Friday, 16 December 2011

Underneath the radar

Hemlock Books
I 'discovered' this one while on one of my semi-regular Amazon trawls. Can't believe I missed it. Presenting: Bruce G Hallenbeck's British cult cinema: the Hammer vampire (left). It was published 5 May 2010.

Hammer was an English production company, best-known for its horror output during the late 1950s–early 1970s. At one point, the company was so popular, it earned a 'Queen's Award to Industry in recognition of their contribution to the British economy.'

Many horror fans—including me—have a soft spot for their films. Cheesy by today's standards, there's still a sense of class about 'em, despite their low budgets, due to the quality of their actors and (usually) Victorian settings. Christopher 'Count Dooku' Lee got his big break through them. Also, if you're into gory stuff, they basically mainstreamed it. Quite ahead of its time.

Hammer made fifteen vampire flicks. Sixteen if you include Countess Dracula (1971). Most were encased in 'series': Dracula (1958)—its eight sequels—and the Karnstein Trilogy. The remainder were stand-alones: Kiss of the vampire (1962), Vampire circus (1972) and Captain Kronos – vampire hunter (1974).

They also wanted to adapt Richard Matheson's seminal vampire novel, I am legend (1954), but censors nixed that idea.

As you can see, there's ample ground to give Hammer's vampires a whole lotta coverage, which I'm sure will warm the hearts of many fans. It's been getting some good reviews on, too. Plus points.

Off the top of my head, there's only been two other books specifically devoted to Hammer's vampire output, namely, Robert Marrero's Vampires: Hammer style (1982) and John Jewel's Lips of blood: an illustrated guide to Hammer's Dracula movies starring Christopher Lee (2002). Going on page length, alone (I've read none of these books), looks like Hallenbeck's in the lead for most extensive coverage of the subject.

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