Hammer Horror Classics Collection

Over 70 years ago, Universal Studios turned Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy into horror icons. In the late 1950s, Hammer Films took it upon themselves to mould the Universal classics into a new breed of horror; it was a benchmark in horror and B-movie history. Hammer's retelling of the old stories made for a new way to shock audiences, and their success lead to many unique sequels featuring the various monsters. The Hammer Horror Classics Collection contains six widescreen versions of such titles as The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Mummy (1959), Horror of Dracula (1958), Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) and Taste the Blood of Dracula (1969). All six movies feature Peter Cushing and/or Christopher Lee. These are Hammer's earlier films and as a result, the risky, sex-driven elements that Hammer Films later became associated with are virtually nonexistent (with the exceptions of Taste the Blood's sexually-charged brothel scene and Must Be Destroyed's infamously gratuitous rape scene). Aside from The Mummy, these films offer a twist to the original stories. The Dracula movies find the Count (Lee) doing battle with a priest and a bartender, as well as rising from the dead at the unknowing hands of wealthy businessmen. The Frankenstein series has the good Doctor (Cushing) locked-up due to insanity, leading to his living incognito and performing brain surgery on a mentally ill ex-colleague. The look and feel of these movies is quite different from their Universal Films predecessors. Unfortunately, little thought was put into choosing the titles for this set. Both the Dracula and Frankenstein entries start with the first movie in their respective series, but skip ahead to movies from the middle of the franchise. A set dedicated to each specific villain would have been more satisfying. Despite having potential for interesting extras, the set only includes the original trailers and brief descriptions of the Dracula and Frankenstein storylines. There are literally no special features beyond this. Nevertheless, while by modern standards these films are quite tame, they are not a waste of time. While the Hammer Horror Classics Collection only offers a minuscule and scattered portion of Hammer's library, it delivers unique plot concepts and old school thrills. Vintage horror fans will want to consider checking this set out. (Warner Brothers)