Britain’s Hammer film studio didn’t just make gothic horrors and dodgy sitcom spin-offs. In 1960 Val Guest directed his own adaptation of Maurice Proctor’s crime novel HELL IS A CITY, a fast-paced and gritty noir set on the streets of 1950s Manchester. Its lead detective may be a cop rather than a private eye, but this is a lean and mean yarn nonetheless, with two men on either side of the law battling it out ‘up north’.
Full review: Hell Is a City | TakeOneCFF.com
A jewel in the crown of British science-fiction, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT remains as taut and enthralling today as it was when first released over 40 years ago. Hammer’s third and final adaptation of the classic BBC TV series from genre mastermind Nigel Kneale deals with themes not too dissimilar from those of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, released only a few months later, as well as this year’s considerably more expensive PROMETHEUS: speculating on the origins of human civilization, and how an alien race might have played a key role in our evolution. Kneale knew how to tell epic stories in a contemporary, down-to-earth way, making them not only credible but also financially feasible. This naturally made them appealing to low-budget studios like Hammer, whose earlier Quatermass movies – THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT and QUATERMASS 2 – had been instrumental in establishing its reputation as the home of horror.
Quatermass and the Pit | TAKE ONE
Anyone attracted by the throat-grabbing title and hoping for lashings of brain-munching action should look elsewhere: Hammer’s undead thriller from 1966 is a much tamer affair than today’s audiences might expect. But those who are more familiar with Hammer’s full-blooded style should find much to enjoy. THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES is one of those rare zombie movies made before George A. Romero’s landmark horror opus NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD; so while there is a reasonable amount of Hammer’s trademark bright red blood, there’s certainly none of Romero’s flesh-ripping cynicism.
Full review: The Plague of the Zombies | TAKE ONE