“The Hammer Vault” brings you inside Britain’s famous house of horror

the hammer vault

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Award-winning actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are household names thanks to a long list of roles spanning the range of classic cinema. However, long before Cushing lent his talents to “Star Wars” or Lee joined the “Lord of the Rings,” both actors became worldwide stars in a string of horror films produced by Britain’s most famous studio, Hammer Films.

From “The Quatermass Xperiment” and “The Curse of Frankenstein” to last year’s “Let Me In,” the films to come out of the British studio kick-started the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, crossed oceans, and pushed the boundaries of the industry. That long history is charted in the recently released collection of Hammer Films archival material, The Hammer Vault.

Published by Titan Books, The Hammer Vault offers a chronological journey through the studio’s 76-year history via original correspondence, photographs, promotional material, and other never-before-seen items from the studio’s archives. The collection also features descriptions of each item penned by Hammer archive consultant Marcus Hearn, who offers some context for each photo, letter, or script’s importance in the Hammer legacy.

IFC received an early look at The Hammer Vault, and spoke to Hearn about the collection, his work with Hammer, and the legacy of Britain’s iconic house of horror. You can read the interview below, and get a look at some exclusive images from the new collection.

IFC: Hammer Films was making movies long before you and I were old enough to see one of their projects on the big screen. How did you get involved with the studio?

MARCUS HEARN: It started in 1994 when I worked at Marvel Comics. I was given the job of editing the official Hammer magazine, and that led to The Hammer Story, Hammer Glamour, The Art of Hammer and numerous DVD audio commentaries. I’m grateful that successive changes of management at Hammer have wanted me to stick around as a consultant.

IFC: What was your earliest memory of Hammer Films?

HEARN: I’m not old enough to have seen any of the older films at the cinema, so my education in Hammer horror came from late night television screenings. In England in the 1980s BBC2 would show double-bills that didn’t just introduce me to Hammer horror but also classics like “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “Night of the Demon.” It’s now quite rare to see black-and-white films on network television and I think that’s a great shame.

"The Hammer Vault" - Yvonne Horner, Don Chaffey, and Raquel Welch on the set of "One Million Years B.C."

IFC: Looking at the posters and other promotional material in the book, there’s a lot of art in there that simply wouldn’t be allowed in today’s market or might not have much success with today’s audiences.
What was different about the period when Hammer realised that art made it so successful?

HEARN: Some of the pre-production artwork from the 1970s is very explicit, and is all the more surprising because it mixes sex with violence. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that sexual violence was
considered inappropriate by censors in those days, just as it is now. Just because it appeared on pre-production artwork, such as “Hands of the Ripper,” doesn’t mean it was ever intended to be used on a finished poster. It was supposed to be attention-grabbing, and even shocking. But it wasn’t necessarily for public consumption.

IFC: While working with all of the Hammer memorabilia over the years, what was the biggest surprise for you?

HEARN: It was a surprise to discover what a prolific and innovative publicity machine Hammer was from the 1950s onwards. The digital age has made it rather easier, and cheaper, to aggressively market films, but Hammer launched some remarkably extensive campaigns in the days when everything had to be printed. By no means all that material has survived, but there was an incredible array of material for us to choose from for The Hammer Vault.


"The Hammer Vault" - "Dracula" promotional cover

IFC: Are there any pieces that have a particularly strange history?

HEARN: There were some items that I wanted to include but that unfortunately were no longer in the archive. The most intriguing of these was material relating to an exhibition held by the Blood Transfusion Service to coincide with the first screenings of “Dracula” in Birmingham in 1958. The exhibition was withdrawn after one week as it was considered to be in poor taste!

"The Hammer Vault" Peter Cushing and Terence Fisher on the set of "The Gorgon"

IFC: It’s reasonable to assume that a lot of today’s filmmakers have Hammer to thank for some of their early movie memories and the experiences that shaped their careers. Are there any particular films (or filmmakers) that come to mind as showing evidence of Hammer’s legacy?

HEARN: Tim Burton has acknowledged the influence of Hammer on “Sweeney Todd,” in particular, but I think it’s in the DNA of many horror filmmakers. For example there’s an episode of “True Blood” that features one of the characters watching “Dracula” on television. George Lucas isn’t particularly a fan of horror films, but don’t you think it’s interesting that both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee appeared in “Star Wars”?

IFC: What are some of your personal favorites from the Hammer archives?

HEARN: Recently I had the chance to photograph the props from the new film, “The Woman in Black,” which is out in February. It’s a disturbing film, and just being around some of the props made me feel a little uneasy. The book’s deadline meant that we weren’t able to include much about “The Woman in Black,” but we’ve created a special online Vault entry on film. People who have purchased The Hammer Vault can access the “Woman in Black” section on www.hammerfilms.com.

The Hammer Vault is available now from Titan Books.

Do you have a Hammer Films memory? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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