Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking back at 2009

I am really looking forward to 2010, not so much because I am looking forward TO something but to leave the last two years behind that on a personal level have been very traumatic for me. Those of you who know me well know what I am referring to. Those of you who don't, well, let's just say I am not going to winge publicly.

But what did 2009 bring with regards to Hammer.... and Beyond? Let's have a look at the last 12 months.

January

I started the year with the 999 Challenge: Watch 9 movies from 9 categories in 2009 and blog about them. And soon made a hames of it.

I still think it was a fab idea, but for whatever reasons I never really got around to it much. A bunch of others also attempted this challenge, none more so than Mermaid Heather who took to it like, ahem, a mermaid takes to water. At this time she is just a handful of reviews short of finishing the challenge and I have no doubt that by end of this year she'll have concluded it. Damn, I'm so proud of that girl. Well done, Heather!

Wayne Kinsey's Hammer Films: A Life in Pictures came out at the end of last year. My review was up in January.

The British TOTAL FILM magazine put this blog forward for their Annual Blog Awards in the Horror Category. I didn't quite make it to first spot, but was equally delighted to take a proud second place.

Guest posts:

Been writing regularly for the Den of Geek, but my overview over the Top 10 Lesbian Vampire Movies was by far the most fun to write. I wonder why.....

February

I started another blog dedicated to Krimi movies and offloaded some short reviews that I had written over the years. I haven't done much with it since but plan on revisiting it again sometime. After all this is one of my favourite genres.

February also marked the month when I joined Twitter. It was a bit of rough start. Didn't initially “get it” and didn't tweet much, but then got hooked. The rest, as they, say is history.

Guest posts:

Den of Geek:
Man of Rock – Joe Kubert Biography book review
Watch Me When I Kill review

March

I may not have won the Total Film blog award, but I did end up winning the Premio Dardos Award, a truly amazing concept: a non existing award handed out in virtuality by real life bloggers. It doesn't get more post modern than that.

Dick Klemensen managed to publish not just one, but two editions of his excellent Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine this year. Issue #22 came out in March and was dedicated to Hammer's modern day Draculas. Even better: Hammer Historian Denis Meikle is now offering this magazine (as well as a number of others) from his new store in England thereby saving all us Europeans some of the postage fees that were usually associated with ordering it from Dick directly.

April

Guest Posts:

I started participating in DVD Trash's Weekly (or not so weekly) Roundtables. Come to think of it: What happened to those?
Den of Geek: Stone review

May

My favourite month by far. I had the chance to not only review Shane Briant's latest novel Worst Nightmares, but also to ask the Hammer actor a couple of questions. How cool is that? Being able to communicate not just with all you guys but also with some of the leading stars and the creative talent behind the old Hammer movies is a wonderful opportunity that makes this blog so much fun for me to run.

Guest Posts:

Den of Geek:
Baba Yaga Review
Boogeyman 3 Review
Hit and Run Review

June

The month for Christopher Lee related news: First his Dracula cape got auctioned off, then he receives a well deserved Knighthood and is announced as one of the stars in Hammer's new movie, The Resident, that is due to come out in 2010.

July

On July 25 Don Fearney staged another one of his fabulous Hammer events, this time dedicated to John Carson. I wasn't there, but I heard it was great.

Guest Posts:

DVD Trash:
The Hostess also likes to Blow the Horn
Reflections of Light

August

Guest Posts:

Den of Geek: No Man's Land Mystery DVD review

September

The kind of book I always dreamed about when I first started writing for the Internet, setting up Hammer Glamour related websites etc has finally come out: Marcus Hearn's Hammer Glamour was published for Titan Books and it is a good, but not great addition to the ever growing pile of Hammer literature available.

October

Little Shoppe of Horrors #23 became available, dedicated to Hammer's Cornish horror movies. How do I spell “Must Have” again?

Guest posts:

Contributed the Twitter related question for Den of Geek's interview with Greg Grunberg.
Groovy Age of Horror: Review of Brad Mengel's Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction

November

November 2009. Otherwise also known as the month the Internet imploded under the combined weight of Frankensteinia's Boris Karloff Blogathon. More than 100+ blogger contributed and produced hundreds of Karloff related blog posts in the week of his birthday. A massive achievement. And here's my entry.

Guest posts:

Den of Geek: One Man and His Dog Mystery DVD review

December

I nice end of the year when I received some private and rare photos of Imogen Hassall on holidays and in a ballet. That's the kind of stuff I love showing up on this blog.

Guest Posts:

Den of Geek: Silent Night Deadly Night review

Anything I forgot? Likely.... I haven't even mentioned the various DVD releases yet, mainly because I am always the last to buy them.

What's planned for 2010?

No idea yet. Following the 999 Challenge I am reluctant to make any predictions or plans. I am, however, contemplating an episode by episode guide to Hammer's rare Journey to the Unknown TV series.

I also wouldn't mind taking on guest posts from other folks or even signing on regular new contributors to this blog. Anyone interested in writing about Hammer or Brit Horror in general? Just give me a holler. You know where to find me.

Not sure if I'll manage some more blog posts before the end of the year (probably not), so I let me take this opportunity to wish all my readers

a Very Merry Christmas and a Fabulous New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Pleasure Girls (1965)

I managed to get a hold of the rare Swinging London flick The Pleasure Girls starring a young Suzanna Leigh next to the always watchable Klaus Kinski in a morality play that I probably enjoyed more than I should have.

Francesca Annis plays a young country girl visiting London to start a new job with a model agency. She has one weekend free prior to starting her new assignment and together with her other female housemates immerses herself in all that London has to offer, but soon needs to learn about the dangers inherent in mixing with the wrong bohemian crowd.

Given that this is meant to come across as a warning to the curious it is amazing how easily the girls generally get off. If anything it is the guys in their lifes who get punished, beaten, threatened by loan sharks and generally left for dead.

The girls mainly come away with a few life lessons and one baby on the way. (Certainly not the big shocker these days than it may have come across at the time.) Annis' character even gets a boyfriend, Ian McShane in one of his first roles. He plays a dodgy photographer who realises that he can really fall for the right girl if only she refuses to go to bed with him. Aaaahhhhhhh.......

Suzanna Leigh and Klaus Kinski are the most interesting couple of them all: Kinski playing a ruthless gangster and gambler with a wife in one home and Leigh as his moll in a different luxury apartment. His character secretly aims to go straight and to find a way out of the criminal way of life. He genuinely seems to be fond of Leigh's character and his performance is excellent. Often relegated to short but memorable bit parts, this is one of his longer and most memorable supporting roles. He manages to beautifully convey the two sides of his personality, the ruthless gangster and the caring private man.

Suzanna Leigh has a brief but welcome topless scene in his luxury bedroom and overall holds herself well against Kinski, an actor known to easily drown all other performances around him.

The most amazing WTF moment comes when a character who from the start is introduced as being openly gay and camp and without any apparent interest in the girls outside of a friendship level eventually gets outed as being, well, gay. Shock, gasp, who'd have thunk?

Overall this is a flawed but enjoyable production that never quite seems to be able to figure out what message it is trying to convey, but that regardless makes for an entertaining way to pass a quick hour and a half courtesy primarily of future Hammer Girl Suzanna Leigh and Germany's most interesting character actor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merry Christmas

I just received this wonderful eCard that I just had to share. It's so good.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Some more rare Imogen Hassall photos

Following up on my last post with rare holiday photos of Imogen Hassall when she was only around 18, Bryan Lawrence sent me some more photos from the actual Swan Lake performance they both appeared in. Lawrence (at the left of the photos) danced the role of Prince Siegfried, Hassall (at the right) performed as his mother.

