FLESH AND BLOOD: The Hammer Heritage Of Horror

Documentary by Ted Newsom, Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Originally a two-part TV special, the documentary charts the rise, glory days, and fall of Hammer Films, focusing on their wildly successful cycle of Gothic horror films.

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Flesh And Blood: The Hammer Heritage Of Horror


Documentary by Ted Newsom, Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Writer/Director: Ted Newsom. Narrated by Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Interviews from: Roy Ward Baker, James Bernard, Freddie Francis, Martine Beswick, Veronica Carlson, Caroline Munro, Ingrid Pitt, Raquel Welch, Francis Matthews, Andrew Keir, Michael Carreras, Hazel Court, Val Guest, Ray Harryhausen, Anthony Hinds, Christopher Neame, Ferdy Mayne and Joe Dante.


WARNING! This program contains some nudity and graphic horror!

Explore the most legendary horror studio of all time with this fascinating, frightening journey hosted by terror titans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. England’s most successful independent film company, the “fear factory” of Hammer Studios, has a history filled with feuds, censorship battles, and streaks of luck both good and bad. Now the legacy of horror returns, featuring interviews with such Hammer legends as Raquel Welch, Veronica Carlson, Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Freddie Francis, Val Guest, and Ray Harryhausen. Plus you’ll be treated to behind-the-scenes home movies and nonstop shock scenes from over 40 classic films including Horror Of Dracula, The Curse Of Frankenstein, The Devil Rides Out, Curse Of The Werewolf, and many more! It’s the definitive study of one of the greatest brand names in horror.

Originally a two-part BBC-TV special, this documentary charts the rise, glory days and fall of Hammer Films, focusing on their wildly successful cycle of Gothic horror films. Hammer Films, for those who don’t know, was a British phenomenon in the 1950’s and 1960’s, making quality horror films that had a huge commercial impact on the American market. Beginning with “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957), Hammer specialized in remakes of horror classics, but made them entirely their own, and in the process turned Peter Cushing (as Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein) and Christopher Lee (as Dracula) into movie stars.


Sunday, July 31, 2011
Director Ted Newsom’s HAMMER Documentary “FLESH & BLOOD: THE HAMMER HERITAGE OF HORROR” One Time Only Screening in The New Beverly Theater in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, July 31, 2011.

Hammer was made up of a perfect combination of artists and hardheaded businessmen, creating an environment where directors, crew and actors could fashion enduring works while never permitted to lose sight of commercial potential. Flesh and Blood gives a good impression of these two components and how they worked together and sometimes… against each other.

For unlike many movie documentaries made with the participation of the studio itself, this one doesn’t try to gloss over the internal conflicts that did emerge in the midst of all the fevered creativity and marketing. It was all a long time ago, and Hammer’s new owners must have wisely decided that controversies in the 1960’s would hardly reflect poorly on them, so here it is: Lee’s patented bitching spiel about the Dracula movies, Peter Cushing poking gentle fun at the scripts, Francis Matthews doing what amounts to a stand-up routine on the Hammer productions he was involved in, Andrew Keir admitting he didn’t have a good time making “Quatermass and the Pit” and so on. The serious dirt, of course, doesn’t come from the actors, but from off-screen talent like Michael Carreras (son of apparently not very agreeable Hammer co-owner James Carreras), directors Roy Ward Baker and Freddie Francis, and screenwriters Jimmy Sangster and Anthony Hinds.

They talk about increasingly penny pinching production budgets, the bizarre practice of selling a movie based on a poster when there was no script (a common practice in the States at the time), James Carreras telling people in the business not to help his son when he took over the running of Hammer and so on. It’s all interesting and candid, and brings what could have been called a level of grit if the film had been about a more serious subject.

We are of course treated to a potted history of Hammer, from the quota quickies of the early days (when the company was called Exclusive) to their final theatrical film “To the Devil a Daughter” (1975), with special attention paid to the “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” series. There’s even some time devoted to enjoyably obscure aspects of Hammer’s filmography, like the string of 1940’s and early 1950’s movies based on popular radio serials like “Dick Barton.” This run-through of the company’s productions could have become tedious to a fairly knowledgeable Hammer nut such as myself, but it’s well presented with soundly chosen clips from the films interspersed with interviewees who may not be saying much I didn’t already know, but are ever so nice to see and hear.