1950s to the 1970s, Hammer Studios was the ultimate horror movie factory. Hammer produced countless adaptations of gothic horror tales and crafted original stories from young screenwriters. With such a huge amount of work, the quality is bound to vary from movie to movie. So how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? Easy! Just peruse this list of six classic Hammer horror movies. All of these films are dripping with gothic horror atmosphere, and they'll all send chills up and down your spine!
"The Curse of the Werewolf".
The werewolf genre had been done well in the past, but Hammer opted to go in a different direction. Instead of the old "wolf bites man, man becomes wolf" deal, Oliver Reed plays a werewolf who was cursed with lycanthropy from birth. How exactly you curse someone to be a werewolf is a matter of some debate, but the folks at Hammer managed to make it work. The real appeal of this movie is that the werewolf is a wolf literally through no fault of his own, making a tragic character even more tragic: a neat take on the genre.
"Quartermass and the Pit".
The character of Bernard Quartermass had been around for quite a while. He'd been a TV character, and even in an era when there wasn't much to watch, Quartermass' appeal had been pretty limited. Enter Hammer Studios, who recast the part with Andrew Keir and put the film in Technicolor. Although it's ostensibly a Baskervilles".
Sure, it's a Sherlock Holmes story. But with Hammer behind it, this film quickly found traction as a true horror film. Peter Cushing plays Holmes to perfection, and the addition of Christopher Lee to the cast really helps solidify the whole horror vibe. The movie didn't do very well during its initial release, but over time it has come to be known as the definitive movie based on Holmes' best adventure. The hound from Hell makes for a different type of horror movie, one with a more cerebral vibe, courtesy of the World's Greatest Detective.
Hammer has had its share of monster movies, but that's not to say they can't do psychological horror. While "Paranoiac" certainly owes a debt to Hitchcock's "Psycho", it stands on its own as a fine piece of Hammer horror. "Paranoiac" is full of twists and turns, including the return of a mysterious long-lost brother and a scheme to drive a woman from her inheritance. A particularly memorable moment involving a mummified corpse, creepy organ music and a fire stands out even today as one of the best examples of horror done right.
"The Curse of Frankenstein"
The old Universal "Frankensteins" are the pinnacle of the story, but with Christopher Lee playing The Monster, how can you go wrong? Lee vs. Karloff is like chocolate vs. vanilla; no matter which you choose, you're not wrong. Not only is Lee in this film, but he's yet again working with Peter Cushing, who plays the doctor. Those two are magic when they work together, and this film is no exception. The film focuses on the the doctor's fragile humanity and plays that element off of the monster's lumbering destruction. "The Curse of Frankenstein" is easily the best of the Hammer "Frankenstein" movies.
"Dracula, Prince of Darkness".
Christopher Lee has played a lot of great characters, but this may be his best. He is virtually silent throughout the picture, but his towering menace is more than enough to etch his portrayal of Dracula into the minds of viewers. This film also begins the process of Hammer adding more graphic gore to its films, as evidenced by the sacrifice scene that would lead to Dracula's resurrection. Hammer's "Dracula" films are great, and this one is the absolute best. It's a must-watch for any fan of the horror genre!