Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vampires Under the Hammer – review

Author: Charles E Butler

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

This is the third book of movie reviews (with original illustrations) by Charles E Butler. Having concentrated on adaptations of Dracula in the first volume, the Romance of Dracula, the author spread his gaze wider for the second volume, Vampires Everywhere. In this the view narrows a little, again, as he concentrates on the films from the Hammer stable.

Of course this is a highly legitimate direction, given the enduring impact of the studio on the genre. If the previous volume felt a little rushed then this did not but it did feel a tad lighter, I suspect because of overlap between the films and their casts and crews. Charles splits the films into three categories (as I did when I reviewed the classic oeuvre) – Dracula, Karnstein and Miscellaneous. A difference between the approaches is that I classed Brides of Dracula as a Dracula film as it is a direct continuation of Van Helsing’s story from Horror of Dracula, Butler chose to place it as a miscellaneous film as Dracula does not feature in the movie – both viewpoints are valid I think.

As in the first two volumes this could have done with citations, a bibliography and an index. What I did feel was missing, however, was a look at Hammer’s modern output. Let Me In is mentioned in passing but it is a Hammer product and as such deserves to be reviewed (not least because it is, for me, the best vampire genre movie produced under the Hammer banner). Hammer’s introductory film from their modern output, Beyond the Rave, fails to get even a mention.

As for the extant reviews themselves, I suspect that the author and I will have to agree to disagree over Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, but that is the nature of taste and review. This was a nice little sojourn in Hammer territory, however. 7 out of 10.

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