The Horror Of Hammer

The Horror Of Hammer (2001)
All Day Entertainment
Cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt
Extras: Commentary Track, Alternate Trailers, Featurettes

Just when it appeared Universal Studios had gotten as much mileage as possible out of their classic monsters of the 30s and 40s, along came Hammer Studios of Great Britain to breathe startling new life into our favorite screen creeps, enhanced and updated for audiences of the late 50s, 60s, and 70s. ’The Horror of Hammer’ is a wonderful excursion into the creative revamping of classic horror tales, Hammer style. Here, you’ll find over 50 original theatrical trailers from such Hammer classics as ’The Curse of Frankenstein,’ ’The Horror of Dracula,’ and ’The Mummy’ – films that made Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee household names. You’ll also find trailers from ’One Million Years B.C.,’ ’The Reptile,’ ’Rasputin, the Mad Monk,’ and so many more. It’s a delightfully demented excursion into the annals of Hammer cinema, featuring the best scenes and wild promotional hype for these fear-film favorites.

All Day Entertainment’s ’The Horror of Hammer’ is far from a technical milestone, the content varying in image quality and screen format depending upon the source material. Yet, appropriate to the disc’s content, the task of assembling together such a DVD from the various used and abused trailers must certainly have been a monstrous task. Still, the overall look is quite nice, especially to those of us who’ve suffered through inferior videotape releases of some of the material found here.

The audio is a bare bones Dolby Digital mono mix but, with exception of the badly out-of-sync ’Man Who Could Cheat Death’ trailer, it makes for a pleasing presentation. The musical score can get a bit shrill at times but the dialog excerpts are generally clear and understandable, again taking into account the typically low sound quality of such source material.

The surprise of this disc are its extras: four alternate version trailers, two featurettes – one featuring Christopher Lee, the other promoting ’When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth’ – and, a pleasantly energetic audio commentary featuring Hammer historians Ted Newsom, Gary Smith, and Stuart Galbraith. These genre aficionados present a rapid fire delivery of facts and observations, sometimes openly correcting and contradicting one another, made even more entertaining thanks to the swift pace at which the trailers they discuss spill across the screen.

Whether you’re new to Hammer horror, are looking to sample titles before purchasing a feature-length disc, or simply enjoy dimming the lights and treating yourself to some wonderfully explicit gothic horror, ’The Horror of Hammer’ is just what the doctor ordered.