I am very grateful to Bryan for sharing these special photos with us. Although for a while Hassall was something like the Queen of Tabloids, her early career has not been covered very in depth yet, so those pics go a long way to demonstrating that she should never be reduced to being just eye candy, but actually had a lot of talent to go with it as well.

As for the actual performance Brian writes: "This was only for one performance and it was the Royal Ballet School performance. This was only the second year that the school put on a performance. The first one was Coppelia. Imogen was well cast in the role though."


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Imogen Hassall holiday photos

You gotta love the serendipitous synchronicity of online networking. (I always wanted to write that.)

Ballet Dancer Bryan Lawrence contacted me through Facebook over the weekend as we are both in a small (very small!) group of Friends of Imogen Hassall. I had also previously written about her on my old Hammer Glamour site.

Bryan was wondering whether she may have been the same Imogen he knew from the Royal Ballet School in London around 1960. I checked Dan Leissner's biography and was able to verify that Imogen Hassall was indeed at the Royal Ballet School during that period in question.

Bryan wrote that he “actually went on holiday with her, her boyfriend at the time and a group through France and Italy. She was a stunning girl.” He goes on to say that: “Imogen was going with Richard Farley at the time I knew her. Richard always got the beauties! I didn't actually get to know her that well. In the Royal Ballet School performance of Swan Lake at Covent Garden in 1960 she played the part of my mother. I was Prince Siegfried.”

It was that performance of Swan Lake that had caused him to research Imogen's name again: “I have just found Imogen on Facebook. I picked her name out of a program of Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet School, in which I danced the role of Prince Siegfried in 1960. I haven't seen her since 1964 when I joined the Australian Ballet. She certainly was very beautiful.” Needless to say he was shocked when he heard about her tragic history.

Bryan was kind enough to publish three of his holiday pictures of Imogen for the Facebook group and kindly allowed me to republish them here. He writes: “The photos of Imogen Hassell and friends in The Royal Ballet were taken by me while on holiday in France and Italy in about 1961.”

I am sure you agree that these photos are not on wonderfully shot but also provide beautiful portraits of Imogen at a very early stage in her career when she was just around 18 years of age.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Terror Street/36 Hours (1953)

Judging from the first 15-20 minutes of Terror Street – or to give it its more appropriate British title 36 Hours – this could be Hammer's best Noir.

A US Airforce pilot (Dan Duryea) secretly makes a trip to England to meet up with his estranged wife. He has 36 hours before he needs to report back and may face a court martial if noticed missing. Needless to say his wife has started mixing with the wrong crowd and is found murdered. All clues point to Duryea who needs to find the real killer in time for his trip back to the States.

One of Film Noir's main themes is that of alienation. And noone gets more alienated than our reluctant hero who had chosen his career over his marriage and now tries putting back the pieces of his messed up private life.

The trouble with this film is that there never is the slightest bit of mystery. The real murderer is shown right from the start. Any potential threats are soon averted as absolutely every single character quickly opts to work together with Duryea and seems to guess straight away who the killer may be. After a tremendously good start to the film this is all very disappointing and overall just makes for a very average Hammer Noir.

Worst of all is the ludicrous 36 hour ultimatum. Duryea's character is in constant fear that his temporary defection may be noticed, but one would think that the fact that he may actually be arrested for murder should be a more serious threat than going AWOL for the first time in his career.

Duryea is a capable hero and cast against his usual type. Also look out for Eric Pohlmann in another welcome appearance for Hammer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Goodbye Waldemar Daninsky! Paul Naschy R.I.P.

My buddies at the Eurotrash Paradise Group alerted me to this Spanish language obituary. It appears Paul Naschy passed away this morning at the age of 75.

Born Jacinto Molina this Spanish Wrestler over the decades was going to become Spain's most influential cult actor. The fact that he played classic monsters such as werewolves, mummies, Dracula, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, The Devil, Frankenstein's Monster and many more – often several in one single production – earned him the nickname “the Spanish Lon Chaney”.

Though I must admit that I was never his greatest admirer I always appreciated the enthusiasm he brought into his creations. Whatever his films may have been lacking in production values, he more than made up for it in pure passion. Naschy was first and foremost a fanboy by heart who probably could never believe his luck that he was allowed to make a career out of his admiration of the classic Universal Horror movies. Though clearly influenced by the old black and white Hollywood movies, Naschy managed to create his unique Iberian vision fuelled with blood, gore, frequent nudity and monster mashes that were only too appropriate given the actor's wrestling background.

His most famous character was the tragic werewolf Waldemar Danisky, a part he played in more than a dozen films. Contrary to the classic Universal or Hammer Horror movies those films never really made up a specific Daninsky “universe”. Other than the name of the character there is little that unites those productions that feature a variety of unrelated plots and time lines.

Though a genre director in his own right he often featured in productions directed by Leon Klimovsky. In later years another Fanboy-turned-director, Fred Olen Ray, would take him under his wings, introduce him to US Film conventions and direct him in straight-to-video Tomb of the Werewolf (2004) for a final outing as Waldemar Daninsky.

Top of my list of favourite Naschy movies is Assignment Terror (1970), a madcap monster mash from 1970 featuring aliens reviving a vampire, a mummy, a werewolf (none other than Waldemar Daninsky) and Frankenstein's Monster in order to take over the world. This film also features Michael Rennie in his last production and lovely Karin Dor.

Another guilty pleasure is Howl of the Devil with Caroline Munro, a self indulgent but strangely fascinating film in which Naschy must have broken his own personal record and appeared in eleven different parts playing two brothers as well as Rasputin, Bluebeard, Fu Manchu, Frankenstein's Monster, Mr. Hyde, Phantom of the Opera, Waldemar Daninsky, the Werewolf, Quasimodo and the Devil. Have I missed any?

It will take a bigger Naschy authority than I am to properly do the man and his career justice, but in the meantime I will raise a glass of Rioja, flick through Thorsten Benzel's loving book homage Muchas Gracias Senior Lobo and celebrate the life of Spain's most fascinating Trash movie star.

Thanks for the memories!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Boris Karloff on Radio


This blog post is part of the Boris Karloff Blogathon.

The moment I discovered the Internet all those years ago, I also discovered the beauty of Old Time Radio (OTR).

In this day and age of constant entertainment it is hard to fathom just how much of an input radio drama had on the lives of millions during the golden age of OTR between the 1930s and 60s. During that time radio effectively took the place of TV in most people's homes and radio drama represented a variety of common genres such as mystery, horror, superheroes, western, Science Fiction, soap opera and much more.

Similar to the way early TV programs were quickly discarded or taped over by the corporations, radio shows were equally got rid off quickly in order to free up shelf spaces in the archives. In actual fact if it wasn't for the efforts of early OTR enthusiasts a lot of the programs would no longer be around. In the early days collecting OTR often required searching in trash dumps for any reels that may have been disposed off.

Over the years and with advances in technology OTR collecting became more accessible to the masses, though it still only constitutes a niche hobby of a small, but highly enthusiastic group of fans. Shows were first of all swapped through reel-to-reel, then tapes and CDs finally in MP3 format, first of all through CD or DVD trades and now as direct downloads through the Internet.

The beauty of OTR is that the classic shows up until Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar are not so much out of copyright, but never appear to be copyrighted in the first place which makes trading a guilt free and perfectly legal affair.

The sound quality of the shows available can vary, but for the most part is decent enough to guarantee perfect enjoyment. OTRs are also available for sale, though most enthusiasts look down upon this and it is perfectly feasible to quickly amass a large collection that will give you pleasure for years to come without ever spending a single penny.

