour And Sartorial Chic by Simon Pritchard (retrochick.co.uk)
- National Theatre Live: Frankenstein (atheahusted.wordpress.com)
- Dr. Frankenstein’s Europe, No Easy Greece Exit, Bank Runs (sgtreport.com)
- Christopher Lee 90th Birthday: 90 Reasons The Horror Icon is Awesome (news.moviefone.com)
- ‘The Horror of Frankenstein’: Rare behind-the-scenes footage from 1970 (dangerousminds.net)
- 5 secrets hidden in Google’s tribute to the first drive-in theater (csmonitor.com)
- Quatermass and the X (moviemorlocks.com)
- What might have been (moviemorlocks.com)
- Dracula, a tribute (onceuponascreen.wordpress.com)
- Returning from a two-month break (milestobake.wordpress.com)
- ArtsBeat: ‘Frankenstein’ Comes Alive in the App Store (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Looking at the Mad Scientist: Frankenstein Online (anniecardi.com)
- Frankenstein (integrated4.wordpress.com)
- Cloud Rhapsody (throughthehealinglens.com)
- The Curse of the Werewolf (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- ‘Prometheus’ unbound in theaters, both the ‘Alien’ and the stitched-together-from-dead-bodies-by-a-mad-scientist-where-lightning-and-neck-bolts-may-or-may-not-be-involved kind (timesunion.com)
THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF-United Kingdom-1961
Directed by Terence Fisher
Written by Anthony Hinds
Don’t you just love these old horror movies? No matter how cheesy they are you just can’t seem to get enough of them. I remember these films from my childhood and I recall fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent watching horror movies on the local channels. Films like “The Curse of the Werewolf” kept my fingers in a position just under my eyes so that I could cover them quickly when the werewolf reared his horrible head. 40 years later and I find myself writing about the same movie that scared me so much as a boy. Life is grand.
The Curse of the Werewolf is the tale of Leon. Born on Christmas day he is cursed to become a beast, a killer, a werewolf. Oliver Reed plays the role of Leon to perfection. Here is a man who makes the most out of overacting and it shows in every scene he appears in. In the final scenes Reed is so terrifyingly good as the werewolf I actually found myself hiding my eyes like that little ten year old boy all those years ago. Alright, alright, I can’t back that up. I didn’t hide my eyes.
I hid under the bed. My dog looked at me like I was crazy. I looked at her like ‘who was under here first, bitch?’
Seriously though, “The Curse of the Werewolf” was one of my favorite horror films growing up. Watching it again after all these years was such a thrill despite the fact that it’s an overacted mess. The werewolf makeup still stands as some of the best of all time and I’m talking just as good as “The Wolf Man” here. The only question I have concerning the film is why was the werewolf’s fur blonde when Oliver Reed’s hair was black? That, my friends, is a mystery for the ages. Ah-woooooo!!!
The only werewolf movie made by Hammer Studios.
Makeup-artist Roy Ashton based his makeup for this film on Jack P. Pierce’s makeup forThe Wolf Man.
In an interview, Richard Wordsworth stated that in the original screenplay his beggar character was a werewolf. Hammer told him that the censor had problems with the notion of a werewolf/rapist, so out it went.
- Check Out the Werewolf Short The Beast (dreadcentral.com)
- Review: Werewolf of Paris (aknifeandaquill.wordpress.com)
- Yvonne Romain – British Actress (retrorambling.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn (writer.fitzhome.com)
- 7 classic werewolf films (classicfilmexaminer.wordpress.com)
- Live! In person! Me! (moviemorlocks.com)
- His hair was perfect… (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Horror In Our Time: An American Werewolf in London (1981) (mibreviews.com)
- MY TOP 20 WEREWOLF HORROR FILMS by Richard Goellnitz (thebitemagazine.wordpress.com)
- Oh, That’s Why Cars In Horror Movies Never Start The First Time [Video] (jalopnik.com)
- Paranormal Evening (starscrutiny.wordpress.com)
- The Last Werewolf Hunter by William Woodall (mybookaddictionreviews.wordpress.com)
- Beta werewolves (wolfslair88.wordpress.com)
- Stream: Fiona Apple “Werewolf” (thefader.com)
- In defense of the werewolf (jamesschannep.com)
- DREAM THEATER Members Speak Out In Support Of EDEN’S CURSE; Audio Interview Streaming (bravewords.com)
- A Book Review: THE LAST WEREWOLF (Moonlight becomes you; it goes with your chest hair) (marjoriekayesbookblog.com)
- Werewolf Anthropology (straykatstrut.wordpress.com)