The History of Hammer Films Part Three: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)/Horror of Dracula (1958)

Michael-Carreras

Interview with Michael Carreras
How was the key creative team of screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, director Terence Fisher, and actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee brought together for The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957?
Michael Carreras: Tony Hinds deserves all the credit for assembling that incredible package of talent. They were a natural team. It was inevitable that they would unite on a project. Frankenstein was the first subject that was appropriate for them all. Jimmy originally wanted to become a director. He worked his way up at Hammer from assistant director to production manager, and then developed a strong yen to write. Tony gave him the opportunity to try a draft, and it turned out to be extremely good. Terry was considered the number one Hammer contract director, and had already made 11 previous pictures for us. When Val Guest was directing Quatermass and Leslie Norman was directing X-The Unknown, Terry expressed to Tony his desire to handle more gutsy subject matter. He was very much in tune with that type of material. Peter Cushing had received numerous acting awards for his TV work, and had won the Best Actor Award the previous year for 1984. It was quite an accomplishment for Tony to get Peter to work for us. Frankly, Lee was cast as the Creature simply because the part required a tall man. Ironically, he has become known for the wonderful resonance of his voice-which goes on and on. But back then, he was cast in a part for which he had to keep his mouth shut. He may have been better off that way.

Anthony Hinds produced Frankenstein, but you were credited as executive producer. What did you contribute to the film?
Michael Carreras: I was not enamored with that type of material. I wasn’t a horror fan, and had never read the classic gothic works. By that time, I was deeply immersed in my administrative duties as executive producer, which were different from those of a line producer. Therefore, although my name is in large letters on those early horror films, the man who actually put them together and saw them through was Tony Hinds. I was always invited to see rushes and rough cuts, and was expected to contribute my input. I like to think that I interfered as much with the horror films as I did with the previous pictures, but I wasn’t there on a daily basis, as Tony was.

Did you have any idea that Frankenstein would become a worldwide sensation, and set the tone for Hammer’s future productions?
Michael Carreras: Not at all. Somehow, the combination of talents working on it-and I must include cinematographer Jack Asher-began to jell. The film looked far more expensive than it actually was. By the end of the third week of shooting, we had about 30 minutes in rough assembly, and were all very pleased with the way it was turning out. We just hoped there was an audience for it. Fortunately, Frankenstein opened to some amazing scenes in London. Crowds appeared from nowhere in Leicester Square. They began queuing up in the morning, waiting for the cinema doors to open. TV crews showed up and the story was on that evening’s newscast. Taking the bull by the horns, my father, Tony Hinds and I went to America with the cans of film under our arms, looking for an American distributor. We showed the movie to anybody who wanted to see it. The remarkable thing about American movie moguls is that, no matter how much they may want your picture, they never tell you so. They left us in a cheap hotel, and we thought our telephone had been disconnected. We became very despondent, and then suddenly, everybody began to make offers. We were asked to go see the big noises at Warner Bros., and that was a great moment. They bought Frankenstein and gave us a wonderful deal. We made more money than we had ever seen before.

Hammer followed The Curse of Frankenstein with Horror of Dracula in 1958. Was it a deliberate decision to remake each classic monster from the earlier Universal cycle?
Michael Carreras: We looked at all the old Universal horror films, and carefully studied how many they made about Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolfman. It seemed an obvious choice that our next one should be a Dracula picture. If that was successful, then a Mummy movie must be made.

Fisher, Sangster, Cushing, Lee and Asher were all reunited for Dracula, as well as for The Mummy in 1959. Why did you maintain the same basic team for each remake?
Michael Carreras: We wanted to establish a continuity of production. The distinctive feature about Hammer was that we always made programs of pictures. It was our policy to keep the key unit together. We also wanted a home of our own instead of renting other people’s houses in lieu of a studio. We made up to four films in a single house, and then moved on. Through this method, we achieved more production value on screen than could ever have been accomplished under comparable studio conditions. But we wanted to have one team in our own home, so we bought Bray Studios in 1957. We had a sort of family atmosphere at Bray, during the period 1957-1962. It was a time which I will always remember fondly. The majority of our key production personnel were under contract, and they had a feeling of personal pride in their work which reached across the board. There was a marvelous camaraderie among the artists and the technicians. We kept it going for as long as we could.

You directed your first feature, the war film The Steel Bayonet, in 1957. Was it your ambition to become a director, or was the project assigned to you simply because you were a Hammer staff employee?
Michael Carreras: I wanted very much to have a crack at directing, to test myself in improving my knowledge of production. I thought I might become slightly more sympathetic to some of the problems faced by our other directors. But it was not my intention to give up producing in favor of directing. Being a director is a wonderful profession, but by that point, I had become an executive, and was committed to producing.

Hammer’s next film, produced and directed by Michael Carreras was a World War II action drama entitled The Steel Bayonet (1957). Shot in black and white in a widescreen process called Hammerscope, it introduced a then-unusual technique, later made famous in the WWII epic The Longest Day. This consisted of having the cast actually speak German in all sequences involving German characters, and printing English translations of the dialogue in subtitles at the bottom of the picture. This technique has since become a standard device for filmmakers seeking a documentary flavour in their productions. Based on the personal experiences of writer Howard Clewes, it starred Leo Genn, Kieron Moore and Michael Medwin, with Michael Carreras now directing his first feature length film. (The Suez crisis exploded the week before production and the War Office withdrew all Army support—we had to find tanks and weapons from private sources . .. in the end had so many I could have started my own war.)

As the end of the North African Campaign draws to a close, and the German and Italian forces are being pushed back on Tunis. A company of British Infantry are tasked with holding a small Arab farm against an expected last-ditch counter-attack; the farm’s water tower will be used as an observation point by a few Royal Artillery spotters. To defend the farm British Lt. Colonel Derry picks a company led by Major Alan Gerrard; these men have been in the thick of the fighting around Tunis and are greatly reduced in number (described by the narrator as down to barely two platoons). So Gerrard’s company set out on foot for the farm; on the way they are joined by Captain Dickie Mead and his signaller, Ames. Arriving at the farm, Gerrard’s men chase out the occupants and dig slit trenches out in front of the farm. With the water tower and its ladder in clear view, Mead decides to wait until just before dawn to climb the tower while it is still dark. The next day Mead uses his position to target the artillery onto the German forces, all is going well until the Germans send out a reconnaissance patrol to pin point the observation post, which Gerrard’s men dispose of. With the Germans sure of their position, it becomes a test of nerve for Gerrard’s men, seasoned troops and new boys alike. All of them stick it out until they are finally ordered to retreat with their job done. Mead decides to stay behind and cover their escape with artillery fire, leading to the death of Sergeant Major Gill and Private Middleditch. And when Mead finally succumbs to German fire, only the wounded Gerrard is left. With the Germans in the farm and his surviving men well on their way to safety, the mortally wounded Gerrard radios for the artillery to totally destroy the farm, killing Gerrard and the Germans’ last chance at the same time.

Jack Goodlatte, Managing Director of the ABC cinema chain, is one of the most powerful figures in the British film industry. That Hammer should remake Frankenstein was his suggestion, and one the small independent naturally took seriously. Hammer’s first version of Mary Shelley’s story was also the indirect result of a script authored by Americans Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky, who would later found rival horror company Amicus. “I started Hammer in the horror business!” Subotsky cheerfully recalled. “After I did Rock, Rock, Rock, my first feature film, I wrote a screenplay for Frankenstein. We took it to a potential financier, and he said ‘What do you guys know about writing horror films?’ Anyway, he sent it to his friend James Carreras in England, and they [Hammer] asked us to make some changes, so we made some changes. In the end, they decided our script would be too expensive to make and got a new script from Jimmy Sangster!

Sir James Carreras began negotiations for the new film shortly after the completion of QUATERMASS II in July 1956. A screenplay was written soon afterwards (reputably by Milton Subotsky) which would be shot in black and white over a three-week period and called FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER. Anthony Hinds;”I was given & script which I didn’t like, it was rather boring and a sort of rehash of the old one, but anyway we were going to do it. Then to my delight and my partner’s horror we found that Universal were waiting with a writ behind their backs and if we put in anything that was in their film that wasn’t in the original book, or was an original of theirs, they would serve an injunction and the film would be banned. So we had to make a film that was entirely different from the first one. Well then it became fun!”

Initially planned as a cheap black-and-white production with the ageing Boris Karloff as the Monster, their plans stalled when US giant Universal Pictures raised the possibility of a lawsuit against Hammer should they use any familiar elements from Universal’s Frankenstein cycle – most notably Jack Pierce’s distinct and copyrighted Monster make-up. Hammer took up insurance against a possible lawsuit to a maximum payout of $3,000,000, after assurances outlined in a letter from James Carreras to US partner Eliot Hyman dated 23rd August 1956:

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“FRANKENSTEIN” by Shelley is in public domain. If our screenplay is based on the book “FRANKENSTEIN” nobody on Earth can do anything about it and we are entitled to use the title “FRANKENSTEIN”. Whatever original ideas are added to the book are in order. If we use any ideas in the Universal International pictures on “FRANKENSTEIN” then we are headed for trouble. It is our intention that the script shall be as per the book backed by original ideas and having nothing whatsoever to do with the Universal International pictures, which puts us 100% in the clear.

