54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

Discuss Blu-rays released by Indicator and the films on them.

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MichaelB
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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#126 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 07, 2020 6:01 am

All four titles in Volume 1 - Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Fanatic, The Gorgon and Maniac - will be released in separate standard editions on June 28.

Click on the links for more info.

As with all Indicator standard editions, these will contain exactly the same Blu-ray disc that was in the box set (extras and all), but won't have a booklet or a reversible sleeve, and will be packaged in an Amaray instead of a Scanavo case.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#127 Post by rapta » Thu May 07, 2020 1:43 pm

Excellent. Was waiting to get Fanatic on its own and will likely pick up The Gorgon and Maniac eventually too. Nice to have the option to get them separately (so far only Volume Two has interested me enough for me to get the whole set, though I'm tempted by Volume Four due to the extra disc...). Thanks for the heads-up Michael!

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#128 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Jul 25, 2020 10:31 pm

Finally caught up wth The Damned, which thankfully imbued Losey's confrontational, sharp technique that isn't overly aggressive in depicting all sides of humanity- including the ugly. The plot moves along from social stressors into unpredictable sci-fi territory, but everything that transpires after the introductions of these narrative devices follows a relatively expected formula... nothing particularly special outside of a raw perversity in form in certain details of content. But then comes the ending, which is a series of cynical beats so sour that I could hardly believe Hammer and co even tried getting away with them..
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The scientist killing his wife, and all the main characters dying are jawdropping enough, as is the fatalism to declare that the nuclear war is inevitable(!)- but the literal inability for the children to coexist with these parentified kind adults due to the fact that they will kill them is almost unbearably pessimistic. The boy's mannerisms as he lifts his hands in the air, wind blowing in his hair, exciting in the car with Oliver Reed verbalizing that he is ready for a life of freedom, is all whisked away by Reed's declaration that the boy is killing him. A metaphor for generational divide, children bearing the consequences of Cold War-era adults' actions, it doesn't matter. The "help us" chant that ends the film, with no option to be helped that won't contaminate the saviors, is the nastiest kind of fatalism- because it's for innocent fucking children. The implications in the final few minutes of this film are some of the most devastating I've ever seen, and who better than Losey to film them.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#129 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:53 pm

Taste of Fear is terrific, a real crackerjack full-length Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode that you give a lot of leeway for its predictability for most of the movie because it's so well-done and stylish and then the film pulls the rug out from underneath you and reveals it's way, way smarter than it appeared. This really is quite a clever screenplay that understands how these kind of films work and uses an audience's familiarity with the genre to play the audience. What a delight!

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#130 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:56 pm

Really enjoyed Losey's the Damned and concur with TWBB that it is a markedly downbeat and pessimistic film, a genuine tragedy marked by the quite biting realization that
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the objectionable shots of costumed military men snatching up screaming children and keeping them locked up are in fact doing the "right" thing, which really sells how fucked up the whole situation is. Plus, you know, everyone dying.

(Though I'm pretty sure the artist was Alexander Knox's sometime girlfriend, not wife, TWBB?)
Surprised by the dicey reputation this one has had, though amusingly it made both the Cahiers readers' and contributors' Best of List for 1964. Of course it did! I've been watching a lot of Losey films lately and I think this is pretty easily one of his best

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#131 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:29 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:56 pm
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(Though I'm pretty sure the artist was Alexander Knox's sometime girlfriend, not wife, TWBB?)
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Yeah, for some reason I thought she was his wife in the way they carried themselves openly in that final scene but you're right that she was his mistress.
I took this bump as a prompt to keep going through the Hammer sets and next up was coincidentally Taste of Fear, which was just excellent. I don't have much more to add to domino's pleasantly-surprised take on the extended Hitchock ep formula, other than that even though the film ventures into really intelligent and fun space toward the end, the first half's craft of uninterrupted suspense-building was unmatchable, so the only way to possibly fill in the rest of a feature-length is to twist it up! The way the creative team took familiar concepts and executed them relentlessly yet with precision and skill was a joy, essentially transforming the ideas behind Les Diaboliques's second act into the pitch of its climax and stretching out that grating feeling for 45 whole minutes, which is enough of a challenge to deserve a standing ovation.
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Even though I guessed the 'first' twist easily, as I'm sure many here did, the finale was a whopper, from the framing of the wheelchair-bound heroine appearing as a creepy threat on the rocks, to the sadistic ending where the heroes lure one of the killers into murdering the other unwillingly. It would be a sick form of revenge even if it was justified as the only strategy to get him arrested by the inspector, but they had already been in communication with the police who were ready to make the arrest regardless, so it was just an unnecessary pleasure to kill one off and then arrest the other after plaguing him with that traumatic responsibility!

