Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Hammer Glamour by Marcus Hearn

Titan Books is releasing the gorgeous hardbound coffee table book Hammer Glamour on September 29th, 2009 and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the lasciviously luscious book! Here is the description from the book’s dust jacket:

Over 50 years ago, with the release of The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, Hammer Film Productions ushered in a whole new era of blood and barely retrained cleavage in glorious colour, mixing sex and horror with a style and panache that made the small British company world famous.

As well as making international stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, Hammer quickly became renowned for the stunning actresses who graced its films. Whether it was an exciting new discovery making her screen debut, an exotic foreign beauty, or a Hollywood star, glamour was an essential part of the Hammer formula. From Barbara Shelley baring her fangs, to Ingrid Pitt baring all – not forgetting Raquel Welch in a fur bikini – Hammer knew that “sex sells”.

Bursting at the seams with an astounding collection of rare and previously unpublished photographs from Hammer’s archive and private collections worldwide, and featuring many exclusive new interviews, Hammer Glamour is both a lavish celebration of Hammer’s female stars and a fascinating insight into a bygone era of movie publicity.

Filled with sensual, full-color photographs, Hammer Glamour is like stepping back into Hammer’s heydays of the 1950s,  ‘60s and ‘70’s where horror was filled with voluptuous sex kittens and cheesecake pinups. These sirens of sinema oozed sexuality yet also a certain innocence and playfulness. Hammer certainly didn’t show much restraint when it came to nudity, especially when censorship was relaxed in the 60’s and 70’s, but despite this their leading ladies all exude a sense of style, classiness and timeless beauty.

Where most Hammer books usually just focus on famous leading men like Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, it’s refreshing to see the ladies of Hammer horror get their recognition in Hammer Glamour. The book evokes a bygone era of glamour and sensuality. I also appreciated the many different looks of the actresses featured within the pages; whether girl-next-door or exotic, blonde or brunette, short or long locks, every actress featured within the pages of Hammer Glamour celebrates the diversity of glamour!

Hammer favorites featured in the book include “glamourpuss” Stephanie Beacham (Dracula A.D. 1972), exotic Martine Beswicke (One Million Years B.C., Slave Girls, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde), classical blonde beauty Veronica Carlson (Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, The Horror of Frankenstein), vampy twins Mary and Madeleine Collins (Twins of Evil), “buxom redhead” Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Man Who Could Cheat Death), “smoldering sexpot” Vera Day (Quatermass 2), beautiful brunette Caroline Munro (Dracula A.D. 1972, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter), coquettish Kate O’Mara (The Vampire Lovers, The Horror of Frankenstein), iconic Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula), bombshell Barbara Shelley (The Camp on Blood Island, The Secret of Blood Island, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Rasputin the Mad Monk, Quatermass and the Pit), nymph Madeline Smith (Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell) and, perhaps the most well-known of them all, the stunning Raquel Welch (One Million Years B.C.).

I especially liked reading about these ladies’ early films, careers and later lives in the informative biographies that author Marcus Hearn has masterfully written. Reading through the actresses’ biographies you also get a sense of the Hammer studios’ timeline and rise to success as well as its eventual decline. I really love how Hearn gave the reader both an idea of the actresses’ lives while also giving the reader a history of Hammer and how the filmmaking business was run back then.

Besides the insightful antidotes, the real stars of the book are the stunning photographs. Voluptuous vamps, sexy starlets, pouty pinups…the glamorous photographs have it all! Whether promotional pictures for films where the actresses are decked out in corsets and flowing dresses or glamour shots where they are modeling bikinis, all of the photographs are richly decadent!

Overall, Hammer Glamour is a rich book overflowing with the phenomenal female stars of Hammer horror films. It’s full-color pages filled with photos are stunningly gorgeous and its biographies on the stars, with exclusive interviews, give the perfect overview on their lives and careers as well as giving us a peek into the bygone golden era of Hammer films.

Hammer Glamour is a must-buy book for all fans of Hammer cinema, the history of horror and horror’s infamous leading ladies of years past.

Order it on Amazon!

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