Now geared up for shooting in Eastmancolour – the first British horror movie to be made in colour – Jimmy Sangster penned a new script entitled Frankenstein and the Monster bound by these very constraints. The chosen director was appointed for decidedly pragmatic reasons. “Hammer wanted me to see earlier versions of the Frankenstein story, but I refused to do this, because I think everyone should bring his own individual approach to a subject … I wanted the film to grow out of personal contact with the actors and out of the influence of the very special sets.” The Curse of Frankenstein was to be a milestone in a celebrated career.

When he wrote the screenplay for Curse Of Frankenstein (1957), Jimmy Sangster went against the traditional ideas that had made up the screen Frankenstein. Instead of following the same route that resulted in the monster being called Frankenstein, Sangster went back to the source of things and took a page from Mary Shelley. The Creature was made secondary and would become the result of the plot’s developments. This time the spotlight would be on Baron Frankenstein himself. But instead of following Mary Shelley’s basic concept to the letter (television would do that much later), Sangster developed an entirely new character for Frankenstein, giving him back his original name of Victor (instead of Henry of the Universal films). With Curse, the old viewpoint of the myth was shattered and a new concept was born.

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Christopher Lee, 1957

Christopher Lee Interview on “The Curse of Frankenstein”
How did you get your role in CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN?
Christopher Lee: I’m always being asked this, and I can never give a completely satisfactory answer. I had been an actor for about ten years. I had been in every kind of thing you can think of-weekly rep, television, television films. Best grounding for a film actor, of course, is television films, in leading parts eventually. I had done one or two films playing slightly bigger parts as the time went on, but nothing really outstanding or demanding until I got the part of the French aristocrat in THE TALE OF TWO CITIES, which was, of course, a very villainous character played by Basil Rathbone in the Ronald Coleman version. I suppose, you might say I started my career of villainy in that particular picture. At the same time this was going on, I think I’m right in saying this, the idea of Frankenstein came up with Hammer. They were looking for someone to play The Creature … they obviously wanted a very tall man, a man who had some knowledge and experience of movement and mime and who was able to act without speaking if necessary. My agent suggested me. I went up to see them, and they said yes. It was as simple as that.

I understand you’re not particularly fond of The Curse of Frankenstein.
Christopher Lee: The only reason I didn’t enjoy that was because of the great discomfort of the makeup. As somebody said, I looked like a road accident, which was not far from the truth. The problem we had with that particular makeup, is that the original, unforgettable makeup that Boris wore, was the copyright of Universal. So we couldn’t even attempt to imitate it. So Phil Leakey, the makeup man, and I got together and tried out some of the most unbelievable looking things you’ve ever seen! We ended up with something that did look vaguely like a human being. That was in 1957, and of course, now look what we’ve got: heart transplants, kidney transplants, arms being sewn on. The mind really boggles at what lies ahead. Who knows? The secret of life itself may be just around the corner. So that was primarily why I didn’t like the picture, purely in terms of discomfort. Also, on the first day of shooting, I rushed into Peter Cushing’s dressing room with a rather alarming effect, with all that makeup on, and said to him: “‘Look at this, I’ve got absolutely nothing to say in this film, nothing at all!” He said, “You’re lucky. I’ve read the script!”

How would you describe the character of Frankenstein’s Creature?
Christopher Lee: A child. I had seen Boris Karloff’s performance in the three Frankenstein films that he did. I thought it was one of the most brilliant pieces of acting I’ve ever seen, and I still think so. The one preeminent quality in his performance was this childlike quality and the loneliness, the sadness of an unwanted being. I’ve always tried to put an element of sadness and loneliness into every one of those characters, because it’s unconventional. It’s unexpected and, if you get the sympathy of the audience, it creates a far greater impact when you do something that could be construed as destructive or wicked. They say, “Poor thing, he didn’t really mean to do it. He had no choice.” I played the Creature—so far as I could imagine this as a being put together, literally, from pieces of other people. With a damaged brain. I tried to play the character like an ill-coordinated, childish creature who had no control over his emotions. We weren’t allowed to copy the makeup, of course, because that was copyright Universal Films. So we could not use the Karloff makeup, which is just as well because mine was bad enough. Some critic said that I looked like a road accident.

Tell us about the makeup.
Christopher Lee: Well, I did three tests, if I remember rightly, for the character. They were quite dreadful. I mean, one of them made me look like a combination between a wolf and a pig. Another was, surprisingly, quite close to the Elephant Man. And then we put our heads together and said, “Look, it’s bits and pieces of other people, so it should be patched together.” So there were lumps and scars and one dead eye and the stitch marks and everything, which was pretty unpleasant. Today it would be considerably easier, because makeups have obviously improved, but it took about three to four hours every day. It didn’t take very long to take it off with Boris it took about two hours and I didn’t have to wear the terribly heavy things he had to wear. The only disagreeable aspect was when I had to get into this tank, because the Creature comes out of the tank of chemicals and reveals himself to his creator. I had to lie in this tepid water, which gradually got colder and colder and colder. Then there was another occasion when I was shot in the eye. I don’t know whether the chemical composition of blood has changed very much over the years, but in order to get that effect I had to put some makeup blood in the palm of my hand. Then, when I was shot, I covered my eye and took my hand away and you saw all the blood all over the place. And when this happened, I gave vent to an carsplitting shriek which literally paralyzed everybody on the set. I don’t think they’d ever heard anything like it, and it was genuine because there’s some ageni in this blood-glycerine, whatever–and it felt like somebody had put a red hot poker into my eye.

After Curse of Frankenstein, would you have repeated that role if they’d decided to carry on Frankenstein’s creature like they did with Boris Karloff?
Christopher Lee: No, I don’t think I would have played that character again, because I don’t think there’s anything more I could have done with it. To me, the definitive performance was Boris’, of course, which was absolutely brilliant. Contrary to what people seem to think, he didn’t clomp

The casting of Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein proved to be one of the finest moves since Boris Karloff portrayed the Monster and Bela Lugosi gleefully fanged his victims. From the beginning, Cushing brought something special to the part that, in other hands, might have come across as a “mad scientist,” wiping out whoever possessed parts or knowledge he needed simply for the power and joy of killing (as well as vanity, that is an ego trip of showing everybody what a genius he is).

Cushing’s Baron emerged as a man dedicated (remember that word) to the pursuit of knowledge in a time when science was still primitive. In fact, as any fan of the series realizes, Frankenstein was way ahead of his time. Cushing himself, during his appearance at the John Player Lecture Series, acknowledged this, quipping, “The strange thing is that when he first started these films back in 1956, everything that Frankenstein got up to was pretty impossible, but now Dr. Barnard has caught up. He hasn’t gone quite as far as me because I have transplanted brains. Not very successfully, I admit, but we’ve all got to start somewhere.”

In 19th century Switzerland, Baron Victor Frankenstein is awaiting execution for the murder of his maid Justine. He tells the story of his life to a visiting priest. At age 15, the death of Victor’s mother leaves him in sole control of the Frankenstein estate. He agrees to continue to pay a monthly allowance to his impoverished aunt Sophia and his young cousin Elizabeth. Soon afterwards, he engages scientist Paul Krempe to tutor him. After two years of intense study, Victor and Paul begin collaborating on scientific experiments. One night, after a successful experiment in which they bring a dead puppy back to life, Victor suggests that they create a perfect human being from body parts. Paul assists Victor at first but eventually withdraws, unable to tolerate the continued scavenging of human remains, particularly after Victor’s fiancée—his now grown-up cousin Elizabeth—comes to live with them.

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Victor assembles his creation with a robber’s corpse found on a gibbet and both hands and eyes purchased from charnelhouse-workers. For the brain, Victor seeks out an ageing and distinguished professor, so that the creature can have a sharp mind and the accumulation of a lifetime of knowledge. He invites the professor to his house in the guise of a friendly visit, but pushes him over the stair banister and kills him, making it look like an accident. After the professor is buried, Victor proceeds to the vault and removes his brain. Paul attempts to stop him, and the brain is damaged in the ensuing scuffle. Paul also tries to persuade Elizabeth to leave the house, as he has before, but she refuses.

With all of the parts assembled, Victor brings the creature to life. Unfortunately, the creature’s damaged brain leaves it violent and psychotic, without the professor’s intelligence. Victor locks up the creature, but it escapes and kills an old blind man that it encounters in the woods. After Paul shoots the creature in the eye, he and Victor bury it in the woods. However, after Paul leaves town, Victor digs up the creature and brings it back to life. Justine, with whom Victor has been having an affair, claims that she is pregnant by him and threatens to tell the authorities about his strange experiments if he refuses to marry her. He has her killed by the monster. Paul returns to the house at Elizabeth’s invitation the evening before she and Victor are to be married. Victor shows him the revived creature, and Paul threatens to report him to the authorities. The monster escapes up on to the roof where it threatens Elizabeth, but Victor arrives and throws an oil lamp at it, causing it to fall through the roof-light and into a vat of acid, destroying all evidence that it existed.

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The priest does not believe Victor’s story. When Paul visits him, Victor begs Paul to testify that it was the creature who killed Justine, but he refuses and denies all knowledge of the mad experiment. Paul joins Elizabeth, who is waiting outside, and tells her there is nothing they can do for Victor. After they leave, Victor is led away to the guillotine.

Problems were encountered from Hammer’s American partners, Eliot Hyman’s Associated Artists Productions Ltd. The backers were very concerned that the film would suffer from a surfeit of Britishness. Hyman wrote to Carreras on 28th August 1956: “I don’t believe we ever discussed cast, and when you use the expression ‘competent British cast’ you must bear in mind that there are British casts and British casts. You still have not told me what the cast consists of and it is needless for me to point out to you that although the people themselves may be British, just how British are they by way of accent as the effect will be upon the acceptance of the picture in America … Replied Carreras: “… rest assured that the British cast will be absolutely first class and will have no trace whatsoever of a British accent … Now, whether you want Professor Frankenstein to be an American is entirely up to you, if so please let me have suggested names to play this part … In our budget we have only allowed £1,250 for this part, for which we would get a very competent actor but of course with no name …” He already had that “very competent actor” in mind.

