Category Archives: Hammer-Amicus-Tigon

The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) | Hammer’s ham-fisted Gothic horror parody restored in HD

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Heading into black comedy horror territory, Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster made his directorial debut with 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein, a revisionist remake of the studio’s stylish 1957 Gothic horror classic The Curse of Frankenstein  – which he also wrote. But it’s quite the disappointment – even to die-hard fans.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

With Hammer eyeing up a hipper, younger crowd, Taste the Blood of Dracula’s Ralph Bates takes over the title role of the monster-making Baron from Peter Cushing (who had played it four times) and he portrays him as a psychopathic serial killer and arrogant womanising misogynist who prefers tight breeches to show off his ‘average’ manhood.

Taking its narrative cue from Curse, the Gothic horror parody finds Bates knocking off his dad, claiming his Baronic title and fortune, and heading off to medical school. But, after getting the Dean’s daughter pregnant, he returns to the family castle, where he sets up shop with fellow medical student, Wilhelm Kassner (Graham James, wearing a hideous pink cravat), to create human life using a big chart labelled with numbered body parts.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Once assembled and activated, the new Baron’s creature – played by a pec flexing Dave Prowse (aka bodyguard Julian in A Clockwork Orange and the strongman in Vampire Circus) – starts killing all and sundry for no apparent reason – altough the indignity of having to wear an S&M collar, nappy and red lipstick applied stitch marks could be justifiable.

The studio-bound exteriors (except for a shot of Austria’s Hohenwerfen Castle, and a bridge and churchyard scene shot in North Mymms, Hertfordshire), re-used sets (the castle stonework looks like wallpaper), and ‘toilet humour’ does Sangster a real disservice (something he later admitted); but this lacklustre affair is worth watching for the Hammer glamour on display.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

The Vampire Lovers‘ Kate O’Mara, sporting a dodgy accent that’s West Country by way of the Emerald Isle, vamps it up as the ‘accommodating’ chambermaid Alys, while statuesque Veronica Carlson (who was so good in 1969’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) tries her best as needy professor’s daughter, Elizabeth, whose designs on the Baron get short shrift – probably on account of her Heidi hair-do of greasy links of bratwurst.

Both O’Mara and Carlson add some real Hammer glamour to the proceedings, and on a personal note, it has been great to have met them on the convention circuit. Sadly, Kate O’Mara passed away on 30 March 2015, aged 74, from ovarian cancer. Veronica, meanwhile, has become quite the artist and lives with her family in the US.

Kate O'Mara and Veronica Carlson

Dennis Price (now there’s someone I would have loved to have met) and Joan Rice (in her last film role) steal the show as a husband and wife pair of body snatchers, while Jon Finch is totally wasted as the Baron’s former childhood friend turned local copper. He did, however, find his stride in Roman Polanski’s The Tragedy of Macbeth the following year, and Robert Fuest’s The Final Programme in 1973.

Carry on… Young Frankenstein this is not! But it should have been!

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

The Horror of Frankenstein gets its Blu-ray UK debut (on Doubleplay from 29 January 2018) courtesy of Studiocanal featuring a brand new HD restoration (which only serves to accentuate the ‘wallpaper’ scenery, plastic forest trees and garish costumes).

It does, however, include the featurette, Gallows Humour: Inside The Horror of Frankenstein, which includes some interesting comments from Veronica Carlson about her time on the production, as well as some interesting production trivia from a handful of Hammer experts.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) | The Hammer Horror that turned Valerie Leon into a legendary scream queen

Blood from the Mummy's Tomb

After locating the tomb of Tera, Queen of Darkness in the Egyptian desert, archaeologist Julian Fuchs (Andrew Keir) returns to England with her mummy and sarcophagus where he secretly recreates her tomb under his house. But when he gives Tera’s ruby ring to his daughter Margaret (Valerie Leon), the ancient queen’s evil power tempts the young woman into helping her father’s rival, Corbeck (James Villiers), into restoring her to human form…

Based on Bram Stoker’s 1903 adventure novel The Jewel of the Seven Star, this supernatural shocker breathed sexy new life into the old mummy’s revenge plot and has become a enduring favourite amongst Hammer horror fans. It was also the fourth and last time that the company resurrected the ancient Egyptian avenger to join their stable of monsters.

