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Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Ziggy587 Wed Apr 22, 2020 9:15 am

I know there's a few horror movie fans on this forum, so hopefully someone can give me some advice on the Hammer horror movies.

I haven't seen any of the Hammer horror movies. It seems like there's a ton of them with a ton of sequels which makes it a little daunting to get into. I really don't have the time to watch ALL of them. So, my question is, which ones are the must-watch movies?

I'd like to approach the hammer movies with 3 tiers...

1. "MUST WATCH !!1!" - If you can only see a few Hammer movies, these are the ones that you MUST watch.

2. "Decent, but not the best Hammer has to offer" - These are the ones that are good, but not great.

3. "Meh" - These are the ones that you watch only for the sake of saying that you've seen them all.

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Re: Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Sload Soap Wed Apr 22, 2020 9:49 am

The only ones I really like that I've seen are Quatermass and the Pit (or Five Million Miles to Earth), The Devil Rides Out (Chrissy Lee as a goodguy!) and, even though it's pretty trashy, The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.
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Re: Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Nemoide Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:18 am

Must see:
The Curse of Frankenstein
The Revenge of Frankenstein
The Evil of Frankenstein
Frankenstein Created Woman
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed
The Horror of Dracula
Dracula AD 1972
The Vampire Lovers
Twins of Evil
Vampire Circus
The Mummy

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires
The Qatermass Xperiment
Brides of Dracula
Dracula: Prince of Darkness
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
Kiss of the Vampire
The Curse of the Werewolf

Night Creatures
The Phantom of the Opera

I watched a lot of these a decade ago thanks to a cable channel called "Monsters HD" which showed nothing but uncut horror films. A lot of the movies are fairly similar and have blurred together in my mind, which makes making this list tough.

I doubt I could tell you what the specific plots are to the Peter Cushing Frankenstein movies, but I love them because Peter Cushing is always delightful to watch and they have good atmosphere. To me, the Frankenstein series is the heart of Hammer Horror. The Dracula movies aren't *bad* per se, but I definitely understand why Christopher Lee was frustrated in the role, he rarely gets to actually ACT in them, so they're GOOD, but not AS GOOD as they really should be. You have to see the first one to get a feel for the series though; if you want to continue, go ahead and continue, they're not awful. Dracula AD 1972 is trashier one and probably a controversial pick, but I remember thinking it was a lot of fun, even though Christopher Lee isn't in it. Similarly The Vampire Lovers and Twins of Evil are both really trashy exploitation films showing "the HORRORS of SINFUL LESBIANISM" but are thick with gothic atmosphere and Peter Cushing is acting in both of them like they're Shakespearean masterpieces, which I personally found extremely enjoyable. And VAMPIRE CIRCUS has an amazing title but somehow I remember the movie being EVEN BETTER THAN I DARED DREAM, don't sleep on that one! The Mummy makes the cut because it's another iconic pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and is interesting because it's much more of a stereotypical "evil living mummy attacks people" type movie than the original Universal film (which I strongly prefer). This one rides the line between must-see and descent, but I feel like if you skip it, you're skipping something kind of essential for Hammer's take on classic monsters, so I'll say it's must-see.

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is fun if you like kung-fu movies, it was a co-production with Shaw Bros studios and while it isn't exactly the best of either studio, it's pretty unique. I've heard extremely good things about the Quatermass movies but have only seen the first one, which I thought was pretty good but not great. (I actually plan on watching the second one soon, I'll report back later when I've seen it). I know some folks LOVE Captain Kronos but it didn't really do it for me. I remember liking Curse of the Werewolf but my memory is a bit hazy and that's enough for me to rank it down with the decent ones.

Those "meh" movies are ones I saw on a "Hammer Horror 8-Film Collection" blu-ray I got that Universal put out a couple years ago. About half of the movies on that collection are not the gothic horror films the studio is famous for and are more "psychological thriller" type films which I found disappointing.

Hopefully my writing isn't too disjointed and can give you some idea of what you'd like to watch!
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Re: Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Ziggy587 Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:28 am

Nemoide wrote:Monsters HD

Thanks for this post! I'll have to read the rest later, but I had to stop immediately after I read "Monsters HD." I really, REALLY miss this channel! No commercials (except to advertise other things they are showing on the channel) in HD 24/7. You'd think on a 24 hour channel like this they'd eventually start scrapping the bottom of the barrel, but I never tuned in to this channel and walked away disappointed. I really miss this channel, as well as Voom HD's other channel Kung Fu HD, which was the same thing except it was martial arts movies instead of horror. The Voom network also restored and remastered old movies to look amazing in HD. There was never anything as good as Monsters HD and Kung Fu HD before them, and there hasn't been anything since. You can tell they CARED about movies, and the history. It's such a shame that we lost these channels! :(

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Re: Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Michi Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:33 am

Damn, this is kinda hard. Hammer had a huge freaking output, but I think Nemoide nailed a lot of the 'must see' films (Though Dracula AD is kinda trippy :lol: ).

But feel free to add The Gorgon to the 'meh' category. Despite having Lee and Cushing in it, it ends up being a pretty big dud. Especially when the gorgon finally makes an appearance.
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Re: Hammer Horror Movies - Which to Watch?

by Ack Wed Apr 22, 2020 10:40 am

I'd say my recommendations are fairly close to Nemoide's. If you're going to start, start with the first Hammer versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy. See those before venturing into the sequels. One place where I disagree with Nemoide is that I consider The Quatermass Xperiment interesting enough to bump up, but it also predates the classic "Hammer Horror" era by a couple of years. You can probably skip it unless you want something more in the style of 1950s B-movie sci-fi horror.

The Vampire Lovers is also a great way to see where Hammer went over the next 20 years, into the far more exploitative. It'll set the mood for the end of the arc.

While things like Phantom of the Opera and Curse of the Werewolf do pull from the same line as the Universal classic horror line, they're bland in comparison. Interesting, but not vital. Captain Kronos is probably more fun, even if I also wouldn't declare it in the top tier.

After that, you should pay attention to the work of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Even there, not everything is great (such as what Michi mentioned, The Gorgon, which has an interesting idea but is 'meh' in its execution), but since these are the two stars, it makes it easier to focus on their output.
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