Monday, March 23, 2009


Just received this info from Dick Klemensen.


Just to let you know that the current issue of LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORSX #22 is available.

Contents include:
*"Dracula Today! Hammer's Vampire in 1970's London" The making of DRACULA A.D. 1972 & THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA
*Historical introductions to that period of Hammer Films.
*Mean, Moody and Murderous - In Search of Hammer Noir: "Little Shoppe of Horrors" prowls the dark streets of Windsor
*Remembering Hammer Noir: Michael Carreras in conversation with Denis Meikle
*Desperately Seeking Dracula...or: "I demand an audience with his Satanic Majesty." Comic strip by Philip Nutman and Mark Maddox.
*Interviews with: Caroline Munro, Christopher Neame, Don Mingaye, Stoneground, Valerie Van Ost & William Franklyn.
*Dracula Swings - the Music of Michael Vickers and John Cacavas for DRACULA A.D. 1972 and THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA.
*Alan Gibson - a personal look at the late director of the two modern day Hammer films - with the participation of Gibson's daughters Jessie and Sarah & his brother, author Graeme Gibson.

100 Pages and gorgeous color covers.

We know it is an expensive proposition to order issues from the U.S.A.because of the high cost of postage. So, we highly recommend you contact:

Hemlock Books (run by Denis Meikle, who writes and designs for LSoH) in the United Kingdom.


or his Ebay Store

If you are already purchasing LSoH from another of our fine distributors in the UK, buy all means continue to use them. They all support us all the way. But if you need a way to purchase our newest issue (and all our back issues & and Hemlock is the only distributor outside of LSoH itself for our CD/pdf's out our "out-of-print" back issues), Hemlock gives great service at a fair price.

They've just updated their website and should have the newest issue on hand next week."

For those of you ordering the magazine from the US, I guess the best option is still through the regular LSoH website. I am currently trying to find out whether Denis also delivers to Ireland or just within the UK.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Amazing THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. offer at Amazon

It's got sweet eff all to do with Hammer movies (well, Victoria Vetri was in one of the episodes, anyone else?), but call me seriously tempted to splurge out on this fantastic new Amazon offer. All four seasons of the show, 10 hours of bonus material, all in a beautiful 1960s style case at a deeply reduced rate. Can I resist? Dunno......

The Vulture (1967)

The other day I managed to view the rare Brit Horror The Vulture and was pleasantly surprised to spot Diane Clare in this one, apparently her last cinematic release. Of course I also saw her this month in Hammer’s own Plague of the Zombies. She was also in The Trygon Factor, though I am embarrassed to admit that I failed to mention that in my recent review for the new Krimi blog.

The discovery of an empty grave and some gold coins in a little Cornish village leads to a centuries old tale of revenge perpetrated by a Vulture like monster created in an underground cellar with the help of some nuclear shenanigans that are better left unexplained.

The good news about The Vulture: The makers (or should I say “maker” as this seems to be primarily the brain child of director/producer/writer Lawrence Huntington) quite clearly were anxious to create a new kind of film monster rather than follow the usual well tread horror movie film path.

The bad news: They chose a creature half Man, half Vulture to do so. And were obviously well aware of the ludicrousness of the entire concept as we very rarely even get a glimpse of the monster. We see giant claws descending for the first time half way into the movie. The next attack is even off screen and it is not until the very rushed and anti-climactic final that we have a short view of the entire creature. Clearly a man-vulture creature looked better on the pages of a comic book and I hasten to say that Spiderman’s eponymous foe (created in 1963) was quite possibly an inspiration for the film’s title character.

Wearing a long black cloaked coat and hat (and carrying two walking canes) Akim Tamiroff as the local antiquarian/evil scientist looks very much like Bela Lugosi in one of his last screen outings.

As this film claims to be set in Cornwall it makes for a nice addition to Hammer’s duo of Cornish horror movies. The Vulture in style comes across as a coloured mix of the American Sci Fi creature movies of the 1950s and the classic Universal horror movies.

The leads all play this straight and not for laughs and as usual it is refreshing to see an adult cast of paunchy and mature characters in a horror movie that refuse to nudge nudge wink wink ironically even when confronted with ludicrous and off-beat plot developments. Diane Clare, however, could have been infused with a bit more personality as her character is nothing more than the prim and proper and ever so faithful and understanding wife of Robert Hutton’s lead character.