Budgeted at a modest £65,000, the film went into production on 19th November, 1956 at Bray Studios. At the time, Bray consisted of a large country house, in which sets were built, and one sound stage, measuring 40ft by 48ft. Frankenstein’s laboratory was constructed on this sound stage, with all other interiors being shot inside the house and exteriors in the grounds surrounding the studio. The night-shot of Castle Frankenstein, seen several times throughout the film, is actually the outside of Oakley Court, situated next-door to Bray Studios. Camera operator Len Harris would use the comparatively new sharp-focusing Vinton/Everest TTL camera throughout shooting, despite initial objections from director of photography Jack Asher. The slow Eastmancolour film stock required the camera to be set at f2, the maximum aperture possible to allow the greatest amount of light, giving vivid and vibrant colour highlights.

Len Harris Camera Operator

Interview with Len Harris Camera Operator
When THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was shot at Bray, was there just the one sound stage?
Len Harris: Well not really. They built one stage which they called Stage 3, not a very big one. They built that just outside the ballroom site. Stage 2 was the ballroom and then later on they built a quite big stage, which was Stage 1. By that time Hammer were making bigger productions. In those early days if we needed any really big sets we’d go to Elstree Studios or Pinewood. But Bray was big enough for most things. So for THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN We just had the ballroom stage and the one stage outside.

So all the interiors for THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN would’ve been shot inside the ballroom?
Len Harris: Yes, sets were built in there because it was a fair size.We had some very good Art Directors, Bernie Robinson is the best known. Before that we had Jim Wills who retired before the bigger pictures started. He had built some excellent sets and was part of the company, one of the original four people who made up Hammer Films. When I knew him he was an Art Director but he had directed two films for Hammer, one with Paul Robeson (THE SONG OF FREEDOM) and one with Stanley Lupino (SPORTING LOVE). That was in the old days of the company, before the war. I think they made about four films before the war and started up again just after the war. So Jim Wills was the Art Director in the early days and Bernie Robinson took over on all the early Dracula and Frankenstein pictures. He had been a stage theatrical director and was a very experienced man.

I believe the first scenes on THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN were shot at the entrance to the ballroom stage?
Len Harris: Yes, they were, Bits of set were built there, doctored up a bit. And the guillotine was just down behind us. For the final scenes we had special effects men doing the fire and the prop men also helped on that. Jack Curtis was our Chief Engineer/Electrician and he also did a lot on the special effects. I also remember on THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN that they gave Peter Cushing a nice spruce cabbage to cut into when he was cutting off the head! Obviously you didn’t see this, but it just gave the artist who was in close-up some thing to react to.

Did you attend the premiere for THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN?
Len Harris: No, but I’ll tell you an interesting thing. When Warner Brothers got the print and it was shown at the Warner Theatre, the chief projectionist said it was the sharpist print they’d had for many, many years. I think that reflects well on the Vinten camera we had. I might of gone to the trade show, but Hammer used to, as a rule, give us a special screening of the films up at Hammer House in Wardour Street, one night some time after they were finished. They’d take all the staff from the studio, including the restaurant people, to Hammer House and drop them home afterwards. They were good that way.

The first scene to go before the cameras, was the night-time sequence where Frankenstein cuts down and steals the body of the hanged highwayman from a gibbet. Stuntman Captain Jock Easton’s services were required for this first scene, where he was suspended from the gibbet in an adapted parachute harness – perilous, as had Easton breathed out, the condensation would have shown up in the cold night air. He’d also supervise Professor Bernstein’s plunge from the balcony on to the marble floor beneath; a section of the floor was removed and replaced – apparently – by a small trampoline, covered in paper to match. Most dangerous was the climax of the film, where the Creature was required to be engulfed in flame and fall through a skylight into an acid bath beneath. Lee volunteered to perform the stunt. According to publicist Leslie Frewin, “Terence Fisher stared hard at him. ‘My dear fellow she said, I want to finish the picture with my Creature intact, not in hospital with broken ribs. We’ll use a double.” Easton was smeared in anti-flash paste before donning the Creature’s costume, which was then covered in petroleum jelly. Nursing Sister Yvonne Parke of Putney, called upon to ensure Easton’s safety, must have blanched at Fisher’s insistence to smother Easton with “more – more” of the jelly. “I want him like a human torch – or rather – an inhuman torch,” he’s reported as saying. Easton only narrowly managed to fall into the ‘acid bath’. “Don’t let them tell you I wasn’t scared,” he said. “I was!”

“I must admit that my being asked to direct was a stroke of pure luck,” Fisher has said. “Under the terms of my contract I was owed a film by Hammer. The next on their list was Frankenstein.” Hammer executives urged Fisher to screen the earlier Frankenstein films–but Fisher’s years of experience advised him better, and he refused. “I tried to forget the idea that I was continuing the central horror tradition of the cinema. I wanted the film to grow out of personal contact with the actors and out of the influence of the special sets.”

Denied the use of Universal’s copyrighted makeup, Hammer’s Phil Leakey was forced to create a new appearance for the creature. Leakey’s design for the Monster was a more horrible version of Mary Shelley’s original description. Hideously scarred skin was stretched over a deathmask face, with one of the creature’s eyes obscured by a cataract. Excess flesh dangled from the stitches which joined the head to the body. Denied the use of the Universal Frankenstein makeup, Hammer had Phil Leakey painstakingly design a monster looking as if it had been patched together using crude surgical methods. believed. Leakey recalls the time period: “I do hate horror films, especially of the type that Hammer and other people like them made. And to make matters worse, Hammer suddenly decided they wanted to go into production on this picture in a matter of weeks-but nobody had any good ideas yet about what to do with it in terms of story, character and makeup! I even asked around the studio myself to see if anyone had any good ideas…and no one did. Not a single person! What would the Creature look like? Obviously, that’s a major concern whenever you’re making a Frankenstein film and yet, all anyone at Hammer really knew was that there was a strict order riot to copy the Hollywood version, because Jack Pierce’s makeup had been copyrighted! Finally, largely due to Christopher’s input, we decided that, as the Creature was being constructed from bits and pieces of other humans, that was how his face should look: made up of bits and pieces, all stitched together.

“We really needed months–or at least weeks to experiment with different materials and try different approaches,” Leakey feels. “But we just didn’t have that amount of time, and as a result I was not very happy with the end product. Working straight on the actor’s face, Leakey built up a collage using wax, rubber and cotton wool, once memorably described as looking “like a road accident.” The make-up itself took two-and-a-half to three hours to apply. The pressure of time meant that Leakey was never able to make prosthetic mask-pieces of the face, as he recently recounted: “I think it was Peter Cushing who said ‘Let’s do a mock-up in clay to see what it looks like.’ I used mortician’s wax and started shoving it all over his face, adding a patchwork of various stitch-marks. It was really a trial to see if I could make it out of plastic and put it on fairly quickly.” Much to Lee’s chagrin, the Creature’s face remained every bit as uncomfortable to remove as it was to put on in the first place.

“In the final analysis I don’t think my work on The Curse of Frankenstein suffered from the restrictions imposed upon it by the copyright considerations as much as it did from our lack of experimental time. The makeup took a long time to get on each day, and in spite of bloodcurdling threats from Christopher about the revenge he might take on me, we remained very good friends. Removing the makeup at the end of each day although it took a lot less time-was, I think, even more painful for Christopher than putting it on.

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The story that Lee was never allowed to eat with the cast and crew due to his character’s horrific appearance is disputed: “We were all adults who knew this was an actor,” remembers Hazel Court. Lee is not so sure: “… nobody was keen to eat with me, because the sight of me put them off their food. Hazel Court and Valerie Gaunt only did so under pressure from the publicity department,” he claimed in his autobiography.

At the time Christopher Lee’s Creature was unveiled to the press Hammer were over-confident about his appearance. “They’d arranged a meeting in London for the press and various people and they thought it had all been fixed and settled,” remembers Leakey. “They must have thought you got all these things out of your pocket. To my mind, we were just beginning, but they said ‘No, this is it.”

While the early scenes of the film were being shot, Hammer’s make-up man, Phil Leakey began experimenting with Lee Creature make-up. Universal held the copyright on their monster makeup, from the bolts in its neck right down to its shuffling walk, Leakey had to start from scratch and devise a look that bore no resemblance to the Karloff monster. Leakey has since acknowledged that Lee himself contributed greatly to this aim and between them they created a horrific looking Creature that looked the genuine results of Frankenstein’s crude surgery methods. Lee recalls, “The make-up was quite horrendous, there was no other word for it. It was very much hit and miss between myself and the make-up men concerned, because we were not allowed to copy the Universal make-up that Boris Karloff wore, because of the question of copyright. So I looked, as someone quite rightly said, like a road accident. It was also excessively uncomfortable and it was almost impossible for me to eat and drink. And naturally there weren’t many people willing to sit down and eat and drink with me! I could only act with my body and one eye, since, as it happened, the other was blind, and under this mask were undertaker’s wax and cotton wool, glue and plastic, and all sorts of unpleasent things. I remember I wasn’t able to wear the make-up for very long. I had to eat mashed potatoes and drink everything through a straw, because if I moved my face, everything came off!”

