Books Reviews

The Hammer Vault – Book Review

By Patrick Luce Dec 5, 2011, 5:06 GMT

Filled with behind-the-scenes information, pictures and details, The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn is a must own release for any fan of the legendary Hammer Film studio or horror movie junkie.

The hardcover book chronicles the studio from its first films, like 1955’sThe Quatermass Xperiment, to its current incarnation – with titles like Let Me In and the upcoming The Woman in Black. Hearn explains in the opening introduction that the book is not an attempt to give a complete history of Hammer, but a way to share details on each of its films – the good and the bad.

The films are dated by when production began rather than by release date, and normally feature several of the film’s movie posters (always a signature that you are about to see a Hammer Film). Details on the film range from box office success or disappointment and general press release information on the film to behind-the-scenes quotes from some of the most notable Hammer Film stars (such as Christopher Lee) and shots of the screenplays.

Although Hearn fills his book with rich written detail, the author also includes tons of images that are a treat to the eyes. Images range from production stills, posters and shots of scripts to a photo of Lee checking out a reel of film while in his Creature make-up and even a shot of Lee’s first Hammer Film contract. There are also great shots of Lee and Peter Cushing (Hammer’s two most notable actors) doing U.S. publicity tours as well as at various premiere events.

Hearn also makes sure to include some of Hammer Film’s lesser known releases (or at least lesser known to me since I have always focused on the studios horror titles) – such as their war films likes Yesterday’s Enemy and the crime genre titles like Hell is a City.

The author gives lots of details as he covers Hammer’s funky 70s period where titles like Creatures the World Forgot, Doctor Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Dracula, A.D. 1972, and The Claw made their way to the screen.

Hearn ends his book with the modern version of Hammer Film by giving details on the three titles to come from the studio since Hammer opened shop again in 2007 under the leadership of Simon Oakes. Those film’s include 2008’s Wake Wood, 2009’s The Resident, which saw Hammer icon Lee return to the studio, and the 2009’s vampire film Let Me In.

Thanks to its great assembly of photos (even the cover is incredible with Lee’s Dracula snarling over a sleeping woman) and its incredible level of detail on the studio’s films, The Hammer Vault is a book that is well worth the purchase price for any film fan or anyone who holds a special place in their hearts for the studio.

As a side note, Titan Books and Hearn released The Art of Hammer in November, 2010. The book is a collection of the Hammer Film posters. It is a perfect addition to Hearn’s new book and well worth picking up.

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