Cinema Sunday: Top Ten Hammer Films!

Lets cut to the chase, I’m a Hammer studios addict, and that being said, we all know they’re the greatest studio to produce horror films that ever was, is, and will be. With stars like Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Veronica Carlson, then adding great character actors like Michael Ripper, Oliver Reed, Andrew Keir, Andre Morell, etc., and under the direction of Terence Fisher, John Gilling, Anthony Hinds, and Jimmy Sangster, their films have no competition (overall in the broad sense).

Obviously an argument could be made for Universal, but I tend to look at it as Universal being the foundation and Hammer being the house. Yes, you do need a solid foundation but no one looking to be a home owner is excited about stone and mortar. When is the last time a party-goer entered a house and complimented the owner on the cinder blocks? Important, yes. The best part, I think not.

So, with all that being said, here are my top ten Hammer Studio films! Keep in mind, just straight up horror films here for the most part! Enjoy!

 

10. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

  • This film isn’t perfect by any means, and the rape scene is absolutely ludicrous (Dr. Frankenstein would never commit that act). But when there is action a-plenty, gruesome murders, and one scene of dialogue in particular that sums up the good doctor perfectly. Cushing is on top of his game for sure in this film, as usual. Oh, and the gorgeous (and most beautiful Hammer girl in my humble opinion) Veronica Carlson is in this film.

9. The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas (1957)

  • A Hammer film about a Yeti? Yes! This black and white gem is nothing short of incredible. It’s not because a Yeti invades an encampment and starts tearing people’s limbs off, then beating them over the head with them (although that would be cool), it’s because the film builds tension and the suspense is great. Think John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). Yes, in that film there are plenty of gruesome moments, but its the suspense he builds that makes the film outstanding.

8. The Reptile (1966)

  • 1966 was a great year for Hammer studios. Five films and four of them were very solid films. This one in particular is a favorite of mine because of Jacqueline Pearce. She portrays a young woman who is seemingly kept prisoner by her own father. We later find out why he’s so overbearing. Her performance is quite good along with a larger than usual role for Hammer stalwart, Michael Ripper. Anytime he gets more screen time, the film is better for it! Good sets and atmosphere in this flick.

7. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

  • Not wanting to be typecast, Christopher Lee bowed out of playing Dracula after Hammer’s first film starring the count (more on that one later). The franchise did suffer without him briefly, but he returned to the role that put him on the map a few years later in this film. With no dialogue (Lee has his version why and so does Jimmy Sangster (the writer) about why), Lee manages to be extremely menacing and cements himself as the best Dracula ever.

6. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

  • In this movie, André Morell shows us just how good he can be in a horror film. Not only is he the “hero,” but also a concerned, loving father, a friend, a smartypants, and a gentleman, all at once. throw in another appearance by the lovely Jacqueline Pearce, along with Diane Clare, John Carson (a great lout in this one!), and once again, Michael Ripper! Great atmospherics, music (James Bernard), and sets in this one.

5. The Gorgon (1964)

  • This one is based on a classic Greek myth of old and stars Cushing, Lee, Shelley, and had Terence Fisher directing, and John Gilling writing. The gang’s all here for this one, and it really does put on quite a show. An insane asylum, a corrupt town hiding a secret, Cushing in more of a heel role with Lee more of the hero along with a fine performance by Richard Pasco. This is a film that can be watched every so often and never get tiresome. Another film with a noteworthy musical score as well as excellent sets.

4. (Horror of) Dracula (1958)

  • The first Dracula film by Hammer, and it’s still probably the best Cushing/Lee team up of all time. Cushing is an excellent Dr. Van Helsing, and Lee was born to wear the fangs and hiss at audiences with blood dripping from his lips. Michael Gough is also on top of his game here with George Woodbridge in a small role as he had in multiple Hammer films. Never miss an opportunity to see this film.

3. The Mummy (1959)

  • Hammer really went away from the original 1932 film (Boris Karloff), borrowing elements from other films and adding in their own ingredients, and mixing it all together. This film is definitely in Peter Cushing’s top five performances of all time. He really commands the scenes and shows why he, along with Lee are the faces of Hammer films. Very good sets, and the action scenes are tremendous.

2. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

  • Another film with the dual threat of Cushing and Lee, we also get André Morell as well! In this adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel, we see Cushing (Sherlock Homes) and André Morell (Dr. Watson), play off of each other wonderfully. Throw in a solid performance by Christopher Lee, an incredible score by James Bernard, all under the watchful eye of director Terence Fisher, and you get one of Hammer’s best films no matter what genre you compare it to!

And the number one film is…

 

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

  • In this first horror film collaboration between Cushing and Lee, you can see the teamwork and power these two have together. Cushing is perfect for his role as the morally ambiguous doctor, as is Lee in his depiction of the unfortunate creature. Good performances by Robert Urquhart, Hazel Court, and Valerie Gaunt, add to the great gift this film truly is for film addicts. The beginning of the film, the flashback that dovetails around right back to the beginning/end is marvelous in every sense that a film can be. This is the one that started it all (the great horror run for Hammer)!

Honorable mention for films that didn’t quite make the cut (pardon the pun)!

Brides of Dracula (1961)

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

 

 

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Cinema Sunday: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

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Title: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Distributor: Hammer Films/Warner Bros.

Writer: Bert Batt

Director: Terence Fisher

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward

Released: May 1969 (U.K.)

MPAA: PG-13

 

After focusing on a film starring Christopher Lee last week, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards a film starring his Hammer Films counterpart, Peter Cushing! I’ve just about exhausted all Hammer’s Vampire/Frankenstein’s Monster films, but this little gem remains! A controversial film to say the least, this is one that features not only Cushing, but also the gorgeous Veronica Carlson! She’s one of those few starlets that lights up the screen when she appears, and plays a great counterpart to evil Doctor Frankenstein!

Cushing only did one more Frankenstein film after this one (Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell), and I’ll eventually get to it down the road, but for now, let us traverse back in time, to the turn of the century. To a time when a villain like Dr. Frankenstein could get away with his ghastly experiments!

