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To classic horror fans, the word “hammer” does not simply denote a tool or a now defunct 80s rapper, it is a six-letter seal of excellence. For years, Hammer Studios reached into the cache of our collective nightmares; resurrecting boogeymen theretofore romanticized in black and white and splashing them onto our eyes in savage, gorgeous technicolor. Their treatment of the likes Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein’s monster not only reacquainted us with monsters, but introduced us to silver screen legends such as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. After experiencing a popularity that made them a powerhouse, the studio seemed to have whispered meekly out of existence after a short-lived television swan song in the 1980s. But now Hammer Studios is poised, like so many of its signature villains, to rise from the dead with several new films released in the last few years and others currently in production; the newest being the upcoming The Woman in Black starring »
- Brian Salisbury
Images courtesy Severin/Mpi
1972 91mins Britain, Spain
Director: Eugenio Martin
Review By J.Astro
“Monster? We’re British, you know!”
So goes my personal favorite line of dialogue from Peter Cushing’s character in Horror Express, and it embodies the dry wit with which this flick positively crackles. Message boards on genre sites & horror blogs across the land have long chattered with enthusiasm for a decent release of this film, since it was egregiously out of print for quite a long time, except in the guise of el-cheapo, fly-by-night knockoffs with terrible sound or muddy, chopped up, incorrectly framed transfers. There was a slightly better/”official” iteration put out some years ago under Image Entertainment’s EuroShock label, but that is now only available on the secondary market, at a drastic »
Some really sad news has emerged this holiday week as we've lost a true icon of our industry. While his name may not jump out at you unless you're as obsessive as we are, his movies have been making people leap out of their skin for decades.
According to Variety, Don Sharp, an Australia-born film director who was brought in to revive Hammer Films' sagging horror franchise in the mid-1960s -- and succeeded -- despite having no experience in the genre, died December 14th in Cornwall, England. He was 90.
Though the names most closely associated with Hammer are Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, it was director Terence Fisher who shaped the Gothic horror films that starred those actors. Fisher had directed films like Horror of Dracula and The Revenge of Frankenstein in the late 1950s, but the company lost its confidence in the helmer when his 1962 entry The Phantom of the Opera, »
- Uncle Creepy
The Hammer Vault
Written by Marcus Hearn | Published by Titan Books | Format: Hardback, 176pp
Like many of the “Vault” books that proliferate UK bookstores these days, The Hammer Vault, the latest release to bear the moniker is packed with sensational, never-before-collected material providing a visual romp through the archives of Britain’s most famous film studio.
Perfectly timed to coincide with the resurgence of the classic British film studio, The Hammer Vault is perfect for both long-time fans and newcomers to Hammer’s horror legacy, telling as it does the story of the company and its rich history through previously unseen treasures… Beginning with the company’s incorporation documents from 1934, moving through the many unforgettable horror classics which cemented their reputation and made worldwide stars of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and coming right up to date with a behind the scenes look at 2010’s Let Me In and the company’s 2011 release The Resident, »
For the unversed, the Italian giallo (literally ‘yellow’) film could be estimated as the link between the output of the Hammer studio (Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein) and the slasher films of the late 70s, infusing the ornate imagery of one with the voyeuristic spirit of the other. Like their classier British counterparts, most giallo had some budget to work with, as well as a tendency to emphasize mood and atmosphere over an ability to understand what’s going on, but also an ability to show more blood and cleavage than anything starring Peter Cushing ever did. Murder Obsession, while certainly not the pinnacle of the genre, is as representative an example as any.
- Anders Nelson
This month, the folks at Titan Books have released a book that cult film fans will be dying for, right in time for you to add it to your Christmas shopping list and satisfy the most hardcore of your movie loving loved ones. It’s called “The Hammer Vault,” promising treasures from the archives of Hammer Films, Britain’s most famous film studio and the keepers of many great cult films. We’ll have more about the book and author Marcus Hearn in an upcoming features. But for now, we’d like to present some exclusive art from the book, some of which is a little Nsfw (that means it has bare breasts in it). About the Book Packed with sensational, never-before-collected material, The Hammer Vault is a visual romp through the archives of Britain’s most famous film studio. For both die-hard fans, and those just discovering Hammer’s rich cinematic legacy, this »
- Neil Miller
In 2009 the ex Mr Madonna (otherwise known as Guy Ritchie) called upon the unlikely pairing of Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law to bring back to the screen two of crime fiction’s greatest heroes – Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
The pair are up there amongst the most filmed literary characters, Holmes has been sticking his nose into other people’s business since the earliest days of the cinema with one of the first versions being a Danish short from 1908 pitting him against his arch nemesis Moriarty and Raffles, the Victorian gentleman thief – now that really would have been a showdown worth seeing.
