Saturday, 30 August 2014

Friday, 29 August 2014


Maybe the most celebrated chase scene in Hammer film history... Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula in 'Dracula' / 'Horror of Dracula' (1958 Director Terence Fisher)

Chase to the death!
Dracula (1958)


Peter Cushing : Baron Frankenstein, Peter Woodthorpe : Zoltan, Sandor Eles : Hans, Kiwi Kingston : The Monster, Katy Wild : Rena.

Director : Freddie Francis, Screenplay : John Elder [Anthony Hinds], Producer : Anthony Hinds, Photography : John Wilcox, Music :  Don Banks, Special Effects :  Les Bowie, Makeup : Roy Ashton, Art Direction : Don Mingaye. Production Company - Hammer films.

Forced to leave town because of their experiments, Frankenstein and Hans return to Frankenstein’s hometown Karlstad and set up laboratory in the abandoned Frankenstein chateau. Frankenstein then finds his original creation frozen inside a glacier and restores it to life. However, it will not respond to his commands. Frankenstein comes up with the idea of obtaining the services of Zoltan, a disreputable carnival hypnotist, to hypnotise the monster into obeying him. Zoltan is successful but has less than scientific interests at heart. With the monster responding only to his commands, Zoltan uses it to rob and take revenge upon the town authorities.

General opinion holds The Evil of Frankenstein, the third of Hammer’s Frankenstein films, to be one of the duds of the series. One is at a loss to understand why. To the contrary, I hold The Evil of Frankenstein to be one of the best of the series. With the preceding two entries, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Hammer had kept the same essential creative team – director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and star Peter Cushing – in place. For The Evil of Frankenstein, Hammer producer Anthony Hinds replaced Sangster on script, while Freddie Francis inherited the director’s chair. Freddie Francis was an up and coming director who had worked as an award-winning cinematographer in the previous decade, had made his genre debut with Vengeance/The Brain (1962), followed with a couple of Hammer’s psycho-thrillers, Paranoiac (1962) and Nightmare (1963), and then attained some success with the first of Hammer rival Amicus’s anthology films Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964) just prior to this. Francis, whose output to the Anglo-horror cycle has been underrated, would go on to become its next most prolific director to Fisher. (See below for Freddie Francis’s other films).

It is not clear why The Evil of Frankenstein is almost universally regarded as such a dog in the Hammer pantheon. Just look at the opening scenes that hit one with the fervid intensity of something out of a Hieronymous Bosch nightmare brought to life – a little girl sees a body being stolen from a hut in the forest in the middle of the night and calls a priest. The body is taken to Frankenstein who removes the heart before the paling body snatcher, dismissing his queasiness with a curt, “He won’t need it anymore,” before the priest bursts in, cursing Frankenstein’s abominable experiments as he smashes the lab equipment. It is a sequence lit with such a feverishly eerie intensity that it attains a nightmare atmosphere of dread chill. Nothing else in the film quite manages to match it.

Certainly, there are a number of images littered throughout that have a lingering memorability – the deaf-mute beggar girl and her strange relationship with the monster; the monster found buried in the side of the glacier; and one especially memorable scene where the monster gets up and begins to agonisingly shuffle around the lab while Frankenstein looks on, coldly clinically taking notes.

The Evil of Frankenstein presents some confusion to the continuity of the Hammer Frankenstein series. For some reason, Freddie Francis conducts a flashback that offers a potted retelling of the essentials of The Curse of Frankenstein anew. However, this makes changes to continuity – Frankenstein now appears to have merely been driven out of town, not executed. Where the events of The Revenge of Frankenstein fit in becomes somewhat confusing – the Hans character is carried over from Revenge, but Frankenstein’s new body and his escape from the gallows is forgotten about. It is a puzzle as to why the film creates the flashback – some of this is to set up plot points for later on – although without much rewriting this could all have been made to carry over from Revenge. What tended to lose many people was the addition of the Zoltan character, which takes the story considerably away from the Frankenstein mythos. Indeed, you could almost see this as Hammer’s attempt to craft their own variant on The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1919).

With The Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer did not have the copyright to use the Jack Pierce designs for the Boris Karloff monster makeup from Frankenstein (1931) and so Phil Leakey came up with his own original designs. Apparently Universal has relaxed their copyright restrictions by the time of The Evil of Frankenstein and the makeup on Kiwi Kingston’s monster is closely modelled on the Pierce designs, the only time the Hammer Frankenstein’s came close to resembling the Universal originals. Production designer Don Mingaye and special effects man Les Bowie collaborate to come up with not one but two of the series very best creation sequences, with lightning bolts and generator coils crashing in the best Kenneth Strickfaden tradition. On the whole, The Evil of Frankenstein is a Hammer Frankenstein entry that is well worth re-evaluation.

