Showing posts with label the devil rides out. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the devil rides out. Show all posts

15 January 2014

Horror Channel Reviving Hammer Double-bill nights

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Vampire vixens, creepy castles, mouldy mummies, satanic sadists and Lee & Cushing on top show. Yes, its Hammer heaven as the UK’s number one TV destination for all things horror presents a HAMMER DOUBLE-FEATURE SEASON, which broadcasts from Sat Feb 1 – Feb 22 @ 9.00pm.

Here is the line-up:

Sat 1 Feb @ 21:00 – DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)

This sequel to the 1958 The Horror of Dracula sees the supposedly dead Count Dracula back in bloody business once his trusty servant Klove entices the English Kents - Charles (Francis Matthews), brother Alan (Charles Tingwell), and their wives, Diana (Suzan Farmer) and Helen (Barbara Shelley), inside his welcoming castle. Directed by Terence Fisher, this is seen as the “quintessential Hammer horror"

Sat 1 Feb @ 22:45 - SCARS OF DRACULA (1970)

Directed by Roy Ward Baker, this popular sequel to Taste the Blood of Dracula stars Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, who spreads his evil from his mountaintop castle. When libertine Paul Carlson disappears one night, his brother Simon and girlfriend trace him to the area, discovering a terrified populace. They make their way towards the sinister castle and its undead host. Also stars Dennis Waterman.

Sat 8 Feb @ 21.00 – FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967)

Directed by Terence Fisher, this popular feature stars Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein, who discovers a way of trapping the soul of a dead person. Frankenstein believes he can transfer the soul into a recently deceased female (Susan Denberg) to restore her to life. This is one of the most critically acclaimed Hammer films and Martin Scorsese cites this as one of his favourite films.


The aged Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is housed at an insane asylum where he has been made a surgeon, where, under the alias of Dr. Carl Victor, uses his position to continue his experiments in the creation of man. Filmed at Elstree Studios in 1972 but not released until 1974, it was the final chapter in the Hammer Frankenstein saga of films as well as director Terence Fisher's last film.

Sat 15 Feb @21:00 – THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (1967)

Directed by John Gilling, the film stars André Morell and David Buck as explorers who uncover the tomb of an ancient Egyptian mummy. (played by stuntman Eddie Powell, Christopher Lee’s regular stunt double), brought back to life to wreak revenge on his enemies. It was the third of Hammer's four Mummy films, and the last to feature a bandaged mummy. It was the final Hammer production to be made at Bray Studios.

Sat 15 Feb @ 22:45 - BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1971)

This was the swan song for director Seth Holt, who died before filming finished. An expedition, led by Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir), find the tomb of an evil Egyptian princess. Her preserved, still-bleeding severed hand sports a dazzling ruby ring. Several years later, Fuchs gives the ring to his daughter Margaret (Valerie Leon), who slowly begins to take on the malevolent traits of its original wearer.

Sat 22 Feb @ 21:00 – THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968)

The powers of good are pitted against the forces of evil in this gripping tale of Satanism, based on the best-selling 1934 novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley. Written by Richard Matheson and directed by Terence Fisher, the film stars Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi, Leon Greene and Patrick Mower. Christopher Lee has often said that of all his vast back catalogue of films this is his favourite

Sat 22 Feb @ 22:50 - TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976)

Directed by Peter Sykes, this was the second of Wheatley's "black magic" novels to be filmed by Hammer, following The Devil Rides Out and stars Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman, Nastassja Kinski and Denholm Elliott. Wheatley disliked the film because it did not follow his novel and found it obscene. Wheatley told Hammer Production that they were not to make another film from his novels ever again

Other highlights during Feb include the UK TV premieres of SAWNEY: FLESH OF MAN (Fri 21 Feb @ 22:55) and SHARKZILLA (Tues 25 Feb @ 16:00). Plus there is the Network premiere of OPEN WATER (Fri 7 Feb @ 22:50)

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 |

22 October 2012

Hammer Films DVD Special Edition Reviews: Rasputin, The Mummy's Shroud, The Devil Rides Out

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The Hammer vaults flaunt perhaps the world’s greatest collection of classic horror.  Sure, the Universal monsters have garnered legendary status and are perhaps a little more dependable for production value, but for cult status and cast, the British titan has no real adversaries. Perhaps due to the company’s recent revival and the commencing of its film production (last years The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe was new-wave Hammer produce) classic Hammer films have been re-mastered and reissued on DVD and Blu Ray, making now the best time to own an integral part of cinema history.

