Hammer Horror
Box set II

Starring: Valerie Leon, James Villiers, Andrew Keir, Hugh Burden, Christopher Lee & Charles Gray
Warner Home Video

RRP: £49.99

Certificate: 18
Available now

Hammer had some very poor quality control and for every classic there was often a bunch of clunkers. And this box set maintains the ratio in a fairly representative balance.

The Devil Rides Out is a classic of the occult and serves up a good screen adaptation of the Dennis Wheatley classic novel. And Blood from the Mummy's Tomb, although clearly rather silly, still manages to create tension and suspense from an everyday tale of mystic possession and an ancient mummy curse set in modern suburbia. It's just a shame that these two winners should be boxed up with such utter dross.

Christopher Lee refused to speak the lines written for him in Hammer's second outing for the Count because they were so bad [apparently], a conviction that the actor also seems to have held for Scars of Dracula - the studio's fourth Lee/Dracula vehicle. Why he continued to play the part if he disliked the role so much has never been clearly explained although you have to feel for Lee here as Scars is plotless nonsense of the first order made just about bearable by Patrick Troughton's fake eyebrows. Angry villagers ahoy!

If you can't think of a new version of an old yarn then recast it as a comedy seems to have been the thinking behind Horror of Frankenstein. The late Ralph Bates builds a monster that has a passing resemblance for the Green Cross Code man while a serving wench, played by Kate O'Mara, struggles with her cleavage-spilling bodice. Plot? You want a plot? Sorry, there's nothing to see here. Move along...

Oh dear... Lust for a Vampire. Can't get Christopher Lee to play Dracula, can't get a script? How about marrying a tired vampire yarn [about a different vampire count] with a girls' finishing school? Evil and sexploitation - sounds like a good idea. Blood and nipples in Victorian Europe - it's a winner! Sadly not. Instead of a heady mix of sex and death we get bad acting and lots of running around intermixed with shots of teenage girls showing off their cleavage which isn't half as entertaining as it might at first sound. And although the fire sequence at the end of the movie is actually very impressive it hardly makes up for the preceding 90 minutes of tosh, but the real highlight of the disc is a brief shot in the original trailer of Christopher Lee's bloodshot eyes. Now how did he get in there?

This set of five discs contains one genuine classic, one very entertaining movie and three examples of how Hammer could get things very badly wrong which unfortunately outweigh the quality content of the box.

Anthony Clark

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