If you like your Horror films with a massive spoonful of gothic, a healthy dose of sexiness and some of the finest British character actors ever produced, then you surely are in love with Hammer Horror films. I have loved these films for ever, they are responsible for my love of evil women in corsets, and they are fantastic examples of good old fashioned gothic horror. I have a large collection of these films on DVD, but my fondest memories of these films must be when I first caught them on the TV. I was at the right age, hormones raging, cleavage unbearably exciting, and the thought of a film called The Vampire Lovers was all a bit too much. Needless to say I tried to watch as much Hammer as possible, and although the chance of bear female flesh was initially the draw, I soon realised that the films were great too. So here, are my top 5 Hammer Horror films, I hope you enjoy…
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
This just happens to be one of my favourite films of all time. I love The Hound of The Baskervilles, and this version is my very favourite. Perhaps not a typical Hammer Horror, it definitely deserves it’s place on this list. Peter Cushing is the great detective, with Christopher Lee reduced to the smaller role of Sir Henry Baskerville. What we have here is a bit of a change of pace from our usual Hammer fare, there isn’t much sexiness going on here, but this film is all about atmosphere. Baskerville Manor is suitably dreary and gothic, and the moor is desolate and foreboding, and the howl of the Hound is heart stopping. I love the beginning, showing how the Curse of the Baskervilles came to be, and Hammer manage to add some occult overtones to the story. All in all, this is a sure fire hit for me, and I am bound to be slipping it in to my DVD player in the run up to Halloween.
CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER
Not a success when first released, I had a few problems tracking this one down, but I have to say, this film is rather fantastic, and a whole lot of fun. Captain Kronos is a Vampire Hunter (obviously) but not really in line with Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing. He is more of a proto Hugh Jackman Van Helsing. In this film, Vampires suck the life out of victims, literally turning them into old haggard husks, when once they were beautiful women. As a former soldier, and ‘expert swordsman’ Kronos and his hunchback assistant travel the country dispatching vampires in a far more swashbuckling type manner than Professor Van Helsing, and this puts a unique spin on vampire hunting in the Hammer canon. Perhaps not for everyone, there are a distinct lack of Hammer Stars in this, however, the film, planned as the first of a franchise, deserves to be seen and appreciated. Highly recommended.
THE HORROR OF DRACULA
Hammer’s take on Bram Stoker’s original story, The Horror of Dracula is the daddy of Hammer Dracula films. We have Christopher Lee as the Count, perhaps the greatest person to ever play him, and his arch nemesis, Van Helsing, played by Peter ‘the man’ Cushing. This doesn’t quite match the original story, as Hammer took some liberties with the plot, but as a film, this is just fantastic. Seeing Cushing and Lee face off against each other is worth the price of the DVD alone, there simply aren’t many more Hammery Hammer Horror Films one can see.
OK I’ll admit it, this choice is based on Ingrid Pitt alone. She is one of the most devastatingly beautiful and downright sexy women ever to drain the blood from sexy virgin girls and bathe in it. The fact that I have also had a long fascination with Elisabeth Bathory, The Bloody Countess, which true story this film is based on, also helps a bit, but by all that is holy and innocent, Ingrid Pitt looks like a Goddess and could be forgiven for any crime, even the murder of a few hundred maids, as long as she looked that good. I feel at this point I must apologise, as this isn’t really a review as such, and I’m not really giving many reason why anyone should watch this film beyond ‘Ingrid Pitt is banging’. Well… does it help that Hercules himself, from Jason and the Argonauts, is in it? Or there is copious amounts of nudity? No? Well unlucky, Ingrid Pitt is hot as hell, and she is naked a lot in this film, and the story is fascinating, so, all in all, this movie is full of win.
CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF
The only werewolf film Hammer made, and quite a good entry in the genre. Werewolves are my favourite monster, and Universals The Wolf Man is one of my favourite movies of all time. Whilst Hammer’s take on the werewolf doesn’t quite reach the heady heights climbed by Lon Chaney Jnr, Oliver Reed gives a tragic performance as the man wolf. Hammer’s version of the monster is a mix between the Lon Chaney Wolf Man, and the earlier Universal film Werewolf of London, another film worth checking out Horror fans. There is quite a bit of werewolf myth going on here, particularly in the way werewolfism is passed on, or created. Set in Spain, this film is very atmospheric, and a perfect cap to any Hammer Horror Marathon.