Hammer Volume Four: Faces of Fear

Blu Ray. Indicator/Powerhouse

UPDATED 31st OCTOBER 2019

If you are here checking this review out it is unlikely that you need my opinion on each film as you are probably considering buying the box set if you are a Hammer fan – so whilst I will give each film featured a short lead-in about the film itself and how it looks I’ll mainly go over the copious extras included (many of which it is best to watch AFTER you have partaken of the actual films). Please note in all cases I have rounded down the running times shown on the special features. In this limited box set you also get booklets on each film which I discuss in the extras listings below.

Inevitably with so many extras on each disc there is some crossover of the information discussed in respect to each title.

Suffice it to say that Indicator/Powerhouse have once again done a sterling job on this box set… Volume 5 please!

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

Revenge of Frankenstein packshotTaken from what I believe is a new 4K restoration this direct sequel to The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) – which began life as The Blood of Frankenstein – has Cushing firmly grasping his role as the Baron. He is finely matched by Francis Matthews as his keen student and helper in bringing to life his new creation. “…except for a few scars – he is perfect.” This latest stitching together of body parts is well played by Michael Gwynn. Eunice Gayson adds the female angle though is a little wasted here. The script by Jimmy Sangster is a witty concoction (with additional dialogue by one Hurford Janes whoever they are – one of the three novelisations of the film in 1958 also supposedly used that name but was allegedly a pen name for Sangster – which kind of makes no sense as to why the additional credit on the film). An uncredited George Baxt (City of the Dead – 1960) also did some work on the screenplay. Some sources insist that Hurford Janes and George Baxt are one and the same whilst others list them separately with Uncredited in brackets after Baxt. As usual with Hammer there is economic reuse of some familiar sets (shameless plug – read all about this and other set designs in Wayne Kinsey’s new book Hammer’s Grand Designs over at Peveril Publishing – www.peverilpublishing.co.uk) and there is lush cinematography by Jack Asher.

Whilst this is a newly created print – which a lot of effort was put into apparently – this isn’t what I would call “reference” quality. It is probably the best you have ever seen it with a healthy amount of grain which isn’t distracting.

Extras:
Back from the Dead: Inside The Revenge of Frankenstein (21 minutes)
Featuring Alan Barnes (The Hammer Story), Kevin Lyons (EOFFTV.com) and the ubiquitous Jonathan Rigby (English Gothic)
Talking about The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and following its success leading to the sequel Revenge and Hammer’s relationship with Columbia. A good overview of the follow up, it’s history and the actors involved including the brilliance of Cushing.
Produced and directed by Marcus Hearn

Hammer’s Women: Eunice Gayson (8 minutes)
Part of the ongoing series on the ladies featured in Hammer movies – Film historian Pamela Hutchinson talks about Gayson’s life and career in both tv, film and stage concentrating mainly on her films including Revenge and Dr No.
Interviewed and filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Sarah Appleton

A Frankenstein for the 20th Century (27 minutes)
A video essay from Diabolique – Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin
Utilising pictures and clips to explore the Hammer films character of Frankenstein and how it relates to Shelley’s original book. Includes linking the filmic depiction of the Baron to Dennis Price’s Louis in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) all leading to exploring Revenge.
Kat Ellinger narrates this pretentious overview with her delivery sounding a little too scripted than natural. Some may find this interesting but to me this felt redundant as it is more analysis than informational – sorry, but too much like a lecture.
Writer/Narrator: Kat Ellinger Director/Editor: Dima Ballin

Arpeggios of Melancholy: David Huckvale on Leonard Salzedo on The Revenge of Frankenstein (13 minutes)
Expert Huckvale talks about composer Salzedo who had worked for Hammer in their pre-horror days. After Revenge he also came back in the 80s on an episode of Hammer House of Horror. Also goes into his other work including writing a very famous tv theme (watch it to find out which one).
Huckvale demonstrates on his piano and compares Salzedo’s work with James Bernard on The Curse of Frankenstein.
Fascinating stuff.
Filmed by Jon Robertson Ed: Michael Brooke

Outtakes Real (12 minutes)
Presented with no sound these are various scenes with clapperboards at the beginnings. Nice rarity if a bit pointless.

