For two decades, beginning in the mid-1950s, ‘Hammer Horror’ was the epitome of genre cinema in the UK. With a cast of familiar faces (including Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and Christopher Lee) Hammer Film Productions churned out an almost constant stream of terror, blood and monsters. There most popular titles revolved around Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy, but arguably their best film was Quatermass and the Pit. However, they have a rich catalogue of films, largely split between psychological chillers and gothic horrors. 60 years later, Studiocanal and Park Circus have teamed up to present new restorations of some of the Hammer classics.
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb
Adapted from Bram Stoker’s The Jewel of the Seven Stars, Seth Holt’s supernatural thriller focusses on a British archaeological expedition in Egypt. After discovering the sealed tomb of the evil Queen Tera, Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir) transports the contents back to England. He gives the queen’s ring to his daughter Margaret (Valerie Leon), who was born at the exact time they discovered the burial chamber and suffers from recurring nightmares. Corbeck (James Villiers), a member of the expedition but now her father’s bitter rival, is determined to re-animate Tera and enlists Margaret’s help. Despite a troubled shoot (Holt died of a heart attack whilst shooting and Peter Cushing left after just one day when his wife became ill) Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb is a worthy entrant into the ‘mummy’ sub-genre.
Demons of the Mind
In Bavaria in the 19th century, Baron Zorn (Robert Hardy) locks up his son Emil (Shane Briant) and daughter Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) as he believes they both possess a hereditary madness. He enlists a discredited physiatrist (Patrick Magee) to cure them, but he doesn’t seem to be making any progress. However, when a series of brutal murders occur in the vicinity of the house it brings matters to the head. Demons of the Mind is a dark psychological drama which delves into the murky areas of sibling love and buried family secrets.
Fear in the Night
After suffering from a nervous breakdown, Peggy (Judy Geeson) is still feeling fragile but looking forward to beginning a new chapter of her life. She’s moving in with her new husband (Ralph Bates) who works at a secluded boys’ boarding school. The school is run by headmaster Michael Carmichael (Peter Cushing) and his wife Molly (Joan Collins). The night before leaving she’s attacked by a mysterious man with a prosthetic hand and faints. With no evidence of anything happening, she doesn’t change her plans. However, when it keeps happening she wonders whether it’s all in her mind. Director Jimmy Sangster keeps us guessing to the thrilling end.
Scars of Dracula
After Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) flees the attentions of an angry burgomaster (Bob Todd) and his jilted daughter he finds himself at Count Dracula’s (Christopher Lee) castle. He falls under the spell of Tania (Anouska Hempel) but it’s not long before the Count exacts a heavy price. Simon (Dennis Waterman) and his fiancée Sarah (Jenny Hanley) try and find Paul, his brother. Their search leads them to a nearby village terrorised by the Count, before they eventually end up at his castle. Scars of Dracula is one of eight Dracula films Hammer made, and whilst it’s not the best, it still has some great moments.