Book Review: The Hammer Vault - Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films
by, 01-15-2012 at 07:44 PM (1959 Views)
The Hammer Vault: Treasures From The Archive of Hammer Films by Marcus Hearn isn’t so much a coffee table book as it is a historical treasure trove of the detailed history of Hammer Film Productions. Our best attempt at describing the contents of The Hammer Vault is to copy directly from the book’s introduction.
“In the 1950’s Hammer horror was the most terrifying experience the cinema had to offer. This terror would be embodied by a mutating astronaut, an amoral scientist and a bloodthirsty vampire. Little of the sex and death would be left to the imagination, and Hammer gilded this promise with a vast array of promotional material. This book assembles much of that material for the first time.”
The opening introduction pages set the stage for the archive of posters, screenshots, notes, letters and brochures that are presented on a film-by-film beginning with 1954’s The Quatermass Xperiment through wonderful decades of Hammer features complimented through 2009’s Let Me In.
Decade by decade, Hearn’s book takes a detailed look at individual films backed by a prose of comprehensive facts about each featured film complimented by an incredible array of featured script pages production photos and the most treasured personal hand written or typed letters and documents we’ve ever seen assembled in a single publication.
There is no shortage of star power contained within each glossy page of The Hammer Vault. Donald Pleasance, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Rachel Welch are just some of the names that pop off the screen while you take the nostalgic journey through Hammer history.
Titles both familiar and foreign draw interest with each page turn and lesser known titles such as The Terror of Tongs, The Plague of the Zombies and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires are integrated seamlessly with more common and recognizable titles such as 1964’s She, 1971’s Vampire Circus and 1969’s Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.
Some of the more fascinating pages include a letter from D.B. Productions to Hammer Films Productions politely describing how star Bette Davis was bowing out of her film commitment for The Anniversary (“She regrets that she cannot continue working until a director more sympathetic to her method of working is found”) and a letter from Peter Cushing to the prop director on 1972’s Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell that requests ‘surgical instruments which should included (in certain) scenes’.
The incredibly informative book concludes with pages of details on unmade Hammer productions before bringing us to modern day cinema releases of 2008’s Wake Wood and 2009’s The Resident.
In 2012, Hammer Films is releasing The Woman in Black, a horror/thriller starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. The introduction to Marcus Hearn’s book casually mentions the release and only further fuels interest in a long standing history of arguably one of the more important production companies in horror history.