The other Hammer Frankenstein films are:– The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973).

Freddie Francis’s other genre films are:- Vengeance/The Brain (1962), Paranoiac (1962), Nightmare (1963), Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1964), Hysteria (1965), The Skull (1965), The Psychopath (1966), The Deadly Bees (1967), They Came from Beyond Space (1967), Torture Garden (1967), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (1969), Trog (1970), The Vampire Happening (1971), Tales from the Crypt (1972), Tales That Witness Madness (1972), Craze (1973), The Creeping Flesh (1973), Legend of the Werewolf (1974), Son of Dracula (1974), The Ghoul (1975), The Doctor and the Devils (1985) and Dark Tower (1987).

Feature written by:Richard Scheib
Images edited by Marcus Brooks

No way to treat the curtains!
The Evil of Frankenstein


British distributors Network have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray releases of John Hough's Twins of Evil (1971) and Peter Sasdy's Countess Dracula (1971). The two releases will be available for purchase on September 8th.

Directed with characteristic style and energy by cult filmmaker John Hough (The Legend Of Hell House, The Watcher In The Woods) and starring horror legend Peter Cushing, Twins of Evil (15) combines the signature Hammer elements of supernatural horror, black humour and fabulously lurid sensuality.

Featuring an all-time classic score by Harry Robinson, Twins Of Evil also stars Kathleen Byron (Black Narcissus), Isobel Black (The Kiss of the Vampire) and Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets), and featuring Mary and the late Madeleine Collinson as the twins.
Glamorous identical orphaned twins Maria and Frieda move from Vienna to the village of Karnstein to take up a new life with their submissive aunt and grim uncle - a fanatical Puritan and leader of a witch-hunting religious sect who is determined to kill his nemesis, Count Karnstein: a devil-worshipping libertine who has been turned into a vampire.

Special Features:
  • Original theatrical trailers and TV spots
  • Deleted scene
  • Image gallery
  • PDF material
  • Commemorative booklet
  • Instant play facility

One of Hammer's most enduringly popular films and a benchmark for 1970s horror, Countess Dracula stars Ingrid Pitt (The Wicker Man) in an iconic, career-defining role as the aged countess who must regularly bathe in virgins' blood to regain her fading youth.

Genre stalwart Peter Sasdy (Hands of the Ripper) directs arguably his best Hammer film, from a script by award-winning writer Jeremy Paul and showcasing a rousing score from composer Harry Robinson.

In medieval Hungary, Countess Elisabeth Nรกdasdy, an embittered, ageing widow, discovers by accident that virgin's blood causes her skin become youthful and smooth. Determined to retain her new youth at all costs, the Countess coerces her lover to abduct a string of young virgins to keep her supplied with the blood she now craves to stay beautiful...

Special Features:
  • Audio commentary with Ingrid Pitt and horror experts Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Archive interview with Ingrid Pitt
  • 50 Years of Hammer - news feature
  • Thriller episode
  • Conceptions of Murder episode
  • Instant play facility

Twins Of Evil
Gets UK Blu Ray

Thursday, 28 August 2014


#tbt August 1983...and Peter Cushing his wrapping his cameo appearance as Professor Copeland in the 20th Century Fox television biopic, 'Helen Keller :The Miracle Continues' in Hollywood. PC plays Copeland with wry sense of humour, has some lovely lines and looks quite splendid in his academic gown. Alan Gibson directs, in this his fourth outing with PC. The film was marketed in the UK as 'Helen and the Teacher' and starred Blythe Danner and Mare Winningham.

*Trivia* : In 1949 the real Helen Keller attended a performance of Olivier's Richard III in which Peter Cushing played several small roles!

Peter Cushing as Prof Copeland


#tbt #throwbackthursday.... ok we're going back. BACK 200 years in fact! Because, today is the anniversary of the birth of one Joseph Thomas SHERIDAN Le Fanu...200 years ago this very day in 1814. Born at 45 Lower Dominick Street, Dublin, into a literary family of Huguenot origins, Le Fau would become a celebrated writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels, the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. We salute Mr Le Fanu today, for his vampire novella "Carmilla", which formed the framework for the 1970 Hammer film, 'The Vampire Lovers' starring Ingrid Pitt and Peter Cushing.. Please join us in wishing a Happy 200th Birthday to #SheridanLeFanu!

 Sheridan Le Fanu
The Vampire Lovers

Monday, 25 August 2014


ZING: energy, enthusiasm, or liveliness.
"She could always be expected to add some zing"
synonyms:enthusiasm, zest, zestfulness, appetite, relish, gusto, eagerness, keenness, avidity, zeal, fervour, ardour, passion, love, enjoyment, joy, delight, pleasure, excitement


Our Facebook Page : HERE

Ingrid Pitt The Lady With The Zing! 
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