Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hammer stamps to be released in the UK

merFor those of you living in the UK, mark the calendars: According to the Nordic Philatelic site June 10 will see the release of a number of Hammer (and Carry On) related stamps! The designs look smashing and it is wonderful to see those classic movies being celebrated by the Royal Mail. I just wish the German Bundespost would come up with similar ideas to celebrate the classic Edgar Wallace Krimis.

This year is actually quite a good year for some of my heroes being celebrated on stamps. On January 8 Royal Mail had already released a set of Bond related stamps with wonderful reprints of some of the classic paperback designs. I don't own them yet, but will purchase them on my next trip to London or else order them from a philatelic store.

Beyond the Rave, Ep. 5

The new episode is called “Vampire Stripper”.

The teaser photo at the start of the clip shows a sexy lass in a military style regalia apparently ready to strip off.

You press play, are welcomed to a rural pub doubling as a strip joint, see the girl fully clothed, get your expectations (but not much else) up, yet before you can say “Santanico Pandemonico” we are dragged away into the most ridiculously looking fist fight scene between chavvy drug dealers in white track suits and hysterically laughing vampires. Seriously, this is by far the most amateurish looking part of the film yet. Imagine a bunch of school kids trying to choreograph a fight scene, and you get the picture. Well, also add the very same kids writing the accompanying dialogue.

Seriously, now I am starting to get annoyed. This better improve soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Beyond the Rave, Ep. 4

On the first release date for BEYOND THE RAVE we were, ahem, treated to three episodes. Going forward it appears that we will just get one short episode every Monday and Thursday.

The forth episodes concentrates on physically building up the stages for the rave in a deserted forest area. The mysterious Head Vampire is also in charge of the rave and pays a concerned farmer off with what appears to be a gold coin…. which would have been a nice touch if we could actually see it clearer to know what’s happening or see a more surprising reaction to this anachronism by the farmer or at the very least have been given any back story or idea why the head guy, who otherwise seems to have adapted very well to modern life, still resorts to this archaic form of payment.

Anyway, farmer walks off and gets killed.

It wasn’t really a spectacular way to pass another four minutes.

The main concern really is that there wasn't much of anything in it that we hadn’t seen a million times before. It really wasn't cut for serialisation at all, so what in other productions may have just been a moderate so-so, turns seriously abysmal here. I think in most general films the four or so minutes of Episode 4 would not have made a huge difference, positively or negatively, however the way the film is distributed forces you to review each episode as a separate event that needs to be judged on its own account and from that base there wasn't anything of any note to observe other than a very luke warm, bordering on piss poor, short clip.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tributes to Hammer Horror and the Hammer Ladies

I just found this cool Hammer Horror tribute on YouTube, primarily consisting of clips from the Dracula movies. There's also a nice clip dedicated to Hammer Glamour with accompanying music by Kate Bush, a song called... "Hammer Horror". As much as I like Kate Bush I must admit that I never even heard of this song before now, but it sure is appropriate for the subject of the clips.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Hammer and Beyond graphic

Steve Reed who kindly contributed the Hazel Court obituary also created this new absolutely awesome Hammer and Beyond graphic that I will now use a header for this blog. It looks fantastic and I can't help but think that this would also make an amazing mouse pad.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hazel Court R.I.P 1926-2008.

I am pleased to announce a new contributor to this blog, Steve Reed, who had recently launched the Quatermass Pit website and also has a blog about the subject. I, of course, wish his first post could have been about a more cheerful subject, but it is with deep regret that we must announce the passing away of one of Hammer's most talented actresses, Hazel Court.

Sad news reached us today, that Horror Queen Hazel Court, died on the 15th April 2008. Hazel who was 82, had been suffering from a yet undisclosed long term illness. Hazel was born in Birmingham in the UK on the 10th of February 1926. She entered Gainsborough Studios during WWII, & stayed there for several years, during which she became known as one of ‘The Gainsborough Girls’. Her first starring role being in the 1944 film Champagne Charlie in which she had a very small role, the role would lead to bigger parts for Court. After the War she married her first husband Dermot Walsh in 1949, to whom she would remain married to until their divorce in 1963.

Above: The UK poster for The Curse of Frankenstein, Hazel’s first Horror role.

During the early 1950s Hazel would appear in an assortment of movies for various film companies including The Rank Organisation. Amongst those films were The Ghost Ship (1952) & Devil Girl From Mars (1954), but her major starring role came when Hammer Films, who then specialised in low budget thrillers & science fiction adaptations from radio & TV gave Hazel the role of Elizabeth in The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, in which she teamed up with the then to become Horror film legends – Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee. The film went on to worldwide success, breaking box office records around the world, Hazel would soon find herself with offers for all manner of film & TV work.

Above: Hazel Court & Jane Asher in Roger Corman’s The Masque of Red Death

Her next work for Hammer was the 1959 film The Man Who Could Cheat Death, in which she would again work with Christopher Lee & electrifying German actor Anton Diffring. In 1962 she would start work on what would be 3 very different films for director American director Roger Corman, the first being Premature Burial in which she co-starred with actor Ray Milland. Her next Corman film was The Raven with Boris Karloff, but undoubtedly her best film of that era was the superb Corman made The Masque of Red Death in 1964 with Vincent Price. Hazel re-married in 1964 to actor/director Don Taylor with whom she had 1 child. Hazel continued to work in film & television in the USA up until 1981. Hazel then settled for a life of painting, for which she had a real passion. She would also be a regular at some of the organised Horror conventions, including Hammer. Her autobiography Hazel Court – Horror Queen, An Autobiography was published by Tomahawk Press in 2007.

