our focus is twofold: we consider ( pace Hutcheon) HammerFilms’ The Revenge of Frankenstein as a ‘successful’ replication of Shelley’s source text and its immediate filmic predecessor, The Curse of Frankenstein , while also exploring the ways in which Revenge propagates the post-Darwinian discourse of the 1950s. Revenge , we argue, is unequivocally and obsessively about Dr Frankenstein, the man of science, the bold and brash technocrat, the fierce advocate of transhumanism.
In 1957 England’s HammerFilms released The Curse of
The introductory chapter is written to help position the reader regarding the academic climate that saw the first edition of Hammer and Beyond materialise, to consider some of the book’s omissions, and to assess the state of British horror in the years immediately leading up to, and following, its publication.
precedent for adapting Gothic British texts and why the studio, guided by profit motives, exploited the post-war cultural climate.
London’s HammerFilms was founded in 1934 by William ‘Hammer’ Hinds, and became one of the world’s most successful movie studios between 1958 and 1970, earning the Queen’s Award to Industry for international trade in 1968. Despite never gaining great critical acclaim, the studio released 163 feature-length productions between 1935 and 1978, averaging nearly four films a year
films, The Curse of Frankenstein (Hammer’s
first colour horror, produced in 1956 and released in 1957) and
The Gorgon (1964): these were, respectively, the first
and last of the five Hammerfilms on which horror stars Peter
Cushing and Christopher Lee and principal Hammer director Terence
Fisher collaborated. 1 This fact alone marks the 1956–64
period as a distinctive stage in Hammer’s development.
Importantly, The Gorgon also represents a key point in a
wider shifting of terms within the genre
imaginative territory for the British studio. Relocating an
ancient monster within the paraphernalia of Victorian Gothic, the film
was Hammer’s most striking experiment in free adaptation before
the frankly bizarre transnational genre-fusion of The Legend of the 7
Golden Vampires (1974).
The Gorgon was Fisher’s first Hammerfilm
since The Phantom of the Opera (1962) and his only film about a
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.
enough in Terence Fisher to produce a book and enough of a
market for such a book, were it produced’.1
That same year Raymond Durgnat, a contributor to the Movie Paperback
series, devoted half a chapter of his A Mirror for England: British Movies
from Austerity to Affluence to a critical appraisal of Terence Fisher’s work
for HammerFilms, which sought to situate Fisher’s horror films in the
context of contemporary British culture. This was followed three years later
by David Pirie’s now classic A Heritage of Horror: the English Gothic Cinema
1946–1972. It was
last part of the 1950s, into the 1960s and then on to the 1970s,
British horror was one of the most commercially successful areas of
British cinema. 2 As Wyndham indicates, easily the most prolific
of horror producers was the relatively small company called HammerFilms, from which there emerged from 1956 onwards a series of gothic
horrors, most notably those featuring Peter Cushing as Baron
Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, which were to
become famous throughout much of the
consideration of the press notices of the
Hammer horrors of this period. First, British horror, and Hammer in
particular, was not as controversial as some histories of horror
have suggested. In discussing the critical receptions of two
non-Hammerfilms, Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960)
and Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs (1971), Ian Christie
and Charles Barr respectively stress the way in which the critics
almost unanimously refused to engage with these films on any
level. 2 A
product of this was
Printing Terror places horror comics of the mid-twentieth century in dialogue with the anxieties of their age. It rejects the narrative of horror comics as inherently and necessarily subversive and explores, instead, the ways in which these texts manifest white male fears over America’s changing sociological landscape. It examines two eras: the pre-CCA period of the 1940s and 1950s, and the post-CCA era to 1975. The authors examine each of these periods through the lenses of war, gender, and race, demonstrating that horror comics are centred upon white male victimhood and the monstrosity of the gendered and/or racialised other. It is of interest to scholars of horror, comics studies, and American history. It is suitably accessible to be used in undergraduate classes.