Overall The Vulture is a surprisingly entertaining, yet daft British production that is fun to spend an hour and a half with and a shame that this has apparently not made it to DVD yet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hammer and Beyond receives the Premio Dardos

I just checked some backlinks through Technorati and discovered to my surprise that the CobWebbedRoom has awarded me the Premio Dardos. Needless to say I am over the moon. Great way to start the day. Always nice to get some recognition.

I always feel that it’s an award just to have a chance to interact with other like minded people. It may come as a surprise to hear that, but I actually don’t like writing all that much. There are lots of times when I wonder why I even bother as writing generally doesn’t come easy for me, but I do like sharing and in the end writing is an excellent way to get to know other likeminded people. If it wasn’t for that I doubt I’d ever put virtual pen to virtual paper. I do admire writers like Mikhail Bulgakov, one of my all-time heroes, who wrote his master piece The Master and Margarita over the space of a decade or so effectively for his bedroom drawer as he knew that the novel would never be published in his lifetime.

Suffice it to say, I don’t have that writing compulsion. At all. Without a chance of feedback I couldn’t see the need to put anything to paper, so anytime I get a comment or an email query about something I posted or some tidbit that I wasn’t aware of before (or even the occasional review copy) that’s reason for me to go on with another post.

So getting an award for me is the ultimate encouragement to do what I do.

Paul from the CobWebbedRoom sums up the raison d’être of the Premio Dardos in his own words:

“I am sure that all Bloggers and writers of websites would be grateful of some sort of regognition for the contribution they bring to their readers, well the Blogging world has the Premio dardos award which is given for excellence in the Blogging field. It is a way of showing that readers of your blog have some respect and think that your blog is worthy of such a accolade. It works in a similiar way to a chain letter - you have to pick 5 blogs that you think deserve a pat on the back for their excellence, these are emailed and then they have to do the same.”
Well, I am German and I need my proper set of rules and regulations, so I googled info about the award and interestingly enough came up with tons of sites who have received the award, yet no official site for it. Some recipients claim you have to nominate another five blogs, others mention 15. The most generally accepted terms appear to be along the lines of:

"The Dardos Awards is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

The Rules are:

1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award."
I eventually came across this fascinating post from K-Squared Ramblings about his attempts to track the origins of the award.

Needless to say now I am even more ecstatic about it. There’s something quaintly post modern about getting real recognition from a real blogger in the form of an award that for all attempts and purposes doesn’t officially exist, yet has been received by others throughout the blogosphere. I bet Umberto Eco would get a kick out of this. Mark my words, at some stage he is going to write about it.

So here are my nominees for the Premio Dardos. I am not too concerned about the numbers nominated as no-one seems to have the official score about it, though I will not mention more than 15, the highest possible numbers of nominees. I will also attempt (but probably fail miserably as most of my favourites already seem to have one) not to nominate anyone who has been nominated before. So e.g. Groovy Age of Horror is not going to get another nomination from me.

In no particular order:

Tomb It May Concern
I’m In a Jess Franco State of Mind
Divine Exploitation
Marisa Mell
Giallo Fever
Modesty Blaise News
Avalard’s Cultural Crisis
Mermaid Heather
It’s deadlicious
The Crime in Your Coffee (German language blog)

Well done, guys! Always love reading your posts. Keep on blogging, dudes!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Legend of Hammer - Vampires

I have been very remiss in not writing much so far about the Legend of Hammer DVD on this blog until now, so this post should hopefully give me some absolution.

Legend of Hammer: Vampires is a documentary created by Don Fearney, the man behind the Hammer at Bray and Cine Lumiere events. Over the years Don has managed to invite just about every one of the surviving members of the Hammer family to his intimate events. (Well, that is everyone with the exception of Christopher Lee, of course.) That he managed to do so without apparently having his own website or even email address is an indication that nothing beats pure passion when it comes to organising those dos. Over the years fans visiting his events have gotten used to the idea that they may need to send letters (you know those things that you need to put stamps on) to Don in order to purchase tickets or that in order to determine availability you may even need to give him a long distance phone call. As a result of all this he has managed to be personally identified with these events and has established himself as one of Hammer fandom’s most recognisable personalities.

