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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The 12 Worst & Lesser Hammer Horror Films


***WARNING! This article contains pics of nudity***
This companion piece to the 20 Best Hammer Horror Films features motion pictures that are certainly entertaining, but fall short of the greatness contained within the Best entries from Britain's home for Horror. Others on the list, though, are stitched together from better parts of Hammer's catalog--some bordering on being unwatchable. Originally written back in 2009, the list has been upgraded with additional material and one new entry to bring the list to a dastardly dozen.

1. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1961/released in 1962)

Hammer's attempt to film the third cinematic adaptation of Gaston Leroux's classic story of a man whose music and life is stolen--relegated to live out his deformed existence in the sewers below an opera house, is a light weight affair. Terence Fisher directs; and as usual, is far more concerned with the love story angle engulfed in unwarranted tragedy. Granted, the 1943 PHANTOM starring Claude Rains was barely horror at all, focusing more on the music, pageantry and romanticism; but Fisher did this with so many of his horror films it begs the question why even do them at all. His PHANTOM isn't a bad movie at all, but Hammer fans expecting some gruesome thrills will be irrefutably dissatisfied. The violence is minimal, yet Michael Gough, as the nasty villain, pretty much steals the picture from Lom's mad musician in his own movie. 
Originally, Cary Grant was supposedly anxious to appear in one of Hammer's horror movies, and the script for PHANTOM was written with Grant to appear as the title character. Unfortunately, Grant was seemingly not serious about his intentions. Herbert Lom took the role after having some initial vacillation about taking the part. The mask used for this version of the Phantom is easily the worst created for the character; allegedly hurriedly produced in a matter of minutes by Roy Ashton when the original mask created was deemed unusable after filming had already begun. One can only imagine how horrible that one must've been. Then there's the major set piece--the big opera house finale recreated from the two prior PHANTOM flicks--that's lackadaisically created for this version. Feeling rushed in places, the film is still worth a look or two if you go in expecting little in the way of horror. The cramped sewer setting of the Phantom is glum looking and suitably seedy, though. Watch it for the scene chewing performance of Michael Gough even if his characters fate is the films biggest question mark.

2. THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1963/released 1964)

Hammer went for a more "Universal" approach with EVIL, in what is nearly the weakest in their Frankenstein series. If it weren't for Peter Cushing, this third Frank flick would surpass the later HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN in banality. Cushing is the sole reason to watch this quasi-clunker. His character isn't even all that evil compared to some of his other performances as the Baron; especially FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1970). Here, the Baron comes off as an underdog, a victim of a society that doesn't understand him. This conceit is consistent from one Frank flick to the other, but here, Cushing is less villainous than usual, unlike many of his other portrayals. His interpretation in EVIL is closer to his Baron depicted in FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967); although that film actually moves and has a compelling story and genuinely sadistic villains.

The role of antagonist belongs to a revenge seeking hypnotist (Peter Woodthorpe) who controls Frankenstein's reanimated creature to kill for him. The Baron is more of an anti-hero in this entry, one of only two Franky films not directed by Terence Fisher. Cinematographer Freddie Francis takes the helm and fails for the most part in delivering a product on par with Fisher's movies in this series. Francis does capture some winning moments--all from Cushing, of course; such as his recalcitrant attitude and talk of "meddling women"; and then there's his Errol Flynn-style escape from the Burgomaster's home. Still, Fisher's FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, the last of the series, shot on a shoestring budget and the last movie of his career, is miles away better than Francis's EVIL.

I'm not sure why it was so important to them to do so, but EVIL was the first time Hammer was granted permission to utilize makeup similar to the Karloff visage in the classic Universal FRANKENSTEIN from 1931 (the film also bears more resemblance to the Universal series). They used a wrestler named Kiwi Kingston to play the monster and he comes of more pitiable looking than fearsome. Had they put anyone else in the role they'd have probably gotten the same result. The effects used to create the creatures features look slapped together like the mask for Hammer's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. It's a disastrous step down from the gruesome patchwork deformity of CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957). Still, Peter Cushing is the one saving grace and the above-mentioned scene where he attempts to reclaim some of his property gives the movie some much needed comedic flair.