 

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The film begins with a doctor walking down a foggy street, heading for his office. He’s suddenly accosted by a man who’s carrying a basket and some bladed weapon. The man (not seen clearly) slices the doctor’s head clean off! Just then, we see a burglar (Harold Goodwin) trying to break into a home. He hears footsteps, and cannot complete his mission, so he tries the nearest doorknob, and successfully gains access to another house. He wanders around for a few seconds, and then sees a laboratory filled with unusual devices and even a frozen corpse! He gets startled, and crashes into a table. The noise alerts the man whose home he’s broken into (the same man that frightened him into the home in the first place). As the burglar waits, he hears footsteps drawing nearer. He’s then confronted by a horrifically scarred man, and the two then fight. As the two brawl, a basket gets kicked over that the scarred man was carrying. A head comes rolling out, and we now know that it was the head of the doctor who was murdered just minutes before. The burglar eventually gets away, and the other man removes a mask, and it’s revealed that it is Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) himself!

 

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The doctor realizes that the man will go to the police in all likelihood, so he opens a hatch in the floor, and dumps the body (and kicks the head down like a soccer ball), into a stream below. The burglar runs into a policeman, and then is taken to the station. After confessing, the police arrive and surmise that the man who beheaded the doctor earlier is probably the same man who had this secret laboratory. They then begin their investigation, and it’s headed up by Inspector Frisch (Thorley Walters), who’s an odd fellow to say the least. He doesn’t seem to have any ideas as far as who the killer may be, nor does he take advice from his fellow investigators.

 

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As Dr. Frankenstein leaves the house he was occupying, he then finds a room for rent on the other side of London. He knocks on the door and is greeted by Anna (Veronica Carlson), and with her mother currently elderly and ill, she is running the boarding house. We then switch to a local asylum, where a woman is screaming like a banshee. We are introduced to Dr. Karl Holst (Simon Ward), who is a very prominent young doctor employed there. He looks in on another patient, Dr. Frederick Brandt (George Pravda), who has had a traumatic brain injury, and cannot even speak. The other doctors at the asylum believe he cannot be cured. Back at the boarding house, the other four tenants are discussing Dr. Brandt, and then after Dr. Frankenstein enters the room (under an assumed name), and they involve his name in the conversation. He tells them it’s fools like them that have blocked progress for centuries. They get furious with him, but he leaves (like a boss).

 

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Later, Karl comes to take out his bride-to-be, Anna. He drops a box (of medicinal cocaine) on the doorstep, and then heads inside to see Anna. Dr. Frankenstein finds the box, and uses this leverage to blackmail them into service of his dastardly deeds. They’ve been using the stolen drugs to sell them to support Anna’s elderly mother. The next day, Anna tosses the other four tenants out on the street to make room for Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments. He then tells Karl that he means to repair the damaged brain of Dr. Brandt, a man whom he’d been corresponding with about brain surgery. Frankenstein and Holst rob a medical supply store, and Holst murders the night watchman in fear of being caught. Frankenstein then uses Karl’s place at the asylum to kidnap Dr. Brandt from the asylum, so he can remove his brain and put it in another body, and repair it during the process.

 

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Will Dr. Frankenstein succeed in his devilish plot or will Karl and Anna find a way to not only clear their names but also put an end to the devious deeds of Dr. Frankenstein?!?!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

One scene aside, this is one of Hammer’s best films in the “Frankenstein’s Monster” franchise. It’s not the typical monster as was the first couple of films (and the Universal Studios film), in that the story revolves more around the doctor himself, and his machinations. Of course, when you have a lead like Peter Cushing this is possible. The supporting cast is great as well, and you get a wild actor like Thorley Walters, a solid job by a young Simon Ward, and the utter beauty and grace of Veronica Carlson (image below) to cap it all off.

At this point, Hammer was relying on film distribution companies in the U.S. to partially back their films, and of course, distribute them in America. So, in a roundabout way, they had some say in the content of the film itself. Hammer executive, James Carreras, demanded that director Terence Fisher (his first film back at Hammer after a few years break) add a rape scene to the film. This did not settle well with Cushing and Carlson (the two involved in the scene), but the did it, albeit begrudgingly. Quite honestly, the scene does seem a bit out-of-place, and for anyone that’s a Hammer aficionado, you’ll know that this isn’t something Dr. Frankenstein would’ve been interested in.

Definitely set aside some time to watch this one. It’s part of a great four film set by TCM Classics, and is one of my treasured compilations of Hammer Studios material!

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: X The Unknown (1956)

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Title: X The Unknown

Distributor: Warner Bros. (Hammer Studios)

Writer: Jimmy Sangster

Director: Leslie Norman (and originally, Joseph Losey)

Producer: Anthony Hinds

Starring: Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Michael Ripper, Leo McKern, Anthony Newley

Released: November 1956

MPAA: Approved

 

Of course, everyone that’s a fan of the sci-fi/horror genre has heard of the 1958 classic, The Blob. I’d like to spotlight a film that has quite a few similarities…and was released two years previously. Not trying to imply that The Blob is a ripoff but they certainly seemed to “borrow’ a few ideas from this film. A film that was originally intended to be a sequel to Hammer’s successful sci-fi film, The Quatermass Experiment, but the writer of that film (Nigel Kneale) wouldn’t allow the use of his main character (Professor Bernard Quatermass) to be used, so they reconstructed slightly, and moved forward.

Limited budgets have never stopped Hammer Studios from producing great material, and this film is no exception. The cast isn’t very recognizable to fans of Hammer’s horror films (except for Michael Ripper!), but don’t let that dissuade you from watching. Alright, let the storytelling commence!

 

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The film opens with a soldier, Corporal “Spider” Webb (Anthony Newley), as he’s using a Geiger counter to search an area for radioactivity. He gets a reading, and then finds something buried just below the surface. We then see that it’s a training exercise, and the soldiers are prepping for a mission. We see Sergeant Grimsdyke (Michael Ripper) and he’s told to retrieve Major Cartwright (John Harvey) because one of the soldiers is getting a reading nowhere near one of the test areas. They then try to find the device they planted for the exercise, but the muddy ground begins to bubble near the other site, and one of the soldiers gets frightened. Grimsdyke orders the men to back off, but before they can get away, two of the men are caught in an explosion. We see a “Y”-shaped crack in the Earth, and smoke pouring out of it.

