…You may be wondering what are the best of the many horror films
produced by the infamous Hammer Studios?
I decided to go ahead and make a list of the top 10 Hammer Horror films…
Hammer Studio’s effectively continued the legacy of horror films created by studio’s like Universal in the 1920’s, 30′ and 40’s. Their modern color remakes of such classics as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolf Man were unique, original tributes which have their own distinctive style and atmosphere.
The following is a list of what I feel, are the greatest offerings of Horror by the infamous studio.
Click on the title to view the movie’s trailer…
10. Scars of Dracula – An underrated entry in Hammer’s Dracula series. The studio produced a total of 9 films based on the legendary Count. This film came in 1970 and was the 6th in the series. Christopher Lee as Dracula has a good amount of time on screen in this movie, so too does the sinister castle full of gothic architecture, fiendish servants and blood red interior design!
9. The Plague of Zombies – Hammer’s only venture into the world of Zombies, is a well constructed piece for the time. Solid acting and a good deal of suspense makes this film one to check out. Directed by John Gilling who also made the excellent, The Flesh and the Fiends (1960). Although not quite as groundbreaking as Romero’s, Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Plague of Zombies has an original story, unmistakable Hammer Horror atmosphere and predates the former classic by two years.
8. Curse of the Werewolf – With Oliver Reed in his first starring role, Curse of the werewolf was Hammer’s interpretation of the Wolf Man story created by Universal. As with most other Hammer productions, the color film, settings and set pieces are a pleasure to watch. Credit must go to the studio for not directly re-making the horror classics but for creating their own storylines and atmosphere. While it takes the majority of the movie for Oliver Reed to finally transform, the werewolf makeup and style are brilliant!
7. The Devil Rides Out – Is Hammer’s take on satanic worship based on the controversial novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley. Directed by Terrance Fisher, who was the studio’s greatest horror director. Fisher was responsible for the majority of Hammer’s horror hits including, Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein, Revenge of Frankenstein, The Mummy, Brides of Dracula, Prince of Darkness, Hound of the Baskervilles among others…This devilish classic stars Christopher Lee (on the side of good for a change!) and gives quite an authentic, serious treatment of the subject, again with a limited budget.
6. The Mummy – Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in this very cool update of the Universal classic from 1932. Again, the exquisite color and ‘look’ of the film is superb. Hammer really had a special quality to it’s films. At first they seem to have an appearance of looking ‘cheap’, but I think this was due in large part to the abundant use of bright, sometimes garish colour as part of the studio’s style and intent. The flashback sequences to ancient Egypt here are really well done and it’s great to have Lee as the marauding Mummy all the way through the film compared to the brief appearance of ‘Imhotep’ (Boris Karloff) in the original.
5. Revenge of Frankenstein – The immediate follow up to Hammer’s groundbreaking hit, ‘Curse of Frankenstein’. This movie is thought by some to actually be superior to the first film. Peter Cushing is back as Victor ‘Stein’, determined to go ahead with his unnatural experiments while also giving aid to the poor. His charitable doctor’s surgery is also a perfect source of valuable body parts! Another hit by Terrance Fisher.
4. Curse of Frankenstein – The film that proclaimed Hammer as the king of horror. Curse of Frankenstein introduced us to Hammer’s vision of the classic horror tales with it’s gothic setting and atmosphere, rich, vibrant colors, themes of sexuality and grisly display of blood! The pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing also occurred here for the first time. As with Curse of the Werewolf, and to some degree, Horror of Dracula, Curse of Frankenstein is a relatively slow paced film which has though, some terrific climactic scenes and story throughout.
3. Brides of Dracula – While not featuring Dracula as such, ‘Brides of…’ has as it’s central antagonist, a ‘Baron Meinster’ who’s a disciple of Dracula’s. It’s a pity The ol’ Count’s not in this film but his vampire disciple does play a convincing part. As do the gorgeous and evocative vampire brides! The gothic-type look and feel of this film, which Hammer became famous for, is lavishly employed here and makes this movie an absolute must see. This film was the 2nd in the Dracula series.
2. Dracula: Prince of Darkness – The 3rd film in the series, although following on from ‘Horror of Dracula’, it can be considered the first film’s actual sequel. An intensely dark and powerful take on Drac! This film has a high sense of quality to it. Christopher Lee once again is The Count, and gives a very primal and elemental performance as he refused to speak the lines which written for him. Not having much faith in the script, he hisses, grins and stares at his prey and comes across as more of a supernatural ‘animal’ compared to his role in other films. Sets and cinematography (especially within the castle) have a very eerie feel to them and the butler ‘Clove’ has got to be one of the all time sinister servants!
- Horror of Dracula – The classic update of the original Dracula from 1931. Lee and Cushing go head to head in a skillfully filmed, richly colored masterpiece. This movie is a total reinterpretation though! The familiar story is there including Harker, Lucy, Van Helsing etc. Though, almost everything, especially Dracula and his ancient cobwebbed filled castle have been re-imagined and given a more modern, conventional type feel. Hammer’s own interpretation of gothic horror!
Well, it’s been pretty difficult trying to choose only ten of what I think are the greatest of the many classic horror movies from Hammer…Let alone place them in a particular order! However I hope this provides some clarity and gives people an idea of what movies are regarded as classic all-time favorites by a devotee of horror and obvious Hammer enthusiast!
Runner-up’s to the list would include;
Hound of the Baskervilles, Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Twins of Evil, Hands of the Ripper, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Gorgon.
…Thanks for visiting! Please let me know your thoughts and if you agree or disagree in the comments space below…