Easily the weakest entry in Hammer's bandaged brute series; not counting BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB which thought not having a gauze-wrapped ogre at all was a good idea. Michael Carreras directs this fitfully boring second entry in Hammer Films mummy series. Things got off to a blazing start with there huge hit--simply titled THE MUMMY (1959). The famed horror company's Egyptian avenger quartet is the weakest series of Hammer's horror heritage. This exercise in tedium takes up 53 minutes of the viewers time before the damn mummy even begins to do his thing. By that time, there's 26 minutes left and less than half of that contains "the beat of the cloth wrapped feet"; that being the tagline used for the next film in Hammer's mummy cycle that's a marked improvement.

The makeup and costume for the creature in this one follows the trend of shoddiness pioneered in Hammer's PHANTOM misfire and the mistake that is Frankenstein's EVIL. The film did do well at the box office. Originally, the script called for a 20 foot tall mummy monster to wreak havoc until the military gets involved, but this storyline was later rejected. It may have been ridiculous to showcase a Kong-sized Egyptian shambler, but it would no doubt have been a life-injection the series could've used. Alvin Rakoff, the director of the awful DEATH SHIP (1980), collaborated on the script with Carerras under a pseudonym. George Pastell plays essentially the same character he played in THE MUMMY, only here he is not the creatures cohort. Dickie Owen played the Mummy here and in the next film where he was far more intimidating.

There's a few good things in the movie so it's not all worn out rags. CURSE begins in bloody fashion with a graphic dismemberment to grab the attention (even if afterward it fails to hold onto it). During the finale, the mummy squashes a head and ends up in the sewer after battling the police. The busty Jeanne Roland in addition to the last ten minutes almost makes this miserable movie worthwhile, but it's too little, too late. The score is also good; at least the parts that aren't ported over from the previous picture. It feels like a CURSE to get through, but this MUMMY is recommended to the most patient of Hammer fans.

4. THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1966/released 1967)

After releasing CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB, Hammer returned to Egyptian horror with THE MUMMY'S SHROUD two years later. It's a lesser Hammer horror, but the best of the shamblers next to the 1959 film. Actually, Dickie Owen's interpretation doesn't walk like an Egyptian at all; but instead mimics Christopher Lee's legitimately scary portrayal. The story this time out is a little bit different, too. The typically ignorant tomb raiders remove the remains of a boy king from his resting place. Upon removing his shroud and reading the deadly inscription, this prompts his loyal guardian, Prem, to return to life and exact a brutal revenge on the desecrators.

SHROUD is one of the best films on this list, only it's just not very engaging. What the film needed was either Chris Lee or Peter Cushing to give the film some added value as all the elements are here for a damn fine horror picture. One of two great things about the movie are the few and far between mummy attacks. They are incredibly brutal and violent for the time period; such as a scene where Prem sets one of his victims on fire. One particular bit of nasty business was removed from the finished film involving the gruesome handiwork of Prem after pulverizing one of the tomb defilers.

The other noteworthy thing about SHROUD is the wickedly ghoulish mystic, Haiti who foresees the deaths of the victims. Her presence and cackling demeanor add a macabre element to the proceedings that's missing from any of the other entries. She's the Maria Ouspenskaya (Maleva the gypsy in 1943s THE WOLF MAN) of the picture, but of a malevolent nature. Michael Ripper is also on hand in a larger than usual role. At least here he's far more believable and personable than in CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB where the script tried to pass him off as an Egyptian.

The destruction of Prem is rather spectacular and unusual when compared with other films of this type. It's undoubtedly the liveliest and kinetic finale of Hammer's mummy films. It's definitely far from the worst film on this list, it just sort of sits there... unlike Prem. The score is also notable and the film as a whole is definitely a step in the right direction after the previous fiasco. Director John Gilling was a bit more successful with his back to back Hammer horrors THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and THE REPTILE; both from 1966 and both refreshing in their takes on zombies and werewolf mythos. While the monster rivals Chris Lee's version, the look of Prem is somewhat daring--if unsuccessful--by deviating from the typical bandaged design, going for what looks like burlap sacks and corn husks. A detriment to the film's qualities, the picture is rendered relatively weak without stronger leads.  This would be Hammer's last complete film shot at Bray before they moved to Elstree Studios.

