While attending the Monster Bash early this year in Mars Pennsylvania (day 1, day 2) I was delighted to learn they were going to celebrate Hammer Films in the fall. Not only the films but they were bringing in some of the actresses who played the heroines/victims from the cult studio classics.
This time out I sat in on the opening show titled Monsters We’ve Known and Loved narrated by Joseph Cotten. It’s an episode of Hollywood and the Stars from 1964.
The first film for viewing was The Curse of Frankenstein. Really the film that got Hammer rolling and put Cushing and Lee on the road to stardom.
Next up was sitting in and listening to Martin Stephens talk mainly of his experiences as a child actor and the making of Village of the Damned in 1960 and The Innocents opposite Deborah Kerr.
While not Hammer films they were produced during England’s glory years of horror and sci-fi cinema. He spoke highly of Barbara Shelley and recalled playing chess on set with George Sanders. As for Deborah Kerr, he seemed overjoyed by her lack of ego and fondly recalled his kissing scene with the beautiful actress.
Then it was time for The Horror of Dracula. To me the greatest of vampire films. It’s compact but the scene of Lee’s entrance fangs dripping still is one of the great scenes in all of horror film history.
Lee vs. Cushing doesn’t get any better than this. The energy of the film is only heightened by James Bernard’s thrilling score. A classic!
Martine Beswick next took to the stage for an engaging half hour of questions from the crowd and reminiscing. She covered her sixties “babe” years recalling One Million Years B.C. with Raquel Welch and working with Sean Connery on From Russia With Love.
I couldn’t help but ask her what it was like working with Klaus Kinski on A Bullet For the General. She laughed and said he was “Mad as a hatter.” But that didn’t stop her from loving her time with him as he was plenty of fun to hang out on set with.
Then came to the stage a lady who I admit is my personal favorite “Hammer beauty”. Caroline Munro. She talked of working in a very family oriented environment with Roger Moore and cast on The Spy Who Loved Me. Having food prepared by master chef Vincent Price while engaged on The Phibes films. She reaffirmed as did all the ladies of what a joy it was to work with the gentlemanly Peter Cushing. Anything you read about Peter points this out and these ladies were at times wiping tears while recalling their time with him. Working on Hammer’s Dracula A.D. with Lee and the underrated Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter was talked about. I was really impressed with the fact that she is a Trustee of the Ray Harryhausen Foundation. She spoke very highly of his genius and working on The Golden Voyage of Sinbad as the leading lady opposite John Phillip Law’s Sinbad.
I couldn’t help but ask her “I notice you worked on a western with Richard Widmark. How did that come about and what was it like working with one of my favorite actors?” Her reply was endearing. “Are you from Canada? I can tell by the way you say “about”.
No wonder she was always my favorite of the glamor girls of Hammer. For the record Widmark gave her some pointers and was a total professional for their film A Talent For Loving which came near the start of her career.
Then it was off to get a couple of posters signed by the two leading ladies.
I had brought along original copies of Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde that starred Beswick and Dracula A.D. which featured Caroline. Both were friendly and took an interest in a fan’s poster collection.
More on Day 1 and Day 2 to follow.