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The five Hammer Films-produced horror movies everyone should see

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This past weekend’s premiere of “The Woman In Black” marks the return of famous British studio Hammer Films to the world of horror movies — a genre the studio helped define during the 1950s, and then throughout the ’60s and beyond.

While “Harry Potter” franchise star Daniel Radcliffe stars in the terrifying new film by Hammer, the studio has played a role in launching the careers of many notable actors over the years, especially those of award-winning cinema veterans Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Whether the studio was tackling well-known characters like Dracula and Frankenstein or putting their own spin on lesser-known objects of terror, Hammer Films built a legacy out of pushing the boundaries and giving theater audiences nightmares.

Earlier this month, we took a look through the Hammer Films archive via the recently released book Inside the Hammer Vault, and now that “The Woman In Black” is finally hitting screens, it seems like a good time to list the five films everyone who wants to know what all the fuss is about should see.


“Horror of Dracula” (1958)

Considered by many to be the best film ever made by Hammer Films, this was the project that made household names of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. In the film, Lee plays the lord of the vampires, who decides to leave Transylvania for England and proceeds to bite, stab, and rip a bloody path through England’s nightlife. Cushing plays Dracula’s nemesis, Van Helsing, kicking off an on-screen pairing that would persist throughout many more Hammer Films projects. While other vampire movies portrayed Dracula as a subtle, seductive villain, this film was one of the first to present the Prince of Darkness as a ferocious, demonic force of otherworldly nature. “Horror of Dracula” is widely considered must-see material for horror movie fans, so if you haven’t watched it yet, do so.


“The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957)

One of the first breakout movies for Hammer Films on both sides of the Atlantic, “The Curse of Frankenstein” was also one of the first pairings of Hammer’s celebrated duo of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. In the film, Cushing plays Victor Frankenstein so memorably that many consider this the character-defining portrayal of the the mad scientist. Meanwhile, Lee’s debut as Frankenstein’s monster will likely surprise modern audiences with how graphic it was for the time. While often overshadowed by Boris Karlof’s lumbering take on the creature, Lee’s version of the sewn-together monster will give you nightmares even today.


“The Gorgon” (1964)

Yet another pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing with “The Curse of Frankenstein” and “Horror of Dracula” director Terence Fisher, this film diverged from the classic Universal Monsters fare by featuring an unlikely villain: a snake-haired woman whose gaze turns subjects to stone. Barbara Shelley plays the title character to terrifying perfection, while Lee and Cushing put in the now-expected amazing performances. without revealing any spoilers, the film also features one of the most bleak endings you’ll ever see in a film.


“The Plague of the Zombies” (1966)

Several years before George Romero put his stamp on zombie cinema, Hammer Films released this bizarre film that clearly influenced the work of Romero and many subsequent undead-friendly filmmakers. Rather than present the zombies as barely moving, minimal threats, “The Plague of Zombies” had them chasing down victims and wreaking some serious havoc on the living. While the notion of brain-munching hadn’t entered the zombie scene yet, director John Gilling took big steps in this film toward making the cinematic version of zombies closer to what it is today.


“The Curse of the Werewolf” (1961)

In this often overlooked film, award-winning British actor Oliver Reed played one of the most tragic incarnations of the Wolfman ever brought to the screen. “The Curse of the Werewolf” unfolds after a jailed, bestial beggar rapes a mute servant girl, who then gives birth to the lycanthropic title character, played by Reed. It’s one of the more disturbing entries in the werewolf genre, and the first and only Hammer Films project that deals with werewolf lore. As Reed’s character struggles to deal with his curse and hopes to find an end to it through true love, the audience is carried along on an adventure filled with impressive highs and terrifying lows. Not only is the film filled with excellent performances by all involved, but the makeup effects on Reed are years ahead of their time.


What are some of your favorite Hammer Films horror movies? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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When life gets you down, just ask yourself: what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.


15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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“Chronicle” and 5 other movies that weren’t based on comics (but seem like they are)

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Filmmaker Josh Trank’s impressive debut film “Chronicle” hits theaters this weekend, and while its story of three teenagers who gain superhuman powers might seem like comic book fare, you won’t find its inspiration on the shelves of your local comics shop (not directly, at least).

Featuring a story penned by Trank and co-writer Max Landis, “Chronicle” isn’t the only recent movie you’d be excused for thinking is one of the many comic book adaptations to make the leap from page to screen lately. Here are five more films that are notable for featuring original stories that only seem to be ripped from the pages of a comic book.


“Hancock” (2008)

This 2008 film by “Battleship” director Peter Berg was celebrated for its dark, gritty take on the superhero genre, with Will Smith playing the role of a lone super-powered being in a world full of mortals. The very definition of an anti-hero, Smith’s character has fallen on hard times when we first meet him in the film, but we get to watch him grow into something more closely resembling the archetypal hero as the story progresses. While the film has its share of critics, the fact remains that it’s one of the more unique takes on the superhero genre to hit the screen in recent years — mainly because it seems to borrow inspiration from some of the comic book genre’s darker tales rather than the more family-friendly heroic fare.