Blood from the Mummy's Tomb

The first, The Mummy, in 1959, saw a bandaged Christopher Lee crashing about Bray Studios; the second, 1964’s The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, found Dickie Owen shuffling about Elstree; and the third, 1967’s The Mummy’s Shroud, meant a return to Bray, where Eddie Powell pulled on the swaddling to take out members of an expedition team.

For Blood, their final Mummy film, Hammer ditched the bandages and got the tall, buxom Carry On actress Valerie Leon to play (rather brilliantly, I might add) the dual roles of Egyptian queen of darkness and professor’s daughter. She’s the best thing about the film, which has one bizarre piece of plotting: the recreation of a tomb in the cellar of a suburban North London house. Now, who constructs something like that without getting any attention from nosey neighbours or the council? Only in Hammer’s fanciful Home Counties horror universe could it exist.

Keir (who was my favourite Bernard Quatermass in Hammer’s Quatermass and the Pit) does a stalwart job playing the obsessed Fuchs, a role that was originally intended for Peter Cushing. He had to leave the production after one day’s filming to care for his ailing wife, Helen (who died on 14 January 1971). And the seemingly cursed production had another setback five weeks into the six-week shoot at Elstree when the director, Seth Holt, had a fatal heart attack, which forced Michael Carreras into completing the movie.

blood from the mummy's tomb

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb was released in October 1971 as a support feature to Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, and now is available on Doubleplay (DVD & Blu-ray) from Studiocanal, newly restored in HD, as part of their Hammer Horror Collection. It looks and sounds superb on Blu-ray, even if it does show up how fake those sets look; but the liberal use of Kensington gore is a vivid treat for horror-hounds. Oh, and Leon looks just stunning.

The extras include a trailer and a single featurette The Pharaoh’s Curse: Inside Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, in which a handful of Hammer experts provide insight into the film’s production, while Leon also shares her recollections.

By the way, the motion pictures soundtrack, featuring music by composer Tristam Cary (The Ladykillers, Quatermass and the Pit), was released by GDI Records back in 2002, and having find it just recently myself, it’s well worth tracking down.

Valerie Leon is a fantastic regular on the convention circuit and appears frequently at many film fairs throughout the UK, she even has her own one-woman show. Check out her official website here: http://www.valerieleon.com/

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The City of the Dead (1960) | The British horror classic gets a 4k restoration release

The City of the Dead (1960)From Arrow comes the long-awaited 4k restoration release of The City of the Dead, out now on dual format (Blu-ray/DVD).

The City of the Dead (1960)

SCREAM With Guests From The “Other World” When You Ring For DOOM SERVICE!
Professor Driscoll (Christopher Lee), is an authority on the occult who persuades one of his students (Venetia Stevenson) to research his hometown, Whitewood, once the site of witch burnings in the 17th century. Booking herself into the Raven’s Inn, she soon learns that devil worship among the locals hasn’t been consigned to the past…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Produced by future Amicus founders Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg, and beautifully shot by Desmond Dickinson (whose credits ranged from Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet to Horrors of the Black Museum), The City of the Dead (aka Horror Hotel) is a wonderfully atmospheric and still shocking slice of horror that stands firmly alongside with its Hammer contemporaries.

The City of the Dead (1960)

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• New 4K digital restoration by the Cohen Film Collection and the BFI
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of two versions of the film: The City of the Dead and the alternative US cut, Horror Hotel
• Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary by film critic Jonathan Rigby
• Trailer
• Newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Vic Pratt

Save

Save

Save

Save

Paranoiac! (1962) | Oliver Reed is in high spirits in the vintage Hammer chiller

Paranoiac (1962)Legendary hellraiser Oliver Reed may be better remembered for his drinking antics than his acting credits, but I think a reappraisal of the spirited thespian’s cinematic roles is long overdue – especially after watching this 2010 release from Eureka Entertainment.

Paranoiac (1962)

Having made his name in Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf in 1961 after a string of minor roles – including playing a camp chorus boy in The League of Gentlemen – and five years short of achieving stardom as Bill Sikes’ in Oliver!, Reed gives a terrifically OTT turn in 1962’s Paranoiac! – the third of Hammer’s psychological thrillers to be penned by Jimmy Sangster (The Curse of Frankenstein).


