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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Writer's Life 12/18 - Hammered

Last night MeTV, 33 on Cablevision in NYC, ran Brides of Dracula (1960), starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, on its Svengoolie program. It was produced by Hammer Films, which made scores of horror flicks that passed through the Benson Theater in the old neighborhood back in the day. I saw several during Saturday matinĂ©es. Founded in London by William Hinds and James Carreras, the company released its first film in 1935, The Public Life of Henry the Ninth. Four films followed in '36. It then went dark until 1947, took flight in the '50's, and continued until 1979, 163 movies in total, and scores of shorts. Many were in lush color and featured lots of gore and buxom babes. Hammer was resurrected in 2008. Seven films have come since then. Here are the titles of its Frankenstein series:The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). And here are those featuring the Count from Transylvania: Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Countess Dracula (1971), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971), The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974). Other notable or amusing titles: One Million Years B.C. (1966), starring Raquel Welch. The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), Oliver Reed's first starring role. The Camp on Blood Island (1958), Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960), Paranoiac (1963), Hands of the Ripper (1971).
In 1968 Hammer was honored with the Queen's Award to Industry in recognition of its contribution to the British economy. The ceremony took place on the steps of the Castle Dracula set at the famed Pinewood Studios. Here's the lovely Barbara Shelley, a member of the so-called Hammer Repertory Company:

And here's how she looked as the star of Gorgon (1964):
I bet the players had as much fun as the audiences.

Mother Nature provided a one hour window before bringing back the rain, allowing the floating book shop to open for the first time since Wednesday. My thanks to the quirky guy who purchased Danielle Steel's HRH.
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