 

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Over at a lab, we see Peter Elliott (William Lucas), and Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger), conducting experiments. Royston seems like a bit of an eccentric old chap, and has an affection for oddities of all kinds. Royston then gets orders to go check out the radioactive area that the Army discovered. The area doesn’t seem to be radioactive anymore, so Royston is skeptical. He then gets a look at the soldiers that were burned in the incident, and changes his mind. He immediately requests for his equipment to be brought out to the site. There are some reporters there and they start to badger the military.

 

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Later that night, two kids are up to some shenanigans, and one ventures out to the restricted area by the fissure. He nears a structure, but then stops when he hears a noise. He’s stopped in his tracks by something horrific that is sizzling like bacon. He runs so fast that he passes out his mate that waiting for him. We next see the boy in the hospital (he eventually dies from the encounter), and Dr. Royston has been brought in to examine him. It seems the boy has radiation burns. Royston questions the other boy about their whereabouts the night before, and he confesses that they went near the restricted area.

 

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Royston heads to the Tower near the restricted area to do some investigating. He finds a old man making moonshine, and then also a metal canister from his lab. He rushes back to his lab, and sees that it has been broken into by some unknown person(s). The lab is ransacked, and there’s a strange film over everything. Peter arrives and is shocked at what has happened. Inspector “Mac” McGill (Leo McKern) is sent by the local authorities to investigate the strange goings-on. That very night, a doctor and a nurse are “fraternizing” but get interrupted by the same unforeseen force that burned the boy. It chars the man to ashes.

 

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Out on the marshes, two soldiers are attacked by the radioactive force, and killed. Royston concludes that there must be a sort of radioactive prehistoric creature that is causing this havoc, and that it must be stopped or many more will die a horrible death! They hatch a plan to repel down into the fissure, and see what exactly they are up against. Elliott volunteers to be lowered down, and as he’s being lowered down, he sees the remains of one of the soldiers that was killed. The creature then moves in to attack, and the army tries to fight it off with guns and flamethrowers. They next attempt to seal the creature below by filling the fissure with concrete. Royston tells them that it wont work, because it already made its way to the surface through tons of rock.

Will Dr. Royston be able to concoct a plan to stop this radioactive nightmare or will the entire countryside be burnt to a crisp?!? Tune in to find out!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Although this film is very good, it does lack star power. The other films (in the Quatermass trilogy) have a very strong lead, and that certainly helped them stay a bit more on point. Dean Jagger isn’t bad or anything like that he just lacks any real “oomph” on-screen. The erst of the players are good but not great, so there’s really no support to help push the cast ahead. There is some great atmosphere and thrilling moments in this film, and they give it a feeling of comfort while watching.

The soundtrack is average, and the sets just above that bar. A few moments of humor are well placed, and throw a good curveball into the mix. There is one glaring omission from this film that you typically find in all of their films- an attractive but competent female role. It would’ve’ benefited the film immensely, and added a nice and missing angle from the film.

Overall a good sci-fi flick that helps set the tone for the other Quatermass films that follow down the road. Definitely set aside some time for a viewing!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: Shadow of the Cat (1961)

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Title: Shadow of the Cat

Distributor: Hammer Studios (Universal in U.S.)

Writer: George Baxt

Director: John Gilling

Producer: Jon Penington

Starring: Andre Morell, Barbara Shelley, Freda Jackson, William Lucas, Conrad Phillips

Released: May 1961

MPAA: UR (est. PG-13)

 

 

As the week’s roll on, the temptation to review another film from Hammer Studios is gnawing at me. So, the way to stop it is to give my psyche what it wants! Obviously Hammer is known for their horror films, and this is one of the first they did once they committed to that genre. Their catalog is varied but let’s face it, horror/sci-fi is where it’s at.

One actor that made a name for himself with Hammer, was Andre Morell. He’s one of those guys that rarely gets mentioned but had a solid acting career, and really made a name for himself in the genre. Well, rather than go on more about this classic, we can just get right down to this black and white thriller!

 

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The film begins with an elderly woman, Ella Venable (Catherine Lacey) sitting in an upstairs room as she’s just finished making out her last will and testament. She’s reading some Edgar Allen Poe to her cat, Templeton, just then someone enters her home and disturbs her. The person is not a burglar, but actually a family member. The man (actually the butler) enters the room, and she mistakenly thinks it’s Walter, her husband, (Andre Morell), but he’s downstairs, waiting for his role in this insidious plot. The younger man then savagely beats the old woman with a blunt object. The three conspirators (a woman as well as the two men), then take the body and bury it on the grounds of the estate.

 

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The trio seems to be worried about the only witness, the cat. It watches them bury the old woman, and you get a sense that it wants revenge. The following day, the police are called in, and the trio acts as if they know nothing about the altercation. At first, the police seem to believe there’s no foul play, but certainly don’t rule it out. An old woman missing is certainly nothing new, but one that was a homebody is puzzling.

 

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After the police leave, the three conspirators attempt to locate a will that was made out years ago. They don’t have much luck, and, at every turn, the mischievous cat is lingering. Walter then decides to call the niece of the deceased woman, so that they can persuade her to legitimize the new will Walter had her make recently. The cat makes an appearance, and the butler, chases it to the basement, where he and Walter attempt to kill it. They both seem very nervous, and fumble about in the basement trying to kill the cat. Walter strikes the butler by accident, then shouts at him to get out. Walter is then attacked by the cat, and suffers a heart attack.

 

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Soon, the arrival of the niece, Beth Venable (Barbara Shelley) adds a different dimension, as she loves the cat, and was also a favorite of her recently murdered Aunt. She’s very skeptical about what’s going on, and befriends the cat, which puts her at odds with the conspirators. Walter puts on a good act, and Beth buys it for a while. One of the policemen, Inspector Rowles (Alan Wheatley), and a newspaper man, Michael Lattimer (Conrad Phillips) begin to see a picture of what is going here though, and he intends to prove there was foul play.

 

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The conspirators eventually meet their doom, and the cat seems to be responsible, but is it? Watch to find out!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

I didn’t go into too much detail but you get the gist. Andre Morell plays a great scoundrel in this one, which is quite a contrast to his usual heroics. Somehow, he and the other conspirators make you believe that the cat has a supernatural makeup to it. Maybe it was buried in a pet cemetery? Anyhow, for a film from this era, and in black and white, it holds up well. Freda Jackson (Brides of Dracula) is great in this one too. She’s one of the conspirators that really is nothing short of evil. Of course, it’s great to see villains get their comeuppance and you do get that in this film.

