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The Ultimate Hammer Collection [DVD]
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A collection of 20 classic horror films from the Hammer film studios: 'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb' (1971), 'Demons of the Mind' (1972), 'The Devil Rides Out' (1968), 'Viking Queen' (1967), 'Dracula, Prince of Darkness' (1966), 'Fear in the Night' (1972), 'Frankenstein Created Woman' (1967), 'The Horror of Frankenstein' (1970), 'The Nanny' (1965), 'One Million Years BC' (1966), 'Plague of the Zombies' (1966), 'Quatermass and the Pit (1967), 'Rasputin, the Mad Monk' (1966), 'The Reptile' (1966), 'The Scars of Dracula' (1970), 'She' (1965), 'Slave Girls' (1967), 'To the Devil a Daughter' (1967), 'The Vengeance of She' (1968) and 'The Witches' (1966).
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It comprises of 20 classic films on DVD, including: 'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb' (1971), 'Demons of the Mind' (1972), 'The Devil Rides Out' (1968), 'Viking Queen' (1967), 'Dracula, Prince of Darkness' (1966), 'Fear in the Night' (1972), 'Frankenstein Created Woman' (1967), 'The Horror of Frankenstein' (1970), 'The Nanny' (1965), 'One Million Years BC' (1966), 'Plague of the Zombies' (1966), 'Quatermass and the Pit (1967), 'Rasputin, the Mad Monk' (1966), 'The Reptile' (1966), 'The Scars of Dracula' (1970), 'She' (1965), 'Slave Girls' (1967), 'To the Devil a Daughter' (1967), 'The Vengeance of She' (1968) and 'The Witches' (1966). In addition, there's a bonus disc - of extra features (documentaries).
These discs are housed in a deluxe box - as can be seen in the photos I've attached. The box opens to reveal several drawer-like boxes, and in each is a number of discs. You also get a small booklet, which serves as a guide to the films. And you get several postcards - depicting the theatrical posters for the films.
Overall, it's a fantastic collection. I just wish Hammer offered the set on Blu-ray.
The best films in the collection are 'The Devil Rides Out', 'Plague of the Zombies', 'Quatermass and the Pit'' & 'The Witches', although some of the less well known are pretty good. The collection is also a lot cheaper than buying these films separately.
The set contains 21 films on 21 DVDs, including some of Hammer's most famous and best-loved movies - films such as Dracula Prince Of Darkness, She, Plague Of The Zombies, The Devil Rides Out and Quatermass And The Pit.
There is also an information booklet, a set of postcards and some interesting extras on some of the discs. For instance the Dracula Prince Of Darkness disc contains the excellent documentary 'The Many Faces Of Christopher Lee' featuring the man himself talking about his long and varied film career with clips from some of his most renowned films. On the To The Devil... A Daughter disc there is an amusing onstage interview with regular Hammer stuntman Eddie Powell who candidly recalls the time when he had to double for Chris Lee in a nude scene!
There are a few turkeys as well in this particular box set - Prehistoric Women and The Vengeance Of She are exceptionally bad and Straight On Till Morning is just plain weird. On the whole though this is a very good package at a very reasonable price and is probably the best Hammer DVD box set available to date.
1965 – She
. . . This is an early collaboration of Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing OBE for the Hammer Studio of H Rider Haggard’s “She”.
Ayesha also known as “She who must be obeyed” (Ursula Andress) is looking for the love of her life (Kilikrates) who her high priest Billali (Christopher Lee) believes has been reincarnated as Leo Vincey (John Richardson) one of a team of tomb seekers lead by Major Holley (Peter Cushing) and they are accompanied by the Major’s valet Job (played by Bernard Cribbins). Will Leo fall for the “charms” of Ayesha or will he see her for who she really is? Also appearing is Andre Morell as Haumeid, the leader of a local tribe.
1965 – The Nanny
. . . Bette Davies stars as the faithful (and overbearing) family nanny. James Villers is the domineering husband, Wendy Craig as the fragile wife and William Dix as the young son Joey.
Joey is returning home after a stay at a special “school” and he appears to have a case of the Omens. He was sent away when he stopped eating and sleeping following the death of his little sister. Everyone believes that he killed her, but he insists that it wasn’t his fault and only his neighbour Bobbie Medman (Pamela Franklin), daughter of the doctor upstairs.
There is an audio commentary by Jimmy Sangster the man who turned Marryam Modell’s novel into the screenplay.
1966 – Dracula, Prince of Darkness
. . . Starting with a recap of the previous (1957) film Dracula (sadly not included in the set) this is an enjoyable outing for the blood thirsty Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). Sadly there is no return of Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing , in his place we have Father Sandor played by Andrew Keir who does a good job as the vampire hunting monk.
Alan Kent (Charles Tingwell - Miss Marple, Emergency Ward 10), his brother Charles (Francis Matthews) are travelling Europe with their wives Helen (Barbara Shelley) and Diana (Suzan Farmer) when they are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. They manage to stop a runaway coach but once on board they are taken to the Castle that Father Sandor warned them about. Also making appearances are Thorley Walters as Ludwig (St Trinians) and Philip Latham as Klove (The Cedar Tree).
