184 of 196 people found the following review helpful
The box of dark pleasures,
This review is from: The Ultimate Hammer Collection [DVD] (DVD)
Though of course you have to consider that some of the films here do not see the legendary British studio at the top of their game. That can be weighed up against the fact that some of these films are seeing the light of day (as far as I am aware) on DVD for the very first time though again that may not be a good thing in some cases.
Unfortunately this box set omits some of the true greats of the Hammer stable -"The Horror Of Dracula", the finest movie they ever made, "The Curse Of Frankenstein" "The Vampire Lovers, The Curse Of The Werewolf" or The Mummy" (though some of these are available in a separate box set) but as a means of accessing a great swathe of their output it will be hard to beat.
"Blood From The Mummies Tomb" (1971) has the spirit of an Egyptian high priestess take over the body of one of the team who discover her tomb. Corny, hammy but tremendous fun and quite spooky in parts.
"Demons Of The Mind" (1972)stars Patrick McGee and involves a web of incest, perversion and satanic possession .Being the seventies it's more alluded to than explicit and is a bit silly though the bare bones of an intruding tale is there.
"The Devil Rides Out" ( 1968) is based on a Dennis Wheatley novel stars Christopher Lee and sees a group of Satanists invoking the powers of darkness as Satanists are wont to do. It's a solid story proficiently told as is often the case with Hammer.
"Viking Queen" (1967) is loosely based around Boudica, s revolt against the Romans in 60/61 A.D. and has the memorable blooper of someone wearing a wristwatch and the title rather overlooks the fact that Boudica was a Celtic Queen. Featuring Carita, s only screens appearance and it's quickly apparent that she was chosen for her magnificent bosom rather than her acting ability.
"Dracula Prince Of Darkness" (1965) sees Christopher Lee return as the Count though alas not Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. It's one of the better Dracula efforts from Hammer being the last Terence Fisher directed film. Lee is suddenly mute as the Count but this serves as an effective sequel proper to "The Horror Of Dracula" and is hugely entertaining with a memorable climax but would have been more effective if more screen time had been given to Lee.
"Fear In The Night" (1972) directed by Jimmy Sangster has a very good cast -Peter Cushing , Joan Collins ,Ralph Bates- and is a sturdily effectual shocker though the tale of young woman terrorised by a one armed man in a boys school( no really) is plagiarised from films like "Paranoiac" and "Diabolique".
"The Nanny" (1965) stars Bette Davis rather surprisingly and I must confess I haven't seen it but it revolves around a family living in fear after the suspicious death of their baby sitter.
"Frankenstein Created Women" (1967) stars Peter Cushing as the errant Doctor who, using the occult, transplants the soul of a young man (be-headed for a crime he didn't commit poor sod) into the body of a comely maiden .A nice twist on the genre and oddly entertaining.
"One Million Years BC" (1966) has Raquel Welch in that bikini, worth the price of entry alone I would suggest , battling with no regard for palaeontology , dinosaurs( brilliantly created by Ray Harryhausen), hostile tribes and a major volcanic eruption. With striking locations, ridiculous caveman dialogue ("akita akita"seems to cover everything) and a memorable score this is superb dunder headed entertainment.
"The Plague Of The Zombies" (1966) is set around a tin mine in Cornwall where the local squire has invoked the powers of evil to raise a zombie slave army. Eerie and atmospheric it was shot back to back with "The Reptile" (1966) with both movies featuring the lovely Jacqueline Pearce and using the same Cornish locations. "The Reptile" is about err a reptile/woman creature that terrorises the village and again is an atmospheric and effective chiller.
"Rasputin The Mad Monk" (1966) was shot back to back with "Dracula Prince of Darkness" , using many of the same cast -Barbara Shelley and Christopher Lee as the manipulative monk -It's historically inaccurate and looks discounted( Hammer did like to do things on the cheap) but it's mildly diverting.
"The Horror Of Frankenstein" (1970) stars Ralph Bates as the mad cadaver collector and Dave Prowse (The Green Cross Man/ Darth Vader) as the monster. It foolishly portrays the doctor as a philanderer par excellence leading to some musing as to what his chat up line is (Would you like to come to my place and view my body parts?)
Quatermass And The Pit" (1967) is one of the best films Hammer ever made. A fascinating melange of sci-fi, horror and thriller the plot revolves around an alien artefact discovered near a London underground station. The cerebral script by Nigel Kneale ponders on a possible explanation for supernatural phenomena and though the effects are poor its superior stuff.
Which is more than can be said for said for "The Witches (1966) a weak cocktail of mystery and Satanism or "Slave Grils (1967) in which a jungle guide is kidnapped by native women who want to sacrifice him to their white rhino god and is as silly as it sounds.
"She" (1965) stars the statuesque Ursula Andress as" Ayesha", an immortal leader who is trying to resurrect the lover she killed thousands of years ago. Excellent support is provided Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Bernard Cribbins rather bizarrely. It's unremittingly daft but good fun while the sequel "Vengeance Of She"(1968) is just poor and does not even have the glorious Andress to salvage it ,her role as the re-incarnated Ayesha went to the appallingly wooden Olga Shoberova , whose career no doubt soon was over.
"To The Devil A Daughter" (1976) is another Dennis Wheatley adaptation and is blessed with a fine cast -Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Nastassja Kinski- and has two protagonists fighting for control of the soul of a young innocent. It, s not particularly scary or indeed suspenseful but is well worth a viewing.
"Scars Of Dracula" (1970) is a rather nasty addition to the series with the Count more like a sadistic serial killer than supernatural entity and is out of sequence with the other films. Lee does his usual charismatic turn and there are cameos from Dennis Waterman and Jenny Handley.
Overall this is a very reliable box set. Sure there is some trash in amongst, but the quality far out weighs the dross. Anyone purchasing this is in for some very satisfying evenings with the curtains closed and the lights off. Can we have a box set with Christopher Lee's Dracula films with lots of extras next please?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jan 2009 10:14:41 GMT
Mr Happy says:
Germany has a complete Dracula Hammer set with extras... but its pricey!!
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jan 2009 14:09:14 GMT
russell clarke says:
Thank you for the information.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jan 2009 17:20:46 GMT
Mr Happy says:
Its says German audio only BUT it does have English on it, its quite a nice set IF you do not mind German packaging!!
Posted on 6 Apr 2010 19:56:50 BDT
The Demon Pazuzu says:
You've got The Nanny mixed up with another film. It's about a young boy who thinks the family's nanny murdered his little sister and now wants to kill him. It's one of the best Hammer films. Not a horror, more a thriller.
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