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Horror Films: Universal vs. Hammer

I love the Universal horror films of the 30s/40s, yet I can stand the Hammer films of the 50s/60s.

by Bela & Borisreply 3505/10/2014

Hammer films attempted to connect horror and sex in an overt way that was too bodice-ripping, humorlessly campy. Awful stuff. Very little fun, too many close-ups of British teeth - the fangs were the better looking ones - and the heroes all had that bloated look of English players who spent too much time in provincial public houses feeling like they had missed the main chance.

Universal films were often formulaic, but the best had A+ directors and scripts and players who understood that horror requires pacing and a little laughter in order to get the chill right.

by Bela & Borisreply 110/31/2011

I love Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

by Bela & Borisreply 210/31/2011


by Bela & Borisreply 310/31/2011

I do too. They just deserved better vehicles than they usually had.

by Bela & Borisreply 410/31/2011

The Hammer films are far superior because they are essentially European. The British have that in their blood.

Universal horror reflects the stale white bread mentality of American puritanism.

by Bela & Borisreply 510/31/2011

You're a dummy, r5. Universal's classic horror films were directed by oddball European directors which is why they hold up so well. By the '40s the formula was in place and they accordingly became B pictures. Hammer bought the Universal library of characters because they admired them. I appreciate Hammer now more than I did as a gay kid, cleavage and Satanism just weren't of interest to me. But their '50s through '60s work seems as quaint as Universal's weaker efforts to a mature eye, and the color and costumes are a nice break from Universal black and white.

by Bela & Borisreply 610/31/2011

Neither can touch Val Lewton's classic films from the 40s.

by Bela & Borisreply 710/31/2011

Hammer Horror, won't leave me alone.

by Bela & Borisreply 810/31/2011

Val never made a monster movie. His movies are great, but you don't see trademark marketing of the characters or a rush by Hollywood to remake them. I think the American puritanism thrown at the Universal film is more apt with Lewton films, though he used it to contrast the unsettling subcultures in his movies.

by Bela & Borisreply 910/31/2011

[quote]Neither can touch Val Lewton's classic films from the 40s.

I watched a bunch of them on TCM over the weekend. I never get tired of Cat People.

by Bela & Borisreply 1010/31/2011

R9, Cat People was famously remade in the 80s. He did have monsters in his films. And Karloff and Lugosi starred in The Body Snatcher together, though not as monsters.

by Bela & Borisreply 1110/31/2011

Lewton's best five are all must-sees, each and every one of them:





CURSE OF THE DEMON (made in the 60s--the others were all made in the 40s)

But there are great things about all the others:






by Bela & Borisreply 1210/31/2011

I just discovered Val Lewton's films this month on TCM, and I've been blown away by them. So far, I've only seen I Walked With a Zombie and The Body Snatcher. I've got The Seventh Victim on DVR. I feel like I've discovered a secret goldmine.

I Walked With a Zombie is one of the most beautifully filmed black & white movies I've ever seen. Just gorgeous shadows and atmosphere.

Boris Karloff and Henry Daniell should have been nominated for Oscars for The Body Snatcher.

by Bela & Borisreply 1310/31/2011

Japan's Toho studios roster beats 'em all.

by Bela & Borisreply 1410/31/2011

I thought Anna Lee was great in Bedlam, her dialogue was so smart and sarcastic.

TCM rarely shows The Seventh Victim - Jean Brooks had an unusual quality in it - it's hard to describe, but she was different from many of the actresses back then.

by Bela & Borisreply 1510/31/2011

it was the hairdo.

by Bela & Borisreply 1610/31/2011

Both studios demonstrate mastery of the genre's mise-en-scene. I just like black and white a bit better

by Bela & Borisreply 1710/31/2011

I love both Hammer and Universal, but if I had to pick which box set DVD to take to a desert island, it would be Universal.

by Bela & Borisreply 1810/31/2011

The Universal movies-which I loved as a child--are essentially dark fairy tales. The ones directed by the Siodmak brothers are the best.

by Bela & Borisreply 1910/31/2011

Universal over Hammer: Hammer films usually were retreads of Universal classics, differentiated by color and bulging bosoms. Universal horror films came first and had superior directors (James Whale, etc), and superior knowledge of the genre. In the 1930's, Universal was "the" studio for horror films. The films {R12} listed are all must-sees, IMO.BTW, check out these two films from MGM, the best of their limited horror output in the 1930's.

Freaks (1932)

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

by Bela & Borisreply 2010/31/2011

Curse of the Demon wasn't a Val Lewton production. It was directed by Jacques Tourner, who directed Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and Leopard Man (as well as one of the best film noirs, Out of the Past).