Classic radio dramas not only promise great entertainment value, but are also essential for any fan of classic cinema. If you're into any of the classic Hollywood actors you just need to become a fan of OTR to truly appreciate the scope of those actors' talents as practically everyone of these artists was at some stage involved with recording radio shows. Some recorded very little: Bela Lugosi e.g. was very much compromised by his strong accent that prevented him from making a real impact on radio. Some recorded a lot: The likes of Orson Welles or Vincent Price e.g. have such a broad recording history that it nearly warrants an entire tome just dedicated to that aspect of their acting careers. But whether an actor recorded a little or a lot, the chances that your favourite classic thespian recorded a least a certain amount are very high.

So how does Boris Karloff fit into this?

Just a cursory glance at the listing on the official Karloff site reveals that he was one of the more prolific radio actors. His mellifluous voice was ideal for radio shows and his OTR output was tremendous. There's hardly a month in his career in which he did not record radio shows and in actual fact there was many a period when he was involved in several shows per month. This is a gigantic output especially considering that at the same time he was also busy shooting hundreds of movies and TV shows.

But the sheer numbers of radio shows is not the only thing to hit you when you start looking at Karloff, the radio performer. More important is the sheer range and versatility of these performances. Sure, true to form there are indeed a wide range of macabre performances that come with the territory, but he also appeared in comedy shows often spoofing his own image. And if you were always annoyed that he didn't star in Frank Capra's Arsenic and Old Lace, rejoice as you can listen to him reprising his stage role as Jonathan Brewster in a couple of radio dramas.

Together with his colleague John Carradine he also appeared in Information Please, a celebrity radio quiz show in which he was able to demonstrate a wide range of knowledge that would put most current celebs to shame.

He also was the host of a long running series of factual programs based on stories published in the Readers' Digest.

So if I have managed to wet your appetite a little bit, then what are you waiting for? Luckily for us a large number of his radio shows are available freely on the Internet as MP3s. Though there are already at least two good Karloffian OTR lists around (the one on the official site as well as one on the Radio Gold Index I have decided to run my own here. It is a conglomerate of the other two lists as some of the titles were not listed on both. Also none of the two lists features links to available shows online. Those lists do, however, provide a wealth of extra info about the individual shows well worth checking out.

So my goal with this list is to provide an extensive overview of Karloff's radio work as well as info on where to listen to those shows. A list like this will by its very nature probably remain forever incomplete. From the 12 (or 13) episodes of Creeps by Night that Karloff was involved in, the titles of only seven are still known and of those only two still appear to be available in any shape or form.

I would like to have this list as a constant work in progress and want to keep it as updated as much possible, I would welcome any additional info available, both regarding new episode names or dates as well as links to online availability not mentioned yet.

This list does not cover Karloff's appearances on audio records, some of which can also be found online. The IMDB has provided a short cursory overview into this aspect of Karloff's career.

For those of you not averse to spending on OTR, the OTRcat has 69 Boris Karloff shows available on CD for just $5. Some of them do not appear to be easily available online otherwise.

Boris Karloff Radio Check List:

Unknown Title (January 3, 1932) Format: Variety; Network: CBS.

Hollywood on Parade [aka: Hollywood on the Air] (October 7, 1933)

Hollywood on Parade [aka: Hollywood on the Air] (January 27, 1934)

The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour: "Death Takes a Holiday" (October 11, 1934)

Hollywood on the Air (May 1935)

Shell Chateau (August 31, 1935)

Unknown Title (December 30, 1935)

The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour (February 6, 1936)

The Royal GeIatin Hour (September 3, 1936)

Camel Caravan (December 8, 1936)

The Chase and Sanborn Hour (January 30, 1938)

Baker’s Broadcast [aka: Seein’ Stars in Hollywood] (March 13, 1938)

Lights Out: “The Dream” aka “Darrell Hall’s Thoughts” (March 23, 1938) = “The Dream”

Lights Out: “Valse Triste” (March 30, 1938)

Lights Out: “Cat Wife” (April 6, 1938)

Unknown Title (April 11, 1938)

Lights Out: “Three Matches” (April 13, 1938)

Lights Out: “Night on the Mountain” (April 20, 1938)

Royal Gelatin Hour aka The Royal Desserts Hour aka The Rudy Vallee Hour (May 5, 1938)

The Eddie Cantor Show (January 16, 1939)

Royal Gelatin Hour ( April 6 1939)

Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knnowledge ( September 25, 1940)

Everyman’s Theater: “Cat Wife” (October 18, 1940)

Information Please (January 24, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Man of Steel” (March 16, 1941)

Hollywood News Girl (March 22, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Man Who Hated Death” (March 23, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Death in the Zoo” (April 6, 1941)

The Voice of Broadway (April 19, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Fog” (April 20, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: "Imperfect Crime” (May 11, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (June 1, 1941)

Bundles for Britain (June 14, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Green-Eyed Bat” (June 22, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Man Who Painted Death” (June 29, 1941)

United Press Is On the Air (July 11, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Death Is a Murderer” (July 13, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Tell-Tale Heart” (August 3, 1941)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Terror on Bailey Street” (October 26, 1941)

Time to Smile (December 17, 1941)

Keep ’em Rolling (February 8, 1942)

Information Please (February 20, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (April 5, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Blackstone” (April 19, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Study for Murder” (May 3, 1942)
[No direct link found, but available by email upon request]

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: "The Cone” (May 24, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Death Wears My Face” (May 31, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Strange Bequest” (April 7, 1942)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Grey Wolf’ (April 21, 1941)

The Theatre Guild on the Air: “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1943)

Information Please (May 17, 1943)

Blue Ribbon Town (July 24, 1943)

The Charlie McCarthy Show (January 30, 1944)

Creeps By Night (February 15-June 20, 1944) [series]
“The Voice of Death” (February 15, 1944)
“The Man With the Devil’s Hands” (February 22, 1944)
“Dark Destiny” (March 14, 1944)
“A String of Pearls” (March 28, 1944)
“Those Who Walk in Darkness” (April 25, 1944)
“The Final Reckoning” (May 2, 1944)
“The Hunt” (May 9, 1944)

Blue Ribbon Town (June 3, 1944)

Duffy’s Tavern (January 12, 1945)

Suspense: “Drury’s Bones” (January 25, 1945)

The Fred Allen Show (October 14, 1945)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Corridor of Doom” (October 23, 1945)

Hildegarde’s Radio Room aka The Raleigh Room (October 23, 1945)

The Charlie McCarthy Program (October 28, 1945)

Report to the Nation: “Back for Christmas” (November 3, 1945)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “The Wailing Wall” (November 6, 1945)

Theatre Guild on the Air: “The Emperor Jones” and “Where the Cross is Made” (November 11, 1945)

The Fred Allen Show: Renting a Room (November 18, 1945)

Textron Theater: “Angel Street” (December 8, 1945)

Exploring the Unknown: “The Baffled Genie” (December 23, 1945)

The Radio Hall of Fame (December 23, 1945)

Information Please (December 24, 1945)

Request Performance: "The Reconversion of Karloff" aka "The Bet"  (February 3, 1946)

That’s Life (November 8, 1946)

The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre: “Arsenic and Old Lace” (November 25, 1946)

Show Stoppers (1946)

The Jack Benny Show (January 19, 1947)

Lights Out (July 16-August 6, 1947) [series]
“Death Robbery” (July 16, 1947)
“The Undead” (July 23, 1947)
“The Ring” (July 30, 1947)

Philco Radio Time (aka The Bing Crosby Show) (October 29, 1947)

The Jimmy Durante Show (December 10, 1947)

Suspense: “Wet Saturday” (December 19, 1947)

The Kraft Music Hall (December 25, 1947)

Unconquered (1947)

