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: The Man Who Could Cheat Death

Terence Fisher directing, Jimmy Sangster writing, and Christopher Lee in a supporting role. The Man Who Could Cheat Death, one of Hammer’s efforts from 1959, should have been among the best films in this month of reviews. But it’s not, and that’s because while three of Hammer’s top names appear in the credits, a fourth, Peter Cushing, does not. He had been set to star in this film, but the lead role instead went to Anton Diffring, who was not equal to the task. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Man Who Could Cheat Death”

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: 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”

October Hammershow: 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 readingOctober Hammershow: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb”

October Hammershow: 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 readingOctober Hammershow: The Revenge of Frankenstein”