Hammer Film Productions is a film production company in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1934, the company is best known for its Gothic "Hammer Horror" films produced from the late 1950s until the 1970s.
Realising that no-one had made versions of the classic horror stories - specifically Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy - since Universal Studios' 1930s films and their numerous sequels, Hammer founders Enrique Carerras William Hinds decided on a new Frankenstein film as their next project. To avoid copyright disputes with Universal, Jimmy Sangster's script was based very clearly on the original novel, with an appropriate period setting, and the make-up devised for Christopher Lee bore little relation to Jack Pierce's iconic creation for Boris Karloff. Another innovation, and one which took advantage of the studio's investment in a more expensive colour production, was the amount of gore in the film. Previously, horror films had not shown blood in a graphic way, or when they did it was concealed by monochrome photography. In The Curse of Frankenstein, it was bright red, and the camera lingered upon it.
The film was directed by Terence Fisher, with a look that belied its modest budget. Peter Cushing's performance as Baron Victor Frankenstein, and Lee's as the imposingly tall, brutish monster provide the film with a further veneer of polish.
The film was an enormous success, not only in Britain, but also in the USA, where it inspired numerous imitations from, amongst others, Roger Corman and his American International Pictures. It also found success on the European continent, where Italian directors and audiences were particularly receptive.
The Curse of Frankenstein provided the studio with a template which they stuck to for around the next ten years. In 1958, they produced a new version of Dracula (re-titled The Horror of Dracula in the US), starring Christopher Lee as the Count, and Peter Cushing as Abraham van Helsing, giving the studio another sizeable hit and adding to the criticism expressed over the amount of violence and gore in their films. The following year the company resurrected another Universal monster with a new version of The Mummy, again featuring Lee as the monster and Cushing as his opponent.
Get The Hammer Horror Collection on DVD Featuring 6 Classic Hammer Movies: The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Horror of Dracula, The Mummy, Taste the Blood of Dracula.
Hammer Horror Collection