Guest Star: The Babysitter (September 12, 1948)

The NBC University Theater of the Air: “The History of Mr. Polly” (October 17, 1948)

The Sealtest Variety Theater (aka The Dorothy Lamour Show) (October 28, 1948)

Great Scenes from Great Plays: “On Borrowed Time” (October 29, 1948)

Truth or Consequences (October 30, 1948)

Theater USA (February 3, 1949)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Birdsong for a Murderer” (February 14, 1949)

Spike Jones Spotlight Review (April 9, 1949)

Theatre Guild on the Air (May 29, 1949)

The Sealtest Variety Theater (aka The Dorothy Lamour Show) (June 23, 1949)

Starring Boris Karloff (September 21-December 14, 1949)
“Five Golden Guineas” (September 21)
“The Mask” (September 28)
“Mungahara” (October 5)
“Mad Illusion” (October 12)
“Perchance to Dream,” (October 19)
“The Devil Takes a Bride” (October 26)
“The Moving Finger” (November 2)
“The Twisted Path” (November 9)
“False Face” (November 16)
“Cranky Bill” (November 23)
“Three O’Clock” (November 30)
“The Shop at Sly Corner” (December 7)
“The Night Reveals” (December 14)

The Bill Stern Colgate Sports Newsreel (January 13, 1950)

The Bill Stern Colgate Sports Newsreel (July 21, 1950)

Boris Karloff's Treasure Chest (September 17-December 17, 1950) [series]
“Casey at the Bat” (October 1, 1950)
“Johnny Appleseed” (November 26, 1950)
“Boris Karloff’s Christmas Treasure Chest” (December 24, 1950)

The Theater Guild on the Air: “David Copperfield” (December 24, 1950)

Stars on Parade: “The Big Man” (May 4, 1951)

Duffy’s Tavern (October 1951)

Phillip Morris Playhouse on Broadway: “Journey into Nowhere” (February 10, 1952)

The MGM Musical Comedy Theatre. (February 20, 1952)

The Theatre Guild on the Air: “Oliver Twist” (February 24, 1952)

The Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Show (April 18, 1952)
[No direct link found, but available by email upon request]

The Theatre Guild on the Air: “The Sea Wolf” (April 27, 1952)

Phillip Morris Playhouse on Broadway: “Outward Bound” (June 1, 1952)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Birdsong for a Murderer” (June 22, 1952)

Best Plays: “Arsenic and Old Lace” (July 6, 1952)

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: “Death for Sale” (July 13, 1952)

MGM Musical Comedy Theater of the Air: “Yolanda and the Thief’ (November 26, 1952)

Phillip Morris Playhouse on Broadway: “Man Against Town” (December 10, 1952)

U.S. Steel Hour: “Great Expectations” (April 5, 1953)

Phillip Morris Playhouse on Broadway: “Dead Past” (April 15, 1953)

Heritage: “Plagues” (April 23, 1953)

Phillip Morris Playhouse on Broadway: “The Shop at Sly Corner” (June 17, 1953)

Recollections At Thirty. (September 26, 1956)

Tales from the Reader’s Digest aka The Boris Karloff Program
These are short 3-minute shows in which Karloff presents info from the pages of the Reader's Digest. Over the course of that show he recorded so many of these that a complete overview would require a blog post in its own right. A complete list can be obtained by scanning the Radio Gold Index. The following six samples are the ones that still appear to be available.
"Special Message to Station Owners" (December 1957)
"Chung Ling Soo" (December 16, 1957)
"Shakespeare's Hometown (December 17, 1957)
"Story of Wood" (December 18, 1957)
"Dr. Harvey Cushing" (December 19, 1957)
"The White House" (December 20, 1957)

Easy as ABC: “0 Is for Old Wives Tales” (April 27, 1958)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

I remember watching Where Eagles Dare for the first time about 20 years or so ago. Loved it to bits, but never rewatched it for whatever reason. Of course in the meantime I've been reading so much from Ingrid Pitt about her memories of the filming and her apparently gigantic contribution to the making of it. Trouble is that I could never actually remember seeing her in it.

Now Cinema Retro has published a fantastic special edition of their magazine focusing entirely on this movie on more than 80 richly illustrated pages. So when I finally held a copy of it in my hands, I just knew I was running out of excuses for not seeing this film a second time and popped it into the player again.

And what can I say? It still is one of the best WW2 adventure movies ever. Given that I hadn't seen it in more than two decades I was surprised how much of it I actually remembered, surely a sign how well the images had made an impression on me then. A near perfect film if ever there was one. Glad I watched it again and glad I have the Cinema Retro edition as a special memento.

But what about Ingrid Pitt?

Dammit, her role was so minute! No wonder she appears last on the cast list and no wonder I couldn't remember her. Did she even have a dozen lines in the film? Call me highly amused as to how much she managed to milk her tiny appearance in it over the last couple of years.

What also had me amazed was a contemporary Making Of documentary in which she has more to say than in the entire movie. (Probably because the main stars were busy actually filming.) The announcer's voice introduced her as being German which I put down as just another careless bit of research that we come across so frequently with this kind of promotional material. I was, however, genuinely agog when Ingrid Pitt herself introduced the plethora of different nationalities involved in the production and subsequently spoke of herself as being German!

She was born in Poland and suffered badly under the German occupation, so why would she all of a sudden introduce herself as German as opposed to being Polish? Surely from a production point of view it would have made no difference. It's utterly head scratching.

I definitely would like to know more about the director, Brian Hutton. The article on him in the Special Edition gave fascinating glimpses into this mysterious personality who at the height of a promising directing career decided to vanish into the sunset never to be seen or heard from again. It appears that he may have gotten into real estate, but attempts to contact him proved fruitless. Noone seems to know his whereabouts.

There are of course numerous cases of Hammer starlets gone missing, but this is the first time I am aware of a prestigious film director doing a vanishing act. After all, once a successful director you'd probably have a much vaster industry network than you would if you were a B-movie starlet, so it is intriguing to see how well he ended up staging this disappearance act. Gotta admire a man who lives according to his own rules and leaves when he is getting bored/disillusioned with it all.

Anyway, glad I finally managed to rewatch this production. I'll make sure I won't wait another 20 years to see it again.



Monday, October 12, 2009

Boris Karloff Blogathon

Frankensteinia, the Frankenstein Blog, has decided to roll out a Boris Karloff Blogathon in the week of November 23 - 29 in honour of Karloff's 122nd birthday on November 23. A good number of cult movie blogs have already decided to join and it sure sounds like a fun idea, so I'll contribute as well.

Not sure yet what I'll be writing about. I know I will NOT be writing about any Karloff movie that I have already seen, but may take this opportunity to film some gaps in my Karloff filmography. Alternatively I am also tempted to write something about his contributions to Old Time Radio. Karloff appeared in a vast variety of radio shows and this is an area that has never really been properly explored in articles about the man.

Let's see what I'll come up with in the next six weeks. And hopefully some more bloggers will join this celebration of the life and career of one of horror's most iconic personalities.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Reptile

Following my announcement of Little Shoppe of Horror's upcoming 23rd issue I had a little Twitter discussion about The Reptile with my good buddy David Rattigan (webmaster of the Dictionary of Hammer Horror) which made me think of writing this little blog post.

I have recently – and quite timely from the looks of it – rewatched the second of Hammer's Cornish horrors after a previous one-off viewing way more than 20 years ago.

The first time round I remember not being too impressed with it, however, this time round I did start to appreciate the Cornish atmosphere as well as the original monster that Hammer created for this movie.

