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Podcast Episode 64: Paying Tribute To Hammer Horror

Celebrating babes, blood, and the bold colors of the Hammer Films’ Gothic brand

Christopher Lee plays the bloodsucking Count in Hammer Films'

Credit: Hammer Films

Above: Christopher Lee plays the bloodsucking Count in Hammer Films' "Horror of Dracula."

Episode 64: Paying Tribute to Hammer Horror

The babes and blood of Hammer Horror are just two of the things author Antony Earnshaw and I celebrate on today's episode.

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Transcript

For almost two decades, starting in the late 1950s, you could count on Hammer Films for breathtakingly lurid Gothic horror tales that served up vampires, werewolves, monsters and luscious ladies.

British author Antony Earnshaw talks about the studio and it legacy for the launch of a yearlong film series Get Hammered at the Digital Gym Cinema.

The British studio turned Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing into icons, and gave a generation of kids their first taste of terror in bold Technicolor reds that practically dripped off the screen.

Hammer Films was not always associated with horror. Founded in 1934, Hammer began by producing a small number of modest films distributed by its company, Exclusive Films. But it wasn't until 1955, when the studio decided to adapt a popular TV show to the big screen that it hit upon a winning formula with "The Quatermass Xperiment"

But it wasn't 1958 that Hammer horror discovered color.

"The Curse of Frankenstein" looked to Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein," which was very attractively in public domain and loosely adapted it to a Gothic horror film shot in bold, vivid color to emphasize the blood. The film was directed by Terence Fisher and starred Peter Cushing as Frankenstein and the towering Christopher Lee as the doctor's creation.

That film would launch the Hammer brand, a brand that held strong up into the 1970s. It was followed in quick succession by "Dracula" (called "Horror of Dracula" in the U.S.) with Lee as the blood-sucking count and "The Mummy" in which Lee again played the monster.

Get Hammered is a yearlong tribute to the best of Hammer horror that I curated with Miguel Rodriguez of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. The series serves up what we’re calling a full flight of B&B -- in other words babes and blood. We will introduce and screen classic Hammer titles every month on select Sundays at 1 p.m. at the Digital Gym Cinema. The series kicks off Sunday, Feb. 25, with Christopher Lee in "Horror of Dracula."

Rodriguez and I are part of The Film Geeks at the Digital Gym Cinema, a group of volunteer programmers dedicated to bringing a diverse array of films to San Diego.

Photo caption: Graham Humphreys Hammer Films inspired poster art for a film event in England.

Photo credit: Graham Humphreys

Graham Humphreys Hammer Films inspired poster art for a film event in England.

Get Hammered is the perfect follow up to our program last year called Universal Suspects that paid tribute to the black and white creature features of the 1930s through '50s.

My guest this episode is Antony Earnshaw, a writer, broadcaster and film programmer with a love for horror and hammer horror in particular. I also spoke with artist Graham Humphreys who has done work inspired by Hammer Films.

You can see my video interview with him from the San Diego Comic Fest panel we did on Hammer Horror.

Artist Graham Humphreys On Hammer Films

Here's the schedule of films (all start at 1:00 PM on Sundays):

2/28: "Horror of Dracula"

3/20: "Curse of the Werewolf"

4/17: "Paranoiac"

5/22: "Curse of Frankenstein"

6/19: "The Nanny" & "Die, Die, My Darling"

7/31: "Countess Dracula" & "Brides of Dracula"

8/21: "The Reptile" & "The Gorgon"

9/25: "The Mummy"

10/2: "Plague of the Zombies"

10/23: "Vampire Circus" & "Vampire Lovers"

11/20: "Twins of Evil"

12/11: "Devil Rides Out"

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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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