Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

The Mummy’s Shroud, Hammer Films’ 1967 entry into their continuity-free mummy franchise, is typically regarded as pretty damn bad – or at least, pretty damn run-of-the-mill and boring, which is surely worse. I can’t help but feel like that’s a pretty unfair way of looking at it; if we want to compare to Hammer’s earlier […]

In 1964, Hammer Films was in the midst of its most prolific era of making popular genre films – at a glance I’d set the golden years between ’62 and ’67, with the balance favoring the middle of that window – having turned the early Gothic horror successes into a brand name in virtually no […]

The transformation of Hammer Films into the world’s most prominent home for edgy, brutal, sexy genre films was completed almost entirely on the backs of 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein and 1958’s Dracula, released in America as Horror of Dracula (the fuse was, however, lit by the violent sci-fi/horror film The Quatermass Xperiment). And as […]

To begin with, let us first point out that One Million Years B.C., Hammer’s 1966 contribution to the caveman genre, rests its success on two qualities that are impossible for a 12-year-old boy to resist: some of the very best dinosaurs found anywhere in cinema before Jurassic Park came along with its CGI creations, and […]

There are enough reasons to like The Woman in Black and virtually no reasons to love it; but the one that got me the most is its awareness of history. The fourth feature film released by the newly-resuscitated Hammer Films, and only the second to get an actual push, after the 2010 revisionist vampire picture […]

Five years can be a long time. When Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed came out in 1969, Hammer Film Productions was at its absolute peak of influence and popularity. The next and final entry in the main line of Hammer Frankenstein films, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, was released in 1974, but the cinematic landscape […]

The three years from 1968-1970 were a period of tremendous possibility and crisis for Hammer Film Productions: still at the peak of its popularity, the company had to deal with a sudden explosion in the degree to which sex and violence could be depicted in English-language cinema, which was far less prominent in the United […]

The years 1964-1969 were probably the peak of the Hammer Film Productions wave, popularly if not aesthetically. By the middle of the ’60s, the company had firmly entrenched itself as the world’s best source of tony Gothic horror, and was beginning to explore other genres, finding great success with pirate movies (e.g. The Devil-Ship Pirates […]

The first sequel to the groundbreaking The Curse of Frankenstein – the film that absolutely secured Hammer Studios as the home for top-notch Gothic horror with cutting-edge gore effects in the late 1950s and early 1960s – took scarcely more than a year to reach theaters. A sign of greed, you might think; a sign […]

There was a time when the national cinema of Great Britain was an unfriendly place for horror films; when the moral guardians of that quintessentially backwards-looking country gnashed their teeth and looked with the deepest scorn at any movie which tried to titillate and thrill the average moviegoer with blood and guts and a healthy […]