Colour filming would necessitate the replacement of one of the cast. Tests were made of a black-and-white puppy which would appear as the dog successfully revived in one of Victor’s first experiments. Fisher pointed out that it was a colour movie, so a black-and-tan dog was found as an alternative. Star Robert Urquhart was pleased; he adopted the dog (christened – what else – ‘Frankie’) and would keep it for the rest of its life. Despite his contract requiring him to undertake no “really hazardous work,” Christopher Lee would soon find himself in uncomfortable situations. In the scene where Paul shoots the Creature, Lee had to smack a dollop of Kensington Gore in the palm of his hand into his eye, then take it away, creating the illusion. Unfortunately, the gunge supplied reacted with his eye, causing him excruciating pain. “For an hour I thought I’d lost my sight,” he later said. He was also forced to stand in the open air while hot water was ladled over him to suggest the newly-minted Creature’s bandages ‘steaming’. With snow on the ground, the hapless Lee froze. Tony Nelson-Keys brought him a bottle of brandy as consolation, but to no avail; the scene never made it into the finished print.

Other scenes were lost in the editing process. It’s long been thought that a shot of the decapitated head dissolving in acid was included in the Japanese print; common practice in the less squeamish territories (it should be noted, however, that Fisher always disputed this). More importantly, Sally Walsh has recalled acting out a sequence in which Elizabeth Junior walks up to the coffin of the previous Baron Frankenstein. This possibly suggests that Victor was in fact to be the son of the scientist who first made a monster – and might also explain why Sangster’s screenplay was set in the year 1860, and not in the 18th Century as per Shelley’s novel. Some early publicity material seems to support this hypothesis; the synopsis given in the Regal Films International press release claims that the Creature ” … was the result of experiments he (Victor) had conducted from notes and formulae left by his father, the old Baron, who had been the creator of a former ‘Monster’.” Early cast lists, too, indicate a ‘Mother Mrs Frankenstein perhaps. Several other characters and actors who never appear in the finished print are referred to in documents as late as release, lending further credence to the theory.

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Interview with Hazel Court
In making films for Hammer, did you get to meet the people who ran the company?
Hazel Court: Oh, yes, I knew Jimmy Carreras and his son Michael very well indeed. They took over the Manor House at Bray, and the grounds became the studios. It was all on a shoestring, but the amazing thing is that I remember incredibly beautiful sets. And I never had cheap costumes there. I had the best of everything. We didn’t get much money for working in Hammer pictures, and they didn’t cost a great deal. but they made a fortune.

Did the Carrerases enjoy making horror films, or did they make them only because they saw the future in them?
Hazel Court: They had a feel for horror films and they saw the future. They were both wonderful men.

Had you ever seen any of the old Frankenstein films before making The Curse of Frankenstein for Hammer?
Hazel Court: No. But we ran the original film with Boris Karloff, and little did I think that I would act with Boris Karloff years later, in The Raven! We didn’t really know what we were doing, but Terence Fisher had a wonderful eye for all that, and he would get it all on film without any fuss. He was marvelous in that way. We were always at great ease and we were never pressured; with Terence Fisher you had all the time you wanted.

Hammer screenwriter Chris Wicking says that Fisher looked upon his horror films as “a bit of a joke.”
Hazel Court: Terence Fisher may have thought of them as a lark, but he had such a good technique that he did a good job. He was excellent-a good solid, well-informed and knowledgeable director.

Were these Hammer films one-take pictures?
Hazel Court: No, we’d go two and three takes on those.

How did you like working with Peter Cushing on The Curse of Frankenstein?
Hazel Court: He was a wonderful man, a trained actor from the Old Vic. Peter Cushing was born a century too late—he really comes from the 19th century! A lovely man. I don’t remember too much about Christopher Lee, even though I worked with him twice, in The Curse of Frankenstein and The Man Who Could Cheat Death. He was a very funny man, a great raconteur with lots of stories.

Your daughter is also in Curse of Frankenstein.
Hazel Court: That’s right, she’s a little girl of 3 or 4. They wanted someone who looked like me to play me as a little girl. in one of the flashback scenes, so I suggested Sally. She hated it, hated being in it! It was all very foreign to her. and she didn’t understand it. She still remembers it today. and still doesn’t like it!

The gory and sexy scenes in Curse were groundbreakers in 1957. What did you think of them at the time?
Hazel Court: You know, we always took it lightly and kind of almost tongue-in-cheek, even though we always played it seriously. But it was fun. The slasher films they make today are horrible, they’re awful! So many fans write to me and say that it’s not the “true” horror anymore. They’re just nasty films, whereas the Frankenstein films and all the other ones we made there were played for real, but kind of tongue-in-cheek and fun. Today’s films have different connotations. I honestly believe that the films which I appeared in are among the last of the really well done horror films.

Horror of Dracula (1958) When Hammer asked for an adaptation of Stoker’s novel, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster decided to streamline it to fit it into fewer than ninety minutes of screen time, and shooting on a low budget within the confines of Bray Studios and its surrounding estate. Working under these limitations, Sangster posited that Jonathan Harker travels to Dracula’s castle intending to destroy Dracula, and not to complete a real estate transaction as in the novel and gets killed, made Arthur Holmwood into Mina’s husband and Lucy into Harker’s fiancée and Arthur’s sister. Such characters as Renfield or Quincey Morris were dropped completely. The subplot of the harrowing voyage of the ship that carries Dracula and his coffins to England was also abandoned and is replaced in the film by a short hearse ride because all of the action takes place in a relatively small area of Central Europe. The character of Van Helsing also differed from the figure in the original novel. Cushing explained the transformation: “[The Curse of] Frankenstein became this enormous success, and there I was when I was a younger man, and audiences got used to me looking like that. And I said, ‘Now look here, what do we do with Van Helsing? I mean, do you cast a little old man with a beard who speaks Double Dutch or me? It’s silly to make me up like that. Why don’t you get someone who looks like him?’ So we all decided, well, let’s forget that and play him as I am, as I was then.”

Dracula’s ability to transform [into wolf, bat or mist] was dropped for the sake of realism – according to Sangster: “I thought that the idea of being able to change into a bat or a wolf or anything like that made the film seem more like a fairy tale than it needed to be. I tried to ground the script to some extent to reality.”

In 1885, Jonathan Harker arrives at the castle of Count Dracula near Klausenburg to take up his post as librarian. Inside, he is startled by a young woman who claims that she is a prisoner and begs for his help. Dracula arrives, greets Harker and guides him to his room. Alone, Jonathan writes in his diary, and his true intentions are revealed: he is a vampire hunter and has come to destroy Dracula. Sometime later, Harker again is confronted by the desperate woman. She reveals herself to be a vampire and bites his neck. Dracula arrives and pulls her away as Harker passes out. When he awakens in his room in daylight, Harker discovers the bite marks on his neck. He writes a final entry in his journal and hides the book outside the castle. He descends into a crypt, where he finds Dracula and the vampire woman resting in their coffins. He stakes the woman and she withers to old age and dies. When Harker turns to Dracula’s coffin, he finds it empty. Dracula, awakened, closes the door to the crypt, trapping Harker.

Days pass and Doctor Van Helsing arrives in Klausenburg, looking for Harker. An innkeeper’s daughter gives him Harker’s journal. When he arrives at Dracula’s castle, he finds it deserted, though he comes across the portrait that Harker had of his fiancée Lucy Holmwood, with the photos now gone. In the crypt, Van Helsing finds Harker in Dracula’s coffin, transformed into a vampire. Van Helsing stakes Harker before leaving for the town of Karlstadt, where he delivers the veiled news of Harker’s death to Arthur Holmwood and his wife Mina, brother and sister-in-law of Lucy, who is ill. When night falls, Lucy opens the doors to her terrace and lays bare her neck—already, it bears the mark of a vampire bite. Soon, Dracula arrives and bites her again.

Mina seeks out Van Helsing’s aid in treating Lucy’s ailment, but Lucy begs the maid Gerda to remove his prescribed garlic bouquets and she is found dead the next day. Van Helsing turns over Harker’s journal to Arthur. Three days after Lucy is interred, an undead Lucy lures Gerda’s daughter Tania to a graveyard, where Arthur has found Lucy’s tomb empty. Van Helsing appears and wards Lucy off with a cross. He explains to Arthur that Lucy was targeted to replace the woman that Harker killed. Van Helsing suggests using her to lead them to Dracula, but Arthur refuses, and Van Helsing stakes her in her coffin. Arthur takes one final look at Lucy’s body and sees her at peace.

Van Helsing and Arthur travel to the border crossing at Ingolstadt to track down Dracula’s coffin. Meanwhile, Mina is called away from home by a message telling her to go to the address of an undertaker in Karlstadt, where Dracula is waiting for her. The next day, Arthur and Van Helsing visit the undertaker’s, but find Dracula’s coffin missing. Later, Arthur tries to give Mina a cross to wear, but it burns her, revealing that she is turning into a vampire herself. During the night, Dracula appears inside the house and bites her. Arthur agrees to give her a blood transfusion administered by Van Helsing. When Arthur asks Gerda to fetch some wine, she tells him that Mina had forbidden her to go down to the cellar. Upon hearing this, Van Helsing bolts downstairs and finds Dracula’s coffin, but it is empty. Dracula has escaped into the night with Mina, intent on making her his new vampire bride.