The film does, however, have a number of weird inconsistencies that IMHO stops it from being the masterpiece that a lot of Hammer fans seem to think it is and that reak of lazy storywriting. Mind you, I am generally not the type who obsessively looks for bloopers. If hard pressed ANY film will have some dodgy developments that could be questioned, but life's too short to worry about whether the third extra in the 9th row really carries the correct insignia in a WW2 movie, so when something strikes me as odd it usually means that it is big enough for me to carry an impact.

(I hate to highlight the obvious, but beware of spoilers from now on!)

And one of the biggest question marks I have with regards to The Reptile is over the fact that Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) manages to escape relatively unharmed from a bite that kills all others in the movie within seconds. He, on the other hand, finds the time to run out of the house, through the forests, into his home and then save his skin by immunising the initial wound. How does he last that long and why hasn't the venom infiltrated his entire body at that stage? None of that is explained and given that in all other circumstances the victims don't even seem to make it past a few steps before collapsing this is an area that really expects the viewer to utterly and completely suspend all disbelief.

Other plot points that worried me:

Towards the end when Noel Willman's character decides to kill his daughter he is ready to strike her, but hears a noise from the cages and decides to first of all release the bunny rabbits. Huh? What kind of priorities does this man have?

Then he gets attacked by Marne Maitland, the cunning evil Indian mastermind behind it all, who attempts to prevent the killing. Once Maitland is disposed off Willman turns to Jennifer Daniel, the heroine, who stood uninvolved in the background and openly accuses her of interfering with the initial killing. How did he come up with that conclusion?

And to make matters worse: From then on in he stops everyone else trying to kill the reptile from doing so.

So.... first he wants to kill the daughter, then he wants to release the rabbits, then he fights off the Indian who wants to stop him from the killing, then he accuses the girl of interfering and rather than proceed with his initial plan he now turns a 180 degrees and effectively does what the Indian wanted to do in the first place.

Scratching my head, but I can't make head nor tail of this. Yes, you could argue that Willman's character turned mad, but I prefer method to my madness rather than this hodge podge change of actions.

Mind you, the film without a doubt overall is quite a worthwhile addition to the Hammer canon, but you will have to foresake a lot of logic when viewing this flick. Then again, logical plot development was never a mandatory ingredient for fan adoration. After all one of Hammer's worst plotted movies of all times, Brides of Dracula, regularly features as one of the studio's best movies of all times.

By the way, check out Wrong Side of the Art's fantastic overview of Hammer posters in case you are wondering where I borrowed the poster image from.



Little Shoppe of Horrors #23 available

Looks like the new issue of "Little Shoppe of Horrors" is available anytime now and can as usual be ordered through Dick Klemensen's website. For those of you, like me, who are not based in the States it may, however, be more convenient to check out Hemlock Books. Based in the UK they have more attractive postage rates that will cut down on the overall price and the delivery time.

The new issue promises to feature an in depth overview over Hammer's Cornish Classics Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile. Just as well so that I recently re-watched the latter for the first time in probably two decades.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Marcus Hearn: Hammer Glamour

Anyone who has followed this blog for some time knows about my love for Hammer Glamour. Indeed this blog started as a companion piece to a Hammer Glamour website I had started all those years ago as I couldn't find enough info on the ladies of Hammer around. The website has now been moribund for a while and I am primarily focused on “Hammer and Beyond” as a more effective way to communicate with other Hammer Fans, but the glamour aspect of all things Hammer always remained close to my heart.

A few years ago I nearly wetted myself reading about a project Tim Greaves appeared to be involved in about this subject and got very disappointed when nothing came of it. Now Marcus Hearn, one of the most notable Hammer historians, comes on the scene with this lavishly illustrated book that appears to be fully endorsed by the new Hammer company.

Hammer Glamour is an overview over 50 actresses associated with this studio. Another 25 ladies receive a short honorary mention in an appendix.

A dream come true for this fanboy, but have all my expectations been met?

Well, to a degree.

Hammer Glamour is indeed a worthwhile purchase, full of info and photos of the lovely actresses that more often than not often quickly faded back into obscurity once they had their 15 minutes of fame through Hammer.

There are, however, a number of niggles I am having with this book.

To start with I found that a number of – in my opinion – essential Hammer Glamour representatives were notably missing from the list. True, any list selection since time began has always been up for debate, but am I the only one who thinks that the likes of Dana Gillespie, Kirsten Betts, Pippa Steele or Ralph Bates' wife Virgina Wetherell deserve a full entry (or at least a short mention in the book's end chapter)? I would think that either one of those are more bona fide representatives of Hammer Glamour than, say, the like of Stephanie Powers who did indeed get a full entry.

The 50 ladies that are fully, ahem, covered in this tome all either get two or four pages. In terms of text the difference between two or four pages doesn't actually make that much of a difference as this is primarily a book of illustrations - the cover even highlights that the book's raison d'etre are “Classic Images from the Archive of Hammer Films – and what is covered textwise is not necessarily ground breaking.

The actresses suffering the most from this lack of info are the more established ones that actually had a proper career. I'd liked to have read more about life outside of Hammer for quite a number of them. From Ursula Andress' large oeuvre only a small number of titles are even referenced. Caroline Munro's musical career is ignored and Starcrash isn't even mentioned. And it would have been nice to read a bit more about Ingrid Pitt's writing career than just a cursory mention of two of her publications.

The one actress who is hurt the most by this piecemeal approach is Barbara Shelley, “Hammer's most prolific female star”. Even her Hammer entries don't get full coverage with The Gorgon and Shadow of the Cat both only mentioned in passing within one and the same sentence.

Chances are that if you are already somewhat familiar with the careers of the actresses in question, you are not going to learn anything majorly new about them through this book.

So how do the pictures fare?

Well, I can safely say that Hammer Glamour is indeed a feast for the eyes. Even though about half of the pictures published looked at least somewhat familiar to me, I can't remember ever having seen them reproduced that splendidly. The most revealing picture (no pun intended) for me was one with Susan Denberg in leather gear on a very familiar looking motorbike. Only when I read the caption did I realise that this was a publicity photo taken for the title role of Girl on a Motorcyle, a part Denberg ultimately lost due to a drug overdose to Marianne Faithfull!

If this sounds as if I may have emphasised the negative a bit too much: Although this book is not quite the be-all and end-all that I had initially envisioned it to be (admittedly my expectations were huge), I do feel this is a tome that every Hammer and especially Hammer Glamour Fan should own. It's a quick, but magnificently illustrated read and a book that will look stunning on every coffee table.

Even though I was mildly disappointed about some of the issues that I had with this one I can now officially put my own Hammer Glamour site to rest. It will remain online, but I will no longer update anything on it and instead fully focus on this blog.

Looking into my crystal ball I also sense that, should this publication prove a success, that a further follow up to this book may be made available soon focusing on the male talent in front of the camera. And niggles or not, I'd be the first to purchase that one if it ever comes around.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hammer Horror: A Fan's Guide

What I was really looking for before I found Kate Bush's video was the "Hammer Horror: A Fan's Guide" playlist below.

Kate Bush - Hammer Horror

Looked for one thing, found another. And that other is Kate Bush's homage to "Hammer Horror". I had completely forgotten that this song even existed as it's not exactly one of her most popular ones. From what I understand it actually has sweet eff all to do with Hammer Horror proper but I'll be damned if that matters: This lady cheers me up anytime I watch her and listen to her music. They sure don't make them like they used to.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Gambler and the Lady/Heat Wave

So I finally found the time to look a bit further into my collection of Hammer Noirs and recently treated myself to a little double feature.

