Posted January 30, 2012 by Chris Suffield in Features
 
 

Hammer Horror Films


Daniel Radcliffe appears in his first post-Harry Potter role in haunting thriller The Woman in Black, out on theatrical release on 10 Feb. This marks a return to the supernatural for legendary British production company Hammer. For nearly three decades Hammer Horror led the way in the genre, and The Woman in Black looks set to continue the legacy of terror.

Daniel Radcliffe appears in his first post-Harry Potter role in haunting thriller The Woman in Black, out on theatrical release on 10 Feb. This marks a return to the supernatural for legendary British production company Hammer. For nearly three decades Hammer Horror led the way in the genre, and The Woman in Black looks set to continue the legacy of terror.

There are plenty of classics in the Hammer vaults and no two fans top tens would be the same but that’s the beauty of Hammer; there’s something for everyone. Chris Suffield looks back on the Hammer genre and pick his top ten.

10. To The Devil a Daughter (1976)

Christopher Lee is the former priest turned satanic cult leader who gets a father (Richard Widmark) to sign his daughter’s soul away, which he plans on taking on her 18th Birthday, this sadly was Hammer’s final horror film and marked the end of an era. Production and editing problems resulted in a jumbled end result, the author of the book the movie was based on, Dennis Wheatley, hated the finished film so much he refused to let anymore of his work be adapted. It has achieved cult status over the years as an ambitious misfire.


9. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

A mysterious epidemic is killing the workers in a small village in Cornwall. However, the dead are not remaining so and are all slaves to a powerful voodoo curse. Arriving two years before George A Romero’s classic Night of The Living Dead, Hammer helped take the zombie genre to the mainstream.

8. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Hammer’s first real horror movie sees Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in a horror together for the first time, it also marked the first ever Frankenstein movie to be filmed in colour. Awaiting his execution in prison, Dr Victor Frankenstein confides in a priest and tells the story of how he ended up incarcerated. Cushing is brilliant as the Baron, and Christopher Lee gives heart to his performance as The Creature.

7. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

While this was a sci-fi movie, there is no mistaking the early signs of horror and creepiness. Quatermass (Brian Bonlevy) and Inspector Lomaz (Jack Warner), stumble upon an alien conspiracy which threatens the planet. A good script and solid performances make this a must see for all Hammer Fans.

6. Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)

A new spin on the Jekyll & Hyde story sees the good doctor (Ralph Bates) turn into a beautiful but deadly woman (Martine Beswick). Hammer was famed for making variations on classic stories, this atmospheric horror isn’t entirely a serious movie but it still delivers the shocks where it counts.

5. The Devil Rides Out (1958)

Christopher Lee stars as Duc de Richleau, who teams up with old friend Rex Van Ryan to investigate the strange behavior of the son (Simon) of a now deceased friend. Duc swiftly learns that Simon is involved in devil worshiping and the duo attempt to rescue him, but end up fighting the cult’s leader Mocata. Hammer always struck a chord with these sorts of films, people were (and still are) frightened by the occult and hammer did a great job of tapping into the nation’s fears.

4. Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Oliver Reed stars as Leon Corledo who, while on a hunting trip, is bitten. It’s not long before he starts changing and terrifies the locals. There’s been plenty of werewolf movies but few are as well made as this and Reed gives a fantastic performance.

3 The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

It might not be bone chillingly scary, but Hammer’s take on the classic Sherlock Holmes story is the best big screen adaptation of the material. Peter Cushing plays the legendary detective and Christopher Lee makes an appearance as Sir Henry Baskerville

2. The Nanny (1965)

Bette Davis rivals her performance in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane with this chilling turn as The Nanny. Two years after the death of his little sister, ten-year-old Joey returns home from a special school. Adamant that the Nanny murdered his sister, Joey lives in fear of his minder and tries to convince the grown-ups that Nanny is the stuff of nightmares.

1. Horror of Dracula aka Dracula (1958)

For most this is the definitive Dracula movie; Hammer’s first Vampire film was a huge success. It launched the careers of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (Van Helsing) in their iconic roles.


Chris Suffield