Monday, November 8, 2010

Books galore

Marcus Hearn's ART OF HAMMER does exactly what it says on the tin and presents close to 200 pages of wonderfully reproduced posters for most of the classic Hammer movies, both horror and non-horror. Apart from a short introduction the book almost exclusively focuses on the reproductions with a few explanatory words here or there.

No matter how long you have been fascinated with Hammer, you are bound to discover a couple of images you have likely never come across before.

This is an absolute feast for the eyes. You know a coffee table book has gone the whole way when you remove the dust wrapper and subsequently unearth not a just a blank black cover but another set of striking images both for the front as well as the back cover.

Definitely a Must Have for anyone only remotely interested in classic Hammer. One of these days I would also like to see a similar production featuring all the different lobby cards and other promotional and press material.

Another Must Have is Wayne Kinsey's new book dedicated to HAMMER FILMS – THE UNSUNG HEROES. I purchased it a week ago during the official launch at Don Fearney's latest Hammer event in London's Cine Lumiere but haven't come around to reading it yet.

If you're exclusively interested in reading about the Hammer actors, don't bother as you won't find anything in this tome. As the title suggests this is about all the folks behind the camera.

Initially I thought that he may just rely on entries he had already penned for his “House That Hammer Built” zine but I should have guessed that Wayne won't go the lazy way. A cursory glance through it reveals that he didn't just recycle old posts but instead wrote extensive new biographical entries about the directors, technicians, management and other dedicated Hammer artists. As usual with his books we also get a huge number of rare and often previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs both in black and white and colour.

The book is available in a strictly limited to 500 hardcover edition and the standard softcover variant from Tomahawk Press.

Wayne is already working on his next oeuvre dedicated to the Hammer film locations. If you're like me and enjoy travelling as much as watching films or reading books, then you can't help but remain in high anticipation of this one. No idea how Wayne manages to write so many well researched books while still having a highly demanding day job. Hmmm, maybe he just doesn't sleep at night.

If my pidgin French was any better I'd probably also opt for Nicolas Stanzick's DANS LES GRIFFES DE LA HAMMER. It is a reworking of a previous edition which was the first feature length French book about our favourite film studio. This is what Yvonne Monlaur wrote about it in her latest blog entry:

“In France, DANS LES GRIFFES DE LA HAMMER, the first book entirely devoted to the studios, has just been republished in a more complete version. The author, Nicolas Stanzick, whom I had the pleasure to meet at this opportunity, is a young journalist with a passion for the famous film company. His richly documented book proposes to discover Hammer films through the controversial articles of the French critics at the time of their release. It is also an homage to the early supporters of Hammer films. The annex contains very in-depth interviews with, among others, Jean-Pierre Bouyxou and Gérard Lenne.”

I'd appreciate any comments from French language readers who are familiar with this book or its predecessor as to what can be expected. I have a small smattering of French so may understand a small bit. Would it be worth my while? Are there any illustrations of e.g. French promotional material that may make it worth a purchase?

In a way it's a pity that the author did not make it to London for the UNSUNG HEROES launch as this took place in the French Cine Lumiere Institute and he probably would have been able to plug a few copies and give us all an insight into the contents.

But of course that isn't all.

Sometime later this year/early next year we should also see Bruce G. Hallenbeck's follow up to his excellent HAMMER VAMPIRE oeuvre dedicated to Hammer Sci Fi & Fantasy. It will again be published by Hemlock Books.

Speaking of Hemlock: They are also the British distributors of the 2-volume set of LAST BUS TO BRAY, dedicated to all of Hammer's unfinished projects. The first volume covers the years 1950-1970; the second volume 1970 – 2010. These volumes should be out any day now.

You may notice that I have now published a Hemlock Books logo with a link to their page at the top right corner of my blog. I don't get any commission from this, so this is entirely a show of appreciation for the great work they do in both providing new Hammer and general movie and horror related material as well as help distribute US mags such as “Little Shoppe of Horrors” (Issue #25 now out with a focus on Blood on Satan's Claw) to UK/Ireland and other countries close by. They sure helped save me the occasional penny or two in postage and always provide great service.

I do get a – paltry – commission from my Amazon links. In the interest of total disclosure: $26.75 worth of Amazon gift vouchers for the year so far. Keeping up this blog is time consuming and indirectly also a drain on my financial resources. (Ah, who am I fooling: I'd buy those books and movies anyway.) On some very rare occasions I have been provided with review copies but for the most part paid hard cash for everything on review here. With Christmas around the corner please consider ordering through some of my review links if anything tickles your fancy or even if you just feel like ordering anything from Amazon anyway.

End of desperate commercial appeal.

While at the UNSUNG HEROES book lauch I was approached by one of the folks behind FAB Press. Those guys have been responsible for some of the most lavishly illustrated, back breaking tomes on cult cinema and now it appears that a HAMMER A-Z is due by them sometime in the New Year.

Other books in various stages of production are Ingrid Pitt's view at Hammer history, a doctoral thesis about the Exclusive films and another unofficial guide to Hammer movies.

Did I forget anything?

Time to get a new shelf methinks.

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