Super 8 Version (8 minutes)
From back in the day when this was the only way you could take a movie home – how far we have come from this cut down version of the film, which is silent and has on screen captions and subtitles to let you know what is happening – it’s also in black and white.

Theatrical trailer (2 minutes)
Cushing talks straight to the camera at the start and narrates the trailer which has clips from Curse before it shows clips from Revenge… “You will witness scenes never before seen on a motion picture screen”. Hyperbole at its best in this colourful coming attraction for the “Billion-Volt Shocker”.

Joe Dante Trailer Commentary (2 minutes)
From Dante’s Trailers from Hell show – this one with Joe himself talking over the trailer complete with his slightly odd way of pronouncing Cushing.

Image Gallery
Lots of great picture (some of them featured in the various extras presented here also). Minor bugbear of mine – why do they never clean up the images.

You also get two audio commentaries: Head of library and archive at Hammer Marcus Hearn and Jonathan Rigby present a lovely fact filled chat track which plays like two friends sitting having a cosy chat. The second commentary features Stephen Jones (editor) and novelist and critic Kim Newman – this is slightly more critically slanted but still full of info (inevitably with these and the other extras there is some crossover).

Booklet
A nicely put together booklet – you get a separate one for each film in the set – all featuring pictures from the film and writings on each production. The following is in The Revenge booklet:

Hammer, Columbia and The Revenge of Frankenstein: Marcus Hearn explores how Hammer came to work with Columbia.

The Failure of Frankenstein – Hammer, Columbia and Tales of Frankenstein: Keiran Foster, researcher at DeMontfort University writes about Hammer’s early, unsuccessful, foray into television.

Jimmy Sangster on The Revenge of Frankenstein: Extract from Sangster’s 2001 memoir Inside Hammer.

I, Baron Frankenstein: From the pressbook on selling the film to the public.

Critical Response: Extracts from contemporaneous reviews.

The Two Face of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

Two Faces of Dr Jekyll packshotOriginally conceived as a film for Laurence Harvey – who had been in the film version of the Wolf Mankowitz musical Expresso Bongo – this was Hammer’s second stab at the Stevenson novel; the previous version being the until recently kind of lost film The Ugly Duckling (which may well see a release on Blu ray in the future having turned up, after many years of being impossible to see, on the UK tv channel Talking Pictures).

However the central role was eventually played by Paul Massie from a script by Mankowitz under the directorship of Terence Fisher. He is fine in the role and Christopher Lee, as his friend, is clearly relishing his part, though he had coveted the lead (he later appeared in a version of the story – with the names changed – in 1971’s I, Monster).

The print presented here is gorgeous and vividly colourful with some scenes taking on an almost 3D appearance – of course the added clarity also shows up Massie’s terrible beard as Jekyll (which magically disappears when he becomes the handsome Hyde – not odd at all).

Despite being attractive to look at this adaptation is very talky.

Extras:
Identity Crisis: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
(18 minutes)
Barnes, Lyons and Rigby are back for another talk about the film in hand – about how Carreras wanted to go for a prestigious production, how director Val Guest introduced the producer to Wolf Mankowitz to pen a new spin on the tale that had already been filmed many times before. How it differed from the usual Hammer production and it’s poor release in the US (which wasn’t until 1961 where it was dumped onto the market – in a cut version – by AIP after Columbia had initially hived it off to a subsidiary and then sold it to American International).
Produced and directed by Marcus Hearn

Hammer’s Women: Laura Mayne on Dawn Adams (10 minutes)
Another in the nice shorts about the female contingent featured in Hammer films – Brit film expert Laura Mayne covers Adams career in films including The Moon is Blue (1953) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (1960) and of course her role as Kitty in Two Faces. Talks about how she never managed to parlay her early success into being a star.
Interviewed and filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Paul Massie Interview (9 minutes)
This is an audio recording (over photos from the film) from 1967 (of variable quality) when Hammer film fan Robert Blenheim managed to talk to Massie when he was in a stage play and Massie invited the young fan backstage to chat to him. Cute if inconsequential.

