Are you one of those film buffs who believes that Hammer equals Horror? I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit it, but for the longest time, I didn’t know the first thing about Hammer Films, let alone their reputation amongst horror film aficionados. I was one of those kids who lived and died by the classic six-pack of Universal monster movies – “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), “The Invisible Man” (1933), “The Wolf Man” (1941), and “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954) – and any and all of the sequels they inspired. In fact, it wasn’t until 2005 that I really got an education into the world of Hammer, courtesy of a set released, ironically, by Universal: “The Hammer Horror Series.” It’s part of Universal’s so-called “Franchise Collection,” and although it’s certainly not a comprehensive set, it does include several films which give you a feel for the Hammer style of horror, including “Brides of Dracula,” “Curse of the Werewolf,” their 1962 version of “Phantom of the Opera,” “Paranoiac,” “Kiss of the Vampire,” “Nightmare,” “Night Creatures,” and “Evil of Frankenstein.”
There’s something about Hammer, though, that would’ve brought me to their back catalog of films long ago if only I’d been aware of it: they were really, really good at combining their horror with incredibly hot women. And if you doubt this to be true, then may I assure you that there is ample evidence of this fact…emphasis on the ample…in “Hammer Glamour: Classic Images from the Archive of Hammer Films.” Given that scary movies were the studio’s stock and trade in their glory days, it’s probably not coincidental that Titan Books decided to wait until right around Halloween to release this glossy tome, but rest assured that the photos contained within – and on the cover, as you can see below – are the sort which can be appreciated all year round.
Author Marcus Hearn was given the opportunity to delve deep into the Hammer vaults, and, boy, did he make the most of it. “The deeper we dug in Hammer’s archive, and the other picture libraries we visited, the more hidden gems we uncovered,” he said, in an interview with Titan. “Glamour photography was one of the most important elements of any Hammer publicity campaign, so there was no shortage of pictures to choose from. Unfortunately, they hadn’t always been stored with the greatest care, so the extensive restoration was by far the most time-consuming part of assembling the book.”
The team of restorers did good work, to be certain, but so did Hearn, who interviewed as many of the Hammer actresses as possible and, beyond that, has compiled solid biographies for each. And even those of you who aren’t familiar with Hammer’s history will likely still recognize several of the names within the book, including Ursula Andress (“Dr. No”), Nastassja Kinski (“Tess,” “Cat People”), Joanna Lumley (“Absolutely Fabulous”), and Raquel Welch (“Fantastic Voyage,” “One Million Years B.C.,” and, of course, “Myra Breckinridge”).
Not only is “Hammer Glamour” great to look at, but odds are that it’ll leave you wanting to head to Netflix and check out the body of work that these women accumulated for the studio. And if part of the reason for doing so is because you want to check out their actual bodies in the process…well, I think they’d probably understand. After all, you don’t think they were wearing those bodices because they were comfortable, do you?
In closing, to whet your appetite and tempt you further into picking up the book (which you can do by clicking here), here’s an extremely well-done collection of clips of some of the studio’s stable of actresses…and set to Kate Bush’s “Hammer Horror,” no less: