Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Ultimate Hammer Collection (1965 - 1976)

Optimum's 21-disc Hammer boxset released in 2006 was a decidedly pricey package for what was on offer - 21 Hammer films which represented the very best and worst of the studio's Elstree years. For the causal fan the box was simply too expensive to pick up, while the hardcore Hammer disciple would have already owned the excellent Anchor Bay US editions. Not surprisingly the box fell in price and nowadays can be picked up relatively cheap for £30, a much more attractive proposition for anyone looking to begin a Hammer collection. While the Anchor Bay editions contained some very nice extras, the Optimum discs are more sparse, with only a handful of audio commentaries ported over from the US discs, as well as two documentaries - The Many Faces Of Christopher Lee (57min) (on the Dracula Prince of Darkness disc) and To The Devil... The Death Of Hammer (23min) (on the disc of To the Devil A Daughter). In the box's favour the transfers are generally strong and the roster of titles gives a good overview of the different styles and flavours Hammer experimented with during this era.

The boxset itself looks rather nice. Shaped like the Hellraiser cube, opening the lid and the front panel, the discs are housed in five digipak style "Books" - a nice economical storage solution and practical too - if you're storing the box on a shelf, the books can be pulled out quite easily without removing the box from the shelf and disturbing other DVDs standing along side it. The box also comes with a booklet, and some postcard sized reproductions of the British quad posters.

As with the Video Nasties series, the plan will be to review all 21 films in the set, in chronological order. Also, along the way I'll be looking at some other Hammer classics just to break up the list and make it a little more interesting.

01 - She (Dir. Robert Day, 1965)
02 - The Nanny (Dir. Seth Holt, 1965)
03 - Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (Dir. Terence Fisher, 1966)
04 - Rasputin, The Mad Monk (Dir. Don Sharp, 1966)
05 - Plague Of The Zombies (Dir. John Gilling, 1966)
06 - The Reptile (Dir. John Gilling, 1966)
07 - The Witches (Dir. Cyril Frankel, 1966)
08 - One Million Years BC (Dir. Don Chaffey, 1966)
09 - Viking Queen (Dir. Don Chaffey, 1967)
10 - Frankenstein Created Woman (Dir. Terence Fisher, 1967)
11 - Quatermass And The Pit (Dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1967)
12 - The Vengeance Of She (Dir. Cliff Owen, 1968)
13 - The Devil Rides Out (Dir. Terence Fisher, 1968)
14 - Prehistoric Women (Dir. Michael Carreras, 1966)
15 - The Scars of Dracula (Dir. Roy Ward Baker, 1970)
16 - The Horror Of Frankenstein (Dir. Jimmy Sangster, 1970)
17 - Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (Dir. Seth Holt, 1971)
18 - Straight On Til Morning (Dir. Peter Collinson, 1972)
19 - Fear In The Night (Dir. Jimmy Sangster, 1972)
20 - Demons Of The Mind (Dir. Peter Sykes, 1972)
21 - To The Devil A Daughter (Dir. Peter Sykes, 1976)


  1. Very nice! That's a gorgeous set... I'm jealous. I don't know if you listen to it or if you're interested, but there's a podcast called Hammicus that covers a bunch of the Hammer movies. I'll be on there next week covering One Million Years B.C. with one of the hosts.

  2. Brilliant stuff, Wes. As always, a treasure trove of information. Looking forward to the rest of the reviews!

    Interesting box set too, with some more obscure stuff alongside the old favourites. Have been circling the Hammer collections for some time so might just pounce on this one...

  3. Many thanks Aaron, I'll defo tune in for that one. For anyone interested the Hammicus podcast can be found here

    Thanks Jon, yes definitely grab this boxset - It's currently selling for £30 on AmazonUK, so that works out as a recession-busting £1.43 per disc !

  4. I remember when this came out and I wanted it so bad, but couldn't afford it. I eventually got it from Amazon UK during a box set sale along with the Arrow Russ Meyer set dirt cheap. It was especially important to get, as some of the Anchor Bay titles in the set were OOP and extremely expensive. It's too bad the Optimum set didn't include World of Hammer episodes like the AB DVDs. But overall it's a wonderful set, especially for the current low price.

  5. I'll have to add this to my Amazon Wish List and watch for a sale price at some point. I have some of these movies already, but I can always be counted on for a double dip at the right price.