Long time Hammer contributors like Roy Ashton (make-up) and Bernard Robinson (production design) are always names you want to see in the credits because their hard work always shows up in the movie. When you have a beauty like Barbara Shelley, that doesn’t hurt your chances either. She is definitely one of the actresses that needs to get her due, not only for being gorgeous, but for also being a good actor.

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: Rasputin the Mad Monk (1966)

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Title: Rasputin the Mad Monk

Distributor: Hammer Studios/ 20th Century-Fox

Writer: Anthony Hinds

Director: Don Sharp

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring: Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Richard Pasco, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews

Released: March 1966

MPAA: PG-13

 

After a quick break (for a soccer tournament), I’m back and have a great flick in store for everybody! With the recent passing of Sir Christopher Lee, I thought I’d get at least one (if not two) movie of his out there that was a bit lesser known compared to his big hits. In 1966, Hammer Studios had a few different films that were not in their typical Dracula/Frankenstein’s monster vein. These films were so very good, because not only did they give us the atmosphere and sets that the previous films did, but also all the great actors as well!

I’m not a big fan of this character in history, and I do know that Hammer took a few liberties with the story, but it doesn’t really matter. The film is about entertainment, not being factual. Alright, now let us get down to the film!

 

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The film begins at a local pub in a small village. A doctor is there telling the landlord that his wife is gravely ill, and on her death-bed. As the patrons look on, the family is upstairs, trying to pray for the woman. Suddenly, the door to the pub swings open, and a grisly looking man clad in a monk’s outfit barges in. The monk tells them that there is fever in her, and that he will draw it out. He begins to perform a ritual of sorts, and the family looks concerned. Within seconds though, he succeeds in healing the woman, and everyone is astonished. The landlord then allows the monk to drink freely at his pub and to fraternize with his daughter.

The villagers seem to be skeptical of this man, and get an uneasy feeling about him. After everyone is good and drunk, the monk and the pub owner’s daughter disappear. The next thing we see, the two of them are in the barn making out. The girl’s boyfriend comes in and breaks it up, and he and the monk get into a brawl. Eventually, the monk chops off the guy’s hand with a scythe and he runs screaming from the barn. The monk then attempts to rape the young woman, but the rest of the villagers from the pub stop him. He runs off, back to the monastery where he resides. The next day the villagers confront the monastery about his actions, and he then introduces himself as Grigori Rasputin (Christopher Lee).

 

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He then basically gets cast out (or a punishment where’s he ejected from the monastery), and is on a wagon ride to nowhere. The man driving the wagon tells him that he should go to St. Petersburg because that’s where the action is to be found. Rasputin then commandeers the wagon and heads straight for the city. Once there, he goes into a pub and starts drinking. He then engages in a contest with another patron to see who can drink the most. Over on the other side of the city, we see a ball going on at the royal palace. We then see Sonia (Barbara Shelley) (a “lady in waiting” for the czar), as she’s bored to death by these events, and craves some real fun. Her brother, Peter, (Dinsdale Landen), his friend Ivan (Francis Matthews), and another girl, Vanessa (Suzan Farmer) (another “lady in waiting”), then take a trip to a local pub that can get rowdy (the same one that Rasputin is at).

 

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The group shows up and see Rasputin and the doctor, Boris Zargo (Richard Pasco), having their drinking contest. The contest is eventually won by Rasputin, and he then begins to dance like a wild man, and Sonia is getting very drunk at this point. She begins to laugh out loud, and as the music stops, it seems as though she’s laughing at Rasputin. He stares t her and demands that she apologizes for laughing at him. Peter attempts to get tough with Rasputin, but he gets slapped away like a child. Sonia is enthralled by Rasputin, and then she apologizes to him. The scene ends, and Rasputin takes the drunken Boris home.

 

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The following day, Sonia seeks out Rasputin, as he’s put the whammy on her. She again apologizes, and then he slaps her around a bit, then they have sex. Boris goes out for some food and wine, then returns to see Rasputin hypnotize her and tell her that while the heir to the throne is under her care, the boy will have an accident, and then she will send for a “holy man” that she knows can heal the boy. The following day, she and Vanessa are watching Alexei, when Sonia pushes him off a ledge, and the boy is hurt badly. None of the doctors or priests can do anything, so then Sonia urges the Tsarina to let her bring in Rasputin.

 

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After a few days, Rasputin arrives at the palace, and does heal the boy. The Tsarina is impressed and offers to reward him. Initially, he refuses payment, but after a few days, he then accepts a gift from her. He also takes full advantage of the opportunity alone with her to hypnotize her, and put her under his spell!

Will Rasputin gain control of all of Russia? Will anyone be able to stop his madness? Watch to find out!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

If you haven’t seen this film, it’s a must. Lee is very impressive in this film and will convince you of the evilness of Rasputin! Barbara Shelley is also absolutely incredible in this one (and looking as beautiful as ever! image below). Her chemistry with Lee is undeniable, and after working together before (Dracula Prince of Darkness) probably helped. The supporting cast is right there as well, and Richard Pasco, Suzan Farmer, and Francis Matthews are all splendid.

This film was a double-bill with Dracula Prince of Darkness, so you see a lot of the same sets, but in typical Hammer fashion, they redress everything well enough to make it seem like two separate locations. The music score was good too, and Don Banks is one of those guys I consider right up there with the greats of this time/genre.

Get on this one immediately if you haven’t already viewed it and if you have but not in a while, sit down and enjoy this masterpiece by Christopher Lee (RIP)!

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

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Title: The Mummy’s Shroud

Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Hammer Studios)

Writers: John Gilling & Anthony Hinds

Director: John Gilling

Producer: Michael Carreras

Starring: André Morell, John Phillips, David Buck, Elizabeth Sellars, Michael Ripper, Eddie Powell (as the Mummy)

Released: March 1967

MPAA: Approved

To finish off Hammer Studio’s trilogy of Mummy movies (yes, the last one doesn’t count because there wasn’t an actual “mummy” in the movie! The Mummy- 1959, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb- 1964, I’m taking a look at the 1967 film, The Mummy’s Shroud! The film does recycle some of the ideas from previous films of the genre, but it also has a good cast, and a fine job turned in by basically a stunt man! Sit back, relax, and get ready to watch some bandages fly as the Mummy is out for revenge! Let’s get to the flick!

