Event: In the Grip of Hammer

My friend and colleague Robert JE Simpson and I will be in conversation on Thursday 13 January at 9pm GMT. The event is live online and is free to attend. Hopefully we’ll attract a few followers from our Hammer-related Twitter accounts (mine is @HammerGothic, and Robert’s is @exclusivephd), and there’ll be time for some interaction and a Q&A. From Cinepunked:

Thursday 13 January 2022, CinePunked presents In the Grip of Hammer.

In the first of a new occasional series of CinePunked conversations with fans, enthusiasts, and collectors, our very own Robert JE Simpson will be in conversation with David L Rattigan (himself no stranger to CinePunked) about their shared love of classic Hammer Films.

Robert JE Simpson is a film historian and cultural commentator, previously worked as the official archivist for Hammer Films, and is currently writing a book about the early history of Hammer’s sister company Exclusive Films. He tweets about the project at @exclusivephd.

David L Rattigan is a freelance writer and editor with a Hammer horror obsession, and for the last year has been tweeting about his love for the films over at @hammergothic.

Robert and David have a long-standing working relationship and have collaborated on a number of magazine, book and podcast projects.

Hammer Films are perhaps best known for their series of gothic horror films produced in England between 1956 and 1976, including popular series of Frankenstein and Dracula features starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In 2006 the company went back into production and has produced a stream of horror films in the years since, including Wake WoodThe Woman in Black and The Lodge.

The conversation will be live-streamed via the CinePunked YouTube channel, and will include an audience Q&A. Robert and David will not just be talking about Hammer horror, but the company’s other output, and what fandom means to them.

Bookmark the channel now.

View the event page on Facebook.
Bookmark CinePunked YouTube channel.

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave – but Is God Back in His?

This post is part of the 2021 Hammer-Amicus Blogathon

There was little ambiguity concerning the existence and role of God in the films of Terence Fisher, the director whose vision for the Gothic helped shape ‘Hammer horror’ from the studio’s first colour period horror film, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).

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Dracula’s Daughter: A Queer Monster Classic Turns 75

[Originally published on diaboliquemagazine.com in 2011]

The clunky execution of Tod Browning’s 1931 film Dracula is the elephant in the room as far as classic horror is concerned. Bela Lugosi impresses in the title role, certainly, and the movie has a handful of truly memorable moments, but most of it falls very flat. Viewed 80 years later, it is not so much a great film as a curiosity, notable for its seminal place in cinema history.

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House

An Invitation to Terror: The Haunting of Hill House Reviewed
Liverpool Playhouse, 7 December 2015-16 January 2016

While you might leave behind one or two of the wordier scenes and the occasionally convoluted machinations of the plot, the warped, surreal benightedness of The Haunting Of Hill House – a new commission for the stage from Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse — will almost certainly follow you out of the theatre.

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The Charm of Evil

[Originally published on diaboliquemagazine.com in 2011]

And it was at that age that poetry arrived in search of me.

Pablo Neruda

I was seven when horror came in search of me. I’d seen it from afar: Garish comic-strip representations of Dracula on Valentine picture postcards, glimpses of men standing around in misty graveyards in late-night films I wasn’t allowed to watch. But when I was seven, my father gave me a book, the Ladybird Horror Classic abridgment of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I devoured its words and handsome illustrations eagerly, and from that moment forward, horror had me firmly in its clutch. Those pocket-sized hardbacks of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy were my initiation into the realms of the genre.

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The Horror of It All: The Dynamics of Class and Power in the Hammer Gothics

This was originally published by Albion magazine (online) in 2005, and represents one of my earliest published pieces of writing, as well as my first on Hammer Films, if I recall rightly.

The Hammer House of Horror, the makers of quintessentially British gothic horror films, was dominated by two dashing aristocrats: Baron Frankenstein and Count Dracula. Their terror was inflicted on lower-class rustic communities, but their heroic pursuers – as well as the particular pool of victims we care most about – were middle-class, treading a noble path midway between the ignorance and ignobility of the working classes and the unfettered craving for power of the upper class. These dynamics provided the general contours for Hammer time and again throughout the studio’s truly “classic” period, which I shall (to the infuriation of some aficionados, I am sure) place roughly from The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 to Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1969.

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