Thursday, January 7, 2021

Milk Advert and BBC Documentary shot on the set of THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES

 Two videos filmed on the set of THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES.

The Dairy Council UK filmed an advert with behind the scenes clips of Peter Cushing and the other stars and crew members drinking some cold milk. (“Pick up a pinta… stay on top!”)

 

The BBC also came over and filmed a documentary FISTS OF FIRE about Shaw Brothers that incorporated clips of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires as well towards the end of its 30 minute running time.


Friday, January 1, 2021

Wayne Kinsey: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Scrapbook


Wayne Kinsey’s Peveril Publishing House has over the last few years kept the flame alive for us Hammer Fans when it comes to sumptuously illustrated coffee table books.

 Wayne had previously written a number of Hammer related books for more traditional publishers, some of which have now become collector’s items. He was also behind The House That Hammer Built, an incredibly in depth fanzine dedicated to all things Hammer and the research that went into publishing this was the basis for a lot of his subsequent oeuvres. 

As successful as all his ventures were, Hammer by now is a very niche market interest so at some stage it became increasingly more difficult for regular publishers to justify those kinds of publications so Wayne together with designer Steve Kirkham set about creating their own independent imprint. The rules they use for their books can be summarised as such: 

 • Only the highest quality will do. 
 • They will have a very limited print run of usually 600-700 copies. 
 • They will only sell through their website so don’t bother searching for them on Amazon or elsewhere. • The books need to stay below 2kg as the postage rates would otherwise sky rocket. As a result their publications don’t come cheap but they are worth giving up on a few meals just to afford having them on your shelves. And once they’re gone you can rest assured that used copies will skyrocket in price in no time at all. 

I have previously reviewed The Peter Cushing Scrapbook and their Hammer Locations.

I also own their non-Hammer related series of Fantastic Films of the Decades (three volumes so far) and their book on She. I have, however, missed out on some of their other books that have since sold out, most regrettably The Hammer Frankenstein and Hammer Dracula Scrapbooks

So when their latest publication was announced, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires Scrapbook, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Though I was early enough with the ordering, my copy already is number 398 of 600 so by the time you read this, there may not be many more left. 

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires with its melange of Hammer Horror and Shaw Bros Martial Arts was always a film I totally adored, maybe not even despite but because of its faults. (John Forbes-Robertson, looking at your and your lipstick.) It never ceases to entertain me whenever I come around to viewing it but it is admittedly at first glance an odd choice for a standalone book of its kind. 

That is until you learn that Wayne is in possession of Cushing’s screenplay, arguably the only fully complete Cushing script still around and it features all his notes, drawings and costume suggestions. 

Wayne also already owned Roy Ward Baker’s script with notes so those two scripts mark the centre point of this new book. Add a plethora of other photos and material covering all aspects of the production plus additional material relating to a range of unfilmed Hammer Draculas and you have yet another absolute Must Have from Peveril.





Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ollie's Last Round

Two years ago I had visited Oliver Reed's grave in Churchtown, Co. Cork, I blogged about it here.

Prior to this on a visit to Malta I had met the guy in whose arms Reed had died while filming Gladiator. At the time I had published a travelogue about the experience for The Hungover Gourmet #7.

This article together with five others have now been republished in Ollie's Last Call, a new 22.400+ word eBook that is available for just $0.99 (or whatever equivalent in your local online store Amazon deems this to be).

The full list of articles is as such:

Ollie’s Last Round: A travelogue about meeting the guy in whose arms Oliver Reed died while filming "Gladiator" in Malta

Look What's Happened to the Omen and to Rosemary’s Baby:
A look at two much maligned follow-ups to two of the best known movie classics, "Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby" and "Omen IV: The Awakening"

Little Shop of Euro-Horrors: Visiting the Profondo Rosso store in Rome, owned by Dario Argento and Luigi Cozzi, and meeting up with Luigi Cozzi

Raising the (Blind) Dead: An overview over the series of Blind Dead movies by Amando De Ossorio

The Baroness: A book by book look at the wonderfully lurid series of The Baroness paperbacks by “Paul Kenyon” with a solution to their true authorship

Anatomies Dissected: Reviews of the two German "Anatomie" movies


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Sign of Satan (08/May/1964)

Just discovered this episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour from May 08, 1964 with Christopher Lee on YouTube. Not sure how long this will be on but it can also be viewed on DailyMotion.

The Sign of Satan was filmed at Universal Studios and is from the second season of the hour long program. This show was effectively a continuation of the previous half an hour long “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”.

