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The Hammer Horror Series [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

The Evil of Frankenstein
Hardly the best of Hammer Studios' Frankenstein epics, The Evil of Frankenstein is too much the mixture as before to be truly memorable. Back in business once more is Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), who finds his fabled monster (Kiwi Kingston) frozen in a block of ice. Once the creature is thawed out, the Baron, worried that the big lug might develop a mind of his own, engages the services of a hypnotist (Peter Woodthorpe). Instead of keeping the monster docile, the hypnotist decides to use old "Frankie" for his own evil designs, and we're off and running again. At 84 minutes, Evil of Frankenstein was too short for a two-hour network TV slot, so Universal (the film's American distributor) tacked on 13 minutes of pointless additional footage, featuring timorous villagers Steven Geray, Maria Palmer and William Phipps. The film was followed by a vastly superior sequel, Frankenstein Created Woman. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Kiss of the Vampire
Producer Anthony Hinds used the alias John Elder to pen the screenplay of Kiss of the Vampire. Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman), an early 20th century Bavarian, entices a British honeymooning couple, Gerald and Marianne (Clifford Evans, Jennifer Daniel), to accept his hospitality. Once ensconced in Ravna's chateau, the couple discovers with horror that Ravna, Bavaria's biggest fan of Count Dracula, is the leader of an enthusiastic vampire cult. Clifford Evans plays the Van Helsing counterpart, Professor Zimmer, a vampire expert who first tries to warn the couple out of the area and then saves Marianne. Not as horrific as the title suggests, Kiss of the Vampire concentrates on the seductive, sensual side of vampirism, especially in a surrealistic masked-ball sequence. Though it contains far less bloodletting than most Hammer productions, Kiss of the Vampire was severely cut for its American TV release (and retitled Kiss of Evil). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Curse of the Werewolf
After injecting new life into classic movie monsters Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer Studios apply their Gothic touch to another monster genre with this excellent, stylish piece -- probably the best of the old school (i.e. pre-Rick Baker) man-to-wolf transformation films in the mold of Universal's The Wolf Man. The title curse surfaces when a mute servant girl bears a child on Christmas day after being raped by a bestial madman and first shows itself at the infant's christening, whereupon the holy water begins to boil. Things go downhill from there, as young Leon's development is marred by savage, violent behavior during a full moon. Upon adulthood, Leon's (Oliver Reed) only relief from his murderous impulses comes from the love of Christina (Catherine Feller)... but he soon begins to fear that this cannot contain the beast within. Liberally based on Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris (here relocated to Spain), this film represents Hammer at their early best, building tension through mood and character (Reed turns in a bravura performance) and saving the effective monster transformation for the climax. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Nightmare
Legendary cinematographer (Freddie Francis) directed this Hammer horror film of madness and murder. The story concerns young Janet (Jennie Linden), a student at finishing school who is suffering from a series of recurring nightmares, having witnessed her mother stabbing her father to death. When her nightmares intensify, Janet is brought to the home of her guardian, Henry Baxter (David Knight). Henry is not home, but Janet is put into the care of his live-in nurse, Grace (Moira Redmond). Janet's nightmares continue, in which she sees a woman in white beckoning her into her parents' bedroom. Following the apparition, Janet sees the woman lying in bed, with a knife sticking from her chest. When Henry returns home, he is told by the doctors that Janet should be confined to a mental institution. Henry refuses, but the arrival of Henry's wife changes all that -- when Janet sees Henry's wife, who resembles the woman from her dreams, she grabs a knife and stabs her to death. Janet is committed to an institution for the criminally insane. However, it turns out that Grace had deliberately disguised herself as the woman in white to drive Janet over the brink and kill Henry's wife, so that they could be married. Henry and Grace get married, but Grace then receives reports that Janet has escaped from the institution and is returning to Henry's estate, bent on revenge. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Paranoiac
A woman must contend with her family's madness as she finds her own sanity in doubt in this thriller from British horror masters Hammer Films. After the death of her parents, Eleanor Ashby (Janette Scott) would seem a safe bet to inherit their estate, but at the funeral, she's convinced that she has seen Tony (Alexander Davion), her brother who killed himself seven years ago. Eleanor's other sibling Simon (Oliver Reed), who is inarguably alive, uses this as an excuse to contest the will, arguing that Eleanor is mentally unstable and an unfit heir. Simon's claims cause Eleanor to wonder about her sanity, and in a moment of weakness she attempts suicide. Tony rescues her and tells her that he never died but simply went into hiding. He returns to the family's mansion, but soon he and Eleanor become the subject of a number of violent attacks by a masked lunatic before Eleanor learns a surprising secret about Tony. Paranoiac marked the directorial debut of ace cinematographer Freddie Francis. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Night Creatures
In this engaging costume melodrama of skulduggery on the low seas set back in the 18th-century, the swamps of a small seaside town and the nocturnal activities of the towns' men provide the atmosphere and action. The Royal Crown suspects a bit of smuggling is going on in this locale, and they send Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) and his crew to check it out. As the Captain gets into his investigation, mysterious swamp phantoms cloud up the real issue which seems plain enough to see. Captain Collier suspects that the odd village vicar (Peter Cushing) might be hiding something, and what better way to do that than by fortuitous ghosts to scare away the curious -- or by posing as someone he is not? ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

The Brides of Dracula
Hammer Films and director Terence Fisher followed the excellent Horror of Dracula with this well-made, richly-colored sequel which suffers only from the conspicuous lack of Dracula himself -- since Horror's Christopher Lee had declined participation in further Dracula sequels for the time being. In his stead, we have young, blond Baron Meinster (David Peel) providing the requisite vampiric threat. Though imprisoned in the family estate by his mother, Meinster is released from his silver chains by an unsuspecting French teacher (Yvonne Monlaur), through which he gains access to a veritable smorgasbord of nubile wenches at a girls' school. Fortunately, master vampire killer Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is on the case. Besides featuring some of the best acting, photography and period detail of the Hammer Dracula series, this is also one of the first to delve into the more sexual aspects of vampirism, with implicit suggestions of incest, sadomasochism and homosexuality. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

The Phantom of the Opera
This Gothic melodrama from Hammer Studios is in color, but the plot is basically the same as the two previous efforts. Instead of Paris, the action takes place at the Royal Opera House in London. The Phantom (Herbert Lom) is a facially disfigured musician/composer who had his opera stolen by a conniving composer, the lecherous Lord d'Arcy. The Phantom -- who lives in the sewer beneath the opera house -- has his dwarf assistant (Ian Wilson) kidnap Christine Charles (Heather Sears), the lead actress in Gough's production, with whom he has fallen in love, and trains her to become an opera singer, performing a work he has written. Meanwhile, Christine's fiance, Harry Hunter (Edward de Souza, researches the phantom's history and, after locating his whereabouts and finding him, decides to unmask the mysterious fellow. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

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