If, like me, you were introduced to horror by films on TV, then you'll remember the Friday & Saturday night double bills that frequently showed on the BBC. Many a happy Friday night was spent in the company of Universal's classic monsters and later, as the seasons went on, much of the output from Hammer Studios. Now those halcyon days can be relived as the UK's Horror Channel is reviving the tradition with a series of Hammer double bills through February.
Vampire vixens, creepy castles, mouldy mummies, satanic sadists and Lee & Cushing on top show. Yes, it's Hammer heaven as the UK's number one TV destination for all things horror presents a HAMMER DOUBLE-FEATURE SEASON, which broadcasts from Sat Feb 1st – Feb 22nd at 9.00pm.
Sat 1st February at 21.00 - Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
This sequel to the 1958 Dracula sees the supposedly dead Count Dracula back in bloody business once his trusty servant Klove entices the English Kents - Charles (Francis Matthews), brother Alan (Charles Tingwell), and their wives, Diana (Suzan Farmer) and Helen (Barbara Shelley), inside his welcoming castle. Directed by Terence Fisher, this is seen as the "quintessential Hammer horror"
Sat 1st Feb at 22.45 - Scars Of Dracula (1970)
Directed by Roy Ward Baker, this popular sequel to Taste the Blood of Dracula stars Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, who spreads his evil from his mountaintop castle. When libertine Paul Carlson disappears one night, his brother Simon and girlfriend trace him to the area, discovering a terrified populace. They make their way towards the sinister castle and its undead host. Also stars Dennis Waterman.
Sat 8th Feb at 21.00 - Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Directed by Terence Fisher, this popular feature stars Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein, who discovers a way of trapping the soul of a dead person. Frankenstein believes he can transfer the soul into a recently deceased female (Susan Denberg) to restore her to life. This is one of the most critically acclaimed Hammer films and Martin Scorsese cites this as one of his favourite films.
Sat 8th Feb at 22.50 - Frankenstein and The Monster from Hell(1974)
The aged Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) is housed at an insane asylum where he has been made a surgeon, where, under the alias of Dr. Carl Victor, uses his position to continue his experiments in the creation of man. Filmed at Elstree Studios in 1972 but not released until 1974, it was the final chapter in the Hammer Frankenstein saga of films as well as director Terence Fisher's last film.
Sat 15th Feb at 21.00 - The Mummy's Shroud(1967)
Directed by John Gilling, the film stars André Morell and David Buck as explorers who uncover the tomb of an ancient Egyptian mummy (played by stuntman Eddie Powell, Christopher Lee's regular stunt double), brought back to life to wreak revenge on his enemies. It was the third of Hammer's four Mummy films, and the last to feature a bandaged mummy. It was the final Hammer production to be made at Bray Studios.
Sat 15th Feb at 22.45 - Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
This was the swan song for director Seth Holt, who died before filming finished. An expedition, led by Professor Fuchs (Andrew Keir), find the tomb of an evil Egyptian princess. Her preserved, still-bleeding severed hand sports a dazzling ruby ring. Several years later, Fuchs gives the ring to his daughter Margaret (Valerie Leon), who slowly begins to take on the malevolent traits of its original wearer.
Sat 22nd Feb at 21.00 - The Devil Rides Out (1968)
The powers of good are pitted against the forces of evil in this gripping tale of Satanism, based on the best-selling 1934 novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley. Written by Richard Matheson and directed by Terence Fisher, the film stars Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi, Leon Greene and Patrick Mower. Christopher Lee has often said that of all his vast back catalogue of films this is his favourite
Sat 22nd Feb at 22.45 - To the Devil a Daughter (1976)
Directed by Peter Sykes, this was the second of Wheatley's "black magic" novels to be filmed by Hammer, following The Devil Rides Out and stars Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackman, Nastassja Kinski and Denholm Elliott. Wheatley disliked the film because it did not follow his novel and found it obscene. Wheatley told Hammer Production that they were not to make another film from his novels ever again
Other highlights during February include the UK TV premieres of SAWNEY: FLESH OF MAN (Fri 21st Feb at 22:55) and SHARKZILLA (Tues 25th Feb at 16:00). Plus there is the Network premiere of OPEN WATER (Fri 7th Feb at 22:50)
Horror Channel is available in the UK on: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138