Hammer horror titles coming to Britbox UK, October 2022

A slew of Hammer film will arrive on the UK streaming service Britbox in time for Halloween.

Look out for the following horror titles, streaming in HD this October:

The Curse of Frankenstein (dir. Terence Fisher, 1957) – Peter Cushing plays the title character, and a then-unknown Christopher Lee his creation, in a colourful, full-blooded Gothic that revolutionised the genre and began Hammer Films’ permanent association with horror

The Nanny (dir. Seth Holt, 1965) – Bette Davis gives an effective performance in a brilliantly suspenseful domestic thriller, supported by a strong ensemble cast that includes Jill Bennett, Wendy Craig, James Villiers, Maurice Denham and young William Dix

The Witches (dir. Cyril Frankel, 1966) – Proto-folk-horror scripted by Nigel Kneale from a novel by Peter Curtis, aka Norah Lofts, and with a merely okay performance from Joan Fontaine upstaged by a sublime turn by Kay Walsh

Dracula, Prince of Darkness (dir. Terence Fisher, 1966) – Christopher Lee, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews star in the studio’s first direct sequel to Dracula (1958)

Rasputin, the Mad Monk (dir. Don Sharp, 1966) – A pseudohistorical spin on the real-life Russian mystic, with added horror elements and two strong performances from Christopher Lee and Barbara Shelley

The Plague of the Zombies (dir. John Gilling, 1966) – André Morell, John Carson and Jacqueline Pearce star in Hammer’s only movie in the zombie subgenre

The Reptile (dir. John Gilling, 1966) – A spate of mysterious deaths plague a Cornish village in an original and atmospheric Gothic horror starring Ray Barrett, Jennifer Daniel, Noel Willman, Jacqueline Pearce and prolific Hammer character actor Michael Ripper, in one of his best roles

Frankenstein Created Woman (dir. Terence Fisher, 1967) – The fourth film in Hammer’s Frankenstein series has Peter Cushing’s Baron team up with Thorley Walters for a metaphysical experiment in transferring souls

The Devil Rides Out (dir. Terence Fisher, 1968) – Christopher Lee and Charles Gray are adversaries in a very stylishly executed occult thriller, based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley

Scars of Dracula (dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1970) – Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman and Jenny Hanley star in an abysmal sequel that falls well beyond the company’s usual standard

Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1971) – Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick star in a smartly produced variation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale, scripted by Brian Clemens (The Avengers, Thriller)

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (dir. Terence Fisher, 1974) – The Baron’s descent into utter madness is complete in this engrossingly claustrophobic denouement to Hammer’s Frankenstein series, starring Peter Cushing for the final time, alongside Shane Briant, Madeline Smith and Dave Prowse

To the Devil a Daughter (dir. Peter Sykes, 1976) – Christopher Lee, Richard Widmark and Nastassja Kinski star in a Dennis Wheatley adaptation that would turn out to be Hammer’s final horror film for almost 35 years

Other non-Hammer horror titles to look out for include the Amicus anthology Dr Terror’s House of Horrors and British Lion’s The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now, originally released on a double bill in 1973. And don’t forget you can watch the 1980 anthology series Hammer House of Horror on Britbox, too. Register here for £5.99 a month.

Hammer’s The House Across the Lake coming to Blu-ray

Back in November last year, Hammer Films and Network Distributing announced the creation of Hammer Studios, a partnership to develop new projects and manage the back catalogue of Hammer-owned titles.

The vast majority of the ‘Hammer horror’ films are, as I understand it, in the hands of other studios and distributors, so I’d expected attention to be given to the studio’s earliest and latest output in its ‘classic’ era, ie, before and after the company’s deals with major studios such as Universal, Fox, Columbia and Warner Bros. It’s a delight, therefore, to see that the Hammer noir The House Across the Lake (aka Heat Wave, 1954) has been singled out for a newly remastered, high-definition Blu-ray release.

