The Abominable Snowman (aka The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas). Don't look for scary monsters in Nigel Kneale's surprising spin on the search for the Yeti.
|David Peel as Baron Meinster.|
Cushing, Peter. When Hammer launched its Frankenstein franchise, it made a brilliant decision to focus on the doctor and not the Monster. But it wouldn't have worked without the remarkable Peter Cushing, who evolves his characters subtly from film to film.
|Charles Gray, looking more suave|
than sinister here.
Elder, John. This was the pseudonym used by producer Anthony Hinds when writing screenplays for some of Hammer's finest films: The Kiss of the Vampire; Curse of the Werewolf; Frankenstein Created Woman; and many others.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Arguably, the best of the Frankenstein series, showing how fully Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) has transformed into a monster himself.
The Gorgon. Something is turning residents of a small German village into stone in this wonderfully atmospheric tale helmed by Hammer's top director, Terence Fisher.
|Cushing as Holmes.|
I Only Arsked. This comedy, adapted from the British TV series The Army Game, is not a horror movie at all. But I still find its title kinda frightening and, since I couldn't think of another "I", it gets an entry on this list!
Jekyll, Henry. Hammer mounted two serious versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story. In The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Henry is portrayed as a bore while Hyde is handsome, charming--and evil. In the later gender-bender Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde...well, the title tells all.
The Kiss of the Vampire (aka Kiss of Evil). A honeymooning couple encounter an aristocratic vampire family in a small Bavarian town. A near-perfect vampire film, with some critics claiming it inspired Roman Polanski's delightful The Fearless Vampire Killers.
|Lee in his most famous role.|
The Mummy. This lively remake of Karloff's film presents a more physically imposing--and quicker moving--Mummy. Its smashing entrance through the glass doors of a study is an iconic scene and evidence that maybe the French critics were right when they proclaimed director Fisher an "auteur."
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (aka Never Take Candy from a Stranger). Forget about the "B" movie title and prepare yourself for a gripping, very well-acted tale about a case of possible child molestation in a small Canadian town. The monsters in this film are all of the human variety.
One Million Years, B.C. It probably cemented Raquel Welch as the premiere sex symbol of the 1960s, especially with the poster featuring her in an animal-hide bikini. But let's not forget about Ray Harryhausen's incredible dinosaurs either.
The Phantom of the Opera. I almost opted for Ingrid Pitt due to pressure from my Hammer friends. Instead, we'll go with Phantom of the Opera, an under-appreciated version of the Gaston Leroux novel, with an excellent Herbert Lom as a sympathetic Phantom.
Quatermass and the Pit. Nigel Kneale, who adapted his own television serial, uses science fiction to explain the supernatural in a one-of-a-kind tale about an unusual craft uncovered during a subway excavation. Andrew Keir proves to be the definitive Professor Bernard Quatermass.
The Reptile. Cornish villagers are dying from what the locals call the Black Death. But why does one of the victims have a snake bite on the neck? And what's going on up at the sinister Dr. Franklyn's house? This well-made effort wisely unfolds as a mystery and hold attention even after the culprit is revealed.
The Snorkel. This clever suspense film boasts one of my all-time favorite opening scenes and, yes, it does involve a snorkel. It loses a little steam along the way, but nevertheless will keep you guessing about the outcome.
|Both twins look innocent in this picture.|
The Ugly Duckling. Hammer's first take on Jekyll/Hyde was this 1959 comedy about a meek pharmacist who takes a drug and becomes dashing Teddy Hyde. The same twist was used again, in a serious vain, in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll.
Vampire Circus. One of Hammer's later vampire pictures, this tale about a traveling carnival of bloodsuckers has become a minor cult film. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't seen it, though it's bloodier than Lee's Dracula films.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Hoping to duplicate the success of One Million Years, B.C., Hammer cast Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian, a former Playboy Playmate) as a damsel amid the dinosaurs. When I saw it at the movie theatre, you could pick up a flyer that provided translations of some of the cave people's words. Useful!
X: The Unknown. Before The Blob, Hammer released this entertaining yarn about a radioactive glob that emerges from the Earth. The unlikely cast includes Dean Jagger, Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey), and Anthony Newley.
Zombies. Hammer's only zombie outing was a good one, Plague of the Zombies, in which another small Cornish village becomes the site of a voodoo-practicing squire who turns the locals into the walking dead.