October Horrorshow: The Evil of Frankenstein

Hammer had a good thing going with its Frankenstein films. Because Universal Pictures were being stingy with their trademarks, Hammer had been forced to deviate from Universal’s Frankenstein flicks in setting and characterizations. This freed Hammer’s creative teams to come up with some pretty imaginative stuff, and also allowed the films’ star, Peter Cushing, to make the character of Victor Frankenstein his own. But, Hammer and Universal ironed out their differences in the form of a distribution deal, and Hammer wasted no time bringing their Frankenstein into line with Universal’s. That’s too bad. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Evil of Frankenstein”

October Horrorshow: Dracula: Prince of Darkness

After eight years, Dracula, the actual Dracula and not some misdirection with the title, is back in Hammer’s 1966 film Dracula: Prince of Darkness. 1958’s Dracula (Horror of Dracula in the US) is among the most well-known and revered of Hammer’s horror catalogue. It was also a moneymaker. So, for a company that was in the business to make a buck I find it surprising that it took Hammer eight years to put a sequel together. Part of the problem may have been Dracula’s recalcitrant star, Christopher Lee. He led a most interesting life, mingling with true giants on a regular basis. Sometimes it feels like he did all this cheap horror to pay the rent, but his heart was never really in it. Like many stars he often failed to do the decent thing and keep his mouth shut about a project after filming wrapped. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dracula: Prince of Darkness”

October Horrorshow: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

Hammer Film Productions may have found its greatest success with its gothic horror films, but they still kept up work on other productions. The Hound of the Baskervilles is, of course, an adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes novel by Arthur Conan Doyle. But calling it a departure from Hammer’s horror catalogue is not entirely accurate. For one thing, the people involved in the production are among the most recognizable names from the studio. Terence Fisher directed, Anthony Hinds produced, and Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee starred. In addition, while Hound is a mystery, there are loads of gothic horror elements present in the source material, making it the most adaptable of the Sherlock Holmes stories to Hammer’s style of horror. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)”

October Horrorshow: Contamination

The 1980s must have been an interesting time to be an actor in New York City. It was a mythic age, before Law & Order began filling multiple lines in the CVs of innumerable performers in the five boroughs. Instead, the city seemed to be crawling with itinerant Italian filmmakers, drunk on dreams of ripping off the latest American sci-fi hit and making some dollars on the cheap. Fabrizio De Angelis, Enzo G. Castellari, Sergio Martino, Luigi Cozzi, and more, made The Big Apple their home away from home in the ’80s. If it wasn’t possible to make it on Broadway or on TV, there was always bottom-feeding cinema. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Contamination”

October Horrorshow: Quatermass 2, aka Enemy From Space

Professor Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) is a man who gets things done. He’s very serious, very driven, and doesn’t need any sleep. That’s not an exaggeration. I kept track during the first part of this film, and Quatermass goes approximately 72 hours without getting any shuteye. It’s an impressive feat of endurance on his part, or just something that the filmmakers didn’t pay close attention to. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Quatermass 2, aka Enemy From Space”

October Horrorshow: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

This is a first for the Hammershow — a Hammer horror film that does not feature either Anthony Hinds, Terrence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster, Peter Cushing, or Christopher Lee in the credits. What sacrilege is this? Not to worry. That august group of filmmakers and actors is not required to make a good Hammer flick, although it helps. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb”

October Horrorshow: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

Horror flicks don’t get much more atmospheric than writer/director Osgood Perkins’ I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. There is so much dim lighting and soft focus in this film that it’s impossible to watch in a lighted room. I suppose that’s a good thing. The overall darkness of the film forces a viewer to watch it in a more immersive fashion. In many places, a viewer must pay closer attention to the screen than they otherwise would. It almost feels like we are having our senses piqued by the movie, deliberately, so that should Perkins feel that is the right moment for a scare, viewers are physically primed to feel the effect to the fullest. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House”

October Horrorshow: The Revenge of Frankenstein

The last we saw the Baron Frankenstein, at the end of The Curse of Frankenstein, he was being led to the guillotine. Believing that he was innocent of any crime, he was meeting death with hate in his heart. But as fate, and economics, would have it, Frankenstein was saved at the last moment by Hammer Film Productions, who knew a hit when they saw one. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Revenge of Frankenstein”