The episode was based on Robert Bloch’s short story Return to the Sabbath, first published in “Weird Tales” (July 1938) when Bloch was just 21. Other stories published that month in the magazine contained Henry Kuttner’s Spawn of Dagon, Seabury Quinn’s Fortune’s Fools and Clark Ashton Smith’s Mother of Toads as well as a poem each by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

It features Lee as Karl Jorla, an Austrian Devil Worshipper who features in a recording of a Black Mass. When that recording gets released, his acolytes suspect that he was behind this and threaten to hunt and kill him. A film studio hires him as an actor for a similar role, not knowing that what they had seen in the initial production was not a work of fiction.

During the satanic ritual Lee is heard speaking German and truth be told his German is better than the German accent he puts on when speaking English. He also appears to be wearing a head piece as well as some crazy bushy eye brows and some of the scenes evoke his Dracula, no doubt one of the reasons he was hired for the job.

All the occult references are very moody and must have appealed to Lee as an aficionado in that area. Though the premise of this episode is preposterous - no studio would have hired a No Name and put up with all those exorbitant requests and strange behaviour - the fact that this is one of those productions that show him amongst Satanists and Devil Worshippers with hints of Horror Hotel (1960) as well as future Dennis Wheatley adaptations makes this well worth checking out.

Lee mentions in his autobiography that he was anxious to leave his 12-week old daughter Christina behind which places his arrival around the February 15 mark. This was Lee’s first invite to Hollywood. Rather than being placed in a grandiose hotel as he had hoped for, he is put up in an unfinished motel, but has Marlon Brando’s dressing room.

Filming lasts two weeks and while there, he also meets one of his idols, Groucho Marx, as well as Ray Bradbury who had wanted him to play Mr. Dark in an adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Prior to filming he was seemingly convinced he’d be directed by Alfred Hitchcock directly and only became aware that this was not the case when meeting Bob Douglas, the actual director. He only ended up briefly seeing Hitch from a distance and also lost eight of Ray Milland’s golf balls in a match against him in Bel Air.






Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Peter Cushing as a Mafioso

I recently published a 15.000 word eBook dedicated to the German series of Dr. Mabuse movies from the 1960s. I am planning this to be the first in a number of overviews dedicated to classic German Crime and Thriller flicks and for my next project want to approach the eight Jerry Cotton movies featuring George Nader as the eponymous FBI Agent.

Jerry Cotton is a series of German "Heftromane", short weekly 60+ page novels that are exclusively sold through news agencies and by now has run up more than 3000 issues over the decades. Especially in the earlier years they tended to show covers with stills taken from totally unrelated movies.

So imagine my surprise when I wanted to stock up on some of them for research when I came across this cover for Die Rache des Mafioso ("The Mafioso's Revenge") featuring Peter Cushing in a scene from The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

I was reminded of the time when I posted a similar cover photo from a Jerry Cotton novel featuring Veronica Carlson.

For the Cushing cover I am particularly intrigued as the original image of course also included a crucifix which had been cropped to make him more in line with the Mafia theme of this issue (that I have yet to read).


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Ugly Duckling (1959)



THE UGLY DUCKLING used to be one of the Holy Grails for Hammer aficionados.

 Directed by prolific British B-Picture Director Lance Comfort and long considered lost, it was in actual fact hidden in plain sight in the vaults of Sony and BFI. It just hadn’t been screened for more than half a century.

 British Free-to-Air channel Talking Pictures as part of their amazing lineup of vintage movies and TV series has twice now transmitted this production and thereby allowed Hammer Fans to finally view this often discussed but rarely seen comedy.

 Must admit, given that comedy is probably the genre that easily dates the worst (never mind the fact that it often also doesn’t travel well from one culture to the other), I was at least just as anxious as I was curious about finally coming face to face with this movie.

 But I shouldn’t have worried. It is hardly a forgotten masterpiece but it also isn’t a dud. Instead it is a thoroughly enjoyable little contemporary riff on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”. The film’s credits even indicate that the idea was “stolen” from that book.

 Shot in 1959, at a time when Hammer’s Gothic reinvention had already begun, it’s something of a throwback to the company’s earlier black and white pictures and seems to have purposely been planned as a comedic variation to THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, released in the same year.

 THE UGLY DUCKLING features a number of familiar faces for Hammer and classic UK movie fans, such as Bernard Bresslaw (MOON ZERO TWO as well as countless CARRY ON films), Michael Ripper and Marla Landi (THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER) as well as Jon Pertwee and many more.

Bresslaw plays Henry Jeckle (sic), great-great-grandson of the original Dr. Jekyll, and totally ill at ease amongst London’s hip youth….. who were still a few years away from being completely changed by the appearance of The Beatles and the subsequent upheavals of the 1960s. When he revives his ancestor’s notorious formula he transforms into a self-confident hoodlum who helps a gang to steal some precious jewels, only to try and give them back to the owners during his more innocent but fumbling real personality.

 And all kinds of mayhem ensues….

