Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Book Review: Hammer Glamour

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review: Hammer Glamour

Hammer Glamour by Marcus Hearn (160 pp. Titan Books $29.95) profiles fifty of Hammer Films' most famous beauties. It is a paean to the lovely starlets that populated not just their well-known horror flicks but also their comedies, prehistoric action romps, and more. The book is frank in its glimpse into the publicity machine that selected these women, developed their sexy personas for appearances in one or two films, then dropped them in favor the next fresh face.

Though Hammer Film Productions has been around since the thirties, their most fertile creative period began in the mid-fifties with the advent of the "Hammer Horror" movies. These low-budget films—lurid but imaginative retakes of such classic movie monsters such as Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, and the werewolf—spiced things up with a healthy dose of eroticism, usually in the form of a virginal village girl wearing a low-cut frock. But as Hammer caught on to their winning formula—and cinema's standard of decency loosened up going into the late sixties and early seventies—the production company capitalized on its female stars' allure, amping up the graphic sexuality in their movies. The apotheosis of Hammer's foray into erotic horror is 1970's The Vampire Lovers (pictured above), well represented in this book by three of its beautiful stars, Kate O'Mara, Madeline Smith (who also graces the cover of Hammer Glamour), and the incomparable Ingrid Pitt.

A few actresses famous for some of their later more mainstream work appeared in Hammer Films, including names like Nastassja Kinski (To the Devil a Daughter), Stefanie Powers (Crescendo), and Raquel Welch (One Million Years B.C.); all of who are given extensive coverage in Hammer Glamour. Other actresses of note who get a significant amount of ink include Ursula Andress, Stephanie Beacham, Martine Beswicke (pictured at left), Susan Denberg, Shirley Eaton, Joanna Lumley, Caroline Munro, Yutte Stensgaard, and Victoria Vetri.

Of course, the best reason to recommend Hammer Glamour is the beautiful images of these actresses. The book is replete with rare publicity photographs of the pinup queen variety. Most are in color, some have limited nudity, and all are extremely compelling. Anyone who ever grew up watching Hammer movies is going to adore this new coffee table book.

All images of Hammer Glamour © Marcus Hearn and Hammer Film Productions Limited as joint owners 2009.

No comments: