A Short Guide To Hammer Horror

“Born into a land of brutality and evil…it came from terror and fear! The curse…laid […]

Mockingbird / 10.31.14

“Born into a land of brutality and evil…it came from terror and fear! The curse…laid on a baby!” A brief list you’ll find in Issue 3 of The Mockingbird, right in time for Halloween! The Gospel According to…Hammer Horror! Nearly all are available to watch in full on YouTube. Ah Ah Ah Ahhh! “Don’t look into the eyes!”

Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Some would consider Curse of the Werewolf to be the apogee of ‘Christian’ presence in the Hammer canon.

Leon’s Baptism, the coincidence of his conception and birth with Christmas and the Christmas story, and the silver bullet from the Father: these are maybe a little ironic at points, but they are wonderful. And the fantastic finale!  (Why do werewolves always want to throw burning bales of hay at people? It’s a recurring image in these films.) Another great value in Curse of the Werewolf is the a-tonal score. There’s a musical epiphany at the very end, which is extremely stirring. It will make you a fan of Benjamin Frankel forever.


Phantom of the Opera (1962)

This one is just a little lame. The opera sequences are too long, and I guess you could say, bombastic. But the underground lair of the Phantom is baroque and colorfully Gothic. Our friend’s sacrifice at the end is cruciform and moving. Come join the Heather Sears fan club, too, OK?


Kiss of the Vampire (1963)

Gosh, how can one not love this movie? The atmosphere from start to finish, the score by James Bernard, and the school/s of bats at the end. Strong Christian imagery from the Clifford Evans character. See the English version, not the American re-edited one. And here’s a question:  From what (wee wonderful) country did the actor come who plays the vampires’ fearless leader? Hint: Orange is the New Black.


Brides of Dracula (1960)

A total home run! David Peel is arresting as ‘Baron Meinster’. His conflicted Mom — to put it mildly —  is completely memorable, too. The sets, by Bernard Robinson, are absorbing and, as in Phantom, colorfully Gothic. The fiery ending, with its famous windmill Cross, is inspired.


The Stranglers of Bombay (1959)

Well, this is in a slightly different league. People like to talk about the cleavage in Stranglers, tho’ the American version short-changed the viewer on that. And the dismemberings, yes, and the blasphemous ‘eucharist’, which is portrayed in Christian “Hinsicht”. But the hero — Guy Rolfe! (Mr. Sardonicus) — is Western Civ wonderful. One can only wish Stranglers of Bombay had been shot in color.


Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Well, this is not P.C., but it’s also not not P.C. I like the whole archaeological angle — the evil’s going on downstairs, way downstairs. Think 12 January 2010. The beauty in this minor gem is the performance by Andre Morell. Here’s an elderly gentleman, who saves the day. That’s rare in these movies — in any movie.


The Devil Rides Out (1968)

It’s always a pleasure to talk about The Devil Rides Out. (It was known in the USA as The Devil’s Bride.) The scene when ‘Moccata’ hypnotizes, in refined cosmopolitan fashion, the maternal and brilliant heroine — this is a high point of all horror movies, on a par with The Exorcist.  And the climax, with its triumphant Cross of light, and the French Comte’s explanation of what happened: “Can’t Touch This” (M.C. Hammer). I also admire James Bernard’s score.  Notice in the closing credits how the minor key give way to the major. Like God. Like Christ. Like life.


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