Screenwriter-turned-director Jimmy Sangster did a horrible debut behind the camera with this black comedy do-over of CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) that isn't all that funny. The project seemed ill-fitted for Peter Cushing and the producers wanted to go with a younger Frank anyway. Ralph Bates was being groomed as a new, young horror star so he took the role of Dr. Frankenstein. It's not a total loss, though, as the film isn't without some funny bits and good moments; Kate O'Mara's chest being two of them. Speaking of cleavage, there is an increased slant towards sex this time out and while Bates is good in the role, the film as a whole is largely forgettable. Hammer's attempt to inject new life into the series dies on the operating table.

Even the added nudity and violence was doing very little to hold interest in their horror pictures. Hammer's most successful film, ON THE BUSES (1971) wasn't even a horror movie, but a comedy. They were so accustomed to doing horror, that when change was inevitable, Hammer couldn't adjust to the shift in audience tastes. There would always be a market for their old-fashioned style of horror, but it wouldn't be enough to keep them financially viable. At this point, most everything Hammer did was a disappointment; and they would soon no longer have the luxury of a major studio to back them for financing, nor for overseas distribution.

Instead, their films were often picked up by obscure companies who barely released the pictures at all and sometimes several years after the films had played their native territory. HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN also marks the first of three appearances by weightlifting champion, Dave Prowse who famously went on to play Darth Vader in the original STAR WARS trilogy. Some of HORROR's black humor works, but the film as a whole is mundane and pretty forgettable.

6. LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1970/released 1971)

LUST is a major league mistake in Hammer's non-Dracula vampire series. After the stylish, yet risky endeavor that was THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, the studio unleashes this bizarre and largely redundant second entry in their Karnstein trilogy. Probably the greatest blunder the film makes is skimping on the salaciousness promised by the title. There's no lust shown, but more of a tame romance between a human and his would-be vampire lover. There's potential in such a storyline, but in the hands of Jimmy Sangster again, he shows no interest in exploiting these areas. There is virtually nothing of interest save for a haunting and sometimes beautiful score by Harry Robinson. The slender and tantalizing frame of Yutte Stensgaard is a plus, but not enough to keep this unexciting lesbian vampire non-epic afloat.

Originally titled TO LOVE A VAMPIRE, the emphasis is placed on the doomed relationship between schoolteacher Lestrange and the vampire Mircalla. They should've kept that title and done away with the LUST moniker. If original director Terence Fisher had not fallen ill, perhaps the film would have been more successful since romanticizing horror was something he was good at. Peter Cushing was also cast as a lecherous nutcase, but was unable to participate due to his wife's illness. Ralp Bates replaced him in what was already a very unflattering role for an actor the company was seemingly building up to replace Cushing. The film lost some of its scenes of violence, but it is highly unlikely that the picture would be improved had they been included.

The film's "best" moment occurs towards the end when the entire film crew is visible to the left of the screen for close to ten seconds. Speaking of showing off the crew, you can see a number of technicians including the director in the door of a coach during the opening moments. Mike Raven as Count Karnstein is obviously having a grand time doing his best Christopher Lee impersonation; some close up shots from one of Lee's previous Dracula movies are used at one point. Adding to this film's negative stigma, Raven was incensed upon learning his voice was dubbed by someone else. A serious low point in Hammer's history. If you're a fan, you'll still want to see it, but you'd be better off watching THE VAMPIRE LOVERS or especially TWINS OF EVIL again.

