Hammer’s Film Legacy: From Quatermass to the Devil’s Daughter | This terrific tome makes revisiting the House of Hammer a rewarding new experience
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the iconic British film studio’s first incarnation, Hammer expert Wayne Kinsey has put together this a limited edition (500 copies) specially-numbered book exploring Hammer’s seminal film legacy between 1954’s The Quatermass Experiment and 1975’s To the Devil a Daughter. 106 films are documented in production order and each entry contains notes from the censor, film and script comparisons, and over 700 photos. At 408 pages, it’s a hefty tome, but given the amount of thumbing through its getting, I’m glad its got a nice firm hardback and has been produced on quality paper (which also makes those fine rare images come alive!).
Kinsey opens with a lovely dedication to the many people who have worked at Hammer, but who are no longer with us, and includes a page of autographs from a host of actors, producers and directors who all helped make Hammer great.
This new book primarily deals with the making of Hammer films from 1954-1975. It was originally serialised in The House That Hammer Built magazine, and later turned into two books about the Bray and Elstree Studio years. But rather than give fans a rehash, Kinsey has used the opportunity to refine and re-edit those original books to present a concise history of the production and release of each title.
This approach works well. When BBC2 screened two of the Quatermass films recently, I read up on them beforehand using Kinsey’s book. It makes for an informative read, especially if you are interested in film history; as you really get to know about the teams of writers, directors, producers and craftsmen and women behind each production. Plus, there’s a wealth of trivia to impress (or bore) your friends with. For example, I never knew Richard Wordsworth (who plays doomed astronaut Victor Caroon in 1954’s The Quatermass Experiment) was the great, great grandson of the poet William Wordsworth or that Les Bowie was a pioneer in matte painting. And I got a real thrill to learn that it’s a very young Jane Asher who gets her dolly’s head snapped off in the Frankenstein-homage scene.
Out of the 106 films covered, which also includes war dramas and comedies like Mutiny on the Buses (which, surprisingly, was the most profitable of all of the Hammer films), as well the better-known fan favourite horrors and psychological thrillers, I can only recall seeing 74. So, I’ve now given myself the task of hunting down the rest, and my first port of call will be reaching for this book. This terrific tome is easy to read and a great primer for newbies, and makes revisiting the House of Hammer a rewarding new experience.
For more information on the book (which is selling very fast) head over to the Peveril Publishing website (click here)
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