A chase ensues as Dracula rushes to return to his castle before sunrise. He attempts to bury Mina alive outside the crypt but is interrupted by the arrival of Van Helsing and Arthur. Pursuing Dracula inside the castle, Van Helsing struggles with the vampire before eventually tearing down the curtains to let in the sunlight. Van Helsing forms a cross with two candlesticks, and Dracula crumbles into dust as Van Helsing looks on. Mina recovers, and the cross-shaped scar fades from her hand, while Dracula’s ashes blow away in the morning breeze, leaving only his clothes and ring behind.

Terence Fisher believed: “My greatest contribution to the Dracula myth was to bring out the underlying sexual element in the story. He [Dracula] is basically sexual. At the moment he bites it is the culmination of a sexual experience”. According to Fisher “Dracula preyed upon the sexual frustrations of his woman victims. The (Holmwood) marriage was one in which she [Mina] was not sexually satisfied and that was her weakness as far as Dracula’s approach to her was concerned.“ In the scene where Mina returns after a night with Dracula, Fisher’s directions to the actress were frank and unambiguous: “When she arrived back after having been away all night she said it all in one close-up at the door. She’d been done the whole night through, please! I remember Melissa [Stribling] saying ‘Terry, how should I play the scene?’ So I told her, ‘Listen, you should imagine you have had one whale of a sexual night, the one of your whole sexual experience. Give me that in your face!'”

According to producer Anthony Hinds when it came to casting Dracula “it never occurred to any of us to use anyone else but Chris Lee”. For his role in Horror of Dracula Lee earned £750. Speaking of filming and doing his take on the character, Lee recalled that he “tried to make the character all that he was in the book—heroic, romantic, erotic, fascinating, and dynamic.”

Shooting began at Bray Studios on 11 November 1957. Principal photography came to an end on Christmas Eve 1957. Special effects work continued, with the film finally wrapping on 3 January 1958. Syd Pearson’s chief effects sequence came with the film’s finale. “When I was given the script of Dracula, I can assure you that the disintegration interested me immensely.” Peason recalls. “At that time, I really had no idea how to tackle the problem, but I guess I must have a macabre sense of humor, because the concept came to me rather quickly. After discussions with Terry Fisher, we decided we would attempt this in a series of cuts we would cut between reaction shots of Peter Cushing as Von Helsing, then Chris Lee in his dying throes, once the shaft of light has hit him. If you recall, the first place that the light hits him is the leg of Dracula, and you see this leg shiver and quiver and start to disintegrate. This was done by Chris Lee himself, then we had a space in the film which we were going to fill in with effects. First we had stills taken of Lee’s exact position on the floor, just approaching the signs of Zodiac which were painted on the floor. We then faithfully reproduced the position of the shoe and the leg, but our leg was a skeleton section consisting of the leg bone and the foot. We also had a great deal of ‘Fuller’s Earth’ we used as dust in and about the shoe. I was lying full-length on the floor, just out of camera range; my own hands were inside the trouser leg and did all the manipulation of the death throes as the leg continued to disintegrate. Cutting away from the leg, we cut to Lee’s face, constricted with horror.

“If you remember, Chris Lee was pulling his hands down his face; we had Lee made up with a complete latex rubber face mask so he was able to pull the flesh from his face, allowing a certain amount of dusty powder to drop to the floor, but I know this wasn’t in the British version of the film because it was considered too gruesome by the censors. Then we cut away again to a reaction shot of Cushing and to the sign of the cross he was making with two candlestick holders, then back to Lee-this time it was not Lee that you saw, but a mask made from Lee’s face as Dracula, and a fake body with my hands. To give the effect of the disintegration of the hands, I coated my own hands with a paste which I made out of ‘Fuller’s Earth’-which is actually a ladies’ mudpack-and warm paraffin wax.

“I do believe, although I can’t be certain, that I was the first to use the bloodshot eyes. It was my brother who, like my father was a doctor who put me in touch with an optician who specialized in doing false eye jobs. He fitted Christopher with these contact pieces of my design. Christopher hated them. He would not keep them in for a second longer than the shot made necessary. If he had left them in the discomfort would have been much less (as opposed to continually taking them out and putting them in again!

“I dipped my hands into the paste, thus coating them with gray dust. As the paste was made with acetone, which evaporates very quickly, it soon began to drop away from my hands. Before this could happen, I then dipped my hands into flesh-colored paraffin just molten, not hot–and after several dippings my hands were thoroughly coated in this wax. I had the makeup man Phil Leakey standing by; he applied artificial fingernails to my hands. There were my hands, completely solidified in wax, with this undercoating of crumbling gray powder. Then, to camera requirements, I did the gesticulations that Lee, as Dracula, was doing in the master-shot, with his hands in front of his face in sheer-terror, as his body proceeded to disintegrate.”

Skeleton Hands “You saw my hands and fingers move and as they moved the flesh cracked away and dust fell onto the floor. Once again we cut away, we came back and this time my hands were removed and I had an articulated pair of skeleton hands, made up again with the powder. These were moved by a series of levers, remote controlled; the fingers were then showing through as bones. Then we cut away to the face again, by this time it had reached an advanced stage of decomposition. In order to do this I had a medical skull and made this up with latex rubber, horrible, dirty latex, skin paste, you name it, all the nasty pieces from a tin of latex-I used them to give the skeleton a very grisly effect.

“The jaw was articulated so that you could get the last death throes of the jaws quivering. If you remember in the eyes there was a small glimmer of light which I felt might give some added realism to the final death throes. In order to do this I had a little surgical lamp, that one normally swallows for internal inspection, and placed one of these in each of the two eye sockets, put them on a small resistance and as the picture was reaching its close, I slowly turned the resistance and the light went slowly, slowly out. Then we cut away from the skull and you saw the chest collapse. Again this was done by one of my colleagues, lying full length on the floor just out of camera range and, with the aid of balloons and his own hand, he was able to collapse the chest. Then we cut back again to Cushing and back again to the remains of Dracula; eventually we end up with a pile of clothes, a pile of dust, the ring of Dracula and a tuft of hair. As you know, hair is one thing that doesn’t disintegrate through the centuries; it always remains. Then I just merely turned on the wind machines, which were just off screen, and we had a light zephyr of wind blowing across the set. The wind blew the powder and left only the ring as we faded. We never used any stop-motion cameras; we did it entirely with a series of dissolves and cuts.”

Christopher Lee Interview on “Dracula”
How did you create the character of Count Dracula for the classic HORROR OF DRACULA?

Christopher Lee: I read the book. It’s all there. I think instinctively, perhaps, added dimensions o the character that people didn’t expect. I regarded this character as heroic, romantic, erotic. Irresistible to women. Unstoppable by men. And based, of course, on a real person. It’s all in the book. Some of the language is slightly archaic, but you’ve got to realize it was written quite a long ime ago. I simply read the book, and then started using whatever powers of invention I possessed myself. I decided to play him as a malevolent hero, as a man of immense dignity, immense strength, immense power. He’s a kind of superman, actually.

An immortal superman…
Christopher Lee: I don’t imagine anybody would wish for immortality. I can’t think of anything more catastrophic to a human being-like the story of the Wandering Jew, condemned by Christ to wander the Earth. Dracula is condemned to immortality, and can exist only through the power of blood. “The blood is the life”–the famous phrase. Now, can you imagine anything more unattractive? You cannot die. You are living and yet you are dead. The undead. Like the Flying Dutchman, condemned to live forever, to round the Cape, because he blasphemed. Many of us would say, “Oh, give me another five years, another 10, another 20, as long as I’m healthy.” But to live forever? And only be able to do so at night? And only be able to do it by draining the very essence from other people? Now, if you have all that in your mind, you’ve got a pretty good challenge, haven’t you, as an actor? And if it comes off, you’ve won a pretty big victory. That was something that came out of my mind, my instincts, having read the book. I thought, “Well, this is what the character is like; this, I think, is the right way to play him.”

And it was a great success.
Christopher Lee: I remember the première in New York; I think it was the Mayfair Theatre. I’d never been to New York. Peter Cushing had, and Jimmy Carreras and Tony Hinds. Jimmy Carreras was the head, with Tony Hinds, of Hammer. We went to the top of the balcony, and we sat underneath the projection booth. It was midnight, special showing, and most of the audience were show business. They wanted to relax, and they were going to have fun. They came into this theatre with flasks and other things to while away the time, and the atmosphere, to say the least, was very jolly. Finally, the lights went down, people settled down, the curtains parted. Along came the credits and there’s the tomb with the name “Dracula,” blood smattering on it–and they roared. I said, “I’m getting out of here; I can’t stand this. This is going to be a disaster.” And this kept going until the famous scene in which Jonathan Harker, played by John Van Eyssen, meets me for the first time. I daresay you remember the scene; it’s become part of classic movie history. He feels the presence and he turns around and there, at the top of the stairs, is this silhouette. I tell you, the place erupted. The roof nearly came off. Perhaps they expected to see somebody wearing white tie and tails in the middle of Transylvania, walking through a cobweb. Perhaps they expected to hear a macabre foreign voice, or see a strange-looking person with a green face or whatever. I just walked down the staircase, walked over to Harker. I said, “Good evening, Mr. Harker”—and the silence was quite remarkable. For the rest of the film there wasn’t a sound, because I presented them with a character they were not expecting. Totally unconventional and totally different, and that’s why it worked.

Interview with Len Harris Camera Operator
Wasn’t there a theatre at the studio?