So, as Ritchie prepares to throw Downey and Law together again, we decided to do some sleuthing ourselves and find six of the pipe smoking detective’s best screen adventures. The results have proved anything but elementary!
6) Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
By the mid 1980’s there were few »
As part of the war movie genre, the heroic exploits of the Resistance have been a popular form of cinematic entertainment since the end of World War Two. The bane of the invading German forces, the Resistance always represented the ordinary man picking up arms against the dreaded Hun to defend their country. Whether it was booby-trapping panzers or smuggling escaped POWs and Jewish refugees to safety, many films emphasized their heroism to great effect. Exploits of the Greek, Norwegian and French Resistance have been put to good use in The Guns of Navarone (1961), 633 Squadron (1964) and The Night of the Generals (1967).
As great as these films were, the exploits of the Resistance has been pretty much romanticized and even parodied (for those who remember ‘Allo ‘Allo!). The reality was very different. They were ruthless killers who took no prisoners and treated those who had in any way collaborated with the enemy with cold-blooded hostility. »
There are a number of film related books competing with Titan Books’ The Hammer Vault for your money this Christmas but I’ve not seen any which have drawn me back like this one. With its archive treasures and magnificent artwork Marcus Hearn’s book has sinks its teeth right in.
Part historical document, part artwork gallery, part peep behind the industry curtain, The Hammer Vault is a beautiful and plentiful resource, with delights on every single page, written with love and an innate understanding of what a film fan would want to see.
Hearn offers up a knowledgable commentary to the familiar and the obscure Hammer films, and gives access to a cornucopia of treasures. Few studios are as iconic, nor have suffered the slings and arrows of an outraged and indulgent industry as Hammer, their recent return gives a curious and tangible momentum to each new picture the »
- Jon Lyus
I've spent the last few days transfixed by The Hammer Vault, Marcus Hearn's new tour through the history and archives of the infamous genre maestros at Hammer Films. It's got everything -- from the stories behind the celebrated creature features of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to remembrances of the risible pseudo-psa Never Take Sweets From a Stranger to a rummage through such unmade Hammer fare like When the Earth Cracked Open and the awesome Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls (seriously). And while its official January release date won't necessarily help you for the holidays, it's worth earmarking a line in the early 2012 budget for any horror, fantasy and B-movie devotees in your life. Correction: The publisher writes to say that it will be out for the holidays! Hallelujah! »
Hammer Films seems to really be getting a boost these days in the way of new books coming out and film releases. Word was sent over that in fact 3 Studio Canal films will be arriving on Bluray. Exciting stuff.
All available this Feb 27
First Sequel to the Hammer Studios version of the Dracula Legend teaming Christopher Lee as the Count and his arch enemy Peter Cushing as the famous Vampire hunter Van Helsing. In this installment the count is brought back from the dead after his destruction in the original film. Dracula proceeds to … More »
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas in a Spanish horror film from the writers of “Psychomania”? Thank you, Severin Films, you always know just what I want. This time I’m talking about the new Blu-ray release of Eugenio Martin’s 1972 genre jaunt, “Horror Express”. There’s a droning, discordant score; major, highly questionable plot points that are simply glossed over and pushed aside with a wave of the hand; and, most importantly, a brain-sucking monster loose on a trans-Siberian train. What’s not to like about that? “Horror Express” is classic, grainy, low-budget horror. It is weird and gory, the plot goes in unexpected directions and there are eyeballs and blood and brains and scalpels, and is just as much fun as all of that sounds. At the outset we’re told that what follows is a “true and faithful account” of a real 1906 archeological dig in China. »
- Brent McKnight
Two things separate Horror Express from the usual '70s horror b-movie slop. The first is the cast. Somehow this Spanish production managed to snag the reigning kings of b-horror, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This was toward the end of their decades-long run of Hammer films (Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein, about a billion others), and one of the only times the pair played compatriots rather than adversaries. The second is the production and writing team, much of which had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era.
- David M. DeLeon
When the coldest time of the year arrives, the snow it leaves behind may have some people putting on their gloves. Some will tuck in, hiding in the warmth of their homes and others will challenge the winter wonderland head-on. Here are some “inspirational” films to make tackling the winter doldrums just a little more fun. The theme in this list is what kind of beasts may lurk within that icy tundra near and afar?