Stephen Reed 2008.

Beyond the Rave, Eps 1-3

“No girlfriend. No party. No weed.” (Beyond the Rave)
No credits. No horror. (Hammer and Beyond)

Well, the wait is finally over. The first three episodes of Hammer’s new movie/Internet serial were just launched today and can be viewed on the MySpaceTv page.

Lots of speculation accompanied all the production news with most fans of the Hammer movies fearing the worst: It looked like generic teen pap. The title was ripped not from another Hammer movie, but from an Amicus production. Raves are already as outdated to current teen audiences as Dracula A.D. 1972’s “hip” lingo was to the then current market. And what does it have to do with anything that Hammer ever stood for?

Can’t say I personally ever cared too much about whether they would really carry on the heritage of old Hammer. I love their movies, but for the new productions I am only interested in whether this is going to be a good movie in its own rights. The serial idea sounded like something that could either be hailed as the greatest new Internet marketing idea in years. Or as pure crackpot. After all who would be interested in buying the eventual DVD release if they already had a chance to watch or even download it for free?

This morning the first three episodes of the series were launched. From now on new eps will be posted every Monday and Thursday.

So is it any good?

Errr, no, very mediocre average at best so far, but bordering on drivel.

For starters these eps are just around 3-4 minutes long. I initially thought we were talking about 10 minute shows and that some care may have been shown in actually creating a proper serial, i.e. shooting the film in instalments that lead to regular cliff hangers and have you gagging for the next ep. Instead the film appears to have been shot just like any ordinary movie production and was then just randomly sliced and diced for the MySpace upload.

There are no credits in any of the episodes. Given the short running time of these this may be a logical decision. It is still a smack in the face of the people in front of and behind the cameras. So Episode #1 starts off straight away with showing us soldiers on an exercise in a moonlit night searching a forest for something or the other and discovering a vampire sucking a blonde girl. Cut. One of the soldiers is seen being brought into a military hospital in Iraq. Cut to a month earlier where the very same guy has one day left before shipping to Iraq and decides to spend the day looking for a rave and his missing girlfriend, meets up with his hip talking buddy (read: speaking like a retard from the 1990s) and drives off in a car. Not the most suspenseful ending of a serial episode methinks.

Episode 2 sees them driving on and on. And on and on. And there’s a mysterious undertaker’s car. We even have a flashback within a flashback! Urrgh. That flashback really just shows cliché dance sequences that we have viewed a million times before.

The driving around continues in Episode 3, though we also get to know two cockney speaking drug dealers who seem to be rejects from a bad Guy Ritchie movie. (You know the ones he started making after the met Madonna.) Oh, and we actually have the first proper horror scene. Not much of a horror scene, but about frigging time. Two guys visiting a DJ in a pirate radio station (sure, another completely outdated concept in this day and age), let him snort some coke, then suck him dry in an obvious attempt to get high on his drugged up blood stream.

The best I can say so far is that I haven’t been completely annoyed yet, however, so far the film hasn’t displayed anything resembling proper horror, the dialogue is painfully “wicked” in an awfully outdated lingo, the story telling is shoddy and neither displays respect for the serial nature of the production nor for any basic film making 101s (flashbacks within flashbacks are NOT clever).

Guess I’ll be back for the other eps, though I am not holding my breath.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Contributors wanted

Hi guys,

you may have noticed that I no longer seem to post as regularly as at the start. This is not for lack of wanting, but entirely for lack of time. When I started this blog I had just commenced a 6-month sabbatical from work and all the time in the world. Now all that is but a distant memory and I am back to being Mr Salary Man. On top of that we are also currently dealing with a major health scare in our family.

As such time to post blog items is exceedingly scarce. This blog, however, has been a wonderful outlet for me to chat with other likeminded fans and I hate to see posts showing up only rarely.

I know there is a lot of talent out there and I want to reach out to you guys: If any of you feel they would like to contribute posts, either as one-offs or on a regular basis, please let me know.

The spectrum of possible posts is huge. You can post news about Hammer stars or reviews of new DVD releases, biographies of the talent in front or behind the camera, reviews of either Hammer movies or films in general that had Hammer people involved. Or how about book or magazine reviews associated with the subject? Tons of options.

So if you're interested to contribute and to keep the Hammer spirit alive, please let me know.

Some links of interest

*Just two more days to go until Beyond the Rave. The sequels can be accessed through
and I understand that you no longer need to have a MySpace ID to watch it. I plan on blogging about each and every entry when it's released, so stay tuned.

In the meantime a new Facebook group has been set up called... I want to find a 100,000 people in a week to watch Beyond The Rave. Methinks that is something that Hammer would like to see as well. LOL

They actually have two clips of the film, and believe it or not, they actually have me pretty excited for the first time ever. No, it doesn't look like Hammer, but there seems to be quite a feeling of LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS about it. It just may work. Interestingly enough they also have Russian and Korean language trailers for the film!

*BBC radio recently dedicated one episode of their GREAT LIVES series to none other than Peter Cushing. In it none other than Mark Gatiss from the League of Gentlemen discusses the life of Cushing in a very loveable portrait. An MP3 file can be found at the Peter Cushing Yahoo Group, however you need to be member of this group to get access to it.

*A new website dedicated to the Quatermass movies has just been set up that can be accessed here. At the moment it only has material about QUATERMASS 2, but more is to follow shortly. It looks to be one of those web sites that you just need to access as a fan in regular intervals. Steve Reed, the owner of this site has also started a blog about the subject.