The fact that I set out to and managed to watch and review every legally available film that Hammer ever made [except for their really recent efforts] for this website should tell you how much I love Hammer, so you can imagine my excitement when the news broke some time ago that a new documentary was being made about their late 1960’s to early 1970’s period when most of their films were co-financed and distributed by Warner Bros. While many other Hammer pictures have received fine treatment on DVD and Blu-ray, films like Dracula Has Risen From The Grave [one of their biggest ever moneymakers] and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed still only exist in bare bones releases, so it seems like this documentary will fill a gap.
In the 1950’s Hammer, England’s world-renowned production company, initiated a new style of horror filmmaking that transformed the genre. At the end of the 1960’s, the world that Hammer had helped to create was changing fast – the once-reliable business model was unraveling and audiences wanted something new from their films.
Amid this uncertainty, Hammer’s short-term survival was secured by an alliance with American distributor Warner Bros. The films the two companies made together are among the most renowned in Hammer’s history. Classics such as Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1970) and Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) were produced alongside the Oscar-nominated epic When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), the disturbing thriller Crescendo (1970) and the bizarre sci-fi western Moon Zero Two (1969).
The films became increasingly experimental in the 1970s, challenging the perception of traditional Gothic horror with Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974).
The documentary is written and directed by Marcus Hearn and features exclusive interviews with some of the key players from that period, including Veronica Carlson, John Carson, Steve Chibnall, Chris Cooke, Joe Dante, Renee Glynne, IQ Hunter, Wayne Kinsey, Denis Meikle, Caroline Munro, Nadja Regin, Peter Sasdy, Madeline Smith, and Gordon Thomson as well as authors and historians like Sir Christopher Frayling and Jonathan Rigby. Also included are rare production stills, previously unseen film footage, Hammer’s original shooting locations, and access to previously unpublished archive documents.
It’s out on region ‘A’ Blu-ray August 26th from Diabolique Films. There are apparently only a few hundred copies available which can be ordered via the link below. Being as I’m in possession of a multi-region Blu-ray player, I’m going to order mine now [surprise surprise] so look out for my review in a couple of weeks time!