The Thing From Another World (1951) at Amazon
No list can be complete without mention of the original, John Carpenter’s classic and the prequel in the same breath. When unleashing an alien terror is not enough, a night can be enjoyed watching all three films! Alien invasion cannot be any more disgusting with the innovative monster creations that are to be found in this movie set. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Ed Sum)
Perhaps nearly any classy English actor could have played Sherlock Holmes – if not elementary, it's fundamental to a certain type of career
I'm typing this in Baskerville; it's the only way to go with the astonishing parade of Baker Street irregulars, the actors who have played the great detective in one medium or another. We are about to receive the second picture in the latest manifestation, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The wonders of film number one (just plain Sherlock Holmes) in what may end up a wearying franchise included a gross Us income of over $200m, a real part for Jude Law (Watson), and the realisation Robert Downey Jr had found the vehicle for his languid-depraved attitude (the thinking man's Johnny Depp) and his urge to get away with whatever came into his head – plus, it seemed to resurrect the career of director Guy Ritchie whose insecure grasp »
- David Thomson
26 minutes and 30 seconds.
That's the exact moment I fell in love with "Horror Express," the 1972 horror film that's new this week on Blu-ray. That's when Peter Cushing finally confronts Christopher Lee about the possessed fossil he's brought on the Trans-Siberian Express. This frozen prehistoric ape man, discovered by Lee in a Manchurian cave, should be long dead and locked inside an enormous trunk. Somehow it manages to thaw itself out, escape, and go on a killing spree. Confronted with the empty trunk and the evidence of a murder, Cushing delivers this whopper of a line: "Are you telling me that an ape that lived 2 million years ago got out of that crate, killed the baggage man and put him in there, then locked everything up neat and tidy and got away?" To which Lee replies, "Yes I Am! It's alive! It Must be!"
Yes, it must be. There's no other »
- Matt Singer
Hitting movie theaters this weekend:
Movie of the Week
The Plot: A haunting portrait of Lucy (Browning), a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.
The Buzz: This film’s trailer contained more than a few subtle hints that Sleeping Beauty was to enact some very sinister sexual episodes, and a very creepy/harsh vibe was diffused throughout. I saw the film a few weeks ago and found that it fully lived up to its advertising.
The film was thoroughly dark, and had somewhat of a male-hating bent to it — I suppose that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d anticipated I would. There’s also a professed loathing of the wealthy therein, »
- Aaron Ruffcorn
Horror Express is not exactly the smartest of creature features, despite being a step up technologically from a lot of classic '50s and '60s fare. It lacks the underlying political edge that the more cutting edge classic era films had, but what it lacks in insight, it more than makes up for in fun. This is an exceptionally fun, largely forgotten film that is getting another chance in the limelight thanks to Severin Films. Their Blu-ray of Horror Express may not be reference quality, but chances are that it is better than you've ever seen the film, even though the disc has its issues.The '70s horror classic returns like you've never seen it before! Screen legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing star as rival turn-of-the-century »
By Todd Garbarini
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My love of horror films didn’t start until I was twelve, but as a child in 1974 I recall seeing scenes from a film that featured a white poodle and a monster with eerie, red eyes. I didn’t know the name of it until my grandmother bought a VHS copy of Horror Express in September 1985 from K-mart for the then unheard of amount of eleven dollars. I immediately recognized the images and was delighted to finally know the film that had unnerved me years earlier.
Horror Express takes place at the turn of the 20th Century. Sir Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee), a British anthropologist, discovers frozen fossils during an archeological dig and takes them aboard the Tran-Siberian Express en route to England. Accompanying him are his colleague Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) and his assistant Mrs. Jones (Alice Reinheart). Almost immediately, »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
LucasFilm has announced it will debut Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition, an interactive exhibition which explores the history and science behind this sci-fi saga, at the Montreal Science Centre April 19, 2012. The first trailer has been released for this exhibition, which you can take a look at below. You can also read the full press release below the trailer, for more information on how to attend this unique Star Wars exhibition.
Click to watch Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition Trailer!
For thirty-five years, audiences around the world have followed the adventures of Luke and Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi heroes of a galaxy far, far away. And now, a new exciting exhibition comes to our own galaxy with Star Wars Identities, a redefined modern exhibition experience in which we will rediscover the unforgettable characters of Star Wars in a whole new way. From the team that brought you Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, »
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