Len Harris: Yes, there was, but it wasn’t big enough really. It was just for the rushes and the cutting rooms could use it. You’d probably get a couple of dozen people in it at a push, but usually you’d see about a dozen in there to see the rushes.

What do you remember about DRACULA?
Len Harris: We had the big stage by then. When Peter Cushing jumps up and pulls the curtains down – that was done in the big stage. The Castle Dracula set was built out on the lot and we had a stream running through it. Jack Curtis and the Art Department organised that stream. That same set stood on the lot for a while, being changed slightly. On THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF it was used and changed. But if you’ve got a good Art Director it can be done most effectively and it Saves a lot of money. And of course it’s very seldom that two such pictures get in the same program go people can compare the sets!

Was all of DRACULA shot at Bray Studios?
Len Harris: Yes, although we did use Black Park for some exterior shots. It wasn’t very far from Bray and a lot of location work was done at Black Park, both from Bray and Pinewood. I did a lot of Robin Hood films there, but Bray had quite a good lot for most exteriors.

Jack Asher would’ve been the Director of Photography on most of your films for Fiammer?
Len Harris: Yes, I’d known Jack since I’d worked at Gainsborough. He was one of the lighting camera-men, he really did ‘paint with light’.

The Camp on Blood Island (1958), was a powerful war drama which portrayed the brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese. Though produced in 1956 it was not released until two years later. Upon its release in Britain it was accused of “reopening Old wounds” by its portrayal of the Japanese as sadistic animals. The film was allegedly based on a true story which Hammer executive Anthony Nelson Keys heard from a friend who had been a prisoner of the Japanese. Keys in turn told the story to colleague Michael Carreras who commissioned John Manchip White to write a script. Finance was provided as part of a co-production deal with Columbia Pictures and shooting began at Bray Studios on 14 July 1957.

The film is set in the days immediately after the Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies in a recorded radio address (called the Jewel Voice Broadcast) across the Empire on August 15 1945, marking the end of the war in the Pacific. Crucially, this news has not reached the Japanese at the Blood Island prisoner-of-war camp, where the commandant has told Colonel Lambert, the senior Allied officer, that he will order the massacre of the entire population of the camp, and of a nearby camp for women and children, if Japan loses the war. The news of the end of the war is known to Colonel Lambert, and former rubber planter Piet van Elst [Carl Möhner], A.K.A. ‘Dutch,’ who heard in on the prisoner’s secret radio receiver (operated by Dutch).

Colonel Lambert (Morell) does not inform most of the other prisoners, but decides that they must prevent the Japanese from learning the truth. He arranges for the Japanese radio to be sabotaged, and sends Dr. Robert Keiller to try to reach a Malay village, where partisans will be able to get a message to the allies. These activities lead to savage reprisals by the Japanese, with threats of worse to come. Col. Lambert is the commanding officer, so he is expected to give orders. However the other prisoners do not know of camp commandant Colonel Yamamitsu’s threat to kill all prisoners, or that the war is over. They begin to question Lambert’s actions, since asking the camp doctor to escape and provoking the Japanese with acts of sabotage seem irrational acts.

Having been forced continually to justify his at times apparently illogical and counter-productive decisions, Col. Lambert explains the situation to some senior prisoners, including former governor Cyril Beattie (Walter Fitzgerald) and priest Paul Anjou (Michael Goodliffe), who had begun to question his obstinacy and refusal to listen to any views other than his own. Former governor Cyril Beattie thinks Lambert’s approach is wrong, and that they should tell the Japanese, and throw themselves on Yamamitsu’s mercy. He is partly motivated by the fact that he has a wife and child in the women’s camp. Father Paul Anjou has been passing messages to the women via Mrs. Beattie, whilst delivering burial services. He uses Latin, which the Japanese do not understand. Critically, Mrs. Beattie is the only female prisoner who knows Latin. Beattie tries to see Yamamitsu, but is ridiculed and beaten by Captain Sakamura (Anglo Indian actor James Marne Kumar Maitland), then closely watched by the other officers.

Radio spares have arrived, and it is imperative that the Japanese do not repair their radio. At great personal risk, Dutch approaches the Japanese radio shack just as the engineer has completed repairs and starts to receive music. The Japanese radio engineer leaves, presumably to inform his superiors, and Dutch short circuits the radio, despite a Japanese guard sitting down for a smoke outside the door. The officers arrive, and whilst they are distracted chastising the guard (for sitting down instead of patrolling, and smoking on duty) Dutch escapes through the window. Lambert and the others see a plane overhead, and hear it crash. Lambert tells the priest he is praying that the pilot died, so that no news reaches the Japanese.

But the pilot, Lt. Commander Peter Bellamy (US actor Phil Brown) is not dead. Assuming everyone knows war is over, he flags down a Japanese truck, but is unable to communicate with the Japanese. Captured Dr. Keiller is lying in the truck and manages to tell Bellamy not reveal that the war is over. The truck stops at the women’s camp and Keiller jumps off to try to see his wife, knowing that he will be executed anyway for trying to escape. He sees his wife, but as they come together at the wire he is shot dead. The Japanese return to the men’s camp, with Bellamy, and Keiller’s body. Bellamy is questioned and beaten, but does not reveal the news.

Since Keillor’s escape was unsuccessful, word has not reached the Malay resistance, so the Allies are still unaware of the situation on Blood Island. Someone else has to try, and Col. Lambert says he will go that night. There is some debate, with Dutch saying it should be him, as he speaks Malay and knows the route to the village, which involves an arduous swim. Bellamy thinks he should go, as he is in better physical condition, despite his beating, not having been a prisoner for three years. Col. Lambert overrules them, but needs someone who speaks Malay, and asks Father Anjou to pass a message via Mrs. Beattie for Mrs. Keillor to be under the water tower at the women’s camp at midnight. Anjou tries, but the person he is burying turns out to be Nrs. Beattie, so he cannot convey the message.

Bellamy knows he has a better chance of making it than anyone, so he escapes from a working party, leading to the beheading of six hostages. After initially trying to stop him, Dutch goes with him. They evade the chasing Japanese, but Dutch is caught half way across a road by an approaching truck. After menacing him with a machine gun, the Japanese driver (Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper) laughs and offers him a cigarette, telling him that the war is over. It seems the driver is bringing dispatches. Bellamy and Dutch overpower the driver and steal the truck. After hiding all day, they try to rendezvous with Mrs. Keillor; but she is not under the water tower, as Father Anjou could not give her the message. Bellamy breaks into the camp, kills a Japanese officer who is with one of the female prisoner (who the women suspect is a collaborator) and forces her to take him to Mrs Keillor. They escape the camp, but Dutch is killed holding off the Japanese guards. Bellamy and Mrs. Keillor eventually make it to the Malay village, which implies that they will alert the Allies to the situation.

Back at the camp, Col. Lambert aprises the NCOs of the situation. Not knowing if the escapees have reached the Malay village or not, and forced to assume no help will come, Lambert tells the NCOs to instruct their men to arm themselves in any way possible, but with small weapons. He issues a few corroded grenades the officers have been hiding. The next day the Japanese bring Van Elst’s body back and take another six prisoners for execution, including selecting Major Dawes from the officer’s hut. Beattie asks Sakamura to take him to Commander Yamamitsu, insisting that he has something vital to tell him. The officers think he might be about to reveal the news of the war’s end, but they cannot be sure, and there is nothing they can do except prepare for a fight. In Yamamitsu’s office, Beattie pulls the pin out of a grenade, killing Sakamura, Yamamitsu and himself. Now, the prisoners have no choice but to attack the guards. A bloody fight ensues, in which Lambert inadvertently kills Major Dawes, who has seized a Japanese machine gun in a tower. Lambert lob’s a grenade into the tower, thinking the gun is manned by a Japanese soldier. At this point, Allied paratroopers are dropped on the camp, and the fight is over. We learn that the women’s camp was taken without a shot being fired, so whilst many of the men are dead, their actions have at least saved the surviving women and children.

By 1958, Hammer Films were already established as the modern masters of the Gothic horror film, due to their fantastically popular approaches to the classic terror tales, “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”. In addition to these, Hammer had been achieving success with war and science-fiction films, and in 1958 they experimented with two further types of subjects.

The Snorkel (1958) was the forerunner of a series of Hammer thrillers, which would reach its height of popularity in the mid1960s with films such as Taste of Fear and The Nanny. Directed by Guy Green from a Peter Myers-Jimmy Sangster screenplay, The Snorkel starred Peter Van Eyck in the role of Jacques Duval.

Paul Decker kills his wife, Madge, by drugging her and then gassing her in a room in their Italian villa, sealing all the windows and doors but concealing himself under floorboards in the room, covered by a rug and using a snorkel attached to air pipes to breathe while hidden. Household servants discover her body in the morning and as the room has been locked and sealed from the inside, it appears to the local Italian police Inspector and British Consulate Mr. Wilson to be a case of suicide, although no suicide note has been found.

The Snorkel (1958)

Madge’s teenage daughter Candy arrives from England with her dog Toto and travelling companion Jean Edwards, and immediately accuses her stepfather, Decker, of killing her mother, based on the fact that she believes – correctly – that he also killed her father years before and made it look like an accident. Toto senses Decker’s presence under the floorboards but is not taken any notice of. It is suggested that Candy and Jean go to America where Decker will join them later, but Candy is determined to investigate further; she goes to Decker’s room to look for evidence, but it is Toto that finds the snorkel but again Candy does not recognise its importance and puts it back in a wardrobe. When Decker finds Candy in the room she leaves shortly afterwards, but Toto again finds the snorkel and Decker realises that the dog is proving a problem and poisons him; Candy again senses the truth and accuses Decker of killing her dog, which he denies.