I must admit I always find intriguing how little Noir the Hammer Noirs often are. Case in point: The Gambler and the Lady. Though with a very heavy focus on crime, this is primarily a (melo)drama about a gambler (Dane Clark) from the States who tries to establish a gambling empire in London while secretly harbouring the ambition to be accepted by the ruling classes. His often comical attempts at learning the proper manners, however, just make him a laughing stock amongst the often cash poor, but class rich nobility he is dealing with. When some rival American mobsters come and take over his gambling dens and some of his blue blooded society friends take advantage of his ambition, he soon learns that dog-eat-dog is prevalent at all levels of society just as friendship and loyalty can be earned everywhere.

This film proved to be the first of three pictures Hammer shot with American actor Dane Clark who indeed was the most convincing of all the Hammer Noir stars. The film also features supporting roles by Eric Pohlmann and George Pastell and is a generally entertaining and well made time waster, in other words pretty much on a par with the average Hammer Noir entry.

Heat Wave on the other hand is actually a proper Noir movie and one of the best of Hammer’s sub-genre. Though I generally prefer the American release titles in this case the original UK title The House Across the Lake is a much better choice as there is no sign of an Indian Summer Key Largo style anywhere in sight.

Instead we get to meet Alex Nicol (Mark Kendrick) who narrates his downfall in typical Noir style via the use of Flashbacks. Nicol is a starving writer and self confessed male slut who just can’t resist anyone in a skirt, and who one night unexpectedly gets invited to a party in the mansion across the lake from his own much humbler abode. There he befriends the millionaire owner (Sid James) and his man hungry wife (Hillary Brooke, looking a wee bit past her prime in some of the scenes). No points in guessing what devious plan the wife and her new lover will soon concoct and who will ultimately be dropped like a hot spud once the dirty deed is done.

If the story sounds familiar, then that’s because it truly is the quintessiantal Noir plot of good guy turned bad under the influence of a scheming Blonde. It also bears a remarkable resemblance to Bad Blonde/The Flanagan Boy. Let’s see: Ambitious young man makes friends with a friendly rich old man and against his better judgement starts an affair with his manipulating wife. The two decide to get rid of the husband by killing him on a boat near his mansion. Sounds pretty much carbon copy to me.

Both films also star Sid James, though in Heat Wave he has a much more impressive role as the cuckolded husband. If there’s one thing that watching Hammer Noir taught me it is to see James in a much different light. For all those only familiar with his performances from a myriad of Carry On movies only it will come as a surprise to see the full range of this actor.

Future Chitty Chitty Bang Bang director Ken Hughes adapted and directed this flick based on his own novel “High Wray”. The success of this Hammer Noir ensured that he was subsequently able to move on to bigger and better things.

From a geek perspective the most exciting aspect of this production is how well the Bray Studio buildings and the adjacent Thames River locations were utilised. It is hard to name any other Hammer production that presented the building and garden that clearly without any major refurbishments. The way Down Place looks in this film is pretty much the same way it still looks now. I was giddy with excitement when I could easily identify some of the spots I actually stood on myself when attending the Hammer at Bray functions. Incidentally Heat Wave was one of the very first - if not the first - Hammer production shot in Bray Studios and for that fact alone is clearly a Must See for anyone interested in Hammer Films.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yet more DVD releases

Hardly a week seems to go by these days without a new announcement concerning previously rare and sought after Hammer movies finally seeing a proper DVD release.

The Columbia Classics Blog writes that:

“Next year, look for another Icons release when we gear up for the Icons of Suspense, the third in our effort to bring forward the great Hammer films in the Columbia library. The titles in this next set will include such masterpieces as Stop Me Before I Kill, Cash on Demand, Never Take Candy from a Stranger, Maniac, The Snorkel, and the great Joseph Losey-directed These Are the Damned. As with the previous Hammer releases, we are dedicated to providing the longest, most original restored versions of these films possible.”

Stop Me Before I Kill is also known as The Full Treatment and of course Never Take Candy... is better known as Never Take Sweets From A Stranger.

As the saying goes.....

Can. Not. Wait.

Seriously addictive Hammer Trivia Game and a chance to win the new Hammer Glamour book

Reading up on this article from the official Hammer website I learned about the new Hammer Trivia website. Think you know your Hammer films well? Then demonstrate your knowledge against other online players in four trivia games about Dracula, Vampire Lore, Frankenstein or Monsters.

Once I figured out what to do I managed to occasionally make it to the first rank of a game, but I also managed to seriously screw up some of the rounds as some of the questions really require great memory about details in those Hammer films and all the games have an added time factor.

Each game has 10 different questions. You start with 1000 points in your account and in each round must choose how many of your points you are willing to bet on the right answer. Four possible answers are then revealed and the faster you provide the correct answer the higher your overall points payout will be.

All the games are available for free, but it appears that you can also bet some real money in the hope of making it towards a payout. So if you’re really good with your Hammer knowledge you could even make yourself a few bob.

The Top 5 ranked Hammer Trivia gamers by midnight, Friday September 18 will all receive a complimentary copy of Marcus Hearn’s new Hammer Glamour book.

If that isn’t incentive enough to give these games a try I don’t know what is.

The only downside: Each time a new game loads you need to view a trailer for Beyond the Rave. Oh, the horror of it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Still around, guys, still around

Yes, I know, two months without a single blog post. Don’t know where the time has gone. I am not going to become the kind of person I hate most, the apologetic absentee blogger, so suffice it to say that life got in the way and I lost quite a bit of my writing mojo lately. I was never the most prolific writer anyway, but my only output over the last couple of weeks were just a small number of entirely non-Hammer related reviews that can be read here, here and here.

Given my little hiatus, where will this leave my own 999 Challenge?

I am absolutely in awe at the amount of writing that other bloggers have managed to create inspired by the format. Needless to say I am also likewise a bit pissed about how far behind I have been with it at this stage. It’s not as if I hadn’t seen all those films. In actual fact if all I did was to tick off the categories once I view a movie, then I’d have definitely finished some of those already, but of course the idea was to watch those films and then WRITE about it. And that’s where I am lagging behind.

The bizarre thing is that at the start of the year having this format got my mind nicely in focus with regards to future blog posts, however, once I stopped writing for a while it ended up somewhat less liberating. I am the kind of anal guy (I believe the technical term is “German”) who likes to stick to rules once established. So there I was watching some new (for me anyway) Hammer movies and then tracking my backlog of unwritten 999 reviews. In order not to let that backlog move on further, what did I do? Yep, stop watching films in some of those categories which is of course the polar opposite of what I wanted to achieve with the project.

So I guess I better remember that I had started this blog for FUN, to post some of my thoughts, share some of my passions and shoot the breeze with fellow fans. And if I end up not watching films I love just because I feel obliged to also write about them, then something went amiss. In other words I’ll do 999 when I have the time and inclination; I’ll ignore it if I can’t be bothered.

Will I swear that I’ll be back to normal writing mode from now on? Dunno, but I’ll try my best to get back into a regular writing habit especially as there are a number of exciting Hammer releases on the way.

As just about everybody who reads this blog knows, the book I am most looking forward to over the coming weeks is Marcus Hearn’s Hammer Glamour book.

Can. Not. Wait.

I am giddy with excitement over it.

Also check out this Barbara Shelley interview that the Daily Express published the other day prior to the September 25 release of the book.

Other interesting stuff coming our way over the next couple of weeks (courtesy of my buddies on the Yahoo Hammer Group, the Isle of the Dead and the Bloody Hell of Brit Horror):

September 21 will mark the release of three previously rare Hammer pictures: The Damned, The Camp on Blood Island and Yesterday’s Enemy. It appears that these releases are exclusive to UK’s Moviemail service. The Sword of Sherwood Forest has previously also been made available by Sony this year. Looks like there are less and less reasons these days to hang on to the bootlegs anymore and there are very few major Hammer movies still waiting for a proper DVD release.

