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Hammer, horror, hotpants,
This review is from: The Art of Hammer: Posters from the Archive of Hammer Films (Hardcover)
Genre fans are always in safe hands with Marcus Hearn, and this lavish full colour 'does-what-it-says-on-the tin' visual history of Hammer's art doesn't disappoint.
The book provides a fascinating visual documentation of the film studio while simultaneously reflecting changes in marketing promotion (and gimmickry), shifts in public tastes, and a considerable diversity in artistic styles.
From the fifties, where the posters reflect Hammer's burgeoning reputation for the innovative, lurid and shocking, through to the seventies where the imagery is increasingly 'sexed up' with buxom beauties and ever-grislier threats, all bases are covered, and many of the posters will still inspire readers to check out the films for themselves.
Often intriguing are the more obscure images for Hammer's (perhaps neglected) psychological thrillers, from the US poster for Taste of Fear/ Scream of Fear (clearly inspired by Hitchcock's ground-breaking promotion for Psycho) to Crescendo and The Anniversary. And always curious are Polish and Japanese variants - for Poland's One Milion Years B.C. a cartoon dinosaur chomps on a caveman, taking the place of the iconic image of Raquel Welch in her fur bikini. Worth noting too that 'The House of Horror's' repertoire wasn't limited to that genre - thus a gurning Blakey from the movie version of On the Buses nestles up against the sexually threatening Hands of the Ripper.
There's much artwork and imagination here to satisfy both poster collectors and fans of the studio, plus some dramatic, bold and plain silly promotions. For the 'space western' Moon Zero Two (a film apparently coupled with The Bugs Bunny Show) we are enticed by the sight of 'the fabulous Go-Jos dancing on the moon' (Kubrick singularly failed to realise such visual opportunities in the previous year's 2001); audience members are promised their own beards to sport during screenings of Rasputin - The Mad Monk; while Dracula A.D. 1972 proclaims 'The Count is back, with an eye for London's hotpants... and a taste for everything'. (The stunning Italian variation of the poster for the latter film - the book's cover - fascinatingly re-casts Lee's Dracula as an anti-heroic Bond figure.)
Highlights, in other words, are numerous and need to be seen on the printed page. Where else can you witness 'White hot terror! Cold, clammy fear!', 'The terrifying lover - who dies - yet lived!', and - most fittingly - 'The greatest blood-show on earth!'?