“My Super Ex-Girlfriend” (2006)

This 2006 film starred Uma Thurman as a female superhero nicknamed “G-Girl,” who goes a little crazy after her latest boyfriend (played by Luke Wilson) breaks up with her. More a parody of superhero movies than a legitimate take on the genre, the film did explore something every comics fan has wondered from time to time: what happens when you fall out of love with someone who can lift a tractor trailer with one hand?


“Unbreakable” (2006)

Director M. Night Shyamalan’s criminally under-appreciated 2000 film was years ahead of the “dark superhero movie” trend, and told the story of a man named David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) who discovers that he is, well… unbreakable. A modern-day superhero who doesn’t quite know what to do with his power, he sets out to do good, but finds that doing so is more difficult than the comics make it seem. Assisted by his comics-loving son and shop owner Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), David begins the path toward superhero status — but as anyone who knows comics will tell you, every hero has an arch enemy.


“Push” (2009)

This ambitious 2009 film by director Paul McGuigan fell short of expectations, but did an admirable job of setting up a universe full of super-powered humans with various abilities. From movers (people who can telekinetically control objects) and bleeders (people who emit powerful sonic blasts) to stichers (people who can heal and unheal at will) and shifters (shape-changers), the world of “Push” was complicated and layered with a long list of power-wielders eager to test their mettle. Unfortunately, the film fell apart under the weight of its own universe (among other factors), but not before it received a cool comic book prequel by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman from DC Comics.


“Jumper” (2008)

“Star Wars” actor Hayden Christensen’s return to the big screen had him playing a young man gifted with a genetic ability to teleport anywhere in the world at any moment. Not only does he find out there are others like him, but he also discovers that there are people who have sworn to kill all “jumpers.” Unlike the other films in this list, “Jumper” was adapted from a print project, but not a comic book. The inspiration for the film came from a loose adaptation of Steven Gould’s award-winning Jumper novel, which received significantly more acclaim than the film based on it.


What are some of your favorite comic book movies that weren’t based on comics? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

“The Hunger Games” Super Bowl Trailer: Our five favorite new scenes

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With less than two months to go until “The Hunger Games” hits theaters, the odds are ever in the film’s favor. The latest trailer for the movie still hasn’t given us many shots from the actual Hunger Games — sorry, but Katniss with a bow and arrow dodging fireballs in previously released footage doesn’t really count — but there are still plenty of new scenes to dissect and analyze.

Fortunately for all of you, we have compiled a list of our five new moments from the trailer for your viewing pleasure. Who knows if there will be a third (longer) theatrical trailer before the movie hits theaters and IMAX on March 23, so we might as well occupy our time with these stills to help make the passage of time easier.


Katniss gives Prim the Mockingjay pin

This is a bit of a change from the book-version of “The Hunger Games,” but one that we’re okay accepting. Technically it’s supposed to be Madge who gives Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) the pin right before she heads off to the Capitol to compete in the Hunger Games, but this scene switches the story around. Here Katniss gives the pin to her sister, Prim, so “nothing bad will happen.” Unfortunately that doesn’t quite happen — Prim gets picked as a tribute in the Games — so there will likely be another scene later on where Prim gives the pin back.


President Snow welcomes potential tributes

Donald Sutherland‘s President Snow doesn’t get much screentime in “The Hunger Games,” but he does at least get to appear in a video welcoming potential tributes to the District 12 Reaping. We’re not sure if this is one of the two new scenes Sutherland will have in the movie (it seems like those will be completely new to the story) but, either way, it’s chilling to hear him say, “Happy Hunger Games!”


“What did you say to your sister when you volunteered at the Reaping?”

That is the question poised by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) to Katniss during her pre-Hunger Games interview, featured as a new scene in the trailer. “I told her that I would try to win for her,” Katniss responds. “And try you will,” he says back. We love the chance to see Tucci show off the over-exaggerated emotional scale of Flickerman.


Katniss watches Peeta’s interview

Just as Katniss’s interview is featured in this teaser, so is Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson). She looks on as Peeta charms Caesar Flickerman while wearing a red and black suit that matches her Girl on Fire dress. It’s clear from the look on her fact that she’s still trying to figure out if he is her friend or foe doing into the Hunger Games.


Cinna gives Katniss her pin

This ending is not quite as good as the first theatrical trailer’s countdown to the beginning of the 74th Hunger Games, but it comes close. Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) pins Katniss’s Mockingjay pin onto her shirt lapel only seconds before she enters the Games, and then shushes her so she won’t alert anyone. That pin ends up becoming the symbol that represents Katniss in the future “Hunger Games” books. Talk about a good stylist.



Are you excited to see “The Hunger Games”? What was your favorite new scene? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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