Region 2 releases for Sony’s The Gorgon, Taste of Fear and The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll may also be on the horizon.

And speaking of Sony: October 20 marks the date of the Region 1 release of the new William Castle Collection that includes Hammer’s The Old Dark House together with some of Castle’s other classic and not so classic oeuvres like 13 Frightened Girls, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, Strait-Jacket, Mr. Sardonicus, The Tingler and Zotz!

Something that up till now had completely escaped my attention was the fact that one of the recent Forgotten Noir volumes features Hammer Noir Scotland Yard Inspector aka Lady in the Fog with Lois Maxwell and Cesar Romero.

So all in all this is going to be a very interesting couple of weeks for Hammer Fans.

Oh, and check out the UK channel Men & Motors. Each night at 23:00 they are now showing the classic TV series Hammer House of Horror. I had previously only ever watched a single one of those shows all those years ago and recall that it didn’t impress me much. Now that I have started viewing the episodes properly I still can’t say that I am very impressed. Don’t expect a show by show recount here, but overall this is a very pedestrian affair and probably my least favourite entry in Hammer’s filmography, not because it is so bad (it really isn’t), but because it is so very very average.

Long story short: It’s good to be back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is The Wake Wood doomed?

I just caught this item on Robert Simpson’s Unofficial Hammer Site. This is quite interesting, somewhat disconcerting news that – if true – seems to have completely fallen off the radar.

Robert noticed that a) the DVD release of Beyond the Rave seems to now be at least questionable and b) that Hammer’s new production The Wake Wood has apparently been taken off the list of productions for 2009. Read the article to get the full details of this discovery.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about Beyond the Rave. I hated it with a vengeance when I watched it for free, have no intention of ever seeing it again and definitely do not intend to spend any money on it. The only thing I may regret is not seeing Ingrid Pitt’s appearance in the DVD release, but based on the serial this would likely have been an insignificant blink or you’ll miss it moment anyway, so I guess I’ll survive that one easily.

I am much more sorry to hear that The Wake Wood may now have fallen off the schedule. From all I have heard about it this seems to have been a production that was much more in line with Hammer’s previous image and whereas I didn’t care an iota for BTR, The Wake Wood was something I was genuinely looking forward to especially also as this would have been filmed in Ireland.

Not too sure what to do about this. It would be nice to hear from a source directly at Hammer about it. Is it worth starting a concerted effort to rescue that production and try and push Hammer to continue with it?

I’d definitely appreciate comments and suggestions about this situation.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yet more news!!!

There's just no end to Hammer related news:

Christopher Lee finally received his Knighthood. I am sure he is ecstatic about that and it sure was well deserved. Not certain though how much he appreciates those Sir Dracula jibes.

Mind you: Lee has also just joined the cast of the new Hammer movies The Resident, so Lee, Hammer and Horror can finally be mentioned in the same breath again.

**********

Start pre-ordering and wait with baited breath until the end of September! Then pre-order again and count the days until the end of the year!

Cause none other than Marcus Hearn and Titan Books have joined forces again to publish the kind of oeuvre I have been salivating about ever since I became a Hammer Fan. (And hey, don't I also have a Hammer Glamour related website that needs updating soon?)

"Hammer Glamour" (the book) will no doubt be a visual feast and chock full of interesting, ahem, titbits. I wouldn't expect anything less from the people who brought us "The Hammer Story".

And to celebrate a new year full of salacious memories we will also be able to purchase a Hammer Glamour calendar at the end of this year.

Now I can die a happy man.



**********

Looks like Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires may soon be remade. You know what? It could just work. I like the original, but it is not one of the all time critically acclaimed classics, so not really heresy.

**********

And last but not least: The Internet Archive now has the rare (non-Hammer) Peter Cushing movie The Risk available for download. Can't wait to watch this.



Two US events that I'd love to frequent


Is it my imagination or are there more and more events around of interest to the Hammer Fans? I am looking forward to Don's London based Cine Lumiere do next month. If I could (i.e. live in the US) I would also visit the follow two happenings:

DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTER-RAMA
September 11/12
Riverside Drive-In, Route 66, Vandergrift, PA 15690

The line up is simply electric for anyone interested in Hammer movies and Brit Cult. September 12 is dedicated Hammer Horror Saturday with the following shows: The Vampire Lovers, The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula, The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Vampire Circus.

The previous day is also nothing to be sneezed at with the following shows on offer: The Witchfinder General, Scream and Scream Again, The Crimson Cult and Terror Creatures From the Grave.

Another show of interest for us Hammer Fans is the Vampire-Con, August 14-16, in Hollywood and organised by Harris Publications. Check out more info about them on their official website.

Christopher Lee's Dracula Cape at Auction next Tuesday 16th of June


Got tons of news over the last week that I only now find the time to update. The most pressing one is with regards to an auction of Christopher Lee's original Dracula cape tomorow! Angels the Costumiers together with Bonhams will auction off that cape tomorrow with a bunch of other fascinating film memorabilia. Below please find the press release with all the details. Here's a link to a recent article about the sale.


CHRISTOPHER LEE’S DRACULA CAPE, JOHN PERTWEE’S DR WHO FROCK COAT
AND PIERCE BROSNAN’S JAMES BOND LEATHER JACKET GO UNDER THE HAMMER

BONHAMS PRESENTS ENTERTAINMENT MEMORABILIA INCLUDING ITEMS FROM
THE ANGELS COLLECTION OF TELEVISION & FILM COSTUMES


A remarkable collection of costumes supplied by Angels the Costumiers to some of the biggest and most iconic international film and television productions are to go under the hammer at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, on Tuesday 16th June 2009 at 11am as part of the Entertainment Memorabilia sale.

With prices ranging from £50 to £30,000, just under 250 lots featuring film and television costumes from the Angels archive will be available to collectors and amateur fans alike at this phenomenal 600-lot auction. Star lots include Christopher Lee’s Black Cape from Dracula (estimate: £20,000 – 30,000); Laurence Olivier’s Military Tunic from The Prince and the Showgirl (estimate: £8,000 – 12,000); John Pertwee’s Frock Coat from Doctor Who (estimate: £7,000 – 10,000); a full length cloak worn by Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia (estimate: £5,000 – 6,000); and James Bond’s Leather Jacket, as worn by Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies (estimate: £4,000 – 6,000).

Other items from the Angels archive going under the hammer include costumes from productions including The Fifth Element, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Highlander, Beyond the Sea and several James Bond films.

ANGELS – SUPPLYING COSTUMES FOR A CENTURY AND A HALF

Angels was established in 1840, when actors were expected to purchase their own costumes for auditions and performances. The company founder, Morris Angel, then a trader in second-hand clothing and tailors’ samples, allowed actors to hire, rather than buy, their outfits. He was the first person to make such an innovation, and as a consequence his shop became popular with theatre actors. With the advent of cinema, the Angels family made their second major diversification by supplying costumes to the fledgling movie industry, and Angels the Costumiers has continued to be a major success story within the British and international film industry to the present day.

In 1948 Angels the Costumiers supplied costumes to the first of many films to win Academy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design – Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet. The company has followed suit a further 30 times, with international greats such as Gigi, Star Wars, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Titanic, The English Patient, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and this year’s The Duchess.

Today Angels the Costumiers is based in Hendon, North London, and boasts a warehouse containing more than five million costumes on around eight miles of hanging rails. The company also retains a costume hire shop for consumers – Angels Fancy Dress (run by sixth generation, Emma Angel) – at its original 19th Century premises on Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End. Angels Fancy Dress is the UK’s largest business of its kind, and the company’s online presence, www.fancydress.com, is the UK’s most visited fancy dress website. Angels Fancy Dress prides itself on providing fancy dress outfits to the general public and celebrities alike –Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger and a number of young Royals can often be found rubbing shoulders with other Londoners visiting the shop in order to obtain the best and most extraordinary costumes.

