Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Hammer Book trailer available on YouTube

Hammer has just released a new trailer for their new series of horror novels. My understanding is that these will be printed six times a year and feature completely new titles as well as movie tie-ins and reprints of older works.

Just yesterday I have finished reading my first Graham Masterton novel, CHARNEL HOUSE, so I am more than happy to see that he will be one of the authors featured in this series. Shaun Hutson is also a name to look forward to.

The first books of that series have just been released: a movie tie-in for THE RESIDENT by Francis Cottam and Peter Curtis' THE WITCHES.

Speaking of THE RESIDENT: Prior to its cinematic release in the UK the film had already been officially made available on DVD and Blu-Ray in Germany. Hammer's WAKE WOOD will be cinematically released this Friday, followed by a DVD release next week!

Given the close proximity of these DVD releases to their cinematic releases I have opted out of seeing them in the cinemas and will instead review them here once I have the relevant DVDs.

Shane Briant's THE DREAMHEALER now available

You may recall how much I enjoyed Shane Briant's modern horror novel WORST NIGHTMARES when it first came out. You may even recall that Shane was kind enough to provide an exclusive interview for Hammer and Beyond at about the same time. Since then he has become quite active on Facebook and interacts regularly there with his fans and admirers. My kind of star.

When WORST NIGHTMARES first came out he had mentioned that a sequel was already written. It has now been made available as an eBook through Smashwords together with one of his previous novels, HITKIDS, that I have been very curious about ever since I had heard about it following my research for the interview.

In order to purchase either one of these books you will need to register with Smashwords but it's a painfree and quick process. The books are available for just $5.99 and $6.50 respectively which IMHO is pretty good value for money. Once purchased you can download them in whatever electronic format best suits your needs.

I haven't read any of the books yet but am looking forward to catching some free time over the next few days to make some headway. Only question remaining: Which one to start with?

Friday, March 18, 2011

RIP Michael Gough, 1917-2011

Over at Carfax Abbey last November, I combined my obituary of Ingrid Pitt with a birthday tribute to Michael Gough, who had then just turned 94.
Alas, now it is Gough's own turn for the solemn farewell.

Elsewhere I have called him one of the true unsung heroes of the British horror film, and it seems certain to me that we should think of him in relation to Lee and Cushing in the same sort of way that we think of Zucco or Atwill or Carradine in relation to Karloff and Lugosi. Like those men he was a reliable supporting presence in prestige horrors, a beautifully uninhibited star turn in the more cheap and cheerful varieties, and outside of the genre entirely, a talented and respected character actor.
His two Hammer Horror roles highlight this dichotomy, and stand as excellent tribute to his gifts.
In Dracula his resourceful Arthur Holmwood makes an excellent partner to Cushing's Van Helsing, his early mistrust of the eccentric vampirologist (as seen in the powerful scene in which, grief-stricken after Lucy's death, he tries to rudely dismiss him from the room) giving way to respect and friendship as he grasps the true nature of the danger to his friends and family, and joins Cushing in his crusade.
By contrast, as Lord Ambrose D'Arcy, the chop-licking villain of The Phantom of the Opera (above), he is a wonderfully malevolent presence: petty, vindictive, brutal, a sexual predator, and prepared to lie, cheat and destroy in pursuit of success. Gough comes at the role running, with his hair greased back and nostrils flaring, making the man - though a grotesque of near-Tod Slaughter proportions - nonetheless convincingly unpleasant with his propensity for drunken lechery, callous indifference to suffering and sudden explosions of rage. It is a measure of his excellence in the role that we feel cheated when deined the splashy death scene we have so long been anticipating for his character!

If you want to see him in charge of a whole show, look to his several collaborations with Herman Cohen, who used him rather as PRC used George Zucco. Like Zucco, Gough seems to love the opportunity to seize the main spotlight and really let rip, in an unforgettable gallery of mad scientists, psychopathic deviants and perverts.
Truly, he was one of the most important and cherishable figures in British horror.

(Matthew Coniam)