Since their revamp (ahem) in 2007, Hammer Films have gone from strength to strength. Kicking off with the underrated Let Me In, their biggest success thus far has been Daniel Radcliffe’s The Woman in Black.
Starring Jared Harris (Fringe) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games), Hammer return next month with new British horror movie The Quiet Ones, in UK cinemas from Thursday 10 April. Set in 1974, the movie sees a group of scientists from Oxford University set out to capture video evidence of the paranormal.
In honour of Hammer’s resurrection, here CultBox takes a look back at five of the best films this iconic studio has brought us over the years…
One Million Years BC (1966)
It may feature a (rather cute) giant tortoise as an antagonist but we think this cult adventure movie has earned a place on this list, if not solely because it brought Raquel Welch and her iconic furry bikini to fame.
Abounding with ‘70s hair and giant creepy-crawlies, One Million Years BC – a remake of the Oscar-nominated 1940 film One Million BC – is just one example of Hammer’s wholehearted approach to genre films.
Yes, the word Hammer might conjure forth images of a toothy, red-eyed Christopher Lee (we’ll get to that later) but in their heyday they weren’t all about things that go bump in the night. They were also, apparently, about attractive people on beaches in furry loincloths. And how could we not love them for that?
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Cantering into fourth place is The Devil Rides Out, starring Christopher Lee (actually playing a good guy!) as Duc de Richleau, a man carrying out investigations into the Occult who comes across some rather unpleasant Satan-worshipping.
Memorable for its restrained tone and realistic approach to the heightened subject matter (and for Christopher Lee playing a GOOD GUY, which we are still having trouble with), The Devil Rides Out remains the all-time favourite of Hammer bigwig Simon Oakes.
The Woman in Black (2012)
It might be a newbie but James Watkins’ big screen version of Susan Hill’s 1983 novel has got all the hallmarks of a timeless horror classic. Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe stars as young lawyer Arthur Kipps, who is sent to the abandoned Eel Marsh House in search of a will and promptly encounters a malevolent ghostly presence, hellbent on revenge.
Beautifully shot and full to its cobwebbed rafters with some genuinely terrifying moments, this elegant, Gothic frightfest is a classic haunted house story turned up to eleven.
Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
A blend of sci-fi and classic horror, the Quatermass films were truly revolutionary when they emerged, with Quatermass and the Pit widely considered to be the finest of the bunch.
Andrew Keir stars as Bernard Quatermass, a professor called in to investigate a mysterious spacecraft discovered beneath London and seemingly linked to a series of ancient demonic sightings. Featuring a memorably devilish climax, Quatermass and the Pit went where no Hammer film had gone before, juggling science fiction elements with the supernatural in an innovative, exciting and genuinely scary way.
Taking the top spot, unsurprisingly, is the Prince of Darkness himself. Starring Peter Cushing as vamp hunter extraordinaire Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as Dracula, Terence Fisher’s film is a horror classic, inspiring generations of Halloween costumes and emo kids everywhere.
For the real essence of Hammer, Dracula is the place to start; a film so crammed full of dripping fangs, bloodshot eyes and busty screaming women that you might think you’ve stumbled into a 1950s episode of True Blood. Essential viewing if you are ever going to dress up in a sweeping black cape, stick in some fangs and call yourself a true Hammer connoisseur.
What’s your favourite Hammer movie? Let us know below…
Post sponsored by Lionsgate Films.