Lee never speaks during the film because of a disagreement over the quality of the lines he was supposed to have said.
EXTRA – “The Many Faces of Christopher Lee” – 55 minutes of Sir Christopher Lee discussing his career and friends. His repeated concern and hope that he has never offended anyone is both endearing and surprising, but is probably the effect of the politically correct world we are living in.
1966 – Plague of Zombies
. . . The film opens with a voodoo-like ceremony while at the same time the victim of the voodoo, the local doctor’s wife Alice, is suffering a nightmare.
Andre Morell stars as Sir James Forbes who, with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare), goes to visit a former student Dr Peter Tompson (Brook Williams) and his wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce). Sir James had received a confused letter from Dr Peter who says that people are dying suddenly.
Michael Ripper appears as Sergeant Jack Swift and John Carson as Squire Clive Hamilton.
EXTRAS – Trailer for Plague of Zombies; Theatre Presentation which consists of the trailers for Dracula Prince of Darkness and Plague of Zombies
1966 – Rasputin, The Mad Monk
. . . Christopher Lee starts as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin who was the monk/healer who gained control over the Tsarina Alexandra (Renee Asherson) and in her husband’s absence – he told her to stop the Royal Physicians bleeding her haemophilic son and he might get recover from the illness that he was suffering.
1966 – Reptile
. . . Charles Spalding (David Baron) dies after being attacked while visiting the home of a neighbour Dr Franklin (Noel Willman) and his daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce). His brother Harry (Ray Barrett) inherits his brother’s cottage in Cornwall and decides to move there with his wife, Valerie (Jennifer Daniel). The villagers are less than welcoming, but they find an ally in the local pup owner, Tom Bailey (Michael Ripper).
1966 – Witches
. . . Gwen Mayfield (Joan Fontaine) was working as a teacher in Africa when she encountered the curses of the local witch doctors and had a breakdown. After her return to England she applied for a post at a private school in a small village. Unfortunately for her there is more to this little village and its inhabitants than meets the eye.
1966 – One Million BC
. . . In this tale of power and those who want to take it from their leaders a young tribesman, Tumak (John Richardson), is banished from his tribe by his own father. He manages to find another home with another tribe and becomes the object of desire for Loana (Raquel Welsh) when she has nursed him back to health.
EXTRAS – Interview with Raquel Welch and Interview with Ray Harryhausen.
1967 – Viking Queen
. . . The Queen of the Icena, Salina, causes herself and her tribe problems when she agrees to her dying father’s request that she rules in conjunction with Justinian. Neither the druids nor the Romans are happy with this arrangement.
A strange thing happened when I started watching: I couldn’t take it seriously at first as the narrator who introduces it was the same man who did the introduction to Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head and Carry On Cleo, I almost expected Sid James to appear.
1967 – Frankenstein Created Woman
. . . Peter Cushing appears as Baron Frankenstein who is determined to continue his work to create life. He is assisted by Doctor Hertz (Thorley Walters) and Hans (Robert Morris). Hans has the hots for Christina (Susan Denberg) the local tavern owners daughter. Unfortunately for Hans her father holds Hans background against him – his father was executed. When the landlord is found dead all eyes turn to Hans.
1967 – Quatermass and the Pit
. . . Bernard Quatermass returns in the form of Andrew Keir (sadly the only version in this boxset). During work on a disused underground station a number of skulls are discovered much to the delight of anthropologist Mathew Roney (James Donald) and his sidekick/assistant Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley). The military, in the form of Colonel Breen (Julian Glover), think it is an unexploded WW2 bomb. Things start to become more uncertain when the impenetrable shell starts to disintergrate.
An interesting mix of war, superstition, haunting, sci fi and space made an interesting addition to the Hammer franchise and one of my more played films.
1968 – Vengeance of She
. . . Ayesha aka “she who must be obeyed” makes a comeback only this time in the form of Olga Schoberova who plays Carol – a young woman who is “possessed” by the spirit of “She” but will “She” be victorious or vanquished.
1968 – Devil Rides Out
. . . said to be one of Christopher Lee’s favourite films, this is based on the book by the same name by Dennis Wheatley.
Sir Christopher plays the Duc de Richleau who, with his old friend Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene), discovers that the son of a friend Simon Aron (Patrick Mower) has fallen in with devil worshipers lead by a man called Mocata (Charles Grey). So a battle ensues for the soul of their young friend, sadly they end up dragging other into the battle and putting them all in danger.
1968 – Prehistoric Women aka Slave Girls
. . . David Marchand (Michael Latimer) is working as a guide when he is captured by some natives who want to sacrifice him, but he is transported to a place where brunettes rule and blondes are the slaves.
1970 – Scars of Dracula
. . . Bad boy Paul Carlson (Christopher Matthews) goes on the run after being caught with an undressed lady who happens to be the daughter of the local Burgomaster (a sort of mayor come magistrate). The woman, Alice, tells her father that Paul has forced himself on her and so Paul heads for the hills, but not before stopping off at the birthday party of prospective girlfriend Sarah (Jenny Hanley).
