Blu-Ray Review: Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning



Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning brings together four Hammer horror productions released in the first half of the 1960s. They are four very different tales of fear, curses, madness and the supernatural. In a genre and period when female actors were usually restricted to playing the victim or the damsel in distress, these films afforded them slightly different roles. And rarely for the time, even cast as killers. Powerhouse Films have done a great job with the release and there are some excellent extras thrown in.

Maniac

Geoff Farrell (Kerwin Mathews) is a young American artist vacationing in Southern France. He begins an affair with Eve (Nadia Gray), an older woman, but is also attracted to her daughter Annette (Liliane Brousse). Eve’s husband is in an asylum after murdering a man four years ago. Geoff agrees to help Eve spring him from jail but all is not what it seems. Directed by Michael Carreras, Maniac is a tense psychological drama littered with twists and turns.

The Gorgon

At the turn of the century, in a small German town, a spate of murders has left a number of residents literally petrified. The authorities, fearing that a local legend was coming true, do their best to ignore the killings. When a local girl becomes the next victim, and her boyfriend is arrested, his father arrives to discover the truth. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing come together (all too briefly) in Terence Fisher’s unique Hammer twist on Greek mythology.

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

John Bray (Ronald Howard), Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) and Professor Dubois discover a mummy which will make them famous. They’re accompanied by Dubois’ daughter Annette (Jeanne Roland), who is also Bray’s fiancée and a fellow Egyptologist. Their expedition is financed by an American showman Alexander King (Fred Clark) who plans to recoup the money by taking it on a nationwide tour, much to the chagrin of Sir Giles. However, the mummy has other ideas. Michael Carreras film is dangerous ride into ancient evil.

Fanatic

Called Die! Die! My Darling! in America, Fanatic is the story of an American woman (Stefanie Powers) who arrives in London to get married to her lover (Maurice Kaufmann). First, she wishes to pay her respects to her late fiancé’s (who died some years earlier) mother, Mrs Trefoile (Tallulah Bankhead). Mrs Trefoile has other ideas. Fanatic is a brilliant horror about the love of a mother. It was the indomitable Tallulah Bankhead’s final performance, and her best.

Indicator Limited Blu-ray Edition Special Features:

• HD restorations of all four films
• Original Mono audio
• New title-specific documentaries exploring aspects of each film: White-Hot Terror: Inside ‘Maniac’ / Heart of Stone: Inside ‘The Gorgon’ / Blood and Bandages: Inside ‘The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb’ / House of Horror: Inside ‘Fanatic’
• Hammer’s Women: Nadia Gray (2017): horror film expert Lindsay Anne Hallam looks at the fascinating life and work of the Romanian stage and screen actor
• Focus Puller Trevor Wrenn and Clapper Loader Ray Andrew on ‘Maniac’ (2017): original crew members share their memories of working on the film
• The Gorgon audio commentary with Daughters of Darkness’ Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger (2017)
• The Gorgon introduction by actor and filmmaker Matthew Holness (2017)
• Hammer’s Women: Barbara Shelley (2017): academic and author Patricia MacCormack examines the life and career of ‘the first leading lady of British horror’
• ‘The Gorgon’ Comic-Strip Adaptation: Goodall, Goring & Coyas’ 1977 comic strip, originally published in House of Hammer magazine
• Hammer’s Women: Jeanne Roland (2017): Diabolique magazine’s editor-in-chief Kat Ellinger offers an appreciation of the Burmese-born actor’s short career
• Interview with Michael McStay (2017): the British film and TV actor looks back at his time working for Hammer
• The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb Super 8 Version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
• Hammer’s Women: Tallulah Bankhead (2017): Kat Ellinger explores the life and work of the inimitable star of stage and screen
• David Huckvale on Wilfred Josephs (2017): an appreciation of the composer’s work by the author of Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde
• Fanatical Detail (2017): continuity supervisor Renée Glynne and second assistant director Stuart Black recall the making of Fanatic
• Matthew Lombardo on Tallulah Bankhead and ‘Fanatic’ (2017): the acclaimed playwright discusses his play Looped and his fascination with Tallulah Bankhead
• Die! Die! My Darling!: alternative presentation of Fanatic with the US title sequence
• Original trailers
• Extensive image galleries with promotional and on-set photography, original lobby cards and poster art
• Four box set exclusive booklets with new essays by Kim Newman, Marcus Hearn, Kat Ellinger and Jo Botting, archival interviews, contemporary reviews, and full film credits
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• World premiere Blu-rays of Maniac and Fanatic
• UK premieres on Blu-ray of The Gorgon and The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
• Limited edition box set of 6,000 copies

Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on 30 October.

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