Hammer horror films were an essential part of my childhood and one of my favorite things about Hammer films was the glamorous female stars. While growing up I thought that the women in Hammer movies were incredibly beautiful and I still do. Big hair and big busts seemed to be one of the studios regular requirements but many of the gorgeous women who appeared in Hammer films also knew how to act. These curvaceous ladies could play naive and innocent victims in one film and bloodthirsty ferocious killers in the next. They broke rules, pushed boundaries and kept up with their male costars even when given secondary roles and third billing. Now there’s a book that gives these women the star treatment that they’ve long deserved.
In September Titan Books released Marcus Hearn’s fabulous tribute to Hammer’s female stars entitled Hammer Glamour: Classic Images from the Hammer Archives. The term “Hammer Glamour” has been used by Hammer fans for decades but Hearn’s book is the first book that I know of that focuses solely on Hammer’s female stars. This lush coffee table collection contains over 150 pages and features profiles as well as interviews with many of the actresses who had prominent and lessor known roles in Hammer movies. The book is beautifully put together and the actresses are smartly presented in alphabetical order, which makes for easy referencing. It also includes an informative introduction by the author and a helpful index of Hammer film titles that corresponds with the actresses mentioned in the book. Hammer Glamour is a real treat for horror fans and makes a great companion to author Marcus Hearn’s previous book, The Hammer Story. Together both of Kearn’s informative texts offer new and seasoned Hammer fans a fascinating look at “The Studio That Dripped Blood.”
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Hammer Glamour is reading what the actresses have to say about their experiences working with the studio. Many of them have a great sense of humor about their work. They also express a real fondness for their co-stars and film crew. Actor Peter Cushing is often singled out for his generous behavior and good nature. It’s obvious that he was beloved by those who knew him and befriended him during his lifetime.
Top: Janette Scott and Pauline Peart
Bottom: Yutte Stensgaard and Valerie Gaunt
Finding background information about these actresses wasn’t always easy and Marcus Hearn clearly had to go out of his way to compile the profiles and interviews for Hammer Glamour. I really appreciate the author’s extraordinary efforts because the book provides Hammer fans with an unprecedented look at some of the studio’s most fascinating stars. It also contains many rare photos that I’ve never seen before and I can almost guarantee that even the most avid Hammer fans will find some surprises in Hammer Glamour.
My only complaint is that I wish the book was bigger. I think the publishers could have easily added an additional 150 pages and I’m sure it would have still found an eager audience. I’d love to see Marcus Hearn and Titan Books publish a future expanded volume of Hammer Glamour that provided even more information about the women included in the book and offered lengthier profiles of the actresses who were left out or given scant attention. I’d also love to see more photographs showcased as well since I can never get enough Hammer Glamour eye-candy.
Minor complaint aside, Marcus Hearn’s Hammer Glamour is truly a feast for the senses and it should find a place in every serious Hammer fan’s library. I suspect that anyone who is interested in British film history might also find Hammer Glamour worth reading because the book indirectly provides a unique and occasionally troubling look at what it was like to work as an actress within the British film industry during the late 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
Hammer Glamour retails for $29.95 but it’s currently on sale at Amazon for just $19.77. I really can’t recommend the book enough so if you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for a friend or yourself I suggest picking up a copy of Marcus Hearn’s book. For more information about Hammer Glamour visit the official Titan Book site: Hammer Glamour
I also recommend a visit to Holger Haase’s fabulous World of Hammer Glamour fan site.