Dracula: Princess of Darkness

The story begins as two couples while traveling in eastern Europe decide to visit Carlstad despite dire warnings of the locals. Abandoned by the coachman who is terrified of the approaching night. They seek shelter in a nearby castle. Klove (Latham), the servant of the house graciously offers up lodging to these wayward souls. Helen (Barbara Shelley) gets that old time feeling ,you know one.... that castle is evil, but of course no one's listening. Later Klove kills Helen's husband Alan (Charles Tingwell). He hangs his corpse upside down, cuts his throat and allows the blood to drip onto the ashes of the "Count". Guess who's home... and looking for a few new brides? 

Helen quickly gives in to Dracula's charms, so he sets his sights on her little sister, Diana (Susan Farmer). But this little vixen isn't going so quietly. She and her husband escape Dracula's grasp and find refuge in a monastery. There they run into Father Sandor (Andrew Keir), the psuedo-Van Helsing  and he tells them of the "Count" and vampirism. The final battle begins between good and evil and Dracula's demise, done in a way that only Hammer could come up with.

 

Dracula: Prince of Darkness


1966

 

Fisher exercises a fine line between on screen violence and atmosphere. The success of this film is build on the balance of these two ideals, helping to deliver one of, if  not the greatest "Dracula" movie ever made. As not to get type cast as "Dracula", Christopher Lee declined an offer to play the Count in the follow-up to "Horror of Dracula" entitled "Brides of Dracula". It wasn't until 7 years later that Lee would reprise the role of "Count Dracula" again with Fisher at the helm. This is the true sequel to "Horror of Dracula". Unfortunately for us, there is no Dr. Van Helsing, thus no Peter Cushing.  Again masterfully scored by James Bernard.  
                                                            

 

 

Plague of the Zombies

Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell) receives a fanatic letter from one of his prize pupil, a Dr. Peter Thompson (Brook Williams), telling of a strange virus that is ravishing the small countryside community where he practices. Upon arriving in Cornwall, Sir James and his lovely daughter Sylvia (Diane Clarke) are greeted by superstitious townsfolk and arrogant aristocrats. As they make their way through the crowd and over to the Thompson home, they are met at the door by Peter’s seemingly sick wife, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce), an old school chum of Sylvia. When Peter gets home he is both surprised and happy to find that his mentor has come to help him in his plight.

Unable to gain public support to perform an autopsy, Sir James and Peter decide that night to dig up a fresh corpse by the light of the full moon. At the same time back home, Sylvia witnesses Alice sneaking out to the moors and decides to follow her. In the graveyard, the two doctors are shocked to find the casket empty, while out on the moor Sylvia observes a corpse-like figure carrying the limp body of Alice. Later the next day, Alice is found dead and an autopsy reveals that she isn’t suffer from rigor mortis and the blood in her body is no longer human.  That night their worst fears are realized as Alice crawls out of her grave. A quick decapitation puts an end to that, but still the question remains as to who is behind these vile acts. 

As James and Peter struggle to makes heads or tails from these bizarre events, the local Squire (John Carson) seems to have an unholy attraction to Sylvia. The plot continues to thicken when a quick survey reveals that  the graves are empty and all trails lead to voodoo. But who is enslaving the undead???

 

The Plague of the Zombies


1966

 

Principal cinematography on “The Plague of the Zombies” began a mere week after Hammer had wrapped work on “Rasputin—The Mad Monk”. Director John Gilling (“The Gorgon”, “Trog”) brought to life a moody atmospheric zombie-fest that relied more on storyline than gore.  Special Effects master Roy Ashton prepared the zombie makeup, which harkens back to the days of “White Zombie” and no doubt was an influence on George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”. This film proved to a huge success when it was double-billed with “Dracula—Prince of Darkness” in both the UK and the US, but unfortunately for fans around the world, Hammer never did make a return visit to the land of the undead. 

