HAMMER FILM CLASSICS

The Abominable Snowman
Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter
Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell
X The Unknown
Spaceways
Mask of Dust
Stolen Face
Four Sided Triangle


 



 

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Hammer Horror films were originally regarded as cheap and vulgar. Darren Slade elsewhere on this website talks about the reception of Hammer Horrors and we have a profile and interview with Hammer scriptwriter Jimmy Sangster. In the print version of Talking Pictures we carried an interview with Christopher Lee and I will put this on the website when I get the chance. Now with 'new' Hammer video and DVD releases we can see what all the fuss was about for ourselves.



The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman sees gun-runner Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) embarking on an expedition in search of the fabled creature known as the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman.  He is joined by botanist John Rollason (Peter Cushing), whose scientific curiosity is at odds with Rollason's aim to capture and commercially exploit one of the creatures.

Misfortune dogs the expedition as it travels deeper into the Himalayas, but trapper Ed Shelley (Robert Brown) succeeds in killing one of the giant animals.  As the party's numbers rapidly dwindle, the ruthless Friend decides to use Shelley as bait in an effort to trap a live Yeti.  The hunters soon become the hunted as a series of disturbing events lead Rollason to suspect that they are dealing with creatures of awesome intelligence.

Nigel Kneale's compelling screenplay for The Abominable Snowman was adapted from his own BBC production The Creature.  The film was directed by Val Guest, who had already brought the first two instalments of Kneale's Quatermass saga to the big screen.

The Abominable Snowman DVD features audio commentaries by both Nigel Kneale and Val Guest, a filmed interview with Val Guest and a documentary on the work of Peter Cushing at Hammer. The DVD also includes a 24-page booklet featuring rare stills and information about the film. The original uncut British theatrical print is used for these releases and is shown in it's original screen ratio.

Release date: 26 May 2003
Video: £12.99
DVD: £15.99

Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester,
CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.



Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

Before there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. Instead of modern-day California, Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) stalks 19th Century Europe in search of his undead prey, assisted by the beautiful gypsy Carla (Caroline Munro) and hunchbacked assistant Professor Grost (John Cater).

The professional vampire hunters have been summoned to a village where a young girl has been found been emaciated, drained of all youth.  As the death toll in the village rises, Kronos devises a daring plan to expose the murderer - a plan that uses Carla as bait.

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter is one of the most unusual and sought-after horror films from the legendary Hammer Film Productions.  The collector's edition DVD features the original uncut British theatrical print of this gruesome classic and new bonus material, as well as a 24 page full colour guide to the film.

Release date: 26 May 2003
Video: £12.99
DVD: £15.99

Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester,
CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.
 



Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell

Peter Chushing stars in Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell. It is the concluding entry in Hammer's popular Frankenstein series, and the final masterpiece from acclaimed director Terence Fisher.  Dr Simon Helder (Shane Briant) is arrested for sorcery and sentenced to five years' imprisonment in a squalid asylum for the criminally insane. The inmates are cared for by the seemingly benevolent Dr Karl Victor (Peter Cushing) and his mute assistant Angel (Madeline Smith).  Victor soon reveals his true identity to Helder - he is the notorious Baron Frankenstein, and he is continuing his depraved research safe in the knowledge that most people believe him to be dead. 

Helder becomes Frankenstein's apprentice, assisting him in the creation of a brutish new monster (Dave Prowse).  When the experiment goes wrong, the insane Frankenstein decrees that the monster should be reborn and selects Angel as its mate.

This DVD features the original uncut British theatrical print of this gruesome classic and new bonus material, as well as a 24 page full colour booklet delving into the film's history.

Release date: 26 May 2003
Video: £12.99
DVD: £15.99

Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester,
CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.


X The Unknown

X The Unknown was only the second of Hammer's horror productions, but contained some of the most grisly and disturbing special effects seen in any of the company's films.

As the film opens, mysterious events surround the sudden appearance of a gaping fissure in Scotland: soldiers on manoeuvres nearby develop a debilitating sickness and a small boy is later engulfed by an eerie presence.  The child subsequently dies of first-degree radiation burns, similar to those that killed one of the soldiers.

Mankind is at the mercy of a seemingly unstoppable organism that melts the flesh of those in its path.  Atomic energy specialist Dr Adam Royston (Dean Jagger) and his colleague McGill (Leo McKern) investigate the deadly phenomenon, which they trace to the depths of the fissure.  As the death toll rises, Royston devises a daring plan to snare the creature in a lethal radioactive trap...

The DVD features an audio commentary and on screen interview with writer Jimmy Sangster. The DVD also includes a 24-page booklet featuring rare stills and information about the film. The original uncut British theatrical print is used for these releases and is shown in it's original screen ratio.

Release date: 26 May 2003
Video: £12.99
DVD: £15.99

Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester,
CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.



Spaceways

Directed by Terence Fisher. 1953.

Hammer is best known for its horror films but the studio began life as a producer of films adapted from popular BBC Radio series. 
 