7. COUNTESS DRACULA (1970/released 1971)

It's a shame that Ingrid Pitt's one lead role had to be in such a lousy movie. COUNTESS DRACULA is one of the most incredible missed opportunities in horror history. Hammer, the studio that was struggling to find themselves amidst their dwindling target audience, totally missed the boat with this dry, bland and nearly bloodless production. About one of the most sadistic and bloodthirsty bitches in all of humanity's savage history, the producers at the famed house of horror decided to forego the reality of Erzsebet Bathory's vile catalog of cruelty and instead focused on one of the Countess' "less ferocious" practices.

Despite the languid movie Hammer put her in, Ingrid Pitt is great as the Blood Countess and she is obviously enjoying the chance with her meatiest role. For whatever reason that still boggles the mind, her voice was dubbed without her knowledge after the film was completed. The film mixes fantasy with reality in that the Countess bathes in the blood of virgins to remain youthful; and at the end, as she is to be married to her handsome groom, she begins to age rapidly. The final moments are true to what became of the real 'Blood Countess'. Had the real exploits of this insane feral female been filmed, even today the production would easily have obtained an 'X' rating. The only thing COUNTESS has going for it is Pitt's undeniable sexiness and the nude shots displaying her incredible figure.

It's a grand shame that Hammer failed to capitalize on what could have been the horror tale they needed to procure some of their disinterested audience. Hammer's lady DRACULA is a boring affair that has only Ingrid Pitt to carry such an anemic affair. It's her movie, and the only one she headlines, so that in itself is reason enough to see it.


Hammer's last mummy movie isn't really a mummy film at all. Based on Bram Stoker's 'Jewel of the Seven Stars', it's a failed, yet more adult approach to their style of horror film. Peter Cushing was cast in the supporting role as the archeologist, but had to exit the picture after only one day because his wife had become deathly ill. Then the director, Seth Holt, died of a heart attack before the film was completed. Some other directors were considered to take over, but Michael Carreras decided to handle the duties himself--later claiming the picture was in extreme disarray and even contemplated starting over from scratch.

In yet another attempt by the company to give new life to a tired formula, audiences both in the UK and abroad were not interested. The film bombed terribly, successfully killing off the mummy series with pedestrian direction, barely any horror, and not a gauze-wrapped avenger from centuries past in sight. However, the last scene contains a mummy of sorts in what comes off as something of an in-joke. The Stoker story was made again in 1980 as THE AWAKENING starring Charlton Heston and Stephanie Zimbalist and it's marginally better. It benefited from some OMENesque style death scenes and a shock ending, something Hammer's version lacks.

Two words make BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB somewhat worthwhile; Valerie Leon. She had appeared in a number of the CARRY ON films and her gravity defying assets coupled with her seductive beauty are reason enough to give this misleadingly titled horror hokum at least one look. All other desecrators of Hammer's humdrum horror sans its title shambler should proceed at their own risk.

9. DRACULA AD 1972 (1971/released 1972)

After the huge success of AIP's COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970), Hammer decided it was time they transplanted the King of Vampires to modern day London. Well, once he got their, they did little to nothing with him. After a stunning opening, the film loses lots of steam and never regains momentum till the finale draws near. Lee as Dracula again has very little to do and the character is relegated to a dilapidated old church, the only tie to the Gothic style of Hammer's bygone days. For whatever reason, the company made the picture to bring their popular bloodsucker into the modern age, and decided it was best to confine him to familiar ground while leaving the blood drinking of Londonites to a new character.

This new character, Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame), takes center stage for much of the picture when the film should be focusing on Dracula. Hammer alums often said they didn't know what to do with Dracula; which begs the question why the hell did you option the property in the first place then?!  Some films had an excuse for Drac's late or infrequent appearances, but this one doesn't. There's some great things about A.D. 1972 like the dynamite opening sequence and a surprisingly bloody ending battle between Van Helsing and the Lord of the Undead. It's the only film where you get two duels between the arch enemies. There's also a strong and vibrantly forceful score by Michael Vickers of Manfred Mann fame. Of particular interest to male viewers is the participation of the alluring beauty of both Caroline Munro and Stephanie Beacham.