Loosely adapted from a 1949 crime novel by Brat Farrar, this Psycho-inspired chiller sees Reed take on the role of the greedy, egotistical Simon Ashby, the spoilt heir to a family fortune. Janette Scott (of Day of the Triffids fame) is his mentally fragile sister Eleanor, while Sheila Burrell plays aunt Harriett, who acts as the siblings’ guardian following the death of their parents. With the family fortune about to be split, Simon psychologically tortures his sister in a bid to have her declared unfit. But his plans come royally unstuck when his supposedly dead brother Tony (Alexander Davion) returns home…


Paranoiac (1962)

Twists and turns abound in this gripping chiller that fuses an Agatha Christie-type mystery with gothic horror scares – particularly a ‘what the Hell’ moment involving the family chapel, a wheezing organ and a very creepy masked figure – and adding a dash of fratricide, incest and insanity for good measure.

Paranoiac (1962)

As the deranged Simon, Reed is a stand out and the scenes where he is drinking and lashing out are weirdly prophetic. Making his directorial debut is Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, who has a real eye for creating scenes of suspense – helped greatly by the eerie lighting and the stunning Dorset locations.

Eureka Classics‘ 2010 Blu-ray and DVD release features a stunning restored Cinemascope HD transfer, along with a music and effects track and trailer as extras, and this is a must-have for your Hammer collection – and one to include alongside the Final Cut release of Hammer’s follow-up chiller, Nightmare, which I reviewed here.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tales From the Crypt and Vault of Horror | An Amicus double bill on Blu-ray

Tales From the Crypt | Vault of Horror Blu-ray

From Final Cut Entertainment in the UK comes a double-bill of classic Amicus horror anthologies to make you shiver!!!!

First up is Tales From the Crypt. Directed with finesse by Freddie Francis, this 1972 British creeper was the fourth horror anthology to come from Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenburg’s Amicus outfit, and it remains a classic of its kind thanks to the sterling performances of an all-star cast and the five genuinely macabre stories, inspired by the original EC Comics, which still have the power to chill.

Vault of Horror (1973)

Subotsky drew on five more tales for the following year’s Vault of Horror, Amicus’ penultimate entry in their horror anthology cycle. Asylum director Roy Ward Baker was called in after original choice Freddie Francis (who helmed the first four entries) declined to oversee a mixed bag of horror and humour, which upped the horror quota, and boasted another starry line-up. You can read more HERE.

The extras on this new Blu-ray, which uses the same uncut transfer that Shout!/Scream Factory put out as part of their 2014 double bill, includes a 36-minute featurette featuring interviews with the likes of Jonathan Rigby, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Chibnall.

Available from Amazon from Monday 5 December 2016

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Nightmare (1964) | Hammer’s unsung psychological thriller is a heart-pounding game of two halves!

Nightmare (1964)Best known for her roles in the 1960s classics, Women in Love and Dr Who & the Daleks, British actress Jennie Linden made her big-screen debut in Hammer’s 1964’s Nightmare, which get its first-ever UK Blu-ray release from Final Cut Entertainment.

Nightmare (1964)

Aged just 23 at the time, Sussex-born Linden was hand-picked by Hammer’s producers to replace Julie Christie for the role of troubled teenager Janet ,who is haunted by memories of witnessing her mother killing her father when she was a child.

Expelled from boarding school, Janet is sent home to High Towers, a vast country mansion, to live with her guardian Henry Baxter (David Knight). But when the nightmares persist, Janet starts to loose her mind…

Nightmare (1964)

Originally given a title that gave away the film’s shock reveal 45-minutes into the story, Nightmare was Hammer’s fourth psychological thriller to be written by Jimmy Sangster, who wanted to move away from the Gothic horrors he was best known for.

Like 1961’s Scream of Fear, 1962’s Paranoiac and 1963’s The Maniac, Nightmare shares its DNA with Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, while returning director Freddie Francis and Hammer’s in-house production crew imbues the gripping mystery with lashings of atmosphere, especially those initial 45-minutes, where the film’s Grand Guignol horror tropes come out to play.

The film’s second half, which plays like a straightforward whodunnit, may not be as polished as those early scenes in which an excellent Linden brings pathos and hysteria to the fore, but it does give Moira Redmond, playing Janet’s nurse with a hidden agenda, a chance to strut her stuff.

