Hammer Triple Bill

Next time you're channel-hopping on your telly, keep an eye out for The Horror Channel, a channel devoted entirely to cooking. Wait! My mistake! I mean horror. The stuff they show ranges in quality, but there's always a treat or two if you search the listings, particularly if you like catching up with some of those old Hammer horror films. Here's a triple bill to get you started, with ratings from special guest reviewer MC Hammer.

Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (Terence Fisher, 1974) is the sixth and final instalment in Hammer's Frankenstein series. It has a poor reputation in comparison to the first few, but I didn't find it too bad. It has a interesting set-up where the sophisticated, but clearly bonkers, Baron Frankenstein has secreted himself away in a lunatic asylum to help care for the inmates, but also continue his lifelong work, with predictably dire consequences. Reprising his Frankenstein role, Peter Cushing is as great and as gaunt as always, those prominent cheekbones looking particularly pronounced since he was still grieving from the recent loss of his wife. Fisher stages things in appropriately Gothic fashion despite a low budget and there's some icky moments to savour. Perhaps the poor reputation stems from the Monster From Hell itself, which is a laughably hairy neanderthal-like beast and a poor relation to the original Frankenstein's Monster. It brought to mind the creature from the dire Trog, and not in a good way. By the way, Fact Fans, along with Star Wars, this is the only other film to star Peter Cushing and David Prowse. Never heard of David Prowse? He was only the man in the Darth Vader costume. And more importantly, he was the Green Cross Code man!
What does MC Hammer think? Have You Seen It, Tell Me Have You Seen It?

Valerie Leon. A Lovely Girl.
Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (Seth Holt/Michael Carreras, 1971) is a pretty lamentable entry in the Hammer canon, focusing its 'plot' around the reincarnation of an evil Egyptian princess. Director Seth Holt died on set before filming completed, presumably killed by the over-exposure to shoddy acting, silly plot and laughable effects. Still, in the dual role of ancient princess and modern incarnate, the sultry Valerie Leon gives us plenty of cleavage and underboob, so those bits were pharaoh nuff. Incidentally, Google search auto-suggest is quite alarming when you start to type in "Blood From..." Just go to the doctor, people! 
What does MC Hammer think? U Don't Touch This!

Bizarrely enough, The Plague of the Zombies (John Gilling, 1966) has a quite similar plot to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, as a learned academic travels to a remote location (in this case Cornwall) and encounters a villain who has an army of zombified slaves working in his mine. It's not particularly scary, but it plays the zombie angle straight, with traditional voodoo-inflected origins as its basis, which lends it a degree of seriousness. It's notable for being Hammer's only foray into the zombie genre and has an interesting bit of a class satire underlying its story. Plus it's an influential touchstone on the way to Romero's 'classic' invention of the genre with Night of the Living Dead a couple of years later. Not a classic, then, but a couple of things in there to enjoy.
What does MC Hammer think? Please Hammer zombies, Don't Hurt 'Em!

Hope that whetted your appetite for some of The Horror Channel's output. Gotta go - they're just about to screen the modern classic Dinocroc Vs Supergator. Yes, that is a real film. What do you think, MC Hammer?

STOP! Hammertime.

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