Decker, Jean and Candy go on a beach picnic, and Candy, seeing a man swimming with a snorkel, starts to realise how her mother’s murder was carried out; when she then swims out too far, Decker swims out to her, pretending to save her but in reality hoping to drown her and make it look like an accident, but before he can do so Jean also swims out and he gives up on the idea, although again Candy knows what he was trying to do.

Decker decides that he will have to kill Candy, and, establishing an alibi as before, lures her to the villa by telling her that he has found his wife’s suicide note and has asked the police Inspector to come over as well. He ‘reads’ Madge’s suicide note to Candy and encourages her to drink a drugged glass of milk; by the time she realises that he has made up the story she is too drowsy and Decker continues to carry out his plan, hiding under the floorboards and the rug as before. This time however Wilson and Jean arrive in time and rescue Candy, although they refuse to believe her story that Decker was trying to kill her, believing her to be unbalanced following her mother’s death. She insists that they search the room thoroughly, including moving a heavy cabinet out from the wall, but finally agrees to leave with them. As they leave Decker attempts to come out from his place of concealment, but the cabinet is now over the rug and he can’t get out. Candy decides to go back one more time to the room, where she hears Decker calling out for help, and realises what has happened. She leaves him there and at first goes off with Wilson and Jean, leaving Decker to suffocate slowly, but changes her mind and tells the police Inspector to go up to the room in order to solve the case.

Further Up the Creek (1958) was a comedy written and directed by Val Guest. A sequel to the non-Hammer Up the Creek (1958) (which had been shot in Hammerscope and distributed by Exclusive Pictures, of which Hammer was an outgrowth). Further was pretty much more of the same-a lightweight peacetime naval farce designed for domestic bookings. Its chief interest is that it demonstrates that Hammer continued to turn out a variety of product after The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, although their main attention was directed toward films of a similar nature to these, their two greatest successes.

I Only Arsked! (1958), adapted by Sid Colin and Jack Davies from the Granada TV series The Army Game. Directed by Montgomery Tully, I Only Arsked was another Hammer comedy aimed almost solely at the domestic film market-where it was, as usual for Hammer, a success.

And so Hammer rounded out their 1958 releases with The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), in technicolor. Christopher Lee, who had played both the creature in The Curse of Frankenstein and the title role in Dracula, refused to repeat either characterization, causing Hammer to cancel both The Revenge of Dracula and And Then … Frankenstein Made Woman a play on the title of Roger Vadim’s Bridgette Bardot vehicle And God Created Woman. Lee quite understandably was trying to avoid the kind of typecasting that had reduced Bela Lugosi to a foil for the East Side Kids, but Hammer were not about to let Lee’s decision hinder their success. Peter Cushing agreed to repeat his role as Baron Victor Frankenstein under the direction of Terence Fisher. Jimmy Sangster devised a script which truly set the style for Hammer’s Frankenstein series. Rather than following the adventures of the creature (as the original Universal series had done), Sangster’s plot concerned the continuing career of Baron Frankenstein himself.

James Carreras presold the film in America taking a poster with him. When Carreras returned he approached Sangster with the project asking him to write the sequel. Sangster responded, “I killed (Baron) Frankenstein in the first film.” Sangster stated that Carreras told him he had six weeks to write the project before shooting started and that “you’ll think of something”.

revenge_of_frankenstein_poster_03

In 1860, Baron Victor Frankenstein, sentenced to death, escapes execution by the guillotine by having a priest beheaded and buried in his place with the aid of a hunchback named Karl. Three years later, Victor, now going by the alias Doctor Stein, has become a successful physician in Carlsbrück, catering to the wealthy while also attending to the poor in a paupers’ hospital. Hans Kleve, a junior member of the medical council, recognises Victor and blackmails him into allowing him to become his apprentice. Together with Karl, Victor and Hans continue with the Baron’s experiment: transplanting a living brain into a new body, one that is not a crude, cobbled-together creature. The deformed Karl is more than willing to volunteer his brain thereby gaining a healthy body, particularly after meeting Margaret, the lovely new assistant at the hospital.

The transplant succeeds, but when the excited Hans tells Karl that he will be a medical sensation, Karl panics and convinces Margaret to free him. Hans notes that the chimpanzee into which Victor had transplanted the brain of an orangutan ate its mate and worries about Karl, but his concerns are brushed off by Victor. Karl flees from the hospital and hides in Victor’s laboratory, where he burns his preserved hunchback body. He is attacked by a drunken janitor, who takes him for a burglar, but manages to kill the man. Victor and Hans discover Karl is missing and begin searching for him.

The next morning, Margaret finds Karl in her aunt’s stable. While she goes to fetch Hans, Karl experiences difficulties with his arm and leg. When Hans and Margaret arrive, he is gone. At night, Karl ambushes and strangles a local girl. The next night, he rushes into an evening reception. Having redeveloped his deformities, he begs Victor for help, using his real name of Frankenstein, before he collapses and dies. Victor, disregarding Hans’ pleas that he should leave the country, appears before the medical council, where he denies being the infamous Frankenstein. The unsatisfied councilors open Victor’s supposed grave, only to discover the priest’s body, and conclude that the real Frankenstein is still alive.

At the hospital, the patients violently attack Victor out of fear, and Hans rushes his dying mentor to the lab. The police arrive to arrest Victor, but when Hans shows them Victor’s dead body, they leave. Hans then transplants Victor’s brain into a new body that Victor had prepared earlier, which he made to resemble him. Sometime later in London, Hans assists Victor, now calling himself Doctor Franck, in welcoming some patients.

The Revenge of Frankenstein had an advantage over Curse in that this time Sangster was able to script for a director and star who had already been through the basic premise with him. Where Curse had been an occasionally awkward blend of styles, Revenge was obviously the work of a team whose members knew how to complement one another’s approaches toward the material. This resulted in a much sharper overall vision than before, so that Revenge is a better film than Curse, at least in terms of its creation of a powerful central character.

The Revenge of Frankenstein was a departure from all previous Frankenstein films in a number of ways. The creature played by Michael Gwynne is the most sympathetic character in the film. Even his death is unique, rather than spectacular fire, explosion, or disintegration, this creature saga.

Despite the runaway success of The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, the Hammer of 1958 was not yet a company wholly owned by the single genre of horror. Hammer’s horror films were but one strand of an operation which actively continued to pursue comedy, drama and the still-popular ‘war’ movie; hugely financially beneficial they may have been, but Hammer’s Technicolor Gothics were seen by its executive management as having enabled the business to blossom and grow into a real player within the British industry, not simply become the ‘House of Horror’ which it would have christened itself by the mid-sixties. In fact, Michael Carreras, the films’ executive producer, felt that the fad for horror had already passed its peak and was now looking to musicals as the next big thing. Consequently, Hammer’s next ‘horror’ after the inevitable The Revenge of Frankenstein was not really a horror at all, although the Gothic influence and by-now entrenched approach of director Terence Fisher and the regular Bray Studios crew would nevertheless colour it blood-red.

Peter Cushing Interview on “Character Development in Horror”
How did you feel as a stage-trained actor working in a “horror film”, considering the low esteem with which that genre is regarded by the industry?

Peter Cushing: Frankly, I wanted to play the part of Baron Frankenstein, because I remembered seeing Colin Clive play it with Boris Karloff in the original James Whale production and I was very impressed by that film. I also knew it would appeal to audiences. They are always the people to consider. What do the majority of audiences want to see? How many would want to see me play Hamlet?-a few. How many would want to see me play Frankenstein?-millions. That’s always the thing to play for, because without audiences where would actors be? I chose to do the part. I don’t like the word “horror”. I consider them to be “fantasy” pictures. Horror pictures to me are pictures that must deal with real horrors, such as war, gangsterism and other horrifying aspects of real life. Fantasy pictures are so popular because the audiences know that these are things which don’t happen, which can take them out of the real horrors of life. No one, very much including me or anyone at Hammer, ever dreamed that this would start with the first remake and continue rolling to this day. It’s one of those incredible, almost “Cinderella” stories. As an actor I felt very proud that it was such a success.

How did you approach the role?
Peter Cushing: “Never copy other actors, always be original and yourself”’is my motto. You cannot assume a personality. Your character grows with your life and the way you live your life and what you learn from your experiences. As an actor I just went at it like I go to any other part. Obviously I read Mary Shelley’s novel because you can get a lot from the author’s original ideas. The book is very long-in fact, it’s got 3 or 4 films in it. I tried to create the author’s original idea of the character but within the confines of the script because we were making a motion picture in which dialog is down to a minimum. I tried to get the best out of every facet of the author, the screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, Terence Fisher’s direction and whatever I could bring to it myself.