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The film begins with some narration informing the viewers that there was a child born to a king of Egypt in ancient times. This boy would soon be ushered away from his father as a coup took place, and the then king, was murdered. The boy was taken to the desert, but he and his caretakers died there from lack of food and water. End interlude…

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In the time around 1920, we see an expedition led by Basil Walden (Andre Morell), and his assistants, Paul Preston (David Buck) and Claire de Sangre (Maggie Kimberley). The expedition is financed by a greedy businessman named Stanley Preston (John Phillips). He and his wife, Barbara (Elizabeth Sellars), have arrived in Cairo, and are troubled about the expedition having lost contact with all outside persons. There’s also a man there to help Stanley Preston, by the name of Longbarrow (Michael Ripper). He seems to be more like a slave to Preston, but an honest man nonetheless.

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After a press conference, Stanley joins one of the search parties that are heading out to find Sir Basil and young Paul. Meanwhile, the expedition finds the tomb, and digs their way into the actual burial section of the boy-king. The team is accosted by an Egyptian man who shouts at them in a foreign tongue, and tells them that he guarding the tomb. After thinking about his warning for about ten seconds, they proceed inside. They head inside, but Claire is troubled by an ominous warning about disturbing the tomb. Sir Basil seems to pause, but then they all join in (except Claire) and excavate the bones and shroud of the boy-king. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sir Basil gets bitten by a poisonous snake, and barely makes it out alive.

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Next, Stanley and his search party catch up to the expedition, and he sees an opportunity to seize all the glory for himself, even though he had nothing to do with the actual find. They remove everything from the tomb, and head back to Cairo to inventory the loot. Stanley wants to take everything back to England, but the others are worried about Sir Basil, as he’s taken a turn for the worse. Stanley has Sir Basil committed to an asylum because of his erratic behavior. Soon after though, he escapes. Stanley just wants to get out of town, but the police wont let anyone leave until Sir Basil is found.

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Speaking of Sir Basil, as he’s wandering around the city, evading the police, an old woman (a fortune-teller) approaches him, and tells him that she can help. Her and her accomplice (the man who warned the expedition in the tomb), tell him that he’ll soon die, and then we see Hasmid (the accomplice), steal the burial shroud from the mummy, and perform a ritual. This brings the mummy to life, and then it sets out to seek revenge against the defilers that sought to profit from his body and wealth! As the fortune-teller continues to taunt Sir Basil, he gets weaker by the minute, and then from behind the mummy approaches. It grabs his head, and crushes it like a grape (image above)!

He is only the first in line, and the clock is ticking for all those who entered the tomb!

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This film is a bit underrated for sure. No, it isn’t the finest movie Hammer ever produced, but it’s also not the worst by far. André Morell is his usual self, and delivers a good performance, but too brief as well. After his other performances in Hammer films, you know what he brings to the table. The supporting cast is a good one too, and John Phillips is a great scoundrel in this film. His love of money and cowardice later in the film, are the textbook definition of the word miscreant!

The music score was a good one, and better than most latter-day Hammer films. Don Banks is probably the second person I think of (behind James Bernard) pertaining to Hammer music scores, and deservedly so. The sets are quite good as you also come to expect from Hammer, and really have you believing that you are in Cairo. The ever faithful, Michael Ripper gives a good performance as well, and just seeing his face makes a Hammer film feel more comfortable.

Take some time out to visit or revisit the Hammer “Mummy” films. When looked at as a trilogy, they might not make sense as they don’t continue on with the same story, but taken as separate films with the same antagonist, you’ll be delighted by the results.

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Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas) (1957)

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Title: The Abominable Snowman (of the Himalayas – U.S.)

Distributor: Hammer/ Warner Bros.

Writer: Nigel Kneale

Director: Val Guest

Producer: Aubrey Baring

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Robert Brown

Released: August 1957

MPAA: Approved

 

Welcome friends, to another week of Hammer Studios greatness! This week’s film is one that I honestly thought I’d already reviewed! After a quick search, I realized I hadn’t. So, I must present this little gem that was lost in the archives mainly because of the success of Curse of Frankenstein, that was released the same year. With some familiar faces, solid acting, and a setting that is very creepy, this one definitely needs to be revisited, so let’s get down to business!

 

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As the film begins, we see Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing), talking to the Lama (Arnold Marlé). The Lama questions why Rollason has agreed to meet with an adventurer type guy that is coming to explore the area that the monastery is located. Rollason tries to calm the Lama’s fears, but he cannot. A few moments later, the Lama tells Rollason that his wife, Helen (Maureen Connell) is approaching, and seconds later, she walks in the room along with his assistant, Peter Fox (Richard Wattis). Both enter and are upset with Rollason because he’s agreed to go on the expedition with this other man, rather than continuing his research.

 

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In the next scene, we meet the explorer, and the burly Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker), is leading his men through the town to meet Rollason. Friend has also brought along a trapper named Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), a photographer, Andrew McNee (Michael Brill), and a local guide named Kusang (Wolf Morris). They all meet and make arrangements to have dinner together later, and meet the Lama. At the dinner party, the Lama again questions the motives of the expedition, and eventually, the truth comes out. Friend and his group are there to find the mysterious Yeti of that region, and we also find out (eventually) that he wants to capture one alive!

 

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The next day, the expedition sets off and begins their long journey up the mountain. They keep the group small, because Friend believes that marching an army up there would scare off the Yeti. Friend has already been to great heights on this mountain, and hid equipment in caves along the way. After a day’s journey, they stop at one of the resting points. They make camp, and have a fire going, but one of the men seems uneasy. As they’re settling in for the night, one of the team believes he heard something nearby. Everyone heads out to investigate, but no evidence can be found.

