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Hammer Horror Selection (1971)

Five classic movies from the studio that dripped blood!

Directed by:

Jimmy Sangster

Roy Ward Baker

Seth Holt

Terence Fisher

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 459 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

You’ll be instantly impressed by the sumptuous presentation of this five-flick bonanza from those gore-tastic horror pushers Hammer Studios. The smooth, matt-effect box folds out to display its array of discs in their full shiny glory, whilst tucked into the inside cover you’ll find a set of laminated postcards featuring the original theatrical artwork from each movie.

Whether you’ll be quite as taken by the general standard of the actual films on offer is a little more open to question.

Spanning 1968-71, this somewhat inconsistent selection represents a period generally regarded as Hammer’s slightly – erm – crappier days. While the acting is solid and the blood flows as freely as ever, these five films suffer from shoogly sets, unconvincing scripts and languid direction. The one exception is probably (oc)cult Satan-dodging caper The Devil Rides Out, which takes top billing on the box and features one of Christopher Lee’s most masterful performances outwith the Dracula guise. It also comes closer than any of the others – The Horror of Frankenstein, Scars of Dracula, Lust for a Vampire and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb – to injecting a few chills. Though that doesn’t mean you’re likely to leap behind the sofa in fear at any point.

As a general rule, these films tend to provoke more giggles than goose-pimples. In fact, the whole set wouldn’t even have its face-saving ’18’ certificate were it not for the inclusion of the ridiculous Lust for a Vampire, which teaches us once and for all that no amount of contrived female toplessness can disguise a truly daft storyline. It was always going to be worth a try, though.

This is a good way to fill Halloween night for those of us not busy dressing up as witches, snorkling for apples in basins full of other people’s spit, or pestering the neighbours. As long as you’re not in the bizarre habit of taking your horror seriously, you should find plenty to enjoy in here.

It's Got: Some great ideas for Halloween dress-up parties – I’m going to go as Patrick Mower this year.

It Needs: Peter Cushing – a Hammer collection without him just doesn’t seem right.

DVD Extras Just one distinctly dated trailer per disc. It’s a massive disappointment when you consider Anchor Bay released all of these movies on Special Edition DVD in the US, with each one featuring a heady range of commentaries, documentaries and interviews. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

'The Mummy' and 'Dracula'?, Hammer Horror Originals (which was released at the same time and features 'The Curse of Frankenstein'

Summary

Puppet bats, pointy teeth, creaking doors, dripping blood, heaving ladychests, David “Green Cross Code” Prowse – it’s all here. Just make sure you’re armed with a crucifix and some garlic. And maybe some popcorn.

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