My vote would go to Lewton's RKO horror films as well.

by Bela & Borisreply 2110/31/2011

Hammer's blood looked like paint. Also, there were only 2 actors (Lee and Cushing) surrounded by buxom broads. Wasn't Cushing a virgin? Weird guy. At least Lee played different characters.

by Bela & Borisreply 2210/31/2011

Hammer films are considered cult. They are beyond criticism as fear and the illogical stand further than that... I love Universal Horror films but someone in this thread has to support Hammer Horror Films so i must take this task and do that. Hammer Horror Films are not so scary but they are very atmospheric and gothic and they have a sense of nostalgia and a bizarre beauty in them...the beauty of the past. Below there is a list with 7 Hammer horror movies that i recommend you to see.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)

Scars of Dracula (1970)

Rasputin:The Mad Monk (1966)

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

by Bela & Borisreply 2311/21/2012

I thought the Hammer films were stupid when I was a kid and had only seen them on broadcast TV, cut to ribbons and interspersed with commercials and stupid horror film hosts. Now that I've seen more of them uncut in good digital prints I appreciate them as classics in their own right. Certainly they were incredibly influential, with tons of imitators (some of the best Roger Corman pictures of the late 1950s and early 1960s were basically Hammer imitations) and homages ("Andy Warhol's Frankenstein" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" are loaded with references to Hammer films.)

And of course the greatest Universal films were those directed by James Whale, who was British. So there.

by Bela & Borisreply 2411/21/2012

Hammer Horror, Hammer Horrorrrrugh!

by Bela & Borisreply 2511/21/2012

Scream of Fear (1961) with Susan Strasberg was also an interesting Hammer movie. A black and white film with an uneven finally plot but a very atmospheric one.

by Bela & Borisreply 2611/22/2012

Yeah, the Val Lewton RKO ones are far superior to both.

by Bela & Borisreply 2705/08/2014

Hammer is penny pinching filmmaking at its worse. There are legions of Hammer fans out there defending them but those films are so padded and TV-like that they can't be compared to the classic Universal films.

But I love Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Great actors.

by Bela & Borisreply 2805/08/2014

"Wasn't Cushing a virgin?"

by Bela & Borisreply 2905/10/2014

Bride of Frankenstein, anyone? One of the gayest classic films ever directed by gay man James Whale. Universal wins for that alone.

by Bela & Borisreply 3005/10/2014

Another vote for the Siodmak movies from Universal.

by Bela & Borisreply 3105/10/2014

[20] I saw 'Freaks' recently, but I wouldn't call it a horror movie. To me it seemed more like a comedy/melodrama. I thought most of the 'Freaks' , like the midgets Hans & Frieda and Schlitze, were more loveable/adorable than scary. The first Hammer Dracula ("The Horror of Dracula") from 1958 is far better than the 1931 Lugosi feature, which is a snoozefest. I don't blame Tod Browning though, since he had to work with such a minimal budget.

by Bela & Borisreply 3205/10/2014

[16] Yeah, according to Hammer all 19th century women had revealing cleavages and bouffant hairdos.

by Bela & Borisreply 3305/10/2014

I watched some of the universal horror classics on blu-ray recently, and was slightly disappointed. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN just didn't give me that thrill anymore. Much of WEREWOLF OF LONDON was just plain bad (especially Henry Hull's stodgy, old-fashioned performance) and THE WOLFMAN (1941) was incredibly overrated, imo, and is loaded with bad directing (lack of visual continuity) and some genuine cheesiness (Lon Chaney Jr's fight with the "wolf" that bites and infects him, for was played by his *own* dog, and looked like a regular pooch, fer christ sakes!). Tonight I'll be watching a more obscure Hammer Horror called NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER with a compulsive child molester as the villain instead of some silly monster. Let's face it, real-life horrors like pedophile-rapists beat Hollywood or Hammer boogeymen any day in the chills department.)

by Bela & Borisreply 3405/10/2014

IMO, the best single best "horror" film of the 30s & 40s was DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, 1932 version. Nothing really comes close to it in genre horror of the period. Even though the story is waaaay overly familiar, watching this for the first time feels like a completely fresh experience. Frederic March was brilliantly bestial in the role, and his transformation was done with creepy lightning effects instead of yak hair & spirit gum, and it was genuinely spooky. Jack Palance was an interesting & exceedingly brutal Mr. Hyde in THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE made-for-TV in 1968 by Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows).

by Bela & Borisreply 3505/10/2014
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