 

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The following day brings an avalanche, and then one of the men, McNee, gets his leg caught in a trap and gets injured. They take him to the tent and he relaxes there for a while. Rollason stays with him as the other push ahead. When they catch up, Ed tells them that he’s captured a Yeti. They rush to see it, and are astonished at the creatures size. That night, more of the Yeti come to take back the body and to terrorize the camp. Ed shoots and kills one of them, and the group realizes that now the Yeti might get hostile towards them. McNee is almost crazy from the pain of his injury, but he also seems to be sensitive to the presence of these creatures. Friend thinks he can use this to his advantage though, and begins to scheme about another trap.

 

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Kusang sees one of the yeti reaching into the tent, and the fright of the ordeal is too much for him, so he flees. Friend and Rollason stop him and ask what he saw, but he only responds with…”I see, what man should not see!” McNee ends up wandering off the next day, and falls off of a cliff. He’s completely delusional at this point, and the fall kills him instantly. That leaves Friend, Rollason, and Ed. Speaking of Ed, he seems to be in the beginning stages of schizophrenia, and is a liability at this point. Rollason buries McNee, but Friend and Ed will have nothing of it, and continue to lay their trap. Meanwhile, Helen and Fox are leading another expedition to find the others, but they’re way behind.

 

Robert Brown and Forrest Tucker in The Abominable Snowman

Will Helen and Fox reach the others in time? Will the Lama’s prophecy come true that no man will see the creature and live? Watch to find out!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Alright, well, as I said initially, this film is fantastic, but was definitely overshadowed by Curse of Frankenstein, that followed soon after this film. It’s really a shame though, because this film has a lot to offer. The script, locations, music, and acting were all very good. The only thing I think that could’ve been better were the creatures themselves. We never get to see any Yeti action (attacking/killing)! That for me is the only glaring missed opportunity in this entire film. No one is to blame, especially not the special effects people, who coincidentally did a fine job. I understand the notion of not showing the Yeti’s and letting your imagination run wild with different scenarios, but even just one or two scenes would’ve sufficed.

As far as the cast goes, Cushing and Tucker really made this one great. The Lama was pretty good too, and really gave a creepy performance. The others were at least average, and none of the players weighed down the film. I will say that Kusang was played brilliantly as well, and he and the Lama were very convincing. Do yourself a favor, and get a copy of this film either online streaming or grab a copy somewhere. You wont regret it!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: The Damned (1963)

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Title: The Damned

Distributor: Columbia Pictures (Hammer Studios)

Writer: Evan Jones (screenplay)

Director: Joseph Losey

Producer: Anthony Hinds, Anthony Nelson Keys, Michael Carreras

Starring: MacDonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Oliver Reed, Viveca Lindfors, Alexander Knox

Released: May 19, 1963 (U.K.)

MPAA: Approved (est.)

To keep rolling with the sci-fi and Hammer Studios theme, I thought I’d pull out one of the not-so-famous films from their library! This wacky movie starts off like a biker film that looks more like something James Dean would’ve starred in back in the day. It is a cool little film, and another reason to love Oliver Reed! They guy is nothing short of phenomenal, and this is just another film that proves it! A beautiful, and vivacious leading lady, and a leading man who did a TON of television work, but held his own nicely in this film. OK, let’s get to the movie!

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The film begins with a rowdy bunch of fellows (a “Teddy Boy Gang“) hanging out by the statue in the middle of town. An older man notices a vibrant young woman walking down the street. He follows her, but she blows him off at first. She then looks in the direction of the leader of the gang. He nods, and she then allows the gentleman to escort her across the street. The gang then heads around a wall to a secluded area, and the girl lures the man to that location, and he gets beaten by the gang, and robbed. One of the gang members asks Joan (Shirley Anne Field), if she’s enjoying her work, and she doesn’t respond verbally, but you can tell she’s sorrowful about the incident.

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Across town, at a restaurant, a man, Bernard (Alexander Knox) is surprised by his lady friend, Freya (Viveca Lindfors). She’s an artist of sorts, and apparently a mistress of his. A couple of Bernard’s men bring Simon Wells (MacDonald Carey) into the restaurant, and ask him about the attack. Freya then questions Bernard about his military friends, and his secret project that he’s been conducting. He’s very mysterious about it and tells her very little. We see a little interaction between Joan and her brother, King (Oliver Reed), and you get the feeling that there’s something not quite right about their relationship.

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The following day, the gang is spending the stolen money on nonsense, but as they go for a motorbike ride, Joan runs into Simon. He’s on a boat, and Joan talks with him as if nothing happened. They get a little testy with each other, but then have a nice moment together. Just as things are looking up, King and his gang show up, and threaten Simon. Joan gets out of the boat, then King threatens her too. The gang taunts Simon, and he sets off. He sees the desperation in Joan’s eyes, so he tells her to jump aboard, and she does. This infuriates King, and he vows to kill Simon.

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At a military base near the cliffs, Bernard and his crew are discussing the project. They then set up a television monitor, and when it turns on, we see a classroom of nine children. The kids ask several questions, and Bernard answers them. The kids then want to know what it is they’re going to do in the coming years, but Bernard evades their questions, and then signs off for the day. Outside the base, there’s a cottage by the cliffs, and Joan and Simon go there (break in) to avoid King. Little do they know that one of the gang spotted them coming to shore, and he quickly tells King. As Simon and Joan are getting cozy, Freya is on her way into the cottage, so Simon and Joan sneak out through a window. As they’re making their way out, Simon and his gang show up and chase them to the cliffs.

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We next see Simon and Joan, as they’ve fallen off of the cliffs and then swim into a nearby cave. The cave has a passageway, and it leads into the domicile that the children are being raised in. They have no clue what is going on of course, but King is hot on their trail. He follows them to the cave, and one of his posse gets caught by the military police that are patrolling the grounds. They question him, but get very little in the form of answers. Back at the cave, King has made his way into the domicile, and one of the kids has befriended him. Simon and Joan have noticed something very disturbing about these children. Their skin is as ice-cold as a corpse, and they have no understanding about why.

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What are these children and why are they kept in this underground enclosure, cut off from mankind? Will King make good on his promise to kill Simon? You must watch to find out!