Paul’s brother Simon (Dennis Waterman), who also fancies Sarah, start a search for Paul with Sarah when he goes missing and isn’t heard from the problem is that Paul has stumbled into Dracula territory.
This one stars Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper as the Pub landlord and Patrick Troughton (Doctor Who) as Dracula’s human servant
EXTRA: Commentary – Marcus Hearn (co-author of “Hammer Story”), Roy Ward Baker (Director) and Christopher Lee
1970 – Horror of Frankenstein
. . . Ralph Bates appears as Victor Frankenstein a young man who wants to create life, unfortunately Victor’s moral compass is a little on the limited side as when he needs to he will turn on his family and friends.
The late and (in my opinion) underestimated Dennis Price appears as “The Graverobber” along with David “Green Cross Code” Prowse as the “monster”.
EXTRAS: Commentary Jimmy Sangster (Director); Interview with Veronica Carlson
1971 – Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb
. . . Margaret Fuchs (Valerie Leon) daughter of Egyptologist Professor Julian Fuchs (Andrew Kerr) is given a special gift for her birthday. Unfortunately Margaret is having Egypt related nightmares which seem to be linked to Egyptian Queen Tera - not only that, there are a number of murders related to those who discovered the tomb with her father.
EXTRA: Interview with Valerie Leon and Christopher Wicking
1972 – Straight on till Morning
. . . a shy Liverpool woman called Brenda Thompson (Rita Tushingham) leaves home for the bright lights and excitement of London except it is not a move for the better as she falls under the undue influence of Peter Clive (Shane Briant).
EXTRA: Commentary Rita Tushingham and Jonathan Sothcott (author of “The Cult Films of Christopher Lee”)
1972 – Fear in the Night
. . . Peggy Heller (Judy Gleeson) is recovering from a breakdown when she joins her husband, Robert (Ralph Bates) at a private school where he has been taken on as a teacher. When she starts to see a one armed man stalking her those around her believe that she is starting to breakdown again. Add to that the strangely creepy headmaster (Peter Cushing) and his rather nasty wife (played by Joan Collins) and you have a number of suspects … assuming that her mysterious stalker is real.
EXTRA: Commentary – Jimmy Sangster (Director)
1972 – Demons of the Mind
. . . In the early years of psychoanalysis Baron Zorn (Robert Hardy – All Creatures Great and Small) has called in a scientist-come-psychologist, Falkenberg (Patrick Magee), to help cure his 2 children, Emil (Shane Bryant) and Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) of the family curse – but is the problem the children’s or his.
Add to this situation the infatuated Carl (singer Paul Jones) and a priest (Michael Hordern) looking to start a witch hunt and you have an interesting mix.
EXTRA: Commentary Virginia Wetherell, Peter Sykes (Director), Christopher Wicking (Screenplay) and Jonathan Southcott (author of “The Cult Films of Christopher Lee”)
1976 – To the Devil a Daughter
. . . Following the success of “The Devil Rides Out” Sir Christopher Lee (who now owns the rights to Dennis Wheatley’s works) talked Mr Wheatley into allowing Hammer to make “To the Devil a Daughter” into a movie, and openly states his regret at the mess they made of it.
Hammer took the story (which is quite good) and made a complete pils of it. According to Sir Christopher the script was “changed” a number of times (much to his distress) to try to make it more salacious and attractive to the new slasher type film fan. Hammer had its “type” of film and this was definitely outside that type. It was so bad that Wheatley (who died on 10 November 1977) and Lee agreed his stories should never be subjected to movie makers again.
EXTRAS: To the Devil the Death of Hammer; Eddie Powell Interview
The “To the Devil the Death of Hammer” 25 minute documentary is interesting – who made the mistakes and why things were done and changed.
One of the biggest problems may well have been Richard Widmark’s Hollywood diva attitude. The tantrums, the arguments, the name calling and insulting, the fighting (literally slapping and hitting other people on the set), the storming off, the refusing to work, the smashing of film equipment and props, his anti-British rants, and so on made the film set a horrible place to work for those concerned. According to several of the books about the Hammer films (yes I am that obsessed) many of the younger (and pretty) women on the set frequently complained that Mr Widmark couldn’t keep his hands to himself, and in some cases they quit the production after they were “assaulted” by him.
Very eye opening.
It was Hammer’s first “X” rated movie, the “Quatermass Xperiment” in 1955, which started the ball of success rolling. Unfortunately this movie has not been included in the boxset.
Included in the box are 6 “postcards” depicting advertising posters for films within the set:
- Dracula, Prince of Darkness
- One Million BC
- Frankenstein Created Woman
- Quatermass and the Pit
- Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb
There is also an extremely interesting booklet on the history of the Hammer Horror franchise.
I like the packaging, rather than the usual dvd cases you receive a box which flips open at the top and has a flap that drops down at the front to reveal a series of flip books which produce a red crucifix when placed in the correct order. The outside on the top and the front gave a shiny “HAMMER” and crucifix. On the side is an image of Sir Christopher Lee as the fanged Dracula.
It has been well thought out and looks good on the shelf.
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