Founded nearly eighty-three years ago in England, Hammer Film Productions had created films in many genres but the company is best remembered for its horror films. The period from the 1950s to the 1970s was a golden age for Hammer Horror films and the studio turned them out as quickly as they could.
The studio’s first major horror film was The Quatermass Xperiment, based on a BBC show and it was more profitable than anybody would have guessed. As the company began work on a sequel they sought out a partnership with an American distributor to increase their audience. One such distributor, Associated Artists Productions, worked with Hammer Films Productions and even forwarded them a script based on Frankenstein from two fairly inexperienced screenwriters.
After several revisions, the script was finally accepted and The Curse of Frankenstein was produced as a color film starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Despite some misgivings regarding the story, the movie was a massive success. However, the relationship between Hammer Film Productions and AAP had broken apart so Columbia Pictures stepped in to distribute the sequel. Christoper Lee would go on to star in Dracula which was also a huge success.
Hammer horror films would typically feature impressive gothic imagery but the quality of the stories was debatable, at best. Still, the studio produced over two dozen horror movies and Hammer Films was one of the most recognizable names in the horror genre.
In the 1970s the horror market saw intense competition and Hammer Films left the market after releasing The Lady Vanishes in 1979. The studio was mostly dormant for nearly three decades until it was acquired by John De Mol who promised to create new films under the Hammer Film label. He came through with movies like Let Me In, The Resident and Wake Wood.
I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out a Hammer Horror film for your Halloween marathon – especially if it has Christopher Lee in it.