Rasputin (1966)

Rasputin, a holy man with the power to heal the sick, slowly makes his way through pre-revolution Russia towards St Petersburg with the sole intent of working his way towards the Tsars, his ruthless pursuit of wealth and power mark him as a danger to all those who stand in his way.
                One of Hammer’s many historical-epics-on-a-tight-budget, Rasputin starring Christopher Lee as the infamous holy man-cum-mad-man is handled with diligent care and mindfulness to its capabilities. In less skilled hands the film could have appeared over-reaching, but with a solid cast and careful scripting it keeps its focus on character.
                It’s important that the film be labelled as a historic drama with a dark side (what history doesn’t have a dark side?) as opposed to Hammer’s typical horror, to label this a horror movie feels somewhat criminal and dismissive. The thing that constantly amazes is Lee’s wonderful performance as the boisterous, brutish, subtle, and manipulative Rasputin.  Never before, and possibly after, has Lee achieved that range of character; his ability to slip between the mad monk’s many faces is the prize of the feature and the staple that holds it together.  The film does unfortunately waver at points, losing its focus or drifting into less arresting grounds, but on the whole it’s an enjoyable a and unwholesome affair.


The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

The Mummy’s Shroud is perhaps the most bipolar in terms of quality out the three releases, at its best points it appears quant, romantic even, adventurous, and unsettling, yet on the other hand it can seem amateur and messy.  The third of Hammer’s Mummy films, Shroud allows itself to become victim to tedious writing, the typical story of “archaeologists warned against their escapades, unleash terror on themselves”, seems the basis for just about every Mummy film in existence. If you ignore the recycled narrative then the film can still thrill.
                Once the Mummy is awakened the film breathes new life into itself picking up pace. The Mummy scenes are actually quite vicious; Eddie Powell’s (Christopher Lee’s regular stunt double) slow cumbersome movements and the brutality of his Mummy’s attacks foresee a time when monsters like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees would rule the screens. A fantastic climax leaves the film in good standing, but one can’t help but wish the rest of the film achieved that level of excitement.
                There are glimpses of style and suspense but too few to mark the film out, this along with the fact the feature is mostly a few tense scenes strung together with a lack of real grit, lure the film into a middle ground of average horror.
Directed by: John Gilling Cast: André Morell, John Phillips , David Buck


The Devil Rides Out (1968)
One of the truly great Hammer contributions to cinema, The Devil Rides Out is an exercise in perfect occult horror. Adapted by Richard Matheson from a Dennis Wheatley novel, the film follows two old friends, The Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex Van Ryn(Leon Greene) as they try to rescue a deceased friend’s’ son from the clutches of a satanic cult. The cult, led by the diabolic Mocata (Charles Gray), will stop at nothing to retrieve the young man and punish those who crossed them.
                Jumping straight to the point is a key factor in the films’ success; the story keeps the characters moving and never takes a dull or pointless turn. A stellar performance from Lee (one of his very best, and personal favourites) ensures that the plot is guided carefully around any possibly ridiculous devices. One of the key strengths of the piece is Lee’s polar relationship to Gray’s equally mesmerising Mocata, the two play out a battle of wits whilst rarely sharing any actual screen time.  The action is kept in check, the plot is gripping, the Wicker man vibe is strong and helps put a stamp of purely British terror on the feature, plus there are more than a few genuinely unnerving scenes.     
The film is frequently criticised for its disappointing visual effects, but apart from a dodgy spider gag the effects work pretty damn well.  The appearance of the actual Devil is a terrifying visitation thanks to some brutally unattractive make-up, as is the appearance of the Angel of Death, things that out of context could seem dated, but given the sharpness of the script and Terence Fisher’s tight direction pulls off smoothly.
                Few Hammer films achieve the crisp and startling quality of this piece after all these years, and even fewer are almost faultless. The Devil Rides Out is not just a fantastic example of Hammer’s capabilities, but a perfect alignment of those qualities that evade most horror productions; a stellar script, perfect cast, and genuine thrills.