Upon release, the film failed to garner much audience interest. Modern-day vampires was treated far better in the aforementioned COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE and elsewhere in BLACULA (1972) and particularly in the Made For TV movie, THE NIGHT STALKER (1972). The Hammer production was further hindered when the producers decided against using Rod Stewart and his band, The Faces for the party sequence; deciding instead on the wonders of the unknown band Stoneground. Once again Chris Lee was vehemently against the dialog he was given, yet he didn't mind uttering essentially the same shit for the follow-up modern day Drac attack, SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA the next year.

10. THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1972-'73/released 1974)

By 1973, Hammer was drained of ideas so they came up with this uneven entry to drive a stake through the heart of their Dracula series. It would end up being the last to feature Chris Lee as the Count. By this point, Dracula has suffered the indignity of being staked or impaled with a variety of implements, burned by the sun's rays, drowned by running water, killed by Christ, and here, silver bullets and thorn bushes play a role in the death of the ruler of lost souls. By this point, being a vampire doesn't make immortality all that an appealing alternate un-lifestyle. Speaking of Dracula's demise, the dreary finale is so abrupt, it feels like the filmmakers ran out of time, or were as tired of the material as its villainous star was. Dracula doesn't even appear till late in the flick and the bulk of his footage doesn't come till the end.

Incredibly, Lee gets more dialog than he did in SCARS OF DRACULA (1970), but only by a few lines. What little the film has in its favor is a unique plotline with Bondian style elements that encoring director, Alan Gibson, fails to capitalize on. It's a decent film, but the most lackluster of the Dracula movies. The film went through a number of title changes and Chris Lee had a lot of disdain for even having been signed to do the picture and soon vowed he would never again don the Count's cape.

The film didn't appear on North American shores till 1978, and under the title COUNT DRACULA & HIS VAMPIRE BRIDE. For continuity purposes, it's a direct sequel to the previous modern day Dracula movie. Cushing also returns, but sadly, the gorgeous Stephanie Beacham does not. Instead, she is replaced by Bond girl, Joanna Lumley of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969). Despite its fascinating storyline of Dracula attempting to commit suicide by unleashing a new strain of bubonic plague upon the world, Lee's bloodsucker swan song is mostly an exercise in tedium.

11. CAPTAIN KRONOS, VAMPIRE HUNTER (1972/released 1974)

CAPTAIN KRONOS is a fan favorite, but it's obvious Hammer was struggling to keep their doors open. Much like SATANIC RITES failed to properly meld new themes and ideas, so does this movie's attempt at mixing swashbuckling action with vampirism. The poverty row cardboard sets and the stiff leading actor that is Horst Janson cripple whatever intentions director Brian Clemens intended. Furthering the film's slide into B-movie territory are poorly staged "sword fights"; especially disappointing is the final duel between Kronos and Hagen, played by William Hobbs, the film's sword choreographer. It's the one decent fight in the picture, yet the filmmakers couldn't be bothered to compose a piece of music for this sequence to heighten the action. The latter half of the duel has music, but there's a noticeable lack of buckle-swash that the bombastic main theme possesses.

There's barely any props and a lack of set design; and what's seen is so bland and fake, to quote Jon Pertwee in the fourth story in the Amicus anthology, THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, "It's so flimsy you could shoot peas through it!"  Nearly the entire film is shot in daylight. Director Clemens's film is rife with bizarre touches here and there, but the whole exercise is brought down by a totally wooden lead actor who, yet again like others before him, is dubbed in post. Janson speaks clear English so why would they dub him? Who knows, as Hammer was privy to dub any of their lead performers at random.

The producers claimed they wanted someone who could fight and handle a sword. Well, the tight shooting schedule must have kept them from looking for very long as the quick cuts and close ups mask the deficiencies inherent in anyone wielding a blade, save for the semi exciting final fight between Kronos and Hagen. The pub fight appears to either be imitating a Japanese samurai duel or was shittily choreographed on purpose; ditto for the sword fight on the hills following it. Janson had also played a villain in the spaghetti western obscurity LONG LIVE YOUR DEATH (1974) starring Franco Nero, Eli Wallach and Lynn Redgrave.

