Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

We must now ask ourselves: at what point does a studio become merely a brand name? Let’s not even make it a hypothetical: if we have something called Hammer Film Productions, and it’s all legal and aboveboard and there’s a clear line of ownership justifying that name, but also James and Michael Carreras are both […]

To the Devil… a Daughter was one of the biggest hits Hammer Film Productions had enjoyed in years at the time of its 1976 release. Paradoxically, it’s also more or less the film that finally killed Hammer off. The studio hung around in a tattered way for a few years before disappearing: it managed to […]

Hammer Film Productions made its reputation on a series of violent (by the standards of the time) horror movies set in the latter half of the 19th Century. And while only a handful of them took place anywhere in the British Isles, they were all suffused with a certain distinctive Englishness. That would all make […]

The film itself isn’t nearly important enough to earn this, but you could do a lot worse than holding up 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein as a summary of all the things going terribly wrong with Hammer Film Productions at the dawn of the ’70s. The studio’s reign across the anglosphere as the premiere home […]

The Plague of the Zombies certainly isn’t the best horror film made by Hammer Film Productions: the climax features some really dodgy effects work, the sound mix needed another pass, there’s a hellaciously bad day-for-“night” sequence, and frankly only a very young person would have a terribly hard time getting out in front of the […]

As the late 1950s faded into the early 1960s, perhaps the two most interesting things happening anywhere in horror cinema (change “perhaps” to “absolutely” if we limit the conversation to the English-speaking world) were the heavy shift over to Gothic horror pictures made by Britain’s Hammer Film Productions, and the brief but intense and unbelievably […]

Over the course of its horror-film heyday (1957-1974), Hammer Film Productions made four mummy films, seven Frankenstein films, two Jekyll & Hyde adaptations, three movies about evil cults, and a whopping 17 vampire pictures, nine of them involving Count Dracula. That covers most of the classic movie monsters, except for one: the werewolf. And as […]

Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde presents a unique challenge to the filmmaking team that wants to adapt it for the big screen. It’s hugely well-known by the standards of 19th Century (i.e., public domain) genre fiction, so clearly not adapting it is no kind of option; […]

In the wide world of sequels that certainly don’t have any actual reason to exist, one could do a lot worse, conceptually speaking, than The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death – though that title! There’s absolutely nothing that mouthful achieves that wouldn’t be more accurately and clearly covered by just plain The Woman […]

There’s little doubt that the heyday of Hammer Film Productions in the 1960s is now best-known for the studio’s Gothic horror, films with Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein, and such. But while those films were being produced, Hammer was also busily cranking out a far less visible, though still awfully […]

We must say this for The Quiet Ones: it’s not lazy. As befits the august brand name of Hammer Film Productions, it is an attempt to do something with the most bland, generic gimcrackery of contemporary horror cinema, rather than simply giving into clichΓ©s and marketing concerns. It is idea-driven, rather than incident-driven, and it […]

How would you suppose that a film titled Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb would begin? Would you guess that it would be with resolutely generic sans-serif titles over a starfield, all space movie-like? If so, congratulations on your insight, and also, what the hell, because I, for one, was so thrown by the opening title […]