History of Horrors: The Rise and Fall of the House of Hammer

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Overview

This revised and expanded edition of A History of Horrors traces the life and spirit of Hammer Films, the small British independent studio, from its fledgling days in the late 1940s through its successes of the 1950s and 1960s to its decline and eventual liquidation in the late 1970s. With the exclusive participation of the personnel who were key to Hammer's success, Dennis Meikle paints a picture of the rise and fall of a film empire, offering new and revealing insights into the truth behind the legend. Much has been written about Hammer's films, but A History of Horrors is the only book to tell the story of the company itself from the perspective of those who ran it in its heyday and who helped to turn it into a universal byword for terror on the screen. This definitive history also includes cast and credits for the Hammer horrors and a complete filmography of Hammer's feature productions.
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Editorial Reviews

Scarlet: The Film Magazine
Important for a number of reasons....Enough history here to recommend the book to Hammer fans and fantasy film enthusiasts alike.
Filmfax
..not only the answer to every Hammer fan's dream but also one of the best books written about "any" film studio..
Choice
For his sanguine and fascinating biography of the best-known British studio of fantasy and macabre, Meikle opened some cinematic crypts. An indispensable and worthy addition to every film library. Meikle has unearthed well-buried facts and given them new life..
Little Shoppe Of Horrors
Meikle has told the Hammer story like one of our best novels...Even though his work is research-based, it never reads like a stuffy, academic piece. In fact, this book's true greatness is in Meikle's eloquent, witty style that divulges his shrewd savvy and intelligence at work. Books about film studios do not get any better than this..
CHOICE
Reviews of previous edition:
For his sanguine and fascinating biography of the best-known British studio of fantasy and macabre, Meikle opened some cinematic crypts. An indispensable and worthy addition to every film library, Meikle has unearthed well-buried facts and given them new life.
Sight and Sound
...unmatched in making a gripping story...
David Whitehead
Reviews of previous edition:
...undoubtedly THE book for the Hammer aficionado.
Midwest Book Review - Paul Vogel
College-level film studies collection will find this documentary a vivid survey of the changing British film industry, with chapters considering both major productions and industry trends. Film studies collections with a special focus on British film will find it a fine addition.
Stage
Reviews of previous edition
...a very solid book, dense information, good judgment, and an eye for foible.
Scarlet: The Film Magazine - Paul Legget
Meikle provides fascinating glimpses not only into the Carrerases, James the father and Michael the son, but also the various producers, script writers and, to a lesser extent, the directors.....
Sun Sentinel
Reviews of previous edition:
..the Hammer tale is entertaining reading, as well as a valuable document. History of Horrors also does what a great film book should: It makes you want to see the movies again.
Burlington County Times
Reviews of previous edition:
With this well-researched book, Meikle examines the studio from its early successes, through its porfitable years and finally during its decline after more than two decades in business.
Bucks County Courier Times
Reviews of previous edition:
...a well-researched book...
Movie Collector's World
Reviews of previous edition
...endlessly fascinating. Anyone who has watched Hammer movies will like this...the major, and not so major, entries are covered in detail...it may be the best source ever on Hammer...footnotes are excellent and contain much that couldn't be shoehorned into the main text. Don't skip them. The illustrations are very good.
Film Review
There are plenty of books about the rise and fall of the House of Hammer but non so all-encompassing as this authoritative 1996 overview....a keenly researched chronology, which vigorously explores the making of such classics as The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Devil Rides Out, excavating a crypt load of fascinating facts and figures as it does so. Hammers' decline in the seventies was swift as its rise in the fifties, and all of this is grist to the tale told here, which is presented with an unswerving desire for the truth behind the legend. Film histories don't come much better than this.
Midwest Book Review
College-level film studies collection will find this documentary a vivid survey of the changing British film industry, with chapters considering both major productions and industry trends. Film studies collections with a special focus on British film will find it a fine addition.
— Paul Vogel
Little Shoppe Of Horrors
Reviews of previous edition:
Meikle has told the Hammer story like one of our best novels...Even though his work is research-based, it never reads like a stuffy, academic piece. In fact, this book's true greatness is in Meikle's eloquent, witty style that divulges his shrewd savvy and intelligence at work. Books about film studios do not get any better than this.
Filmfax Magazine
Reviews of previous edition
...not only the answer to every Hammer fan's dream but also one of the best books written about any film studio.
Choice
Reviews of previous edition:
For his sanguine and fascinating biography of the best-known British studio of fantasy and macabre, Meikle opened some cinematic crypts. An indispensable and worthy addition to every film library, Meikle has unearthed well-buried facts and given them new life.
Samhain
.Reviews of previous edition
...is of much use to the avid Hammer fan...
Crimson
Reviews of previous edition:
...a labour of love for its author. Meikle has succeeded in digging up fine details about the making of the studio's classic chillers. Meikle's prose is enthusiastic and engaging...
Dark Terrors
Reviews of previous edition:
A long time in the making, but the result more than compensates...compulsive reading...a fascinating, well-researched study which offers a unique insight into the company's key figures...
Shivers
Reviews of previous edition:
...a gripping read, painting a vivid portrait of the corporate horrors in which Hammer became increasingly mired as the years passed...Meikle deftly sketches in the profound social changes which occurred during Hammer's supremacy...splendid — close to definitive...
Video Watchdog
.Reviews of previous edition:
..far and away the best book I've read about the business of making horror films...compulsively readable.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Reviews of previous edition:
Finally, a creditable author, with access to private files and previously hidden data, has taken the Hammer saga and distilled it into a superb book...[it] is, without reservation, the best film history book in at least a decade, a compulsively readable account of a dream factory whose fascinating output was unique in the world of cinema...[Meikle's] style—articulate, balanced, engaging —invites us into a world to which outsiders are denied access, and examines it with a skilled reporter's thoroughness. History of Horrors does what a great film book should: It makes you want to see the movie again.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810863545
  • Publisher: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2008
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 861,896
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Denis Meikle is the author of several books on film, including Vincent Price: The Art of Fear (2003), Johnny Depp: A Kind of Illusion (2004), The Ring Companion (2005), and Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out (2006).
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Table of Contents

Foreword Peter Cushing Cushing, Peter

Ch. 1 From Exclusive to Xperiment, 1947-1955 1

Ch. 2 The Rebirth of Frankenstein, 1956-1957 25

Ch. 3 New Blood for Old, 1957-1958 49

Ch. 4 The Bounds of Acceptability, 1959-1960 83

Ch. 5 Diminishing Returns, 1961-1962 117

Ch. 6 The House of Horror, 1963-1969 137

Ch. 7 Boom and Bust, 1970-1972 177

Ch. 8 Last Rites, 1973-1979 207

Epilogue: After the Fall 225

Afterword The Spirit of Hammer Michael Carreras Carreras, Michael 227

Appendix A The Hammer Horrors-Cast and Credits 229

Appendix B Hammer Filmography, 1946-1979 265

Notes 277

Bibliography 285

Index 287

About the Author 295

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    Good historical overview

    For those who are fans of Hammer but only want a one volume history of the studio and its films, "A History of Horrors" is the one book you will ever need.

    Not as exhaustive as Wayne Kinsey's two volumes: "Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years" and "Hammer Films: The Elstre Studio Years," but an excellent companion to the aforementioned to form, what appears to be, a complete history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted January 3, 2011

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