The House Across the Lake will be presented in its original 1.37:1 (Academy) ratio and in 1080p. Extras announced include The Drayton Case, a short film in the Scotland Yard series by House director Ken Hughes; an interview with late script supervisor/’continuity girl’ Renée Glynne; The Dame Wore Tweed, a short doc on British noir by Barry Forshaw; alternate titles sequence; theatrical trailer; image gallery; and a limited edition booklet by Neil Sinyard.

Fairly typical of the sort of crime drama Hammer’s sister company Exclusive was producing in this era, House teams up two American stars with a mostly British supporting cast. The leads came courtesy of co-producer Robert Lippert, and would help to market the film in the US. Alex Nicol and Hillary Brooke are the imports, with Sid James in support. Later in his career he would be associated almost exclusively with comedy, especially the Pinewood-made Carry On film series, but at this stage he did a lot of straight acting and was something of a Hammer regular—he made seven appearances between The Man in Black (1950) and A Weekend with Lulu (1961).

The 13 June 2022 release comes as a single Region B disc, with RRP of £17.99, and you can pre-order directly from Network for £11.50.

Event: In the Grip of Hammer

My friend and colleague Robert JE Simpson and I will be in conversation on Thursday 13 January at 9pm GMT. The event is live online and is free to attend. Hopefully we’ll attract a few followers from our Hammer-related Twitter accounts (mine is @HammerGothic, and Robert’s is @exclusivephd), and there’ll be time for some interaction and a Q&A. From Cinepunked:

Thursday 13 January 2022, CinePunked presents In the Grip of Hammer.

In the first of a new occasional series of CinePunked conversations with fans, enthusiasts, and collectors, our very own Robert JE Simpson will be in conversation with David L Rattigan (himself no stranger to CinePunked) about their shared love of classic Hammer Films.

Robert JE Simpson is a film historian and cultural commentator, previously worked as the official archivist for Hammer Films, and is currently writing a book about the early history of Hammer’s sister company Exclusive Films. He tweets about the project at @exclusivephd.

David L Rattigan is a freelance writer and editor with a Hammer horror obsession, and for the last year has been tweeting about his love for the films over at @hammergothic.

Robert and David have a long-standing working relationship and have collaborated on a number of magazine, book and podcast projects.

Hammer Films are perhaps best known for their series of gothic horror films produced in England between 1956 and 1976, including popular series of Frankenstein and Dracula features starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In 2006 the company went back into production and has produced a stream of horror films in the years since, including Wake WoodThe Woman in Black and The Lodge.

The conversation will be live-streamed via the CinePunked YouTube channel, and will include an audience Q&A. Robert and David will not just be talking about Hammer horror, but the company’s other output, and what fandom means to them.

Bookmark the channel now.

View the event page on Facebook.
Bookmark CinePunked YouTube channel.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave – but Is God Back in His?

This post is part of the 2021 Hammer-Amicus Blogathon

There was little ambiguity concerning the existence and role of God in the films of Terence Fisher, the director whose vision for the Gothic helped shape ‘Hammer horror’ from the studio’s first colour period horror film, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House

An Invitation to Terror: The Haunting of Hill House Reviewed
Liverpool Playhouse, 7 December 2015-16 January 2016

While you might leave behind one or two of the wordier scenes and the occasionally convoluted machinations of the plot, the warped, surreal benightedness of The Haunting Of Hill House – a new commission for the stage from Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse — will almost certainly follow you out of the theatre.

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The Horror of It All: The Dynamics of Class and Power in the Hammer Gothics

This was originally published by Albion magazine (online) in 2005, and represents one of my earliest published pieces of writing, as well as my first on Hammer Films, if I recall rightly.

The Hammer House of Horror, the makers of quintessentially British gothic horror films, was dominated by two dashing aristocrats: Baron Frankenstein and Count Dracula. Their terror was inflicted on lower-class rustic communities, but their heroic pursuers – as well as the particular pool of victims we care most about – were middle-class, treading a noble path midway between the ignorance and ignobility of the working classes and the unfettered craving for power of the upper class. These dynamics provided the general contours for Hammer time and again throughout the studio’s truly “classic” period, which I shall (to the infuriation of some aficionados, I am sure) place roughly from The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 to Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1969.

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