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on 12 February 2007
Ok,I know what you're thinking...."Another book on Hammer films,why bother ? "Most of the time that statement would make sense but when the latest effort is written by Wayne Kinsey who penned "Hammer Films The Bray Studio Years" and the excellent magazine " The House That Hammer Built " you'd have to think again.

This time Wayne focuses on Hammers time at Elstree from the late 60's through to Hammers demise in the mid 70's.

Whilst it's generally accepted that most of Hammers finest films were made prior to these dates I have to take exception.

The Devil Rides Out,Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed,Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter and many more were made at Elstree and this book covers their production like no other.Wayne has printed many photographs for the first time ( certainly in my eyes) and has added tasty titbits from the BBFC which make extremely interesting reading.

All too often books like this simply reprint old interviews and pad their pages with useless plot synopsis.This one doesn't.

I read it all too quickly but I'm looking forward to revisiting it.There's too much information for one reading.

If you're interested in Hammer or horror films or even the workings of an independent film studio you won't find much better.
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on 27 June 2007
As the webmaster of Elstree Calling, an unofficial website dedicated to Elstree Film Studios, you would think that I would delighted to hear that a new book celebrating Hammer Film's years at the studios had been published. And you'd be right!

Written by Wayne Kinsey, a fellow life-long Hammer Films fan, this book will not disappoint those like myself who are interested in the history of Hammer Films and indeed Elstree Film Studios. To prove my point readers will notice that Kinsey adds informative facts such as which of the stages were used for certain films. But there is more. Readers, like myself, who are interested in when, where and how much, will also lap up location details, production notes and budget details all prised from the official Hammer archive.

Featuring a large selection of production stills and behind the scenes photos, the book takes up from where the author left the story before in a previous book: 'Hammer Films: The Bray Studios Years'. And this book then takes the reader on an exhuastive journey, a journey which brings the story and the reader right up to date with the Hammer story.

Although mainly a Hammer horror fan, author Kinsey has found it in his heart to give 'Hammer Special Comedy Presentation' fans like myself a special treat in adding mentions of Hammer's comedies. For instance the three hugely-popular On the Buses films, which the author is the first to admit made Hammer a great deal of money.

The author interviewed a great number of people for this book including Patrick Allen and Val Guest. Both of the aformentioned, an actor and a director repectively, passed away last year. So fellow admirers of Allen and Guest will savour the recollections and thoughts of these much-missed contributors.

My only one real criticism of the book, and it is only a small one, is that apart from the excellent cover there isn't any colour photos included in the book. Which is shame, as I'm sure there are plenty within the archives.

So to sum up,'Hammer Films: The Elstree Studios Years' is in my opinion the first and the last word in books on Hammer and their years at Elstree. I only hope this isn't the last book which Kinsey writes on any part of the British film industry.
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2007
Wayne Kinsey's sequel to his book on Hammer's Bray Studio years is an excellent gem for those interested in Hammer films and also the history of film censorship in the UK. The book takes the form of an "oral history" mainly composed of quotes from numerous of those who contributed to Hammer films in the period 1968-78. A number of these quotes have been seen before (eg: in Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine) although Kinsey is careful to get 2 or 3 persepectives whenever he touches on a "controversial" theme - for example, how much of Blood from the Mummy's Tomb was filmed by Michael Carreras or why Alvin Ratkoff was fired as director from The Anniversary. Original research comes in the form of an exhaustive trawl through the records of the BBFC and significant extracts of this is shown in the books so you can see exactly what the BBFC wanted removed from the likes of Scars of Dracula, Demons of the Mind and On the Buses to name a few (although Kinsey tends to not follow any ambiguities through by an actual viewing of the film to show where Hammer put one over on the BBFC by not cutting as requested; Scars being an obvious example of this). There are also a large number of pictures which haven't been published before with a huge number of behind-the-scenes shots, shots that were deleted by the censor and also stills from scenes filmed but deleted from the final cut of films such as Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell.

What I guess it lacks is any real critical perspective from Kinsey himself (what he thinks of the films, for example) or any attempt to investigate/resolve obvious discrepancies (such as why, for example, the rape scene in Frankenstein Must be Destroyed ended up in prints despite Hammer confirming to the BBFC in writing that they had removed it). But, this is essential viewing to fans of this genre.
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on 9 March 2012
This is a phenomonal work. The amount of detail is just staggering. Although this is my favourite era of Hammer Films I find the Bray studios "sister" book even better. I hung on and hung on, hoping that this book would be reprinted, but eventually HAD to order it 2nd hand at a high price. It's still worth it (just) but the publishers would do the world a favour by reprinting it!

It's a must for any serious (or even curious) Hammer/Horror film fan.
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on 26 February 2008
A nice book to dip into, with some photos I hadn't seen before and more detail than anyone could hope for on the making of these films. Sadly, Mr Kinsey's authority is undermined by an apparent lack of proofreading. Almost every page seems to contain one or more grammatical, spelling or even factual errors. Just a few random examples:

On page 95 we have references to both "pteradactyls" and "pterodactyls". Even my spell checker in Microsoft Word spotted this. On page 179 a work named Jonocek's Gregolithic Mass is mentioned: this is presumably Janácek's Glagolitic Mass. (I do know how to spell this composer's name, by the way, and even with Amazon removing accented characters from my text, I've got closer than Mr Kinsey!) On page 310 we have Yvonne Fearneux (instead of Furneaux). There are many more proofing errors, but I think I've made the point.

Unfortunately spelling and grammar don't seem to be the only problems. On page 170 the book discusses the making of "The Vampire Lovers" in 1969. There is a reference to "the shapely figure of 25 year old Ingrid Pitt". As this would mean she was born around 1944, it is clearly incorrect. Much has been made of Ms Pitt's experiences during World War II, including childhood in a concentration camp. On-line sources give her year of birth as 1937. Even if she was being economical with the truth as to her age then, the reader is entitled to expect that Mr Kinsey would spot this kind of thing and at least mention that there's some uncertainty over her age. The obviousness of this kind of mistake to a fan makes me question the accuracy of much of the book.

In a professional publication, there really shouldn't be so many glaring errors. I'm not sorry I bought it, but hope that one day there'll be a second edition with these problems fixed.
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Neither of Wayne Kinsey's two Hammer volumes has disappointed. Full of original research, never-before-seen images and tons of fascinating information, the book takes us chronologically through all of Hammer's productions following its departure from Bray Studios in 1967. Love it.
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