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OK, here are my thoughts:

I’ll be perfectly honest and tel you that the entire film isn’t as sinister as the movie posters would lead you to believe. That said, the film has many good qualities about it that I’ll share. First off, the acting is top-notch, as McDonald Carey and Shirley Anne Field really carry this film, especially during the scenes that they share, which is most of the movie. Not to be outdone, is Hammer favorite, Oliver Reed! This guy is the perfect actor to play crazy roles like this one, and he really takes it to another level. We’ve all heard the stories about Reed’s partying lifestyle, and you really get the feeling that he was a tortured soul, so maybe that’s why he could pull off these amazing performances.

The music score was by another Hammer stalwart, James Bernard. Although I wouldn’t consider this his best effort, it certainly is lively. The sets are a bright spot as well, and the scenes shot in town (Dorset, England). The landscape is absolutely beautiful, and definitely is a grand addition to the film. The underground domicile is a bit like something from Star Trek the Original Series, but hey, it was 1963, and the budget wasn’t anything to get aroused about either.

Give this one a look-see, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it. It does sort of march to a different beat, especially when you consider it’s a Hammer film. Don’t let that scare you though, it is a winner!

Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

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Title: Quatermass and the Pit (Five Million Years to Earth – U.S.)

Distributor: Hammer Studios, ABPC, (20th Century Fox (U.S.))

Writer: Nigel Kneale

Director: Roy Ward Baker

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring: James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

Released: November 1967

MPAA: Approved

 

I feel like its been a while since I did a Sci-fi film, so why not take a peek at a Hammer film from that genre! This is the third installment (big screen) of this franchise, and for reasons I’ll get into later, they switched actors for the main character, Professor Quatermass. The replacement was a fine actor, and with a regular Hammer leading lady, the film carried on the tradition well. The series was initially on British television, and the adaptation is well worth the watch. Alright, let us journey into the past, and see some cool science fiction, Hammer studio style!

 

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The film begins with a Bobby walking down a dark street. He enters a subway outlet called “Hobbs End” and sees a sign telling the viewers that it’s under construction. The scene switches to the construction workers below, as they continue their mind-numbing work. As they dig deeper, they discover a skull, but keep going anyway. Within seconds, one of the other workers finds a complete human skeleton! They realize they must stop at this point, and call in reinforcements.

 

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A  few days later, a team of researchers is seeking answers, and one man, Doctor Roney (James Donald). tells the press that he needs their help in seeking public approval to influence the government to let the work continue. As this conversation is continuing, Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley – The Gorgon, Rasputin the Mad Monk), and another assistant make another discovery. They find something metallic, but can’t figure out what it might be. Suddenly, a man believes it could be an undetonated bomb from WWII. The police, and then the bomb squad arrive to take action, but they’ll soon find out that this “bomb” will be much more deadly than any other!

 

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As they dig out around the supposed bomb, they come to realize that they are more than likely wrong about the device. Doctor Roney then questions the young officer about his experience, so he calls his superior for a second opinion. The phone calls goes to a man named Colonel Breen (Julian Glover), and he’s actually in a meeting with a certain renegade scientist, Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir)! They are discussing a government operation that he started, but that they are taking over. The government wants to get into space and have missiles to get the upper-hand. Breen and some pencil-pusher tell Quatermass that he’ll be on board or out on his own. Breen then gets the note about the “bomb,” and the two head over to check it out.

 

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Once they arrive, Breen and Quatermass have differing opinions on what’s going on below. A local policeman tells Quatermass that the area was abandoned years before the war, so those remains can’t be of the British populace. Some kind of superstition was keeping people away. He investigates some of the houses in the area, and they see some claw marks on the walls. The policeman can’t explain them, and he gets very nervous while they look around. So much so that he leaves abruptly. Miss Judd joins them, and gets spooked too, and then tells Quatermass that the name of the area, “Hobbs,” was an old nickname for the devil.

 

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Later, over at the Doctor’s lab, Quatermass questions Roney about the authenticity of these skulls, and seems to be suspicious of the “ape-man” theories. Miss Judd shows up and has some newspaper clippings about some of the supernatural goings-on in Hobbs Lane years before the war. Back at the dig site, the military has just about unearthed the entire “bomb” and now must finally come to the fact that it isn’t of this Earth. The Sargent and Quatermass seem to be on the same page and that page is not the one that Breen is on. Just as they are theorizing about it, a scream comes from inside the shell, and they find one of the soldiers raving. He states that he’s seen something terrible, and that it reached out for him.

 

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Quatermass and Judd then head to the archives to investigate further into the matters from decades before. A historian tells them about the things that were seen, and then Quatermass gets an idea, then heads back to the dig site. The military has procured a special drill to try to get inside the structure, but not even that works. In the process, they seem to have activated a defense mechanism, and it nearly drives them mad. They leave the pod for a minute to gather themselves, and another soldier looks inside. He sees a hole where they were drilling, but one that is bigger than the drill, so it couldn’t have been them. Suddenly, the hole gets bigger, and the entire wall disintegrates.  Behind that very wall is a honeycomb like area that is housing dead (but gigantic) locusts!

 

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Were these giant creatures the aliens or their food? And what do the ape men have to do with all of this? Your questions will be answered by the enigmatic Professor Quatermass!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

Let me start out by saying that I love Andrew Keir as an actor. He does a fine job as Quatermass, he was outstanding in Dracula Prince of Darkness,  and in the Pirates of Blood River. That being said, I prefer Brian Donlevy to him as Quatermass. His demeanor was perfect for the role, and although Keir did act mildly abrasive sometimes, he just wasn’t quite as good. Barbara Shelley (image below) added her usual electricity to the film, and was very lovely as well. James Donald (Roney) was another fine addition to the cast. He commanded the scenes he was in, and really played well opposite of Julian Glover (Breen). Also look for a small role by Hammer films stalwart, Duncan Lamont!

I’ve got to say that with a limited budget, the special effects were pretty good. There was a group of five gentlemen that worked on this film, uncredited. Musically, the film doesn’t offer much, but does hit some good peaks during/leading up to the action. The film was a little dark in some scenes, but nothing too terrible. Overall, I’d rate the film a “B” for the action, acting, and cool story and effects. I’ll definitely be reviewing the first two Quatermass films eventually, and probably in sequence as well. Look for them in the near future!

