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)