What CAPTAIN KRONOS does have are some quirky characters, some interesting mythology (the vamps here suck away your life essence instead of blood), a rousing score and the perky and sensual talents of Caroline Munro, a gorgeous actress who simply didn't get enough roles in movies. Director Brian Clemens envisioned a series of films wherein Kronos would travel through time encountering a different type of creature or supernatural foe. That would've been a fascinating concept had this initial outing turned out better.

The film was barely released and disappeared quietly with little to no fanfare. With its minuscule budget, KRONOS has a TV movie of the week look about it. Perplexingly, this film gets so much attention while the superior action horror hybrid, LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES, often gets overlooked or snubbed at. It actually had a budget to work with, a memorable music score by James Bernard, and fantastic action set pieces. That's one thing KRONOS lacks is engaging action which is its main selling point; but it does have imagination. If only the budget and schedule allowed it to breath and run a little bit wild.

12. TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER (1975/released 1976)

One of the company's absolute worst movies is this demonic disaster riffing off of the building dread of ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), the shock value of THE DEVILS (1971), and inspired by the success of THE EXORCIST (1973). It doesn't resemble Friedkin's movie at all, but does feature bizarre scenes of Nastassja Kinski (the daughter of Klaus) having sex with a satanic statue; Nastassja Kinski stuffing what looks like one of the aliens from the atrocious INSEMINOID (1981) into her vagina; an uncomfortable nude scene by Nastassja Kinski who was only 14 at the time; satanic orgies, and other grotesqueries.

Director Peter Sykes doesn't seem to know what sort of movie he wanted to make, and according to those on the set, no one else did either. The film plods along, only occasionally awakening viewers at the last second before succumbing to boredom by some random offensiveness; almost always committed by Christopher Lee, the film's sole asset worth staying awake for. He plays an excommunicated priest who works for the Devil. 

TO THE DEVIL was supposed to be based on Dennis Wheatley's story of the same name, but instead, the filmmakers thought it best to make up a new story and only retain the title. This didn't sit well with Wheatley who was disgusted by the end result as was Christopher Lee; and Richard Widmark who apparently couldn't make heads or tails of what was going on, much like the film's confusing plot. It feels like a TV movie when there isn't something gruesome onscreen, and that's what was intended in the beginning. 
If they'd really went for it and did something akin to the trash opus that is Mario Gariazzo's THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (1975), then Hammer's next-to-last movie might've been something special. They just couldn't make up their mind what they wanted this to be nor how to end it. The original ending was scrapped and replaced by something far worse in having Lee's evil priest dispatched by having Widmark hit him in the head with a rock that somehow makes him disappear. Surprisingly, the film was successful, but not for Hammer since the financing largely came from elsewhere as the company was virtually up the creek without paddles at this point. After 1979s THE LADY VANISHES, so did Hammer Films. You'd be better off watching the Wheatley adapted Hammer classic, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) instead.


Imposter Jason said...

I actually own a couple of these but havent watched them yet. Actually I did watch some of Countess Dracula and kinda skimmed through the rest of it... seemed kinda blah. I did enjoy Vampire Lovers, though, which I noticed was on your Hammer Horror Best list. They came together as a double feature DVD thing.

I admit, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to Hammer Horror and had planned on buying that 8-movie Hammer set and I noticed two of the movies on this list are included in the Hammer DVD set. I'll still check them out at some point, though. Good job coming up with these Best/Worst lists. I'll definitely use them as reference points when Netflixing and whatnot!

Sean M said...

I would still get that 8 film set,i've seen it for £12 in HMV!

Though i agree that some of this list are lesser productions with some of them being a tad boring,but being Hammer films typically(as Brian makes clear in his reviews)for the most part they still have points of interest and retain that special Hammer look and feel about them.

In the case of CAPTAIN KRONOS and DRACULA AD1972 these both have something of a cult following and are particular favourites of mine.COUNTESS DRACULA is definitely flawed for the reasons stated above but with the gorgeous Ingrid Pitt dominating proceedings i still have a lot of time for this movie.