When you followed up Frankenstein by playing Dr. Van Helsing in HORROR OF DRACULA were you worried that you might become typecast in just the fantasy film genre?
Peter Cushing: In a word, yes. But my beloved wife, who knew so much, realized that these films were going to be enormously successful. If you become associated with anything in the entertainment world which makes money, you are going to be pigeon-holed. She warned me that I was going to be stuck with these kinds of parts because the industry would have difficulty in seeing me in any other roles. We had long talks about this but we had been broke for so many years. In fact it wasn’t until I was 50 that I began to earn a respectable salary. Not that material things are so important but you’ve still got to pay your bills and put a bit aside for emergencies. I agreed entirely with her but I felt it was frightfully important to make enough money so we would have something put away for our old age. I had so much looked forward to our spending it together but that wasn’t to be. I know she’s waiting for me wherever she is, where money will be the least that one will want. We agreed that the best thing would be for me to go ahead with these parts. I’ve been so lucky because what actor is still employed by the same firm nearly 20 years later? Here I am at 63 with a wonderful relationship with Hammer Films. It’s the dream of all actors to have this incredible association. I approached the part of Van Helsing as an entirely different character. If you read Bram Stoker’s novel, he is described as a little wizened old gentleman who spoke practically double Dutch. Perhaps I can play such a part a little better now than I could then but I thought I might have been miscast at the time. It was marvelous that they wanted me in the part because Christopher Lee & I have become associated with these kinds of pictures: but I would have needed makeup to look like such an old man. So I played Van Helsing with whatever personality I had as Peter Cushing. I didn’t use an accent ‘but I used what I could of Stoker’s original character as well as all the facets of the different people who supplied the material. the curse of sequels

Having played the same 2 characters for nearly 20 years, how have you kept the roles from going stale?
Peter Cushing: No one knew that these films would take off as they did so of course they had the prob’lem of coming up with something different in every sequel. When you’ve made the original FRANKENSTEIN which is about a man who does the impossible by creating a living being, and the original DRACULA, about a vampire who lives on blood, any sequels must be variations on those same themes. They had to include the same ingredients but create different stories. It proved very difficult indeed. The characters remained the same but they went about their tasks in different ways in order to run some changes. Dracula was brought up to date but you never saw him walking the streets of Chelsea, which is our equivalent of New York. He was kept in the ruined church so as to preserve the gothic atmosphere. Frankenstein became progressively more ruthless, as well. Aside from Christopher & myself, we were very fortunate to have used so many excellent actors. In THE MUMMY we had such distinguished actors as Felix Aylmer & Raymond Huntley, who are frightfully well known in England. Having that caliber actors added additional interest and kept the films from becoming boring.

Hammer’s next film was Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) Robert Aldrich’s direction is noted for its meticulous attention to the techniques of bomb deactivation and disposal. In post-war Berlin, British Major Haven (Richard Wattis) recruits members of a returning German bomb disposal unit, Hans Globke (James Goodwin), Peter Tillig (Dave Willock), Wolfgang Sulke (Wesley Addy), Franz Loeffler (Robert Cornthwaite), Karl Wirtz (Chandler) and Eric Koertner (Palance), to defuse unexploded Allied bombs scattered throughout the city. Delighted by the well-paying position, Karl bets Eric that he will outlive him. Although initially taken aback by the wager, the other men soon agree that half of their salaries will go to the survivors of the dangerous mission in three months’ time. The British, in the form of Major Haven (Wattis), provide the men new uniforms and equipment, and assign Frau Bauer (Virginia Baker) as their liaison. Karl volunteers to lead the unit, but the men vote for the reluctant Eric instead.

Later, Karl and Eric move into an Allied-approved boarding house run by pretty young widow Margot Hoefler (Carol), a French woman whose German husband died during the war. Several weeks go by in which the men successfully and safely defuse numerous bombs; then the men are stunned when young Globke is killed while defusing a British 1000-pound bomb. Suspecting that the bomb has double fuses, Eric asks Haven to request information from British armaments on its design. At the boardinghouse, Karl continually flirts with Margot, to Eric’s annoyance. One evening when Margot loudly protests Karl’s drunken advances, Eric bursts into Margot’s room to help her and Karl retreats, ridiculing Eric for his motives. Deducing that Eric disapproves of her behavior, Margot explains that her uneasy situation as a traitor to the French and an outsider to the Germans has left her jaded and willing to take happiness wherever she can find it. When Eric remains critical, Margot accuses him of denying his own desires.

A few days later, Frau Bauer receives a report that Tillig has been trapped under a live bomb by the partial collapse of a ruined building. With the other men away on assignments, Eric and Karl race to the site, and despite Tillig’s protests, inspect the bomb. After Eric defuses the bomb safely, a doctor arrives and upon examining Tillig declares there is no chance for his survival. Refusing to accept the pronouncement, Eric hurries outside to request equipment to lift the bomb, but as Karl expresses his doubts, the building collapses on Tillig and the doctor. Distraught, Eric returns to the boardinghouse where he seeks solace from Margot. The next day, Eric takes Margot to another ruined section of the city and reveals that before the war he was an architect. Eric struggles to conceal his growing feelings for Margot, admitting that he is confused about becoming romantically involved while his life is in danger daily.

Back at headquarters, Haven tells Eric that because of the post-war chaos, they have been unable to gather information on the thousand-pound bombs. When Haven discloses that he knows of Eric’s former profession, Karl, unaware that his colleague was an esteemed architect, expresses surprise. Eric tells Haven that he was forced into demolitions when he fell into disfavor for making anti-Nazi political statements. Karl and the other men were all pressed into demolitions as punishment for some indiscretion and all vowed to do everything they could to survive the war. Mocking Eric’s growing anxiety, Karl urges him to quit the unit and give up the wager, but Eric refuses. A month before the wager’s deadline, Sulke is killed while defusing a double fused bomb. Eric, Loeffler and the men agree to adhere to the terms of the wager but discuss giving the salaries to Sulke’s widow and child. When Eric presents the proposal to Karl, he scoffs at the suggestion, explaining that his motto has always been to look after himself. The next day Loeffler is called to defuse a bomb found in a canal. Later, Eric learns that Loeffler has drowned in the attempt. That afternoon when Margot urges Eric to give up the bet and quit the unit, Eric explains he must know whether he can triumph over Karl’s greed and selfishness.

A few days later, Karl is assigned to defuse a thousand-pound bomb and Eric joins him at the site to make an inspection. The men discuss a strategy to avoid the potential second fuse, then Eric departs, but worriedly hovers nearby. After removing the top of the bomb, Karl gently handles the cap then abruptly calls for help, claiming the detonator pin has slipped. Eric rushes in and provides a pencil, which he offers to hold in place of the pin while Karl retrieves his tools from the landing. Moments later, Eric is stunned when the rope Karl used earlier to remove the top pulls tautly across his hand, forcing him to release the pencil. The bomb does not explode, however, and Eric realizes that Karl has tried to kill him. Eric punches Karl in the face. Once Karl gets back on his feet, he says, “Guess it’s still my bomb.” Eric replies, “Still your bomb.” Eric then gets his coat and walks away. Karl resumes defusing the bomb. Once Eric is a safe distance away, the bomb explodes, killing Karl. The film closes after saluting the efforts of the ordnance removal teams, which have allowed Berlin to rebuild.

Anthony Hinds

Interview with Screenwriter Anthony Hinds
What was your reaction to the success of 1957’s Curse of Frankenstein?

Anthony Hinds: I’m not a very excitable person. I don’t know exactly when I found out about the big success of that first one, because I was already involved in producing another film. We shot four or five films a year then, and the news about Curse of Frankenstein just sort of filtered back gradually. I remember being pleased about the West End premiere in London because it was our first one. But by the time the success really hit, I was already two pictures further on.

Even before Curse, though, in 1955, you did The Quatermass Experiment (U.S. title: The Creeping Unknown). How did you come to do that project?
Anthony Hinds: I had seen the first two episodes of the Quatermass TV serial by Nigel Kneale, and I thought it was great stuff. When my partner Sir James Carreras saw the third, he and I went to the BBC and told them we’d produce the film version and give them a 50/50 split in the profits. They agreed immediately.

Michael Carreras is always listed on the early Hammer Films as “executive producer.” What exactly does that mean?
Anthony Hinds: Well, it doesn’t really mean very much. It’s a title usually given to someone on a picture who really doesn’t do very much. It’s often given to inexperienced people to give them a nice-sounding title. I always wanted to actively produce. I like jobs where you do something. On the early films, I managed the production on the floor while Michael worked up in London setting up further productions. During Curse of Frankenstein, he had a row with his father and left. He was always doing that. So I’d go up to London and supervise in his place.

Was anyone besides Peter Cushing ever considered to play Baron Frankenstein in 1956?
Anthony Hinds: Never. Never were any other actors considered. Cushing was one of Britain’s first real television stars. He was a contract actor for the BBC and whatever he was in would empty all the pubs and bring people home to their TV sets. We wanted him and we got him.

Was Christopher Lee your first choice as the creature?
Anthony Hinds: No, I had never heard of him before. His agent contacted us and said he had this huge fellow who could play the monster. I thought, “Well, he’s going to be under all those bandages and makeup, so he can’t be that bad.” But I didn’t know him at all then.

Tell us about Peter Cushing?
Anthony Hinds: He’s a real professional actor. He’s tough, you know. I don’t mean about money or anything, but as an actor, he wants things his way and if you’re the producer/scriptwriter, you argue.

On the Curse of Frankenstein, the bosomy ladies were certainly important.
Anthony Hinds: But the sex was covert because the films took place in Victorian times. None of it was overt. The censor said to me at around that time, “You can have sex or horror, but you can’t have both.”

The impression you get from most of the early Hammer Films is that they were all happy experiences because it was like a repertory company.
Anthony Hinds: Yes, mostly. Not always, but mostly.

3 thoughts on “The History of Hammer Films Part Three: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)/Horror of Dracula (1958)

  1. What a fantastic retrospective of these early Hammer films. I’ve always loved the Hammer Horrors and its great to get such an insightful look back at them as this. Love those comics strip style adaptations you included as well, never seen those before.

    Liked by 1 person

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