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The Sad Decline of Hammer Horror Films

By Richard

  I will be free forming this “review” so I will not be going back and forth verifying dates, titles and such. This is more about the general feel and impression I got from years of watching late night double features, monster movies and Fritz the Nite Owl.

  Years ago kiddies, there used to be a glut of great, good and passable horror and sci-fi movies that started around the time of the Universal Movies Monster craze (think the classic Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolfman movies along with the independent productions like RKOs King Kong) and lasted through the sci-fi giant bug of the month phase before slowly dying out due to poor production quality and declining audience.

  But we horror fans were saved in the late 50’s by the advent of Hammer Studios in England which revitalized the genre by resurrecting the classic monsters Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy by using great sets and great British actorsPeter Cushing and Christopher Lee in well written, well acted beautiful productions one could get lost in.

  Sadly, like its forebear, Hammer also fell prey to declining audiences and production quality as it produced myriad takes on each of the monsters, diluting the quality each time they did. By 1970 they were producing such low budget and quality work as “The Vampire Lovers” which focused more on the shapely actresses ample nude bosoms than they did on plot or effects. There was even a Dracula film put out by Hammer where Dracula, played by the inestimable Christopher Lee, did not speak a word. Why? Because Mr – sorry ,Sir Christopher Lee was so appalled by the dialog he refused to use it and the studio just compromised by not having Dracula speak. Yes. The dialog was THAT bad.

 So while we love the Hammer greats, let us remember that the genre is cyclical and when one falls (Universal, Hammer) another will (hopefully) rise to take its place (Hammer, AIP). Until Dracula finally dies- again- I respectfully say, a bien tot!

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