Tim Angel, Chairman of Angels, and fifth generation of the family firm, is delighted to be providing to Bonhams a significant proportion of one of the biggest sales of major film costumes and explains his motivation for the sale:

“Following the incredible public response to our first public auction in 2007, and The Angels Big Vintage Clothing Sale held in 2008, we are thrilled to announce the sale of Items From The Angels Collection Of Television & Film Costumes in the biannual Entertainment Memorabilia auction being held at Bonhams’ Knightsbridge salerooms in June. At Angels we take great pride in creating costumes that help immerse an audience in a believable fictional world. Our costumes are famously well researched and tailored to the highest standard, impressing industry insiders and audiences alike with the authenticity and effectiveness of the costumes worn on screen. The down-side to creating costumes that become so famous and strongly associated with particular characters, actors or films is that they can never be used again in future, nor can they be hired out at our fancy dress shop. Over two years have now passed since we held our first auction at Bonhams and our warehouse is once again approaching capacity, so now seemed to be the right time to offer fans and collectors the opportunity to take home a piece of film or television history from the Angels archive.”

Stephanie Connell, Entertainment Memorabilia Specialist at Bonhams, comments:
“Following the huge success of the initial sale of costumes from the Angels archive in 2007, we are delighted to offer at auction, another wonderful selection of costumes from classic BBC productions and iconic international movies. This auction will again give a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire some of the most important pieces of film and television costume ever to appear on the market.”

Below are selected highlights:



CHRISTOPHER LEE AS DRACULA
One of the star lots of the sale is Christopher Lee’s black opera-style cape from his role as the infamous vampire in the 1958 Hammer production of Dracula (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Lee is regarded by many as the definitive Dracula, and this film marked his first appearance as the character. The imposing full length woollen cape is being sold together with a letter signed by Christopher Lee himself, on Angels-headed note paper, confirming the authenticity of the item, as well as a still image of Lee wearing the cape as Dracula (see left). This lot is one that is sure to garner attention from serious memorabilia fans, and would be a valuable asset to any collection. Fans of Lee’s Dracula with a rather smaller budget needn’t be put off however, as there is also a chance to snap up a checked tweed waistcoat worn by the actor in the Dracula Pere Et Fils (1976) in a joint lot with another waistcoat worn by Lee in the 1971 production of Sherlock Holmes (estimate: £100-150).




LAURENCE OLIVIER, OMAR SHARIF AND SIR DONALD WOLFIT
This sale presents an opportunity for fans of Laurence Olivier, one of the greatest thespians of the 20th century, to get their hands on an impressive Military Tunic from The Prince and the Showgirl (estimate: £8,000 – 12,000). This wonderfully detailed early twentieth century style military tunic, supplied by Angels, was worn by Olivier when starring opposite Marilyn Monroe in the 1957 film that he also directed and produced.

Also on offer from the Angels archive is a full length cloak worn by Omar Sharif in his Golden Globe award-winning performance as Sherif Ali in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia (estimate: £5,000 – 6,000), a role for which Sharif was Oscar-nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category. A khaki military-style tunic worn by Sir Donald Wolfit as General Sir Archibald Murray in the same film is also going under the hammer, with an estimate of £1,000-1,500. Lawrence of Arabia is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made – it won 25 awards, including the Oscar and Golden Globe in both the Best Picture and Best Director categories – making these pieces especially desirable to serious movie memorabilia collectors.
JAMES BOND
Any 007 fan worth his or her salt would be wise to mark Tuesday, 16th June in their diaries, as a vast array of items from eight different James Bond titles will be going under the hammer in this impressive sale. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), Octopussy (1983), The Living Daylights (1987), Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002) are all represented, and with estimates starting at just £100, there are pieces on offer to suit every budget.

For those with some serious money to spend, there are two stylish leather jackets worn by Pierce Brosnan in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies (estimates: £4,000-6,000 and £2,000-3,000); a Naval Commander’s battledress jacket worn by Roger Moore in 1977 as Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me (estimate: £3,000-4,000); and even Halle Berry’s wetsuit from 2002’s Die Another Day (estimate: £800-1,200).

FASHIONABLE FINDS
Fashionistas looking for truly unique vintage pieces to add to their collections could find some unexpected treasures in this sale, including costumes and accessories from films such as Beyond the Sea, Eyes Wide Shut and a number of items designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for The Fifth Element. Of particular interest are two elaborate Venetian masks from Stanley Kubrick’s infamous final film, Eyes Wide Shut, each estimated at £200-300; a 1950s style dress worn by Belinda Mayne as Delta from Doctor Who – Delta and the Bannermen (estimate: £200-300); an ornate headdress worn by Christina Ricci in Man Who Cried (estimate: £100-150); and a stunning outfit worn by Kate Bosworth in Beyond the Sea, comprising a full length sequinned cloak in sliver and white, a cream coloured lace evening dress, a floral hair ornament and a pair of gold brocade court shoes (estimate: £400-500).

BRITISH TELEVISION COMEDY
Costumes worn by television’s comedy greats, both past and present, feature heavily in this sale, including a number of items from Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Tim McInnerny in Blackadder (estimates ranging from £50 all the way up to £3,000). Also going under the hammer is a Roman Centurion's costume worn by Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses (estimate: £500-600); two Edwardian style dresses worn by Jennifer Saunders during a French and Saunders Titanic Sketch (estimate: £300-400); a collection of costumes relating to Morecambe and Wise (estimate: £80-120); and two monkey masks from The Mighty Boosh (estimate: £500-600 each).

MILITARY AND HISTORICAL
Fans of military and historical costumes will be spoilt for choice, as excellent costumes covering a wide range of periods and nationalities are on offer, with estimates staring at just £100. Highlights include a British military-style tunic in khaki green wool, worn by Rowan Atkinson in Blackadder Goes Forth (estimate: £800-1,200) and ten stunning Elizabethan-style dresses worn by Glenda Jackson as Queen Elizabeth I from Elizabeth R (1971), with estimates ranging from £350 to £800.

Other female costumes in this sale include items worn by: Barbara Murray, Sophie Wilcox, Glenda Jackson, Diana Dors, Dianna Rigg, Miranda Richardson, Susan Sarandon, Anne Bancroft, Kathy Burke, Catherine Zeta Jones, Renée Zellweger, Sienna Miller, Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Anna Friel, Victoria Beckham, Andie McDowell, Uma Thurman, Kim Cattrall, Ingrid Bergman and Faye Dunaway.

Male actors whose costumes are featured include: Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, Hugh Grant, Heath Ledger, Joseph Fiennes, Johnny Depp, Rupert Everett, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Tim Curry, Ralph Fiennes, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Ben Kingsley, Christian Bale, Kevin Spacey, Sean Bean, David Jason, Robert Carlyle, Robert Duvall, Dick Van Dyke, John Lennon, Alec Guinness, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Bruce Willis.

Entertainment Memorabilia
Including Items from the Angels Collection of Television & Film Costumes

Tuesday June 16th 2009, 11am

Bonhams
Montpelier Street
Knightsbridge
London SW7 1HH
020 7468 8340

For further information on the Angels Collection of Television & Film Costumes Auction
Please contact Benjamin Webb / Lynsey Haddow at Deliberate PR
benjamin@deliberate-pr.com / lynsey@deliberate-pr.com
Phone – 020 8732 8867 / 020 8732 8851
Mobile – 07930 408 224 / 07792 072 453