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#132 Post by Pavel » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:31 am

I also started working my way through the Hammer films, beginning with the first set. I actively despised Maniac. I expected things to get better once, after over 40 minutes of suffocatingly dull setup, the titular maniac shows up, but alas... Carreras surely understood how ridiculous this material is, but instead of relishing in the stupidity and providing trashy fun, he plays most of it straight, so even the twists come across as sober and boring (minus some of the accents).
I expected The Gorgon to be my favorite of the set, and while it definitely has a good sense of its own campiness (especially in how the death scenes play out), I found it often insufficiently entertaining. I'm bound to enjoy watching Cushing and Lee (who shows up half an hour before the end), but even they couldn't fully satisfy me. Still, I did enjoy some little things, like how people don't immediately turn into stone once affected by the Gorgon's gaze, but rather have enough time to, say, write a letter (all while covered in grey paint).
I'll continue with the first set soon, but the positive reaction to the films in the fourth one definitely make me excited to get around to it!

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#133 Post by swo17 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:36 am

First set is my least favorite

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#134 Post by reaky » Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:56 am

You prefer the 3rd (lipsmacking colonialism) and 5th (threadbare swashbuckling)?

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#135 Post by swo17 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:05 am

Yes but 2 and 4 are above them

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#136 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:33 am

reaky wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:56 am
You prefer the 3rd (lipsmacking colonialism) and 5th (threadbare swashbuckling)?
I'm rather fond of the third, not least because Yesterday's Enemy is easily one of the strongest films in the entire collection - it and Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (in volume 2) indicate a highly plausible alternative direction for Hammer in making high-quality, hard-hitting, socially-conscious dramas that were stylistically distinct from the concurrent British New Wave "kitchen-sink" films. Unfortunately, neither of them did well enough at the box office (the latter in particular was a disastrous flop) to persuade James Carreras to keep going down that route.

I also think that The Stranglers of Bombay is one of Hammer's better films from this period, especially now that it's been restored to something close to what Terence Fisher originally intended - it's much more nuanced than you'd expect from a plot synopsis, and I'm not at all convinced that the "lipsmacking colonialism" charge stands up there either (it definitely doesn't in Yesterday's Enemy).

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#137 Post by Pavel » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:23 am

Just finished The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and it proved to be marginally better than my very low expectations based on a) Michael Carreras directing it and b) the lack of actors as great as Cushing and Lee (I didn't even like the film that featured them, so what was I supposed to do with the film that didn't?!). Nearly an hour (out of 78 minutes!) passed before the Mummy's reign of terror began, and much of that first hour was devoted to the female member of the team's increasing interest toward a man who is not her future husband, which isn't particularly interesting, but it does lead up to an appropriately silly twist. Most of the best bits are thanks to Fred Clark's business magnate behind the whole expedition (and inventor of the name "Turkish delight"!). I wouldn't say I liked it, but it's probably my favorite of the first set (so far, at least, though I'm not hopeful for Fanatic).

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#138 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:26 am

Pavel wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:23 am
(so far, at least, though I'm not hopeful for Fanatic).
In which case, I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised - and there has to be a decent chance that you will be.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#139 Post by reaky » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:23 am

I like Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb much more than the drab Mummy’s Shroud, and Fanatic is great - Tallulah really goes full tilt. Maniac was my only disappointment in the 1st box.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#140 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:47 am

What I love about her performance is that it's proper acting - her character Mrs Trefoile would have been appalled to be played by a woman with such a dissolute past.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#141 Post by Pavel » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:53 am

reaky wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:23 am
I like Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb much more than the drab Mummy’s Shroud, and Fanatic is great - Tallulah really goes full tilt. Maniac was my only disappointment in the 1st box.
That's good to hear, because my lack of enthusiasm for Fanatic is based on the fact that I didn't like Maniac at all. Will get around to it soon!

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#142 Post by MichaelB » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:54 am

It's a totally different film in almost every way - narrative, performances, cinematography, mise-en-scène, you name it. Only the titles are vaguely similar.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#143 Post by reaky » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:26 am

Somebody at Hammer (Sangster? Carreras?) liked titles in that line (there was Maniac, Paranoiac, Fanatic, Nightmare, Hysteria and Crescendo).

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#144 Post by Feego » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:51 am

Fanatic was of course released in America under the title Die! Die! My Darling!, perhaps to evoke memories of the previous year's psycho-biddy offering Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte?

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#145 Post by Orlac » Sat Oct 17, 2020 12:23 pm

Pavel wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 6:23 am
Just finished The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and it proved to be marginally better than my very low expectations based on a) Michael Carreras directing it and b) the lack of actors as great as Cushing and Lee (I didn't even like the film that featured them, so what was I supposed to do with the film that didn't?!). Nearly an hour (out of 78 minutes!) passed before the Mummy's reign of terror began, and much of that first hour was devoted to the female member of the team's increasing interest toward a man who is not her future husband, which isn't particularly interesting, but it does lead up to an appropriately silly twist. Most of the best bits are thanks to Fred Clark's business magnate behind the whole expedition (and inventor of the name "Turkish delight"!). I wouldn't say I liked it, but it's probably my favorite of the first set (so far, at least, though I'm not hopeful for Fanatic).
Going from the majestic, haunting Christopher Lee to the chubby Dickie Owen is a bit of a comedown. Eddie Powell, Lee's regular stunt double, was a better Mummy in The Mummy's Shroud.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#146 Post by KJones77 » Sat Oct 17, 2020 1:59 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:33 am
reaky wrote:
Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:56 am
You prefer the 3rd (lipsmacking colonialism) and 5th (threadbare swashbuckling)?
I'm rather fond of the third, not least because Yesterday's Enemy is easily one of the strongest films in the entire collection - it and Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (in volume 2) indicate a highly plausible alternative direction for Hammer in making high-quality, hard-hitting, socially-conscious dramas that were stylistically distinct from the concurrent British New Wave "kitchen-sink" films. Unfortunately, neither of them did well enough at the box office (the latter in particular was a disastrous flop) to persuade James Carreras to keep going down that route.