It’s little surprise so that Don’s first foray into Hammer documentaries (and I do hope he will venture out to also create similar films about Hammer’s other series and genres) often comes across as a veritable Who’s Who of Hammer personalities and offers a good overview of the regular celebrity visitors that frequent his events. In actual fact some of the interviews were clearly even shot during those occasions and will easily bring more than just a hint of memory back to the attendees watching this.

Contributors include John Forbes-Robertson, Edward De Souza, Jimmy Sangster, Carol Marsh, Janina Faye, Yvonne Monlaur, David Prowse, Christopher Matthews, Tudor Gates, Caroline Munro, John Cater. Additional older audio clips can also be heard with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing; Andrew Keir also makes a visual appearance from an historical archived clip.

Though the majority of the documentary is indeed very much interview focused, we also get to see lots of rare behind-the-scenes footage and pictures and clips from the various films.

One of the most original aspects of this documentary are the introductory scenes, starring none other than Don himself together with John Cater (Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter) as grave robbers on the run from a copper. After finding Dracula’s grave all is revealed as a studio set with John Forbes-Robertson (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) stepping out of the shadows to introduce the subject matter of this documentary. Written by Dark Terrors editor Mike Murphy, this opening scene properly replicates the atmosphere of a classic Hammer horror movie, treats the memories of those films with respect and never descends into a knowing ironic nudge nudge winkery. If only Beyond the Rave could have been more like this!

Extras on this DVD include an audio interview with John Gilling, an interview with Tudor Gates and an overview over some set designs.

The documentary was initially premiered in early 2007 during one of his events in London’s Cine Lumiere together with the book launch of Wayne Kinsey’s second Hammer oeuvre. I missed the first half at the time as I was lunching with Caroline Munro. (Sorry, really couldn’t resist that.) This DVD is a new slightly revised edit of the film that was shown then. One or two bloopers were obviously removed (Horst Janson being Dutch?) and a few new interviews shot during the following Hammer at Bray event were added.

In case it is not clear enough: Legend of Hammer: Vampires is an absolute Must Have for anyone only remotely interested in these movies and if you managed to find this blog, this probably means YOU!

The DVD can be ordered directly with a £ Sterling check (£13 + £2.50 P&P) through snail mail to Don Fearney, 25 High Hill Ferry, Bakers Hill, London E5 9HG, UK or more conveniently through Paypal to figsculpt@aol. Payments through Paypal can also be made in US$ ($25 + $5 P&P). Although advertised on the DVD cover as a Region 2 DVD, this is indeed a Region 0 (i.e. Region free) release that should play on any DVD player worldwide. The DVD was released a few months ago in 2008. To the best of my knowledge copies are indeed still available, but you may want to check with Don first.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Assignment to Kill (1968)

At the height of the Bond boom in the 1960s a very small number of films followed in the vein by presenting insurance investigators as some of the most unlikeliest professionals to ever grace the action screen (also see my review for Deadlier than the Male).

I recently caught a rare screening of Assignment to Kill with Patrick O’Neal in the role of Richard Cutting, the globetrotting, gun swinging, drink swilling and babe bedding investigator on the track of a multi million dollar insurance fraud.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many Hammer actors in this production, hardly Hammer regulars but still familiar faces for Hammer aficionados.

Peter van Eyck (The Snorkel) is the guy that everyone is after. In the knowledge of proof of a gigantic insurance swindle that cost countless lives, the bad guys want him dead, the insurance companies want the info that he apparently has in his possession.

Herbert Lom (The Phantom of the Opera) for the first part of the movie comes across as the slick, professional Baddie who’s got it all under control. He is ice cool, witty, ironic and intelligent, exudes the charm of Evil and appears fully in charge… until the tables turn and his own boss starts selling him out following the advice of O’Neal’s character. Lom soon becomes a helpless pawn in a bigger game. Lom is as usual highly watchable. I am always surprised how much I enjoy his performances and how little I then follow up on actively tracking more of his movies. (Mind you: I did buy his novel Enter a Spy about Christopher Marlowe the moment I saw it in a second hand book store all those years ago, so hopefully that alone allows me to carry the fan badge.)

