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Book Review

Book Cover

The Art of Hammer
Posters from the Archive of Hammer Films (Hardback)


Author: Marcus Hearn
Titan Books
RRP: £24.99, US $29.95, Cdn $34.00
ISBN: 978 1 84856 737 5
Available 29 October 2010

From Titan Books comes a coffee table large format hardback book, depicting many (close to 300) of the British and foreign artwork posters lovingly scanned from the originals at the Hammer archives and beautifully displayed here on good quality photographic paper. It is essentially a collection of images, with an introduction by Marcus Hearn, who was also the author of Hammer Glamour and The Hammer Story. There are 192 pages of material which covers, in separate chapters, 1950-1959, 1960-1969, and 1970-1979.

The Hammer Film Studios were founded in 1934, and it’s little known outside certain circles that they produced a string of B-movies up until their first major success with The Quatermass Xperiment. It wasn’t until The Curse of Frankenstein and the subsequent string of genre films that the company became known to the audiences as the Hammer House of Horror. So, included among the better known titles, we get as diverse formats as Men of Sherwood Forest, Paid To Kill, Spaceways, Mask of Dust, The Brigand of Kandahar, and A Weekend With Lulu. These cover the genres of fantasy, suspense thriller, science fiction, sport, action adventure, and comedy respectively.

However, the majority of the work is horror, as you would expect. It was said that many of these posters were commissioned and completed well before the relevant film was made. In fact, they were used for promotional purposes, and so consequentially the artwork bore little or no resemblance to any inherent scenes. The artwork and taglines are very much a product of the time; it is more likely that the unfair “Hammy House of Horror” moniker originated from the posters and film trailers than the films themselves. It’s nice to be reminded of some of the Hammer movies you have unwittingly let slip from your mind, and American and continental versions in particular will be of interest to any true fan of horror or film posters.

Designs are very different in style and content, as a number of artists were individually commissioned over the years. The longest and most recognisable, in terms of produce, is Tom Chantrell, who was first used in the early sixties but then painted every film release poster from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies. In short, this is a lovingly put together book - if a tad over-priced.


Ty Power

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