This excellent book must be the definitive one on the workings of Hammer studios. It looks at the people and work done behind the scenes in a small but important film studio. From the tea-lady to the heads of studio, the make-up artists, script-writers and continuity to the electricians, extras and clapper-boys - everyone ever associated with the making of Hammer films. It includes the early Excelsior years all the way to its decline and attempts to re-start the Hammer name.
What makes the book unique and fascinating is that the author Wayne Kinsey (who gave us the excellent Hammer Films: The Bray Studio years and Hammer Films : The Elstree Studio years) uses the actual words from each person studied; this give an interesting insight into the relationships, working practices and opinions of the people who worked there. Being a small studio it had a strong core of full time regular employees from the dinner lady to the carpenters, electricians and special effects. It becomes obvious that they not only worked together but socialized, married and went into business together.
It also becomes clear that some actors and directors were very well liked whilst others were difficult and hard to work with. Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed seem to be especially well liked, Christopher Lee tended to be a little bit stand-offish, but was known to burst into song (opera) and did duets with one of the Make-up team; Lee and composer James Bernard co-wrote a religious chant that was to be included in She and sung by Lee but sadly the budget restraints meant that it was never filmed.
The interviews reveal the difficulties of raising money for the projects, delivering to tight budget restraints - the marvels of the work done by special effects, the triumphs and the disasters.
A book well worth reading by anyone interested in film-making. In time it will become much sought after - so buy it while it is still available