 

 

Quartmass and the Pit

The story begins at the excavation sight of a London subway. The digging comes to an abrupt halt when workers unearth several prehistoric skulls and skeletal remains. Dr Roney (James Donald), an anthropologist and his assistant, Barbara Judd (Barbara Shelley) are called in to examine and study the unearthed remains.  As excavating continues, what is thought to be a missile-like object is uncovered.  Once this is discovered, Colonel Breen (Julian Glover) and Professor Quatermass (Andrew Keir) are called in and they quickly determine the object is an unexploded bomb leftover from the World War II. As Professor Quatermass begins to look deeper into the origins of these remains he believes they are not of this Earth.  Dr Roney later  informs Quatermass that he feels the skeletal remains are approximately five million years old, much older than any previous discovery.  Further investigation into this specific neighborhood determines that for centuries it has been haunted by ghastly stories of beastly sightings, sounds and strange occurrences

As Colonel Breen and his men completely unearth the "missile", it's discovered to be an alien craft, with a compartment inside that seems impenetrable to modern means to open it. The compartment suddenly opens and
reveals occupants that appear to be large locust-like creatures. Quatermass, Roney and Judd quickly remove the creatures and take them back to Roney's lab for further study. What they discover in the lab will shake the very foundation of Earth's history. What secrets do these insectoid creatures hold to the very existence of man on Earth? Where did these creatures come from and why did they travel to this planet? 

 

The Quatermass and the Pit


1967

 

Nigel Kneale's excellent story and screenplay make for one of the best films from the Quatermass series. This film is atmospheric and thought provoking and a much more pessimistic film than, "2001: A Space Odyssey", a film released the same year as, "Quatermass and the Pit". The direction of Roy Ward Baker keeps the film moving along at a wonderful pace and the overall atmosphere and acting only make this a film a must-see by sci-fi fans. Andrew Keir is perfectly cast in the role of Professor Quatermass, he combines the passion of the scientist with just the perfect touch of a man  learning much more about his history than possibly wanted. Julian Glover as Colonel Breen is a great antagonist to Quatermass, his unyielding views make his character much more interesting. James Donald and Barbara Shelley round out this top-notch cast with solid performances. "Quatermass and the Pit" or "Five Million Years To Earth" as it is also known is a fabulous combination of science fiction, horror and the occult. Hammer Studios did several science fiction films, but "Quatermass and the Pit" is one of the best and one film that all science fiction as well as Hammer fans should add to their list of "must-see" films.  ---HammerFanatic

 

 

The Devil Rides Out

When Duc de Richeleau (Christopher Lee) and his friend Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) decide to pay a visit on their protégé Simon Aaron (Patrick Mower),  they find him hosting a meeting for a strange astronomical society.  After a few minutes of mingling, a nervous Simon, guided by the bidding of his master, decides to shows his good friends to the door, but Duc de Richeleau is susceptive and determined to investigate a hunch.  Following a brief encounter with an unholy presence up in the observatory , the Duc realizes that this little get together is a front for a devil-worshipping sect led by the charismatic Mocata (Charles Gray). The two men barely escaped with an  unconscious Simon and  whisk back to the Duc's home in a bid to save his mortal soul. 

During the night, Simon is summoned by the power of Mocata to escape and rejoin him.  The next day after some further research, the Duc believes that Simon, along with the beautiful Tanith (Nike Arrighi), are to be baptized into a satanic group better known as the Left Hand Path.  Fearing for their lives, Rex is dispatched  to get some information as to when the initiation ceremony will be taking place.  Later that night , as Mocata and his convent assemble in the woods to summon the Goat of Mendes (Aka. the Devil), Duc and Rex swoops in to rescue both Simon and Tanith from the clutches of this warlock, but their battle with the Dark Lord has only just begun. 

Returning to  the home of the Duc's niece, the group begins to prepare for  the evil that awaits them.  A holy circle drawn around them helps repel the horrifying apparitions that manifests, but the slightest break in this protective ring will mean instant damnation for all, especially when the Angel of Death comes a calling. Who will win this classic battle between good and evil???

