October Hammershow: The Kiss of the Vampire

Hammer saw much success with its version of Dracula in 1958. Of course they wanted to cash in further. For reasons beyond the scope of this review, they couldn’t nail down Christopher Lee for a sequel until 1965. But that didn’t stop Hammer. In 1960 they released The Brides of Dracula, which featured neither Dracula nor any vampire that appeared with him in the previous film. It was misrepresentation, plain and simple. In watching it, it becomes clear Brides was meant to be a Dracula film, with Lee in it, but the script had been reworked to put a different baddie in the lead. The Kiss of the Vampire has similar origins, although with this film Hammer had the decency to release it without a false pedigree. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Kiss of the Vampire”

October Hammershow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

This is somewhat of a melancholy review for Missile Test. Not only is this the last film of this year’s Horrorshow to be directed by Terence Fisher, it is also the last film he directed, period. He directed films for a quarter of a century, sometimes putting out three or four in a year. Before I began this Horrorshow, I had never heard of Terence Fisher, but what I discovered was a workaday director who could be counted on to helm a film with care, attention to detail, and strong pace. He was in no way innovative, and his films display the difference between craft and art. Terence Fisher was a craftsman, and his trade was directing movies to make his producers money. He was very good at that, and he was very good at keeping me entertained. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell”

October Hammershow: Night Creatures, aka Captain Clegg

I feel like American audiences have been sold a false bill of goods with Night Creatures. The title implies quite a different movie than what we got. While today’s film was titled Night Creatures for the American market, its original title in the UK and elsewhere is Captain Clegg. That title isn’t exactly the best, either, as it makes the movie sound like something Disney would have cranked out for kids, and it’s not that. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Night Creatures, aka Captain Clegg”

October Hammershow: The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

Hammer’s version of The Phantom of the Opera may not look it at first, but it is a very significant film in the history of cinema. There have been many, many adaptations of Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra — the most famous being the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical from 1986. But this film, from two and a half decades earlier, was the first Phantom adaptation to feature the phantom playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. That simple decision on the part of the filmmakers to have the phantom banging away on an organ in one scene was the birth of a trope that has crept up in movies, television, and even videogames on a regular basis. Whenever a viewer sees a shadowy figure hunched over an organ and it spits out Bach, it’s all because of this movie. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Phantom of the Opera (1962)”

October Hammershow: The Curse of the Werewolf

The Curse of the Werewolf, from 1961, is the tragic tale of a beggar who is imprisoned by a cruel marquis. Then it is the tragic tale of a mute servant girl. Then it is the tragic tale of a young boy who grows up in a rich household with the loving attention of a pair of surrogate parents. Then it is the tragic tale of a young man attempting to make his own way in the world, who falls in love with a woman he cannot have. Then, finally, it is the tragic tale of a man cursed with lycanthropy. I have seen some films with long setups, many of them this month, but the setup in this film is so long and rambling compared to the promise of the title that I was wondering at times if I was watching the wrong movie. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Curse of the Werewolf”

October Hammershow: Scars of Dracula

These Hammer Dracula films are showing serious signs of franchise fatigue. Scars of Dracula is the sixth film in the series, and I can’t be sure that anyone involved cared one whit about the project. Unlike the Frankenstein films, which had their ups and downs, there was still great care in producing a viable film. But Scars of Dracula looks and feels cheap. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Scars of Dracula”

October Hammershow: Taste the Blood of Dracula

What a title. Taste the Blood of Dracula. That’s a pretty good start for today’s horror film, before a single frame even goes by. From 1970, Taste the Blood of Dracula was written by Anthony Hinds, directed by Peter Sasdy, and features Christopher Lee returning to play Dracula. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Taste the Blood of Dracula”

October Hammershow: Frankenstein Created Woman

Baron Victor Frankenstein is back. At the end of the previous film, The Evil of Frankenstein, the series’ antihero was dispatched along with his box-headed creation. It was a scene of ultimate finality, even if there wasn’t a shot of a dead Frankenstein putting an exclamation point on his story. But death is never permanent in film should the producers wish it. I don’t just mean the death of a character, either, but the actor who plays the part. This film’s star, Peter Cushing, finds his character resurrected for further use in this film, but Cushing himself was resurrected digitally, more than twenty years after his death, to make an appearance in the latest Star Wars flick. It won’t be much longer before actors find themselves under the same threat of obsolescence as the rest of us in the workforce. But I digress… Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Frankenstein Created Woman”

October Hammershow: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

It is now the halfway point of this year’s Horrorshow, and I’m enjoying watching all these classic Hammer horror flicks. But, watching them all close together like this means I’m more aware of when they are repeating themselves compared to watching them on a normal release schedule. For example, the three Mummy flicks I’ve reviewed so far this month have basically been the same film. There is still a good film to be made from the idea, but by The Mummy’s Shroud, I’m not sure the filmmakers were trying. Today’s film, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, suffers from some of the same sort of creative malaise that doomed The Mummy’s Shroud. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: Dracula Has Risen from the Grave”

October Hammershow: The Mummy’s Shroud

Hammer must have been out of ideas by the time they made The Mummy’s Shroud in 1967. At least, that’s what it feels like. There is not a single moment of tension or surprise in writer/director John Gillings’ film. But that isn’t to say The Mummy’s Shroud is a bad film. It’s not. It’s cheap and fairly stupid, and it doesn’t bother to challenge any of the tropes audiences had come to expect with a mummy film, but it has its charms. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Mummy’s Shroud”