Wednesday, November 11, 2009

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK: Hammer's Horror Films

I adore Hammer Productions legendary horror output from the late 50s to the mid 70s. My favorite actors include Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, who are both so much fun to watch in ANY film they appear in (even their lesser efforts, like Cushing in Laser Killer or Lee in Howling 2 or any worthless Franco film).

Going thru the company's filmography (as well as the new movies they're producing) I thought I should bring up some questions I would've LOVED to ask the bigwigs that ran the company during its heyday. Here are 5 things I've always wondered about the gothic horror films Hammer made.

1. The Dracula films. Christopher Lee gave the 2nd most iconic performance as Dracula and it's not old news that he wasn't pleased with how the character "evolved" thru the course of the series. I wondered if this was why his appearances were more like glorified cameos after his first stint in the role. I mean, why make a Dracula film if he's going to only have less than 15 minutes of screen time?? Also, why make a Dracula film in a contemporary setting (ie, Dracula A.D. 1972) if you're not going to take advantage of it?? Also, why does Dracula (except for the first one) have to die like a chump every time he is defeated?

2. Hammer has made adaptations of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Werewolf of Paris (relocated to a Spanish setting in Curse of the Werewolf), Carmilla, The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde etc, but where are the adaptations of The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Murders In The Rue Morgue (as well as other Poe stories) and The Island of Dr. Mourreau?? Hell even the Creature From The Black Lagoon got overlooked. Granted, the Gill-man never came from a literary source, but it must be pointed out Hammer adapted Universal's Kharis the Mummy character from their quartet of mummy flicks from the 40s.

3. Just one werewolf movie? Really? Only one? The Curse of the Werewolf was one of the best werewolf flicks of all time and it's really a shame we never got to see more from the company. But I have read Tyburn's forgettable effort from 1975, Legend of the Werewolf, was originally supposed to be made by Hammer.

4. They should have made that King Kong film. Granted Hamm
er didn't have the rights from RKO to do the remake they wanted to do for their 100th production (which went on to be One Million Years B.C.) but they DID have sequel rights. So why not make a stand alone film with the great ape in it?? It would've been wonderful to see an all new adventure with a Kong brought to with stop motion again. Hammer should've made WIllis O'Brien's unmade King Kong VS Frankenstein and give it a British setting. Who knows, maybe they could've worked in an appearance by Peter Cushing as the Baron (or descendant of the Baron)!!! Also, if any Kong film would be made by Hammer, which one of their rip-out-my-own-hair-cause-they're-too-fucking-gorgeous-to look-at starlets would play the Ann Darrow-typer character? For some reason I keep seeing Veronica Carlson in the great ape's hairy paw.

5. No crossovers. There weren't any monster bashes akin to the Universal ones from the 40s. It would've been perhaps too mind-bendingly awesome to see Cushing's Baron Frankenstein running into Lee's Count Dracula in one movie. Actually, if they tried making such an epic film during their twilight years in the 70s, maybe, just maybe they would've been saved from a triple decade long hiatus. Just imagine the possibilities! Would the morally ambiguous Frankenstein team-up or be an adversary against the demonic Prince of Darkness? Would Dracula hand over the blood-drained bodies for his victims over to Frankenstein for his experiments? Would they be at odds? Would Count Dracula mention Victor Frankenstein he looks a little bit too much like his arch-nemesis Van Helsing? Oyyyyyy, what could have been.

So now Hammer is back in business making new horror movies, but these are movies I dont want them to be making. I heard the web series Rave To The Grave wasn't any good (it's plot, which involves raves and vampires did not sound Hammer-esque to begin with) and the news of them remaking Let The Right One In, is simply blasphemy. Oh well, at least Christopher Lee will be putting in an appearance in The Resident.

Please Hammer, PLEASE go back to your trademark horror roots! I want to see Baron Frankenstein working on new experiments. I want to see another mummy film where the mummy moves and acts like the Terminator and not a shambling dildo. And we also need a bloodthirsty, insanely EVIL Dracula to show those Twilight-loving douchebags what REAL vampires are supposed to be like!!