 THE UGLY DUCKLING is clearly a product of its time - we even see Jeckle go to bed with a golliwogg doll. – but it’s a fast moving and enjoyably breezy comedy that may have even inspired Jerry Lewis to venture into similar territory with THE NUTTY PROFESSOR four years later.

 The film also features a number of dance band pieces, possibly inspired by producer Michael Carreras lifelong love for jazz. Those musical interludes do at times overstay their welcome quite a bit.

 Ultimately the film probably suffered from a different kind of bad timing as it is depicting a cultural landscape that just a few years later would irrevocably be changed for good and thereby quickly aged this production.

 Still, it is good to finally be given a chance to appreciate this rare Hammer production, remarkable for its balancing act between comedy, musical numbers and the occasional digression into horror-lite with its well lit transformation scenes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Captain Kronos vs The Mummy (Titan Comics Releases)

Recently read two officially licensed Hammer comics published through Titan Books.

 Titan had previously issued Marcus Hearn’s excellent HAMMER STORY, HAMMER GLAMOUR, THE HAMMER VAULT and THE ART OF HAMMER, so is the perfect choice for Hammer Studio related publications.

 In the past you were able to enjoy Hammer related comic book stories in the pages of the legendary “The House of Hammer” magazine, predominantly adaptations of their films, at the time an ideal way to immerse yourself in their movies when easy access to them via DVD, Blu Ray or streaming was unheard of.

 Titan Comics’ recent THE MUMMY – PALIMPSEST and CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER both go a different direction by taking the original Hammer movies and using them as a spring board to develop new stories.

 Each of those two are perfectly readable and enjoyable in their own right but CAPTAIN KRONOS is the one that has the edge with regards to truly carrying the Hammer torch whereas their version of THE MUMMY really is only tangentially linked to any of the Hammer mummy flicks.

 Though often flashing back to previous incarnations, most of THE MUMMY – PALIMPSEST is set in modern day London.

 In the late 19th Century members of a secret society, the Sect of Anubis, discovered how to cheat death and gain eternal life via the Palimpsest ritual, which required them every 33 years to drink the blood of a female victim chosen to be the host for the ancient Egyptian Priestess Nebetah. Their current chosen one, Angel Kostenko, has been brought to London by sex traffickers but proves resilient in her fight against both her kidnappers as well as the Sect. She is somewhat aided by another group battling the Sect of Anubis, however, soon learns that those guys’ motives may also not be quite as benevolent as they seem to be.

 This is a very effective mummy story but it is only borderline related to Hammer’s original MUMMY (a few brief glimpses of Kharis here or there) and despite the focus on a female mummy also has little to nothing to do with BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB.

 Even though the connections to Hammer are tenuous, this is a highly enjoyable read within the sub-genre of mummy literature and films with an ever so slight – cynics may say: token – feminist slant given that the current sacrifice is both a victim of sex traffickers as well as a pawn between two male-only member societies.

 For Brazilian artist Ronilson Freire THE MUMMY – PALIMPSEST is arguably his biggest English language assignment yet as he is mainly known for work in his native country though has also been involved with DOCTOR WHO graphic novels and a number of other UK/US projects.

 Up until I read the mini bio at the end of the comic, I was convinced that writer Peter (X-STATIX) Milligan was American as the weakest part of this graphic novel is the often ridiculously clunky, archaic and faux-English Upper Class dialogue by the members of the two Secret Societies battling each other. I was totally convinced that no one born in the UK would write lines like: “I am popping up to Scotland for a spot of shooting.”

 Goes to prove how much I know…..


 The CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER comic on the other hand is directly related to the characters in the movie and develops their story further.

 The main hero was always one of the most original vampire hunters, a young, debonair, swashbuckling, pot smoking slayer who at one stage was even planned to be a time traveller, hence the name: Kronos.

 No time travelling in this comic by writer Dan Abnett (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) and artist Tom Mandrake (THE SPECTRE). Instead the plot reunites the three main characters from the movie –Kronos with his trusted sidekick, the eccentric Professor Grost, and sexy gypsy girl Carla who they encountered in the movie and who has now joined them along their way - for a new adventure following the film’s events.

 Their journey brings them to a little village besieged by powerful vampires. When Kronos ventures out to investigate he doesn’t just discover that these are immune to sunlight but also unearths an even bigger mystery.

 What this story does really well, apart of course from some grandiose fight scenes, is to depict the fact that in Kronos’ world there are all different types of vampires that each require a new strategy to defeat them, again setting this character apart from the more traditional vampire hunters.

 Both comics also contain short articles by Marcus Hearn about the history of the original Hammer movies these new stories were inspired by. CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER also contains a foreword by Caroline Munro.

 Overall am quite impressed with New Hammer’s comic book excursions into Old Hammer material with a modern twist and I’m hoping there’ll be more to come… but have a funny feeling this will be yet another short lived attempt to try and breathe new life into an otherwise moribund company.