Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper Mersey Beat
Hammer Films became the most famous studio in the world for their production
of Horror films in the Sixties…but apart from the gore, they presented the
glamour. Hammer Films revived the Gothic horror film in a spectacular manner.
Their first major horror production 'The Curse of Frankenstein' brought
a success in America unprecedented for a British film and was screened over
there 24 hours a day from coast to coast, resulting in Hammer receiving
a three-pictures-per-year deal from Warner Brothers. The Hammer hallmark
included attention to the Gothic atmosphere, authentic-looking costumes
and sets, tight dialogue, lots of gore, colour, fine acting from a regular
Hammer ensemble - and glamour. One of the studio's most memorable and vivacious
visual images was that of Raquel Welch in Hammer's 100th film 'One Million
Years B.C.' in 1965. The company spent a larger budget than usual on this
production, filmed on location in the Canary Islands. It was a remake of
a Victor Mature film and was the American actress's second billed screen
appearance (the previous year she had made her debut in the sci-fi thriller
'Fantastic Voyage') and the massive publicity featuring her in 'the world's
first bikini' brought her international stardom. She portrayed Leoni, a
member of a prehistoric tribe and one scene, in which she was carried away
by a pterodactyl, mirrored a similar moment in 'King Kong'.
The accent was also on glamour when Hammer promoted 'She' in 1964 with Ursula Andress in the title role. The Swiss actress had already made quite an impact in another British film, 'Dr No', the first in the James Bond series, in which she portrayed Honeychile Rider and made a stunning screen entrance as she emerged from the sea in a bikini. Ursula portrayed Ayesha, she-who-must-be-obeyed, an immortal queen of an ancient civilisation. These two stars only appeared in a single Hammer movie, but there were several actresses who made regular appearances in the studio productions. In 1958 Hazel Court, the titian-haired British actress, provided a glimpse of cleavage in 'The Curse of Frankenstein'. The following year she appeared in 'The Man Who Could Cheat Death', in a very similar role: that of the ill-fated fiancée. These were Hazel's only Hammer appearances, although she appeared in several other horror movies, including 'Ghost Ship', 'Dr Blood's Coffin', 'The Terror' and 'The Masque of the Red Death'.
Also in 'The Curse of Frankenstein' was Valerie Gaunt who portrayed the saucy maid Justine, who the Baron callously allows the creature to murder. Valerie donned some fangs and a diaphanous nightgown to appear as one of Dracula's sensuous vampire brides in Hammer's classic 'Dracula' (known in America as 'The Horror of Dracula'). The heaving bosom in 'The Revenge of Frankenstein' was provided by Eunice Gayson and Yvonne Furneaux sported the décolletage in 'The Mummy'. A bosom which attained almost cult status, however, belonged to Marie Devereaux in 'The Stranglers of Bombay'. She portrayed a handmaiden of the Goddess Kali, a mute creature who tortures and mutilates several victims. This film was particularly popular in Continental Europe. During their heyday Hammer did, in fact, use a number of minor foreign actresses, or starlets with foreign-sounding names. They included Marla Landi in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'; Yvonne Romain and Catherine Feeler in 'The Curse of the Werewolf'; Yvonne Monlaur in 'The Bride of Dracula' and 'The Terror of the Tongs' (she also appeared in the Independent Artists film 'Circus of Horrors'); Viveca Lindfors in 'The Damned'; Jennifer Daniel in 'Kiss of the Vampire'; Jeanne Roland in 'The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb' and Nike Arrighi in 'The Devil Rides Out'.
Auburn-haired Barbara Shelley portrayed Carla Hoffman and the title character in 'The Gorgon', an original Hammer script transposing the creature of Greek legend to a Transylvania setting. Barbara also appeared in Hammer's tales of a sadistic Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in 'The Camp on Blood Island' and 'Secret of Blood Island'. She returned to the horror genre in 'Dracula, Prince of Darkness' as Helen, the young wife who succumbs to Dracula's kiss and has to be staked by Father Sandor. In 'Rasputin, the Mad Monk', she portrayed Sonia, an aristocrat who is mesmerised by the Georgian mystic. In 'Quatermass and The Pit' she was Barbara Judd, witness to a racial memory of a Martian expedition to Earth. Barbara had originally appeared in four films between 1957 and 1960: 'Blood of the Vampire', 'Cat Girl', 'Shadow of the Cat' and 'Village of the Damned'.