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

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Title: Kiss of the Vampire (Kiss of Evil)

Distributor: Hammer Studios/Universal Pictures

Writer: John Elder (Anthony Hinds)

Director: Don Sharp

Producer: Anthony Hinds

Starring: Clifford Evans, Noel Willman, Edward De Souza, Jennifer Daniel

Released: September 1963

MPAA: UR

It’s that time again! Time for me to spotlight another flick, and for you to enjoy! This film has a different vibe than most Hammer horror films, and that may be due to the fact that the big “stars” are not present at all. We do see three familiar faces, but not ones that were in more than a couple of Hammer films. It’s definitely worth the occasional viewing though, and that’s why I’m going to review it today! There were some unused ideas taken from other movies and added to this one, and once you hear about them, it helps make more sense of things at the end. Alright, let us get to the film!

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The movie starts out with a funeral at a small village somewhere in Europe. The villagers are shocked when a certain man shows up. The creepy looking guy, Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) walks over the grave, shovel in hand, and plunges it into the casket! We hear a shriek come from it, and then see blood spurting out of the cracks. At first, the villagers don’t seem shocked, that is until the blood comes out. The camera then slowly goes into the casket, and we see the recognizable teeth of a vampire. Cue opening credits…

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We next see a man looking through a telescope, as a motorcar chugs down the road. It runs out of petrol, and they are stranded. The man, Gerald (Edward De Souza), and his new wife, Marianne (Jennifer Daniel), realize they’re in some trouble, but Gerald has no alternative but to hike to the nearest town in hopes of finding some fuel (back then very few towns had it). As Marianne waits, she notices the castle in the hills. The man with the telescope notices her beauty, and we get a bad feeling about her chances for survival. The wind blows a tree over, and she runs away. She eventually comes face to face with Professor Zimmer, who scares the bejesus out of her. He tells her to go back to her car, but she instead runs to find Gerald.

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The two eventually wind up in town, and at a hotel. The caretakers are very odd, but are accommodating nonetheless. As they settle in, and the nigh falls, a carriage arrives at the hotel to deliver a letter. Gerald and Marianne are shocked to find out that the letter is for them, and from a local man who lives in the castle. He invites them to dinner, and the hotel owner encourages them to go, because the food will be excellent, and the “Herr doctor” is a very interesting man. The carriage arrives, and they go to the castle, and are greeted by Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman). He then introdeuces his two children to Gerald and Marianne. Both are slightly odd, but Carl (Barry Warren), is the most strange of the two. His daughter, Sabena (Jacquie Wallis), watches them, and you can see the devil in her eyes.

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There’s a girl at the residence as well, but she stays hidden. She eventually makes her way to the closest graveyard, and urges one of the inhabitants to come out. She’s interrupted by Professor Zimmer, but before he can do anything to stop her permanently, she bites him on the wrist, and both flee. After dinner, Carl plays the piano for the guests, and Marianne seems to be getting hypnotized by the music. Carl stares at her, sort of like a predator, and Gerald notices this phenomenon. Back at Professor Zimmer’s room (he has a room somewhere in the bowels of the hotel), he lights his wrist on fire to cleanse the wound, and stop the disease before it can overtake him. Back at the castle, Marianne is about to fall into a trance, but Gerald steps in and snaps her out of it. They leave, and Dr. Ravna and his children plot to take them, by force if necessary.

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As they return to the hotel for the evening, we see Professor Zimmer at the bar, drowning his sorrows in booze. As Gerald and Marianne head to their room, they hear someone crying, and investigate. They see the hotel owners wife, as she’s in one of the rooms, sobbing while looking at some memorabilia. They don’t quite understand, and retreat to their room for the night. The next morning they’re invited to breakfast with the hotel owners. After some chatter and food, they go back to the room where they saw the woman crying, They find a picture of a beautiful girl, the daughter, (assuming) of the owners. Gerald hears someone downstairs, and he confronts Professor Zimmer. He’s told to get out of the town before there’s trouble, but Gerald doesn’t understand. Carl and Sabena show up, and invite them to a party at their home. Professor Zimmer tells Carl and Sabena that they’d better be off because the thick clouds are moving away and the sun is coming out. They flee as if their lives depended on it, and again, Gerald and Marianne don’t know what to think.

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The night of the party arrives, and a house full of guests puts Gerald and Marianne at ease. Of course, they’re greeted by Carl and Sabena, and see that all the guests are wearing masks. Some beautiful, some ugly, but everyone’s identity is concealed for the time being. Gerald and Marianne get separated, and Carl, under the guise of Gerald, lures her upstairs, and locks her in a room. She quickly notices someone is resting in a bed. She sees that it’s Dr. Ravna, and he has blood seeping out from the corners of his mouth. Meanwhile, Sabena is getting Gerald drunk, and he eventually passes out. When he wakes, he’s tossed out of the house, and treated as if they didn’t even know him or ever heard of his wife!

Will Gerald ever see Marianne again? Can the mysterious Professor Zimmer help him in his fight against the hordes of vampires infesting this little village? Check out this flick to find out!

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This film was supposedly going to be the third installment of the Dracula franchise, after “Brides” that continued in the same vein. It became a thing of its own, and in 1966, when Christopher Lee returned to the role of Dracula, did the franchise keep any continuity. Although this film didn’t keep in-line with the others, it did offer some solid performances by Edward De Souza, and Noel Willman. Not to be outdone, is Clifford Evans, and although he doesn’t have many speaking parts, he does add an air of creepiness to the film. He doesn’t even come close to Cushing as Van Helsing, but he does add to the quirky nature of the film. There’s a scene where Zimmer educates Gerald on evil, and vampires specifically, that is quite good.

The rest of the film is standard Hammer fair, in that you get incredible costumes, makeup, and sets. You might well recognize the home of Dr. Ravna, as the same as the one Noel Willman uses as his residence in “The Reptile,” another great off-beat Hammer film. The music score isn’t terribly great, but in the end, it doesn’t detract either. The final scene of this film is very wild, and was allegedly supposed to be the ending of “Brides of Dracula” but peter Cushing talked the crew out of using it, citing that it doesn’t go along with the beliefs of Van Helsing. I suppose he was right, and things worked out for the best, even though looking back, the ending of “Brides” is a little absurd as well.

If you find yourself able to get a view of this one, don’t hesitate. Not only for the reasons I already mentioned, but also for the beautiful ladies (like Isobel Black! – image below) that adorn the film!

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Click here for the trailer!