The official Hammer Films website has been bustling with activity lately. As a long time lover of Hammer films, it’s been nice to see the site alive and kicking again. You can also find Hammer news at their new Myspace page.
Hammer has recently announced the release of lots of new official merchandise such as a nice looking t-shirt line available from Razamataz.com as well as upcoming board games, poker chips and playing cards. Besides releasing new merchandise, Hammer has also been busy signing a deal to make Majestic Films (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Icon Entertainment) its exclusive sales agent. What does that mean for Hammer fans? According to the Hammer Films website:
“In recent years Hammer has licensed a package of 20 leading video and DVD titles in a number of major territories. Majestic will continue this work, packaging other titles from the Hammer catalogue and targeting the hitherto unsold territories.”
Hopefully, this new deal with Majestic will lead to a lot more Hammer films being released on DVD in the next few years. Late last year Hammer fans in the US were rewarded with the release of the very groovy Dracula A.D. 1972 on DVD and the wonderful Hammer Horror Series DVD Collection which featured some of Hammer’s best films including Brides of Dracula, Curse of the Werewolf, Phantom of the Opera, Paranoiac, Nightmare, Kiss of the Vampire, Night Creatures and The Evil of Frankenstein. While the quality of the Universal DVD release left a lot to be desired and came with no bonus materials, it was still a great treat for fans since many of the movies in the set had never been officially released on DVD in the US before.
The most recent Hammer DVD has been the widescreen release of The Anniversary from Anchor Bay. This unusual black comedy from Hammer stars the great Bette Davis in one of her most interesting roles and comes with some really nice bonus materials such as Audio Commentary with Director Roy Ward Baker, the original Trailer & TV Spot, Poster & Still Gallery and Talent Bios. Hopefully Anchor Bay will continue to release more Hammer films as part of their ongoing Hammer Collection series.
On May 30th, Hammer fans can expect the release of the Hammer Film Noir Collector’s Set, Vol. 1-3. This nice collection from VCI Entertainment contains six rarely seen Hammer crime films made during the 1950s including Bad Blonde, Man Bait, Stolen Face, Blackout, The Gambler and the Lady and Heat Wave. Many of them are directed by the late Terence Fisher who was behind some of Hammer’s best horror films. It’s nice to see his non-horror work for Hammer getting some attention now.
Next Month Hammer fans in Southern California can also look forward to the exciting three-week retrospective The Golden Age of British Horror: 1955-1975 taking place at the Egyptian theatre in Los Angeles June 8-25th. This impressive event will feature screenings of many great Hammer horror films sourced from brand new prints including films still not officially available on DVD in the US such as The Gorgon, The Stranglers of Bombay, The Nanny, The Quatermass Xperiment and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. Other Hammer films playing in the festival include The Revenge of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula and Taste the Blood of Dracula. On June 17 the festival will even hold a Memorial Tribute to the recently deceased director and screenwriter Val Guest (1911-2006).
The other two big British horror studios of the same era (Amicus & Tigon) will also be well represented at the festival. Some terrific films will be shown from both studios including The Skull (Amicus) and Corruption (Tigon). Both films star the late great horror legend Peter Cushing and have never been released on DVD. I wish I could move to Los Angeles for a month just to attend this incredible event!
British horror fans might be able to look forward to future DVD releases of the movies playing at the festival. There are many great Hammer films besides the titles I mentioned above that have still not gotten official DVD releases yet and that’s a real shame. Many of these movies are made by great British directors including Terence Fisher, Freddie Francis, Joseph Losey and Seth Holt. These films also feature stellar performances from many talented actors such as Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Bette Davis, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper, Dennis Price and Barbara Shelley. If The Golden Age of British Horror festival is a success I hope it will encourage studios like Sony and Anchor Bay to finally release many of these films. If you’re a local, don’t miss it!