Hammer's two films set in Cornwall, 'Plague of the Zombies' and 'The Reptile' featured Jacqueline Pearce. In the zombie movie she portrayed a victim of the cult of the undead who arises from her grave and has to be decapitated. In 'The Reptile' she appeared as Anna Franklyn, a young girl who is able to metamorphose into a reptilian monster. Jacqueline was to appear as the villainess Servalan in the 'Blake's Seven' series on BBC TV in the late Seventies and as an evil foe of The Doctor in the 'Doctor Who' series in 1985. 'The Viking Queen' provided another vehicle for scantily clad actresses where Carlita starred as Salina, a Boadicea-type character. Also in the cast was Adrienne Corri as Beatrice. The red-haired actress was also to appear as a space agent in Hammer's sci-fi movie 'Moon Zero Two'. Adrienne, who had appeared in New World's 'The Hellfire Club' and the Danziger's 'Tell Tale Heart', returned to the Hammer fold in 'Vampire Circus'. She also portrayed the Cat Woman in Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange'.
blonde-tressed Susan Denberg made a single Hammer appearance as Christina
in 'Frankenstein Created Woman', portraying a crippled girl who is transformed
into a beautiful young woman in Frankenstein's laboratory and then sets
out on a mission of vengeance. In 'The Vengeance of She', the sequel to
'She', Olinka Berova appeared as Carol, a contemporary girl who is mistaken
for Ayesha, she-who-must-be-obeyed. The girls were out in force in 'Slave
Girls', a 1968 movie which provided the studio with an opportunity to bring
out scores of tiny fur bikinis in a story of two tribes of women, with the
dark haired lasses capturing and using the blonde tribe as slaves - a situation
which is altered when a male hunter appears. Female goose flesh was amply
displayed in the film (which was called 'Prehistoric Women' in America)
by Martine Beswick (right), Edina Ronay, Stephanie Randall and Carol White.
Martine had originally appeared as Nupondi in 'One Million Years B.C.' and
was to share the title role as Sister Hyde in 'Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde'.
The blonde looks of Veronica Carlson must have appealed to the casting department
of the Hammer House of Horror because they placed her as the female lead
in a trio of films. She appeared as Maria in 'Dracula Has Risen From the
Grave', Anne in 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' and Elizabeth in 'The House
of Frankenstein'. Providing the glamour for the 1968 movie 'The Lost Continent',
the first Hammer treatment of a Dennis Wheatley novel, was Suzannah Leigh
who was also to turn up in the role of Janet in 'Lust For a Vampire'. She'd
previously appeared in a horror movie for Amicus called 'The Deadly Bees'.
Making her debut in 'The Lost Continent' was Dana Gillespie, the singer
and David Bowie protégé who was also to appear in the non-Hammer fantasy
film 'The People That Time Forgot'.
Linda Hayden was the voluptuous victim of the vampire in 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' and Jenny Hanley provided the screams in 'Scars of Dracula'. Hammer next produced another prehistoric movie, this time with a more titillating treatment than in 'One Million Years B.C.' with Victoria Vetri of the Rock Tribe appearing nude in several scenes. Since nudity was no longer automatically clipped by the censor's scissors, Hammer became bolder still and introduced an element of eroticism into their films, beginning with 'The Vampire Lovers' in 1970, which starred Ingrid Pitt as the seductive vampire whose large-bosomed victims included Madeline Smith and Kate O'Mara. Ingrid proved such a success in the part that she was immediately given the title role in 'Countess Dracula' the following year, a film based on the true story of Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian Countess who bathed in blood, and the script provided more opportunities for her to appear au naturel. Ingrid also appeared in Amicus' 'The House That Dripped Blood' and the cult classic 'The Wicker Man'.
Madeline Smith seemed fated to be cast as the naïve innocent with the hourglass figure and appeared as the mute beauty Angel in 1973's 'Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell', while Kate O' Mara starred in 'The Horror of Frankenstein'. Yutte Stensgaard took over the Pitt role in 'Lust For a Vampire', with Pippa Steel as her nude victim and the third film of the series, which was loosely based on Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Carmilla', was 'Twins of Evil' which featured the twins Madeline and Mary Collinson, who not only appeared nude in the Hammer epic, but also in a Playboy centrefold. In contrast to the bosom-heaving nightgown-shredding actresses of the previous films, Angharad Rees seemed quite demure in 'Hands of the Ripper', in which she was possessed by the soul of Jack the Ripper. Then it was a return to glamour with the Amazonesque Valerie Leon in 'Blood from the Mummy's Tomb', based on Bram Stoker's novel 'Jewel of the Seven Stars' and the fulsome Stephanie Beacham in 'Dracula AD 1972'.
Stephanie appeared in the role of Jessica van Helsing, grand-daughter of the famous vampire hunter and in the sequel, 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula', the part was taken by Joanna Lumley.
Also in 'Rites' was Caroline Munro (left) who was to become the leading pin-up of fantasy film fans. After her role in another Hammer movie 'Captain Kronos', she appeared in several fantasy films including 'The Golden Voyage of Sinbad', 'Star Crash', 'At the Earth's Core' and the James Bond spectacular 'The Spy Who Loved Me'. Swedish actress Julie Ege brought her stunning looks to bear in 1971's 'Creatures the World Forgot', Hammer's third venture into prehistory, which displayed more acres of nude female flesh than the previous two. Julie also appeared in the final Hammer Dracula movie 'The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires' as Vanessa Buren. The last Hammer heroine turned out to be a 14 year-old German actress. In the 1976 adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's 'To the Devil a Daughter', Nastassja Kinski portrayed Catherine, a young victim of a group of Satanists. The golden age of Hammer Films was over in the cinema, but the name continued into the TV age with several 'Hammer Horror' series featuring a new host of glamorous actresses.
|Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.|
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