Leon Greene’s (The Devil Rides Out) character does not carry a name, talks very little and is just being introduced as “The Big Man”. He is one of Lom’s henchmen and effectively carries out his dirty work. Though he is the tough, quiet and cruel type, his body language alone also indicates how much he seems to enjoy getting involved with every twist and turn of this intelligent cat and mouse game. In actual fact, for the most part the film seems to be focused primarily on playful winks, attacks and counter attacks that it comes as quite a shock when halfway through the production The Big Man’s actions end up responsible for a tragic event that happens to a character we have grown to like.

Though it seems obvious that the financial backers for Assignment to Kill were hoping for a movie following in the footsteps of a certain Double-0 agent, the film for the most part foregoes lengthy action scenes in favour of witty repartees in an atmosphere of mutual distrust between the characters. Lies are countered with lies and in the end no one is ever the wiser as to what had really happened. The search for the illusive proof about the insurance caper becomes the ultimate MacGuffin and the overall feel of the production for the longest time resembles a different kind of spy thriller and is indeed very reminiscent of Hitchcock’s early works. We even have a scene in which John Gielgud, the ultimate evil mastermind in this film stands in front of an awe inspiring scenery of the Swiss mountains and inwardly probably reminisces about his time with Hitch when filming Secret Agent. Another Hitchcock actor appearing here is Oskar Homolka (Sabotage) in a wonderful performance as a police inspector who is fully aware that his hands are bound. What he can’t do in active pursuit of the leads, he makes up in covering up some of Cutting’s actions.

Assignment to Kill appears to have been director Sheldon Reynolds last feature film, although it seems that 12 years later he may also have been involved in some episodes of a Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson TV series. (What was he involved in in the interim?) Prior to Assignment he had already dabbled in some spy capers when filming the Eurospy portmanteau movie Killer’s Carnival (starring Stewart Granger, Pierre Brice, Lex Barker, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee and Karin Dor).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hammershop Closing Down Sale

Looks like the Hammershop is closing down. Now's the time to look for bargain orders before the items become unavailable for good (or before they turn into collectors' items on Ebay).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hammer Forum @ Latarnia

I have been on the Yahoo Hammer Group for ages and thought this was pretty much the only really active Hammer discussion group online, though I just now discovered that Mirek's (the world Number One Paul Naschy Fan) Latarnia Forums also have a section dedicated to Hammer. Worth checking out.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Plague of the Zombies (1966)

I am currently reading Jamie Russell’s truly excellent Book of the Dead and felt it only appropriate to therefore rewatch Hammer’s Plague of the Zombies even at the risk of seeing it yet again during Don Fearney’s John Carson tribute later this year.

Russell highlights quite correctly that Plague is the first Zombie feature that abandons the racial elements of earlier genre productions such as White Zombie in favour of more typical (for Hammer) elements of class themes. He does not go very in depth into something that became quite poignant upon this viewing, the striking similarities with Hammer’s most aristocratic Undead, their original Dracula.

It’s amazing how much of Plague was lifted directly from this earlier Hammer classic.

When Sylvia Forbes (Diane Clare) gets accosted by the Squire’s (John Carson) Young Bloods in his mansion, threatened and tossed around, it is the Squire who puts an end to this when he arrives at the top of a staircase, screaming his commands before running down the stairs and punishing the main perpetrator. Compare this with Dracula interrupting the attack against Jonathan Harker by his female vampire and remember that in Bram Stoker’s source novel he was actually attacked by a whole group of Dracula’s “brides”, not just the one.

In order to gain a hypnotic influence with the females of the household, the Squire, just like Dracula, needs to first of all be invited to the house and then draw the ladies’ blood. Following that they are in a state of possession and under his spell.

Even the scene where the doctor (Brooks Williams) and Sir James (Andre Morell) visit Alice’s (Jaqueline Pearce) grave, see her come to life again and kill her off, mirrors the killing of Lucy in the earlier production.

Any other similarities I may have missed? It’s interesting to see how alike those scenes actually are given that neither the writer (Peter Bryan) nor the director (John Gilling) were involved with Dracula.