I'm interested to see what you make of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER Brian as it's quite extreme for a Hammer entry and consequently draws very mixed opinions.

venoms5 said...

Aaron, just as Sean has stated, that 8 movie Hammer set is worth the purchase. You have BRIDES OF DRACULA, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF and also CAPTAIN CLEGG aka NIGHT CREATURES making its video premier. Those three alone are worth picking up the set.

I managed to catch most of the Hammer flicks on television back in the early 80's. I had a field day picking them up on DVD when they became available thru Anchor Bay and other companies. I didn't buy them all, though, just the horror titles and select others.

Glad you enjoyed the lists, Aaron. It was fun as well as a pain putting them together. I plan to do the same with other genre styles, too.

venoms5 said...

Sean, I had initially planned to watch TO THE DEVIL...before I posted the list, but I figured "what the hell", I had everything else ready and I can change it later if I need to.

I watched THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL for the first time and it's a top tier Hammer movie. Not really horror, though, but it has an amazingly high quotient of sexuality for a film made in 1959.

I also revisited THE GORGON and my opinion is a little different from the last few times I saw it over the years. Not much, but a little. I got write ups for both of these ready to post, too.

J. Astro said...

The only thing I could really seize on to disagree with here was where you called 1980's "DEATH SHIP" an awful movie.

WHHHAAAAAAT?? I like that one. Not -great-, maybe, but certainly not "awful". Ah, well, to each their own. I also have a little more love for Kronos than you do, as well. Still, keen list. FUCK "DRACULA A.D", I hated that junker.

venoms5 said...

Hey, J., there's a review for DEATH SHIP here as well. It's in the 'Dis List' column. You may want to avoid reading it, lol. Did you manage to pick up a copy of the extras packed R2 disc?

I used to love KRONOS when I was a kid, but seeing it again a few years later on VHS, not so much. I just feel it's not as good as the vibrant and lively LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES. The sight of Cushing taking on a large group of ghouls armed with a torch is a sight to behold. He didn't get that animated in any of his other Dracula movies.

DRACULA AD 1972 has grown on me more over the years. It's such a funny movie; Neame delivering his satanic mantra as if his life depended on it, the "hip" dialog and the energetic opening and closing battle between Drac and Van Helsing (which is awfully gory for a PG rating) nudges it slightly above the next film in the series.

Love the score, too. It's still light years away from earlier entries in the series, of course.

I Like Horror Movies said...

I have only seen 10 and 11 of the list, but I cant say I am particularly interested in seeking the rest out for the time being. I enjoyed both of them though all things considered, so maybe there is hope yet for the rest! Im glad to know that the only two Frankenstein films I missed were the worst in the series. Thanks for another thoughtful and informative review V!

venoms5 said...

Thanks for stopping by, Carl! At some point you may want to give those other two Frank flicks a spin. You might actually like one or both of them. Most fans don't, though.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Hell Ill give anything a chance, and I do like some of the worst of the worst, its just hard to imagine that anything Hammer has touched could be corrupted =D

venoms5 said...

Carl: Haha, yeah, I know. A number of their 70's productions are no match for their superior late 50's and 60's outings. I don't think Hammer has any movies I would place alongside something like say ROBOT MONSTER, even though that one is so bad it's good. But something like LUST FOR A VAMPIRE is just plain awful. The shot where the entire crew is visible including the director who is motioning the horse drawn carriage on is one of the most hilarious things I've seen.

I really didn't want to put THE MUMMY'S SHROUD on there, but it could have been great had it had some stronger leads in it. Compared with THE MUMMY, it misses the boat. However, it's easily the best of the Hammer mummy sequels.

TheReverendDoom said...

I was checking out the list and while I like all of them to some extent (have not seen Blood from the Mummy's Tomb or Curse of the Mummy's Tomb) I was really surprised that Cpt. Kronos made the list. And I love the silliness of Drac AD '72 and Satanic Rites of Drac.

venoms5 said...

About the only movies on this list I would say were TRULY awful would be LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN. However, HORROR has Kate O'Mara who saves that one for me.

