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Author: Peter Hutchings

This book is about the British film director Terence Fisher. It begins by setting the context by detailing Fisher's directorial debut to Hammer's horror production and the importance of the Hammer horror to Fisher's career. Hammer's horror production represents one of the striking developments in post-war British cinema. The book explains some professional and industrial contexts in which Fisher operated and shows how these relate both to the films he made and the way in which these films have been judged and valued. It presents a detailed account of The Astonished Heart, Fisher's sixth film as director, highlighting the benefits and some of the problems involved in thinking about Fisher's career generally in its pre-horror phase. The successful Hammer film, The Curse of Frankenstein, both inaugurated the British horror boom and established Fisher as a film-maker whose name was known to critics as someone who specialised in the despised horror genre. After The Curse of Frankenstein, Fisher became primarily a horror director. The book presents an account of the highs and lows Fisher faced in his directorial career, highlighting his significant achievements and his box-office failures. It also shows Fisher as a director dependent on and at ease with the industrial and collaborative nature of film-making. In a fundamental sense, what value there is in Terence Fisher's work exists because of the British film industry and the opportunities it afforded Fisher, not despite the industry.

Peter Hutchings

, cheerfully accepting the place allotted them within a particular map of British cinema. It is fair to say that the critical verdict on British horror during the time of its proliferation was overwhelmingly negative. More positive critical evaluations began to appear in the early 1970s when horror production (and indeed much of the rest of British cinema) was beginning to wind down. Most notable among these was David Pirie’s 1973 book A Heritage of Horror which sought to locate horror cinema within a

in Hammer and beyond
Abstract only
From Dead of Night to The Quatermass Experiment
Peter Hutchings

Universal’s influential Americanised version of the horror genre was formulated in the 1930s. Throughout this period British cinema was strikingly deficient in horror production. The small number of horror films that were made were either pale imitations of the American product (a plot synopsis for Castle Sinister [Widgey Newman, 1932] reads: ‘Mad doctor tries to put girl’s brain into apeman’s head’) 1 or isolated attempts to locate horror within a recognisable British landscape (for

in Hammer and beyond
Abstract only
Peter Hutchings

apparent importance at the time, would in retrospect become significant. Of the nineteen low-budget films directed by Fisher up until 1957, eleven were for a small, up-and-coming independent production company called Hammer. Hammer’s horror production represents one of the most striking developments in post-war British cinema. From 1957 onwards, a series of colour period horrors emerged from Hammer’s Bray Studios which managed to

in Terence Fisher
Abstract only
Peter Marks

contrast, the collection’s editors place Gilliam in a group of American directors ‘such as Joseph Losey, Stanley Kubrick … or Richard Lester [who] have spent much of their careers in Britain making often quite British films from their own American perspective’. 6 The British Cinema Book (2001) places Gilliam in a ‘visionary sector’ comprising the ‘maverick talents of Terry Gilliam ( Brazil ), Nic Roeg

in Terry Gilliam
Peter Hutchings

-century literary origins to their entrance into British cinema in the 1950s? In an essay on the various adaptations of Frankenstein , Paul O’Flinn remarks, ‘There is no such thing as Frankenstein , there are only Frankensteins , as the text is ceaselessly rewritten, reproduced, refilmed and redesigned.’ 1 If this is true, what needs to be considered is whether relating the various film Frankensteins directly to Mary Shelley’s original 1818 novel, or for that matter to a broader eighteenth

in Hammer and beyond
Peter Hutchings

release, and it has not fared well since: a recent account of British cinema simply described it as ‘appalling’. 1 Such outright dismissal is unfair, I think. The film is certainly more interesting than this, with part of this interest (although by no means all) arguably relating to Fisher’s input. One scene in particular is significant in this respect. It involves the moment when Chris (Noel Coward

in Terence Fisher
Hammer Film Studios’ reinvention of horror cinema
Morgan C. O’Brien

horror innovations to exhaustion. In the introduction to his book-length study on British horror cinema, Peter Hutchings quotes from a 1964 British press clipping which sums up Hammer’s lowbrow reputation with the critical press during the studio’s heyday: Certain branches of the British cinema are able to weather any crisis: they do not so much rise above it as sink beneath it, to a subterranean level where the storms over quotas and television competition cannot affect them. This sub

in Adapting Frankenstein
Peter Hutchings

Certain branches of the British cinema are able to weather any crisis: they do not so much rise above it as sink beneath it, to a subterranean level where the storms over quotas and television competition cannot affect them. This sub-cinema consists mainly of two parallel institutions, both under ten years old: the Hammer horror and the Carry On comedy. 1 Francis Wyndham’s remarks, written in 1964, reflect upon the way in which

in Hammer and beyond
Introduction to the new edition
Johnny Walker

the original thesis and the subsequent book emerged at a time when popular British cinema was receiving scholarly reappraisal, challenging what some perceived as an over-emphasis placed by critics on films of the social realist tradition, in addition to the long-standing – and, looking back, frankly astonishing – belief that British filmmakers lacked ‘a specifically cinematic eye’ or any ‘awareness of form and style’. 2 In years to come things would change. The field of British Film Studies became broader and

in Hammer and beyond