Keen eyed fans might recognise actress Clytie Jessop, who plays David Knight’s scarred wife – she was the spectral Miss Jessel in The Innocents.

Nightmare (1964)

This cracking little chiller originally went out in a double-bill with The Evil of Frankenstein, but has remained in the shadows of its better known siblings, like Paranoiac! This new Blu-ray release, however, which looks and sounds superb, is the perfect opportunity to pay it a revisit, and hopefully gain a new appreciation. It also benefits from three insightful extras.

Nightmare (1964)Jennie Linden Memories: A lovely 13-minute chat with the actress – who famously dared to say ‘No’ to Ken Russell – conducted at her home on the Isle of Wight.

Madhouse: Inside Hammers Nightmare: A 13-minute look at production with insights from The Hammer Story author Kevin Barnes, English Gothic author Jonathan Rigby and others.

Nightmare (1964)Nightmare in the Making (26min): Hammer historian Wayne Kinsey retraces the history of the thriller from concept to release, and includes archive interviews with screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, art director Don Mingaye and actress Jennie Linden (using elements not used in her own interview).

Available from Amazon

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Doomwatch (1972) | When Tigon did a Quatermass with the TV sci-fi classic

Doomwatch (1972)

When the BBC1 TV series Doomwatch began hitting the headlines in the early 1970s and shows like On the Buses started heading into cinemas, Tigon’s Tony Tenser rushed out this big-screen spin off in the hope it would become the new Quatermass. But this ‘Chilling Story from Today’s headline’ was not the success that Tigon had hoped for, and ended up sitting on the shelf following its disappointing run in UK cinemas.


An ecological nightmare gone berserk!
A year after an oil tanker sinks off the west coast of England, Doomwatch scientist Dr Del Shaw (Ian Bannen) heads to the isolated island of Balfe to investigate the effects on marine life and discovers the local population have also been affected, creating physical abnormalities and turning the men-folk aggressive. Seeking out the aid of local teacher (Judy Geeson), Shaw then finds he has a battle on his hands trying to convince the locals he wants to help the, while also trying to get the Ministry of Defence and a chemical corporation to accept responsibility for the accident.


Doomwatch (1972)

Director Peter Sasdy (Countess Dracula), cinematographer Ken Talbot (Hands of the Ripper) and production designer Colin Grimes (Nothing But the Night) do what they can with a script by Clive Exton (10 Rillington Place), that was part thriller, part horror, part ecological drama, and was shot on location around Polkerris and Falmouth in Cornwall and at Pinewood in October 1971.

Doomwatch (1972)

But there isn’t enough depth, action or sense of menace to make it work, which also lessens the impact of Tom Smith’s effective makeup. Even the classic Doctor Who serial The Green Death, which used the mutations vs multinationals premise, is way more effective; and we all know how brilliant The Wicker Man turned out, a film which also followed an official’s investigation of a closed island community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was disappointing for fans of the TV show to see regulars John Paul and Simon Oates taking a back seat in the film, and their replacements are not that much cop either. Ian Bannen comes off as overly shouty and unempathic, while Judy Geeson seems like a fish out of water as the mainland school teacher who has no connection with the locals. At least she doesn’t eat their fish!

Future Bond star Geoffrey Keen and veteran actor George Sanders put in safe, but dull cameos, but its Shelagh Fraser who brings some unlikely comic relief as the nosey local who possesses the only phone on the island. And keen-eyed viewers will catch future EastEnders‘ star Pam St Clement playing one of the villagers.

Doomwatch has been digitally restored for a Blu-ray and DVD region free release by Screenbound Pictures, available from 20 June 2016

• Read all about the original Doomwatch TV series UK DVD release HERE

The Brigand of Kandahar (1965) | Oliver Reed hams it up wildly in the vintage Hammer adventure

Brigand of Kandahar (1965)

His Plundering Army of Bandit Raiders Sweeps to Glory
Across the Plains of India!

In director John Gilling‘s 1965 adventure The Brigand of Kandahar, it’s 1850 and the British Army are holed up in a fort in remote north-east India (actually Bray studios in Berkshire), valiantly trying to protect the Empire’s interests.