Now and Then Interview with Wolf Mankowitz (31 minutes).
4×3 Windowboxed. From standard definition source?
Don’t watch this interview conducted by Canadian broadcaster Bernard Braden expecting to get any insight into the scripting of Two Faces. This is a long and boring talk about his Jewish heritage, discussing philosophy and beliefs and the situation in the Middle East at the time.
Can’t see the relevance of this being included on the disc.

Mauve Decadence: David Huckvale on Monty Norman and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (11 minutes)
The ever knowledgable Huckvale (who wrote a biography of James Bernard called James Bernard, Composer to Dracula: A Critical Biography, among other books) talks about Norman’s early career and of course his writing of the James Bond Theme – which was arranged by John Barry. Huckvale also does his thing on the piano exploring the score of Two Faces.
Enlightening as usual if you are a fan of film music.
Filmed by Jon Robertson Ed: Michael Brooke

The Many Faces of Dr. Jekyll (6 minutes)
About the censorship the film suffered and shows censored scenes and compares them to the uncensored scenes. The film on this disc is uncut.
The funniest things are the dialogue censorship of the ‘adult’ language which was overdubbed in the US.
Research: Chris Barwick and Marcus Hearn. Ed: Michael Brooke

UK Theatrical trailer (2 minutes)
Slightly speckled but otherwise in very good condition.

Trailers from Hell (3 minutes)
Another from Joe Dante’s online show – this time with Sam Hamm writer of Batman (1989) among others.

Image Gallery
Presents lots of stills, lobbies and posters

Booklet
The following is in the Two Faces booklet:

The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll – Gothic Dualism and Decadent Transgression: Kat Ellinger, editor in chief over at Diabolique, dissects the film

Exploiting The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll: Ways to bring the film to audiences attention from the UK pressbook.

The Cast of The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll: Biogs of the cast taken from the US and UK pressbooks..

Critical Response: Extracts from contemporaneous reviews.

Taste of Fear (1961)

Tset of Fear packshotThe start of Hammer’s foray into psychological horror inspired by Clouzot’s 1955 Les Diaboliques as well as Hitchcock, Taste of Fear (or as it was known in the more literally minded US Scream of Fear and which started life as See No Evil) is a well paced, expertly directed (by Seth Holt), thriller with gorgeous, fabulously lit black and white cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Granted the tightly written Jimmy Sangster screenplay may seem old hat these days but back then this was one of Hammer’s best suspensers. The strong cast is lead by Susan Strasberg (daughter of famous acting teacher Lee Strasberg) alongside Ann Todd and Christopher Lee in a minor role as the local doctor (but is he a suspect?)

You’ll probably guess the plot twists – more due to the fact of seeing similar films than because of any unoriginality on the part of the film.

On the disc you get both the UK and US version which only differ in title sequence as far as I can see.

Extras:
Body Horror: Inside Taste of Fear (22 minutes)
Once again we have Alan Barnes, Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby filling in the details – this time on Taste of Fear. The genesis of the script by Sangster as he wanted to move away from the Gothic Horrors Hammer was now famous for and how this was a good thing as the BBFC’s attitude toward the more colourful chillers was not always accommodating. They also inevitably touch on the influences present from Hitchcock and Clouzot.
It is the usual fact filled presentation.
Produced and directed by Marcus Hearn

Hammer’s Women: Ann Todd (11 minutes)
This time out Melanie Williams (author of Female Stars of British Cinema: The Women in Question) gives a short overview of Ann Todd touching on her stage work and her move into films for Alexander Korda leading to The Seventh Veil (1945) which brought her to the attention of audiences. Her further work in both Hollywood and Britain and her marriage to David Lean. Another great sprint through a varied career.
Interviewed and filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Archival Interview: BFI Southbank Interview with Jimmy Sangster (68 minutes)
This is an audio interview recorded for archival purposes in 2008 (so the quality varies). Conducted by Marcus Hearn this plays over the movie and as always Sangster is a good raconteur chatting about his work though you may well have heard a lot of the stories before. Includes the Q&A at the end.

