Paul Roland braves the curse of the critics to trace the history of HAMMER – the house of horror
During the early 1980s I was writing for a number of film and music magazines and, being a huge horror movie buff, I naturally took the opportunity to suggest a Hammer feature at one of Kerrang’s weekly editorial meetings. It is basically an introductory overview of the studio’s horror output and for reasons of space omits reference to a couple of my favourite Hammer filmsm ‘The Witches’ and ‘Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter’, but for those who are not hardcore Hammer fans it may be of interest for the brief quotes from Christopher Lee and the various Hammer ‘House’ directors. (My interview with Peter Cushing can be found elsewhere on this site).
Paul Roland (still) braves the curse of the critics to trace the history of Hammer, the House of Horror
The following year, Hammer released no less than three films, two of which have since become classics of the genre, while the third, ‘The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll’, remains an interesting curio. Jekyll featured Paul Massie in the title role, portraying Dr J as a bearded, insensitive scientist, and his primitive half as a handsome, clean-shaven sadist. A unique interpretation and one which easily stole the acting honours from Christopher Lee, who had been relegated to a minor supporting role.
On April 16th 1986 I had the great pleasure and privilege to have a private interview with Hammer horror icon Peter Cushing who had just published his first volume of autobiography at the age of seventy-three. Needless to say, I was a huge Hammer fan. His urbane presence and cultured voice lent a degree of integrity to every film he was in and I found him to be as gracious a man in real life as he appeared on screen, the very embodiment of an English gentleman.
Incredibly, and to my surprise he actually telephoned me at my home to arrange the interview personally and when we met in a plush London hotel a few days later he left the publicity people who were controlling his tight schedule and invited me upstairs to his suite where we could talk without the distraction of those women who were limiting each interview to ten minutes or so. I think he sensed that I was a serious film buff and he wanted to allow me all the time I needed to ask my questions. And when it was over he signed a photo that I had brought with me of himself in the role of Dr Frankenstein ‘To Paul, God’s blessing on you always, in all sincerity Peter Cushing’ and graciously stood by the open door of his room until I had entered the elevator that would take me back down to the lobby. As I said, every inch a gentleman and the glow of that meeting remained with me for several days. Read the rest of this entry