Following the success of their BBC adaptions, and their release of a US film called Rocketship X-M (1950) that literally had people queuing to see it,  it was decided to produce a home-grown British space flick. Using their usual source of inspiration, they adapted Spaceways from a radio play that was based on a novel of the same name by British science fiction writer Charles Eric Maine.

The action is set at the Deanfield Experimental Station where a group of scientists are working on a project to create an orbital space station. When Steve Mitchell's wife and a male colleague go missing it's suspected that he has killed them and dumped their bodies inside a recently launched rocket. When MI5 starts investigating Steve is compelled to take a rocket flight into space to clear his name.

Even by the standards of the early 1950s the effects in Spaceways are primitive. To simulate the take-off of the rocket the camera operator simply shook the camera to give the impression of movement. The stars of the film are more interesting than their on-screen charaters. Eva Bartok who plays the part of Steve's wife, went on to star with Burt Lancaster in The Crimson Pirate (1952). She appeared in a few films with her fourth husband Curt Jurgens, and she eventually retired from acting in 1968. 

On the DD DVD release Spaceways is presented with a 25 minute documentary, about the British attempts to harness atomic energy for the future. The documentary, Operation Universe, was produced in colour and HammerScope in 1957. It predicts that ships and other craft will be run by virtually free and limitless atomic energy. More frighteningly we are shown dangerous atomic cargo delivered to a research laboratory on the back of a lorry with relatively little protection in the event of accident or theft. 

Price: £12.99. Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester, CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two or £3.75 for three.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.



Mask of Dust 

Directed by Terence Fisher. 1955.

Mask of Dust is based on another novel that was made into a BBC radio programme. This tells of the drama and excitement of the Grand Prix motoring racing circus of 1954. It centres on the fading career of Peter West (Richard Conte) who can't seem to retain his competitive edge. His team mates are an ambitious young up-start who can't want to literally jump into Peter's racing car, and an older more philosophical racer who plans to retire after his forthcoming marriage.

The starts promisingly with scenes at the Goodwood racing track, where we learn that Peter's lack of pace is due to his personal problems. When they go back to their hotel, Peter's wife (Mari Aldon) tells him that he has to decide between her and a future family or the track.

Some racing stars of that period are briefly seen in the reception area of the hotel, with Stirling Moss actually saying a few words, but you have to suffer rather boring and talkative scenes before we return to the racing  track where the film livens-up.

Mask of Dust.The main racing scenes are a mixture of real Grand Prix footage and specially shot sequences. The combination of footage works really well and by using an on-screen race commentator with microphone in-hand we are conveniently told about what is happening on the track.

The motor racing at this time was dominated by Italian cars and teams, followed by the British and Germans who were to become more powerful in the future. It seems appropriate that the US hero of this film is drawn by the prospect of setting up a family back in California, and that he should want to leave the European rivals to continue their war on the track instead of the battlefields of only a decade earlier. 

The DVD comes with a special 24-page booklet, and extras include a short retrospective of Stirling Moss' career and Movietone newsreels of motor racing at the 1955 British Grand Prix, which show just how dangerous the sport was at that time. 

Price: £12.99. Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester, CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two or £3.75 for three.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.
 



Stolen Face

Directed by Terence Fisher. 1952

Plastic surgeon Dr Philip Ritter (Paul Henreid) falls in love with American concert pianist Alice Brent (Lizabeth Scott). When he's rejected by Alice he decides to use his surgical skills to transform a disfigured felon into a replica of her. He succeeds in this task but we soon learn that beauty is only skin deep.

The theme of acting like God to shape and create people was to become a hallmark of Hammer productions later in this decade. It was also something Fisher returned to in the following year with the Four Sided Triangle.

This DVD also contains a short medical drama titled, Danger List (1957). It stars Philip Friend and Hpnor Blackman. 
 

Price: £12.99. Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester, CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two or £3.75 for three.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.


Four Sided Triangle

Directed by Terence Fisher. 1953.

The tag line for this production is 'A voluptuous woman...created to satisfy his strange lust!' It's about two scientists, Robin and Bill, who create a 'reproducer' machine that can duplicate any object. After it's first successful try-out, Robin (John van Eyssen) announces his engagement to Lena (Barbara Payton). Bill is gutted by this news as he also fancied her. To satisfy his 'strange lust' they agree to make a replica of Lena. The duplicate of Lena that they create with the reproducer is so accurate that she too falls in love with Robin. Cursed by this turn of events Bill takes some drastic action...

This DVD comes with another Hammer film The Right Person (1955).
 

Price: £12.99. Available from retailers or direct from DD Video, Unit 1, Pool Bank Business Park, High Street, Tarvin, Chester, CH3 8JH.  Please add £1.80 towards postage and packing for one item or £2.75 for two or £3.75 for three.  Credit card customers can also order copies by ringing the 24 hour DD Video hotline on 01829 741490.



 

Nigel Watson
 
 
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