Archival Interview: The BEHP Video Interview with Jimmy Sangster (1 hour 56 minutes)
4×3 Windowboxed I assume from a Standard Definition source.
This is supposedly an excerpt (at nearly 2 hours this a long excerpt) from a 2008 interview by Jonathan Rigby for the British Entertainment History Project. Covers some of the same ground as the BFI interview. If you don’t know about the BEHP follow this link – https://historyproject.org.uk

Archival Interview: The BEHP Interview with Douglas Slocombe Part Two
From Hammer to Spielberg

An audio interview from 1988 conducted by filmmaker Sidney Cole.
Slocombe was a cinematographer with an incredible career who died in 2016 at the age of 103! He would have been around 75 when this was conducted – he does sound a bit doddery but has lots of memories of the films he worked on.
He shot Taste of Fear then worked for Hammer again in 1979 on The Lady Vanishes. To be honest this was a bit of a slog as he “ticks-off” his films from Taste of Fear forward and wasn’t all that enlightening.

Fear Makers: Camera Operator Desmond Davis and Assistant Sound Editor John Crome on Taste of Fear (8 minutes)
They talk about director Seth Holt, Susan Strasberg (and her famous father and the fact her interfering mother was on set). They also encompass Christopher Lee, Douglas Slocombe and their own work on the film. Short and to the point.
Interviewed and Filmed by James McCabe Ed: Michael Brooke

Anxiety and Terror: David Huckvale on Clifton Parker and Taste of Fear (24 minutes)
Huckvale is back again! He talks about how the music and the sound effects worked together, the influence of Clouzot (as mentioned in other extras) and about composer Clifton Parker’s work – which includes 1957’s Night of the Demon.
He also demonstrates on the piano how effective the score was – things can get a bit technical if you are not musically minded.

Scream of Fear – Super 8 Version (19 minutes)
These are always fun inclusions with cut down versions of the film – a narrator is used throughout to paper over the cracks in the storyline caused by speeding through the film in under 20 minutes.

Original US Trailer (1 minute)
As Scream of Fear – “It is the only face we are permitted to show you.”

Trailers from Hell
Screenwriter Sam Hamm narrates over the very short preview.

Image Gallery
Stills, Lobbies and Posters – love the garishly block coloured lobby cards (for a monochrome movie) and the posters that basically use the image of Strasberg screaming in various ways.

Audio Commentary with Kevin Lyons of EOFFTV.com is a nicely paced, well researched, info packed yak track talking about one of his favourite Hammer films.

Booklet
The following is in the Taste of Fear booklet:

Taste of Fear: Marcus Hearn about the film and its production.

Jimmy Sangster on Taste of Fear: Extract from Sangster’s 2001 memoir Inside Hammer.

Foretaste of Fear: Preview from ABC Film Review magazine.

Exploiting Taste of Fear: From the pressbook on selling the film to the public.

Critical Response: Extracts from contemporaneous reviews.

The Damned (1962)

The Damned packshotThis is a two disc affair (well the review discs supplied were on two disc so I assume the release version will be the same). This enables presentation of the full uncut 96 minute version on Disc 1 (which is playable as The Damned or as the US title These Are the Damned) and the cut 87 minute UK theatrical version on Disc Two. This the version released by Hammer as the lower half of a double bill with Maniac in 1963 two years after The Damned had been made.

One of Hammer’s odder films with a tale of two halves – initially about an American tourist, Simon Wells (played by Macdonald Carey), who sails into Weymouth, hooking up with a young girl Joan (Shirley Ann Field) who is the sister of gang leader King (Oliver Reed in best thug mode). This initial storyline then morphs into something entirely different when Simon and Joan stumble on a group of radioactive children.

Not directed by the usual suspects this was helmed by Joseph Losey who went on to craft classics like The Servant (1963). He and the script bring a more serious sensibility to this sci fi drama than you would perhaps normally expect to emanate from Hammer.

The print here is a crisp and tonally balanced presentation of this unusual monochrome movie.

