Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wayne Kinsey - The Elstree Studio Years

I have this book since the official launch in London last year and finally managed to get around to finish reading it. I will very shortly also update my Hammer Books pages over at the Hammer Glamour site with this info (I seem to currently have trouble accessing it):

This is the long awaited follow up to Wayne Kinsey’s book dedicated to Hammer’s Bray Studio movies and follows very much in the same vein. This is again chock full of ultra rare pictures and very in depth on the production history of all the individual films. Kinsey again extensively quotes from censor’s reports and heavily relies on interviews conducted with Hammer talent on every level. As with his previous book it falls a little bit short on the critical analysis, but then again this is obviously not the prime focus for this kind of oeuvre and we have other works that can be read for a more critical evaluation of the films.

The format is again strictly chronological, so rather than cover the films one by one it splits the production into the following sub sections - Pre-production, Production, SPFX (if applicable), Censor – and then covers these aspects at their proper place in time. So a typical chapter can have the following reading order:

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (pre-production), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (production), Hand of the Ripper (pre-production), Hand of the Ripper (production), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (pre-production), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (production), On the Buses (pre-production), On the Buses (production), Twins of Evil (pre-production), Twins of Evil (production), Hands of the Ripper (censor), On the Buses (censor), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (censor), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (censor), Twins of Evil (censor) etc…

This constant to and froing between the films takes a little while to get used to, though ultimately is a very elegant way to properly track those movies and their development stages over time.

Kinsey is a pathologist in his day job and it is quite amusing to see him correct some of Frankenstein’s anatomical errors in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. He is right: With those bloopers it is no wonder that he never managed to create a perfect being. Given that this edition covers some of the lesser known Hammer movies I may even prefer The Elstree Studio Years to the earlier Bray edition. Either way, both books are essential reading for all true Hammer Fans.

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