SATANIC RITES barely misses being written off and if it weren't for the voluptuous frame of Valerie Leon, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB should have stayed buried.

I think I'm a bit prejudiced against CAPTAIN KRONOS. So many people love it and I don't think it's a bad film all around, it's just not of the caliber of most of their 60's work. The sets look like they're made of cardboard, the lead character looks bored through the whole thing and the graveyard "sword battle" is horribly choreographed and edited. Ditto for the ridiculous pub sequence with a less drunk than usual Ian Hendry in an attempt to mimic similar scenes from Japanese Chambara movies. One thing it does have is imagination....and Caroline me some Caroline Munro.

Both Munro and Stephanie "busty" Beacham save DRACULA AD 1972 for me, whose main saving grace (for me anyways) is the awesome opening and ending and musical score.

Snipes said...

I actually quite liked Countess Dracula and Blood From The Mummy's Tomb. If those are among some of the worst I guess I have a lot to look forward to!

venoms5 said...

I found them both very plodding and boring with the only points of interest being the voluptuous leading ladies. If Hammer had filmed the Blood Countess closer to her real self, now that could have possibly been something special.

Thanks for stopping over, MVP!

Anonymous said...

Joanna Lumley was never a Bond Girl but the wonderful Purdey during last season of The Avengers, cheers

venoms5 said...


Cinema Revisited said...

LOVE Ingrid Pitt though.

Dark Lord Rob said...

Hey, love the list. Some faves are on it but you're quite clear that "Worst" is relative - yeah, AD 72 is a "Bad" movie but it's quite fun. One quibble: SATANIC RITES was shown at the 1975 Famous Monsters con in NYC, where it was probably seen by more people than ever saw it as COUNT DRACULA AND HIS VAMPIRE BRIDE in '78.

S Stubbs said...

The curse of the Mummy's tomb I like it. You have some atmospheric scenes invariably with Mummy in them and not to mention the Mummy does look the part menacing in fact. Also some authentic sets in film. I'd give it 2* and a half.

S Stubbs said...

The curse of the Mummy's tomb I like it. You have some atmospheric scenes invariably with Mummy in them and not to mention the Mummy does look the part menacing in fact. Also some authentic sets in film. I'd give it 2* and a half.

Ryan Gavalier said...

Satanic rites and phantom are two of my favorites, but no wrong opinions!

Ken Hodges said...

Lust for a Vampire was dreadful, but two 'Hammer' films not mentioned here are 'Hysteria' with Robert Webber and 'The Witches', with Joan Fontaine, both were diabolical

Joseph Scott said...

I'm skeptical that you considered all of Hammer's horror movies. Blood From The Mummy's Tomb is an agreeable little movie, better than Crescendo, or To The Devil A Daughter, or Straight On Till Morning, or The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires, or Scars Of Dracula. Lust For A Vampire is better than Twins Of Evil, which doesn't even know when it's set and has Cushing complaining about "twins of evil" as if that's even grammatical.

Joseph Scott said...

Oh, I just noticed you admitted you haven't seen To The Devil A Daughter, a pretty famous Hammer movie. So I'm guessing you pretty much haven't seen Crescendo, Hysteria, The Witches, The Reptile, Fear In The Night, The Nanny, Paranoia, or The Maniac, right? If so, what qualifies you to make this list?

venoms5 said...

@ Joseph Scott: I'm so glad BLOOD is an agreeable Hammer horror for you because it is not with me. This was written in 2009 and I've still not bothered to finish watching TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, but probably will one day. What I saw didn't interest me and since I haven't seen it in its entirety, there was no point in including it on the list. Just to entertain you, I've seen THE WITCHES, THE REPTILE, PARANOIA, THE MANIAC, and FEAR IN THE NIGHT. I don't consider any of those to be good enough for a 'Best Of' list or bad enough for a 'Worst Of' list. Also, I don't need a qualification to make any list. I assume you have issues with my Best Hammer list as well; even though I'm under no obligation to agree with your summations due to my having an individual opinion of my own. I needed no qualification for that one as well.

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