Extras:
On the Brink: Inside The Damned
(26 minutes)
Nick Riddle (author of a book about the film – Constellations: The Damned) plus our now old friends Kevin Lyons, Alan Barnes and Jonathan Rigby give a comprehensive overview of both the film and the novel (Children of Light by H. L. Lawrence). How Losey came to direct, the issues in making it and its political overtones, the cast and also about the UK and US versions.
Produced and directed by Marcus Hearn

Hammer’s Women: Lindsay Anne Hallam on Viveca Lindfors (15 minutes)
Film historian Lindsay Anne Hallam is tasked with giving us a rundown on Lindfors – her early career in Sweden, then to Hollywood, her marriage to Don Siegel, leading to The Damned and her later work. I like these short little “vignettes” which talk about the actresses involved with Hammer.

Cast & Crew Interviews:
Looking in the Right Place: Shirley Ann Field on The Damned (10 minutes)
Talks about Losey, “He was a very nice man”. Oliver Reed, “He was so good looking”. About how Reed got his scar and aspects of the production.
Interviewed and filmed by James McCabe. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Children of the Damned: David Palmer, Kit Williams and Christopher Witty on The Damned (23 minutes)
Each is interviewed separately but intercut. They touch on the audition process and how much fun they had being youngsters on a movie set.
Interviewed and filmed by James McCabe. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Something out of Nothing: Screenwriter Evan Jones on The Damned (6 minutes)
How he had seven days to knock up a new script as Losey didn’t like the initial screenplay he had. Talks about sculptress Elisabeth Frink and the actors and also about the Hollywood blacklist.
Interviewed and filmed by James McCabe. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Smoke Screen: Camera Operator Anthony Heller on The Damned (11 minutes)
How he met Losey whilst working on a commercial which lead to The Damned. Also about how bad a driver Oliver Reed was!
Interviewed and filmed by James McCabe. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Critical Appreciations:
Beneath the Surface: Gavrik Losey on The Damned
(26 minutes)
Joseph Losey’s son talks about the film and how his father collaborated with others. How he was on the set when the car crash was staged. Gets a little tangential during his discussing Hammer.
Interviewed and filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Sarah Appleton

Beyond Black Leather: I Q Hunter on The Damned (14 minutes)
Professor of Film Studies at De Montfort University, Leicester (which is where the Hammer script archive is housed). Talks about the film and how it fit in the history of sf films in Britain. Interesting if a little too analytical.
Interviewed and filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Sarah Appleton

No Future: Neil Sinyard on The Damned
Another Professor of Film Studies – this time at University of Hull
About the film and how, by the time of its release, Losey had become a lauded filmmaker.

The Lonely Shore: David Huckvale on James Bernard and The Damned (20 minutes)
As Huckvale wrote the James Bernard biography (as mentioned elsewhere in this review) this is his chance to impart his knowledge on Hammer’s most famous composer. He talks about Bernard’s associations with Benjamin Britten, Holst, working at Bletchley Park and then moving to Hammer and how the composer embraced his work there. About how director Losey took an active interest in the score for The Damned. Plus you get Huckvale’s usual demo on the piano for this quite different outing for Bernard – including the song “Black Leather Rock”!
Filmed by Jon Robertson. Ed: Michael Brooke

If you are a fan of the music then you can listen to the Isolated Music and Effects Track – this of course plays over the movie. Nice inclusion though I have to ask – do people actually listen to these?

US Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes)
“Smash Smash Smash” declares this trailer! Quite speckled but otherwise in good condition – as These Are the Damned.

Trailers From Hell (3 minutes)
Joe Dante on These Are the Damned – talks about it being neglected and the film company not knowing how to market it. He apparently saw it in 1965 on a double bill with the Omar Sharif film Genghis Khan.

Image Gallery
Nice selection of black and white stills plus promo material

You also get an audio commentary with film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan which I haven’t listened to yet.

Booklet
The following is in The Damned booklet:

The Damned: Analysis and overview by critic, lecturer and broadcaster Richard Combs.

Interview with Joseph Losey: Extract an interview talking about the issues with both Hammer and Columbia.

Exploiting The Damned: From the pressbook on selling the film to the public.

Critical Response: Extracts from contemporaneous reviews.