When mixed-race British officer Lieutenant Case (Ronald Lewis) is unjustly discharged, he finds himself being becoming a pawn in a rebel plot to attack the fort. Oliver Reed hams it up wildly as the ‘half-mad’ tribesman leader Eli Khan, while Yvonne Romain lends her exotic beauty to play his treacherous sister Ratina.

Meanwhile, when Glyn Houston’s foreign journalist Marriott sets out to uncover the truth behind the officer’s dismissal, he discovers not everything’s as it seems…

Brigand of Kandahar (1965)

While it wouldn’t win any awards for historical accuracy or political correctness (especially the use of white actors ‘blacked-up’, and the scant regard for Benjali culture or customs), this studio-bound non-horror Hammer is a lively enough romp to enjoy on a lost weekend, with Romain’s busty performance and Reed’s shouty turn being the film’s highlights.

The action scenes were lifted from the 1956 adventure, Zarak, which was actually shot in Morocco, while the military-influenced music score is by legendary Australian composer Don Banks.

The Brigand of Kandahar is out DVD in the UK from StudioCanal Home Entertainment and also screens on Movies4Men (Sky 325, Freeview 48, Freesat 304) on Sunday 22 May at 3.30pm

Vault of Horror (1973) | Amicus’ final EC Comics homage is a neat job indeed

Vault of Horror (1973)

Below the Crypt lies Death’s waiting-room – The . . . Vault of Horror
Having already mined EC Comics for 1972’s Tales from the Crypt, Milton Subotsky drew on five more tales for the following year’s Vault of Horror, Amicus’ penultimate entry in their horror anthology cycle. Asylum director Roy Ward Baker was called in after original choice Freddie Francis (who helmed the first four entries) declined to oversee a mixed bag of horror and humour, which upped the horror quota, and boasted a starry line-up that, surprisingly, didn’t include Amicus’ two big names, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, but did include cameos from Robin Nedwell and Geoffrey Davies, who were well-known in the UK as doctors Duncan Waring and Dick Stuart-Clark in London Weekend Television’s popular Doctor in the House sitcom series.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The wraparound story sees five men entering an elevator in London’s Millbank Tower (which celebrated its 10th-anniversary the year the film came out), where they descend to an underground vault designed like a gentlemen’s club. Fuelled by scotch and few gins, the men take turns in describing their recurring nightmares.… only they’re not…

Midnight Mess sees Daniel Massey trying to kill his sister (Anna Massey) for her inheritance, only to find himself in a restaurant full of vampires; The Neat Job finds Glynis Johns driven mad when she fails to meet new hubby Terry-Thomas’ exacting domestic standards; This Trick’ll Kill You has an Indian rope trick snap back when its stolen by Curt Jürgens’ nasty magician; Bargain in Death puts a humorous spin on Edgar Allan Poe’s Premature Burial short story with Michael Craig waiting to be released from his interment; and Drawn and Quartered sees Tom Baker’s artist using voodoo to get his revenge on the art dealers who have swindled him.

Vault of Horror (1973)

A Neat Job! first appeared in Issue 1 of EC Comics’ Shock SuspenStories in 1952

Vault of Horror got a mixed reception when it was released in the UK and US, and the story goes that EC Comics’ publisher Bill Gaines hated the screenplay so much he refused Amicus access to any further stories. But I regard this as a fantastic entry in Amicus’ portmanteau series, with The Neat Job being the films’ standout story, thanks to Terry-Thomas’s brilliant turn at the obsessive Arthur Critchit and Glynis Johns as the downtrodden Eleanor. Those cries of ‘Can’t you do anything neatly?’ will ring in your ear long forever. The second story, in which future Time Lord Tom Baker gives quite the method performance is also a winner, and plays like a mini Theatre of Blood as Baker’s bohemian artist literally paints out his three victims, who get acid thrown in their eyes, their hands chopped off and bullet between the eyes, before meeting his own demise courtesy of some paint thinner.

Vault of Horror (1973)

Midnight Mess is based on a story that first appeared in Tales from the Crypt (Issue 35) in 1953.

