01/11/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 260 page illustrated large hardback. Price: GBP 24.99 (UK), $39.95 (US)' $47.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84576-737-5.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com and www.hammerfilms.com
Author Marcus Hearn’s books about Hammer Films continues with this volume, ‘The Art Of Hammer’, or to be more exact with the sub-title, ‘Posters From The Archive Of Hammer Films’. As he quite rightly points out, this is only a selection but it covers not only the British releases but also of those used in America and Europe and how they vary from each other depending on the needs of each country and their respective censor boards at the time. It might have been useful to know which posters were missed, especially as he had to access so many different collections to get these, but they really do cover the majority of the Hammer films.
It shouldn’t come in surprise to any of you familiar with the studio’s thirty year output that although they are known for their horror and SF films, that they also do a large percentage of comedy films, often based off of TV comedy series, and these are included as well.
The posters over the decades vary from art to photographs and all in a variety of colours, including day-glo. Hearn points out where a couple posters were made specifically for the fan market and as such, their value isn’t as high as others. Then again, if he’s mentioning value, it might have been useful to guide for those interested in collecting them as to their relative value.
I was looking through them and reminding myself which ones I’d seen and, more importantly, some I hadn’t see. A Net search also reveals that not all of them have been released on DVD. One can only hope that some enterprising DVD company might want to ensure the missing films get released, if only to see if they match their posters. After all, as Hearn describes in his introduction, with the earlier films, the poster was painted first to ensure the American market was interested even before they made the film.
There are some iconic posters like ‘One Million Years B.C.’ with Raquel Welch and even one, ‘The Satanic Rites Of Dracula’ on page 183 by comicbook artist Neal Adams, although I’d hate to say it, I’m not sure you’d recognise his style here.
Picking our favourites is tough. Do you go for cast, painting or purely because you have fond memories of a particularly film. Tough call, huh? Especially if you’re of the right age when they were first shown in the cinema. From a composition point of view, I would go for the ‘Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde’ on page 172 purely for the way if evokes the feel of the film. Saying that, there are so many wonderful film posters here that if you want to just look and admire you’ll be lapping it up and putting barbed wire around it to ensure it stays on your coffee table and not taken home by your friends who want a quick look and never return it.
There’s an interesting error where on page 30, Hearn points out that actor Michael Ripper gets his only poster credit with ‘The Steel Bayonet’ and misses an earlier credit on pages 272 with ‘Quatermass II’ and on page 95 with ‘The Devil-Ship Pirates’. So sue me, I like to read what it says on posters as well as looking at the pictures.
There aren’t that many poster books out there so it’s wonderful that we have one devoted to Hammer Films. So buy and relish.
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