 

The Devil Rides Out


1968

 

Based on the Dennis Wheatley's bestseller "The Devil Rides Out", this film directed by Hammer veteran and master of the macabre, Terence Fisher is easily one of the studio's strongest entry in the horror genre. In the fall of 1963, Christopher Lee played a prominent role in convicting Hammer execs to acquire the rights to this story.  After several failed scripts by high-profile screenwriters, Richard Matheson ("Omega Man", Legend of Hell House", and "The Haunting") was commissioned to breath new life into what many considered a very boring story.  At the time, in part due to fears that the film's release may be jeopardized because of content, Hammer felt it necessary to submit their shooting scripts to the BBFC for final approval. The BBFC made it very clear that they would not put up with "any misuses of Christian emblems or any parodies of Christian prayers".  Finally, after many delays the film went into production during the summer of 1967 and was later released in the summer of 1968. "The Devil Rides Out" proved to be a landmark film for Christopher Lee, because it confirmed the audience's acceptance of him in the role of a hero, rather than a monster.  Recent media quotes from the man himself have him citing his return to the role of  Duc de Richeleau in a remake of this film.  Exhibiting a superb storyline, exceptional acting especially by Lee and Charles Gray, and a wonderful score by James Bernard, "The Devil Rides Out is destined to be a prize in your horror collection. 

 

 

The Satanic Rites of Dracula

The story picks up two years after "Dracula AD 1972". A strange cult with many of England top official as members has been reported and is under investigation. In the dying words of an undercover agent are tales of blood rituals and sacrifices. The authorities turn to Prof. Lorrimer van Helsing (Peter Cushing), a distant relative of the original "Dr Van Helsing", for his knowledge of the "occult". When he finds an old school chum is a member of this group, Van Helsing decides to questions him and learns about their plans to destroy the world with a new strain of the Bubonic Plague. But why????

As the plot lingers in spots, we discover that "Dracula" is behind this madness and this is how he hopes to wreak his final revenge on mankind. But wouldn't this lead to his death you may ask? Here Van Helsing surmises, "it is the only way to rid himself of this curse." The ending is a little weak and nowhere nearly as effective as "Horror" or "Prince of Darkness". At least we find out that a thorn bush is quite effective against the Lord of the Undead. I still recommend this film to all the fans based solely on Lee's and Cushing's performance.

 

The Satanic Rites of Dracula


1972

 

This filmed marked the film pairing of Lee's "Dracula" and Cushing's "Van Helsing" battling it out on the silver screen. We should all consider ourselves blessed to have witness these two horror superstars sharing the spotlight with dignity and dedication to the genre. Horrors greatest arch-enemies. The year following the release of "The Exorcist", "Satanism" was the in thing. So Hammer decided to team this new fade with the bread and butter of their success, "Dracula" in an attempt to save a dying studio. Unfortunately, they were not successful.

 

 

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampire

The story begins as a Buddhist monk (Chan Shen) is seen heading towards Dracula's Castle. When he arrives he pleads with the Prince of Darkness to come back with him to save the seven golden vampires, but Dracula has other plans. So he assumes the identity of the monk and heads back to China. At the same time we find Dr. Van Helsing ( Peter Cushing) speaking to a group of students about the legend of a doomed village in China that becomes cursed every year at the time of the 7th moon. Van Helsing is later persuaded by Hsu Chinga (David Chiang) to join his family of kung fu experts and rid his village of the 7 golden vampires. Seven brothers and their one sister trained masters of the various arts battling the army of the undead. Pretty cool!!!!

Throw in a love story or two, one former Penthouse Pet, some kung fu, zombie fu, vampire fu and you have yourself one kick ass movie. Although the fight scenes are not as crisp and precise as most Shaw Brother films, they still make for fun watching. Grab some popcorn, throw on your favorite gi, and prepare yourself for some immortal kombat!!!!!!

 

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires


1972

 

This films melds two of my favorite pastimes, Horror and Kung-Fu. Martial Art  movies were at an all-time high back in 1974 and what better studio to team- up with than the Shaw Brother of Hong Kong.  You gotta love the trailer for this film "Black Belt meet Black Magic". "Seven Brothers and their one sister meet Dracula". Just from that, two words come to mind and it's not " marketing genius". This is another film where Hammer was grasp to survive.   This time we do see Peter Cushing as "Dr Van Helsing", but instead of Lee reprising his role of the "Count", we see John Forbes-Robertson. Too bad. I would've loved to see Christopher Lee deliver a roundhouse kick to some ones solar plexus.


 

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