For years, film fans have had to accept home entertainment releases with freeze frames in place of the gruesome denouement of the vampire story and the well-aimed hammer attack in A Neat Job. Thankfully, Final Cut’s UK Blu-ray release uses the same uncut transfer that Shout!/Scream Factory put out as part of their 2014 double bill with Tales from the Crypt. This Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific [and really showcases the film’s 1970s production design] and while it doesn’t include any extras (you have to double dip and get the Final Cut double feature get that), it’s a worthwhile addition to your Amicus anthology collection.

Vault of Horror (1973)

This photo was taken for promotional purposes only, while the film includes a great plug for Amicus’ Tales from the Crypt.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER

Save

The Vampire Lovers (1970) | Hammer’s blood, breasts and blades Gothic horror is a buxom beauty indeed

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

By the late 1960s, those ghoulish purveyor’s of British Gothic horror, Hammer Films, needed more than Christopher Lee’s blood-shot-eyed Count Dracula to get bums back on the seats at local picture houses. What they needed was a good dose of sex and sadism. And so lesbianism reared its fangs in darkest Styria (just a couple of counties away from Karlsbad and Ingolstadt), where Ingrid Pitt put the vamp in vampire and the bite on some busty beauties, including Madeline Smith, Pippa Steele and Kate O’Hara, in 1970’s The Vampire Lovers.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

In the first of two films for Hammer, Polish actress Pitt plays Mircalla Karnstein, the last remaining descendant of a family of vampires who conducted a reign of terror until Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) took his blade to the heads of her undead loved ones. Now she’s back corrupting the daughters of a General (Peter Cushing) and a wealthy family headed up by Minder’s George Cole. But she’d better watch her head because Hartog and the General are hot on her tail…

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

A somewhat faithful adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 Gothic novella Carmilla (that had been tackled by Carl Dreyer in 1932’s Vampyr and Roger Vadim in 1960s Et Mourir de Plaisir/Blood and Roses), The Vampire Lovers was Hammer’s first sex vampire film and their only co-production with American International Pictures (who were in Europe at the time making a new slate of Poe/Price films).

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

It was also a watershed moment for the studio as by taking advantage of the change in the age restriction for X-certificate films, from 16 to 18, they could now include more sex and nudity, something that would dominate their horror output for the remainder of the decade.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Thanks to Ingrid Pitt’s totally uninhibited portrayal of the nipple-sucking vampire, the UK censors got their knickers in a twist over the film’s overt lesbianism, but it earned Pitt cult status, and with English Rose Madeline Smith under spell, Pitt sent the pulses racing of young males everywhere. Meanwhile, the censors also got nervous over decapitation scene, something that the US censors cut out altogether.

Shot at Elstree under the helm of Roy Ward Baker (who was slightly embarrassed by the sex content), but making excellent use of Moor Park Mansion in Hertfordshire, the film also introduced something new to Hammer’s vampire lore: the sexual possession/addiction aspect of vampirism, which Kate O’Mara brings to the fore in her masochist governess, Madame Perrodot.

Vampire Lovers 5

When it was originally released in the UK in October 1970, The Vampire Lovers was one of the country’s biggest money spinners, which resulted in Hammer continuing the Karnstein legacy in Lust for a Vampire (where Yutte Stensgaard’s Mircalla invades a girl’s finishing school) and Twins of Evil (where Damien Thomas’ Count faces off Peter Cushing’s puritan witch hunter).

The Vampire Lovers (1970)THE FINAL CUT ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE
According to Hammer fans, including expert Jonathan Rigby (who co-hosts the audio commentary), Final Cut’s Region B digitally re-restored release (which came out on Blu-ray in November 2014 and gets its DVD debut on 14 March 2016) is regarded as the best home entertainment version available to date (an earlier Australian release had questionable audio, while the Scream Factory release contained an inferior transfer print). It’s also the most complete version as it includes a decapitation sequence that was cut from previous (US) versions. The extras include audio commentary with Rigby and Marcus Hearn (who really know their Hammer), a 25-minute documentary New Blood: Hammer Enters the 70s (which includes a look at the Hammer archives at De Montfort University in Leicester), stills gallery, original trailer, restoration comparisons; and subtitles for the hard of hearing. While Scream’s release may lose points on print quality, it does have, amongst its extras, an archive audio commentary with director Roy Ward Baker, actress Ingrid Pitt and producer Tudor Gates, who – alas – are all no longer with us.

%d bloggers like this: