The name Hammer is one that is still synonymous with British horror – a remarkable eighty years after the studio first began producing feature films. It’s a rites-of-passage for almost every film fan in the UK to have, at some point, been scared behind the sofa by Christopher Lee’s Dracula or Oliver Reed’s Wolfman, and this is a tradition that has been kept alive and screaming by the huge success of Hammer’s most recent effort, spine-chilling ghost story The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe – released on Blu-ray and DVD on 18th June 2012.
One not insignificant reason for Hammer’s looming presence on the landscape of horror and fantasy cinema is the range of creepy, colourful and occasionally gleefully lurid posters that the company commissioned for its films. Some of the very best and most imaginative of these were designed by the late Tom Chantrell – a crack poster artist who also worked on such classic titles as Brighton Rock and Star Wars.
Join us now as we take a peek at ten of the most moody, menacing and memorable of these dark artworks, and please... Don’t have nightmares!
If you want a closer look at any of the artwork, just click the image and it will jump out of the screen in BLOOD-CURDLING TERROR-VISION
10. The Reptile (1966)
First up we have an appropriately ghoulish and eye-popping design for this grisly tale of a reptilian creature wreaking havoc in a turn-of-the-century Cornish village.
The Reptile was filmed back-to-back with Plague of the Zombies and used many of the same sets.
9. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1958)
A poster with bite for a gory adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes tale and the first time one of the stories was shot in colour. Note how the titular beast is about to sink its teeth into the logo.
8. The Gorgon/The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (both 1964)
This poster for one of Hammer’s famous double-bills reckons that the films being screened are so scary they require a “Fear Warning”! They don't make them like this any more.
7. One Million Years B.C. (1966)
As well as proving that natural history can be just as scary as the supernatural, this prehistoric romp launched Raquel Welch as a world-famous sex symbol, and you can see her striking her most famous pose on the poster. On its release, this was heralded as Hammer's 100th production.
6. The Woman in Black (2012)
A lovingly crafted homage to Hammer’s horror legacy with this atmospheric retro poster for the recent Woman in Black by British artist Graham Humphries. In the film, Daniel Radcliffe's son is played by his real-life God-son.
5. The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
Two years before George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead, Hammer unleashed its own swarm of the undead with The Plague of the Zombies – the heaving-bosomed lassie they’re carrying off in the poster is rocking the archetypal look for Hammer leading ladies.
4. The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
There’s almost a touch of proto-psychedelia to this poster for Baron Frankenstein’s second outing for Hammer, and what the heck is a “Horrorama” anyway? In 1958, the Daily Telegraph was so horrified by what they saw on screen that they suggested the BBFC create a special new category for the film - "For Sadists Only".
3. The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Legendary wild-man Oliver Reed’s wildest role was as the Wolfman, and this poster brings his hairy-scary transformation to life. Surprisingly this would be the only werewolf movie to be made by Hammer. Over five minutes were cut by the censor for its British release and even more for the American version.
2. The Mummy (1959)
A long time before Brendan Fraser came on to the scene, Hammer had a mummy of its own causing all kinds of mischief – the policeman’s torch shining through the bandages is a brilliant touch. A door that Christopher Lee crashes through was accidentally bolted before the scene was shot. Lee's shoulder was dislocated when he broke down the door, but the shot remains in the movie. Ouch!
1. Dracula (1958)
Who else could be at number one but Dracula? This appropriately titillating and terrifying teaser poster announced the famous bloodsucker’s debut for Hammer in grand style. Despite top billing, Christopher Lee has only thirteen lines in the film.
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