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TheDarkWoods.ca presents
Top 10 Hammer Horror Films

                                By Marlo Tetzlaff & Curtis Hielema



Hammer horror films, or technically Hammer film productions, a British film company, made Gothic horror films from the 1950’s until the mid-1970’s. Many of my earliest horror movie memories are tied to sitting unsupervised in front of the TV, watching late night re-runs of old Hammer films. Some were campy, cheesy, almost laughable takes on classic horror tales, however, many of them told these classic tales in different and new ways.

Hammer created characters and twists on horror movie formula’s that became many of the standards in years to come. Christopher Lee, with arguably the best portrayal of Dracula, and Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing became the staple stereotype of what Vampire and vampire vanquisher would be. Pushing the envelopes of the time in terms of story and character depictions, is one of the reasons that earn Hammer horror movies their place in an important history of horror films.

Here are the ten Hammer horror classics to help you sink your teeth into their take on Gothic horror.


Curtis    

Controversy warning! I personally like Hammer more than Universal Monsters, especially the Peter Cushing Frankenstein films. The creatures or bad guys are often tragic characters, and the protagonist is not always one of the good guys. Common sets include towns, castles, inns, dungeons, and laboratories that are used multiple times. Most of the Hammer films often are similar thematically and in pace. It’s common that the film’s climax ends with a house fire and then the credits roll. Hammer films had a lot of the same actors in them, and often playing different roles. These films are not overly serious, but aim to provide a good quality and fun experience at a B movie price for the studio. There are some real stinkers, and then there are some excellent fun and dramatic movies.

Hammer was pretty much the only studio keeping the monsters alive in film until the 1970 when horror started to come back with films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wicker man, and of course The Exorcist. I beleive that explotation grindhouse horror put an end to Hammer after about 1970 because films were going to darker place because America became involved in Vietnam and culturaly shifted gears so to speak. Audiences were not scared of monsters anymore.

Hammer did continue to make films and TV content after 1970, but they stopped making Gothic Horror movies because audiences were not scared of monsters anymore. Hammer is still around and they actually put out a few films recently, such as The Woman in Black (2012).


Ranked starting from number 10

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1



   Top
The Gorgon (1964)
Hammer horror, Classic horror, Thriller

Directed by Terence Fisher

1964 Hammer Film Productions

Columbia Pictures

University experts try to unravel the mystery of a Gorgon who has taken human form, and is terrorizing a small European village by turning its citizens to stone.

A monster with the power to turn living screaming flesh into stone.

Unrated





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Twins of Evil (1971)
Horror, Hammer horror, Female vampire film, Cult horror

Directed by John Hough

1971 Hamer Film Productions

Universal Pictures

Recently orphaned twins, Maria and Frieda go to live with their uncle, the leader of a witch-hunting brotherhood. Wicked Count Karnstein is transformed into a vampire in a satanic ritual, and turns Frieda into a vampire. One twin good, one evil, and a brotherhood that must save the village from the vampire Count Karnstein.

“Which is the virgin? Which is the vampire?”

Rated R

Curtis    

Because of European film industry standards, Hammer could not compete with Hollywood in the amount of gore in their films. However because the attitudes in Europe at the time were more open towards nudity in film, they were able to push an amount of sexuality in their movies that Hollywood could not. Twins of Evil has nudity and female lesbian vampires, which was somewhat scandalous in a Hammer film even for 1971 standards. There were exploitation films as early as the late 1960s, but not from studious like Hammer.





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Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Hammer horror, Classic horror, Dracula

Directed by Freddie Francis

1968 Hammer

Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

Dracula who is believed long dead, is blamed for the death of a girl. When the local Monsignor exorcises his castle, Dracula takes revenge on the Monsignor and his young niece.

You just can’t keep a good man down.

Rated G

Curtis    

One of my favorite Hammer movies, and the best one without Peter Cushing in my opinion. It's very low budget and cheesy, even for Hammer.





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The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Hammer, supernatural, Thriller, Cult horror

Directed by Terence Fisher

1968 Hammer

Associated British-Pathé

Christopher Lee is Duc De Richleau, an occult specialist who must battle a Satanic cult and its mysterious disciple, Mocata, to save the soul of a friend’s son.

The beauty of woman . . . the demon of darkness . . . the unholy union of "The Devil's Bride

Not Rated/font>

Curtis    

Interestingly this is the highest rated Hammer movie, with 93% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is impressive for a Horror movies.





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The Mummy (1959)
Thriller, Classic horror, Hammer horror

Directed by Terence Fisher

1981 Universal Pictures In 1895, British archaeologists find the tomb of an Egyptian Princess and unwittingly unleash a vengeful mommy.

Torn from the tomb to terrify the world.

Not Rated





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The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Mystery, Hammer

Directed by Terence Fisher

1959 Hammer

United Artists

Famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson investigate when a nobleman inherits an estate, and a family curse involving a supernatural hound.

Never has the night known a beast like this!

Not Rated.

Curtis    

One the only popular non-horror Hammer movies. Peter Cushing is great as usual.





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Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
Horror, Drama, Sci-fi, Hammer horror

Directed by Terence Fisher

1969 Hammer

Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

Together with the help of a young doctor and his fiancé, Baron Frankenstein performs illegal medical experiments and brain transplants on a kidnapped mental patient.

The good Dr. Frankenstein: more monstrous than the monsters he created.

Rated PG-13





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The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Horror, Sci-fi, Hammer, Thriller

Directed by Terence Fisher

1957 Hammer

Warner Bros.

Infamous Victor Frankenstein recounts his tale of reanimating a creature from the body parts of men. His experiment did not go as planned.

The creature created by man, and forgotten by nature!

Not Rated

Curtis    

Hammer was going to make this film in black and white and have Boris Karloff play the creature. Universal threatened to file a lawsuit against them if they used any likeness of their original Frankenstein monster. This is why the Hammer Frankenstein monster looks much different. Hammer later had a legal agreement with Universal which included the rights to some of their property.





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The Curse of The Werewolf (1961)
Hammer, Cult classic

Directed by Terence Fisher

19361 Hammer

Universal-International

Being born on Christmas day, to a mute servant girl who was raped, cursed Leon becomes a werewolf and terrorizes the town. Only love can calm the beast, until he is hunted and killed.

Even those who loved him, were not safe.

Not Rated