I also think that The Stranglers of Bombay is one of Hammer's better films from this period, especially now that it's been restored to something close to what Terence Fisher originally intended - it's much more nuanced than you'd expect from a plot synopsis, and I'm not at all convinced that the "lipsmacking colonialism" charge stands up there either (it definitely doesn't in Yesterday's Enemy).
Yes, Yesterday's Enemy is phenomenal. May be my favorite Hammer film I've seen and certainly the best in any set. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Volume 3, though Terror of the Tongs is not good. As you said, The Stranglers of Bombay is rather good and, though a lesser River Kwai, The Camp on Blood Island isn't awful either. It's enjoyable enough if one can look back the clearly dated elements.

Personally, I'd vote for Volume 3 as the best. Taste of Fear is great and The Damned is not far behind. Revenge of Frankenstein, of course, is very good too. Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll is a strong 4th, too, definitely the best of the worst in each set (if that makes sense). The 2nd set with Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is very good, Cash on Demand is good, but I really didn't like The Snorkel at all. The Full Treatment did surprise me though.

The 1st and the 5th are certainly the weakest; Maniac being bad, Curse of the Mummy's Tomb being shockingly alright not good either, while I did love The Gorgon and for set 5, they're all about the same (Visa to Canton is the worst but at least passable and short)...I enjoyed watching Lee in Pirates and Reed in his pairing so they're enjoyable but clearly a step behind.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#147 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:21 pm

And of course I really liked Terror of the Tongs! My writeup from the horror thread:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:05 pm
The Terror of the Tongs
This Hammer film took the greatest hits of the contrived ideas present in their formulaic mold and laid them on the table unapologetically. I had a blast with this one, to my own surprise - and slight embarrassment, for my enjoyment of Lee’s assignment to the role of a Chinese caricature. While this choice is problematic in theory, he portrays the character as an ‘evil Englishmen’ with limited stereotyping to the Asian, yet inverted stereotyping toward the Western English imperialist attitudes he exudes in character beyond vocals. The result is hilarious in its absurdity, and oddly poignant in its own reveal of prejudices of negative characters through role-playing, embodying them as the persecutor in spirit in the form of the persecuted, regardless of whether this was the intention or not (I’m guessing not). There is enough energy in the expected beats of this story to spare the audience of the dullness inherent in many Hammers, but treats the serious material of a crime syndicate dealing in murder and human trafficking, among other shady dealings, fairly by playing things straight yet with the breezy lightness the production team specializes in and treasures. These structural navigations by a character with thwarted belongingness into foreign systems have an almost noirish philosophy in concept, despite very little in execution. Needless to say, this is one of the better films I've seen across the Indicator sets with more hidden gems to unpack than there appear to be.
I’ll add to the praise for Yesterday’s Enemy, which like The Damned and Taste of Fear, has an deeply unsettling ending
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when the Japanese captain’s respect for the Allies soldier’s heroic act has zero actual persuasion on his decision to kill them all. Merely an insignificant moment of pause.
I just watched The Revenge of Frankenstein, which was consistently entertaining though I don’t really have anything to say about it. There’s probably a good thematic defense out there I’d definitely be interested in hearing, but I thought it was a lot of simmering fun that never boiled over, and that’s not necessarily an easy tone to maintain, let alone achieve to begin with.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#148 Post by domino harvey » Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:39 pm

I don't care for any of the other gaslit Hammer horror movies I've seen and Revenge of Frankenstein was no different (and where was the "revenge"?!? I want a refund, as this is the first horror movie to ever promise something in its title that it couldn't deliver). Competent enough, but completely predictable and with next to no novelty present.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#149 Post by Orlac » Sat Oct 17, 2020 8:44 pm

I saw Revenge of Frankenstein when I was 10, and was very frustrated at the lack of a proper monster. Now I find it the best of Hammer's Frankensteins - very witty and with an audacious undercurrent to it.

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Re: 54-61, 80-83, 89-92, 183-186 Hammer Volumes 1-5

#150 Post by knives » Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:33 pm

It was also my first Hammer film so there’s a lot of nostalgia going on, but separate from that what Cushing begins to do with the character is incredibly fascinating even if that aspect deepens with the subsequent episodes.

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