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The House Across the Lake (1954)

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from kultguyskeep.wordpress.com

Image sourced from kultguyskeep.wordpress.com

So, what did Hammer films do before rebooting classic horror with The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957? Yeah well we all know about kickstarting the Brit Horror boom with TV spinoff The Quatermass Xperiment in 1955, but throughout the early 1950s Hammer produced a series of B-movie thrillers in a co-distribution deal with American producer Robert Lippert.

The House Across the Lake, which has just been reissued by Network, is an atmospheric thriller, which is perhaps closer in spirit to the Hollywood noirs of directors like Howard Hawks than their later Kensington gore drenched shockers. In fact it even opens with a Raymond Chandleresque narration from the American lead Alex Nichol.

Nichol plays Mark Kenrick, an American (Lippert always insisted on American leads for these co-financed pictures) author who has rented a cottage on Lake Windemere. Kenrick’s working idyll is shattered when he receives a phone call from Carol Forrest (Hillary Brooke) who lives in…

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Twins of Evil (1971)

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from wikipedia.org

Image sourced from wikipedia.org

‘The Devil has sent me Twins of Evil!’

So says Peter Cushing’s Gustav Weil, of his nieces Frieda and Maria. Well not quite, because its only one of the pair (played by real life identical twins and Playboy playmates Madeline and Mary Collinson) who is a bit wayward. Sent from Venice to the middle European village of Karnstein on the death of their parents, the girls are frustrated to discover their new guardian is the head of a fanatical puritan witch hunting gang, known as the Brotherhood, who like nothing better than a nice fire and a stake.

Up at Karnstein Castle, the local Count (Damien Thomas) likes a dabble in the black arts and when blood from a human sacrifice drips into the sarcophagus of his vampire ancestor Mircalla (Katya Wyeth) there’s no looking back. The Count is turned and Frieda is out of the bedroom window and on her way to the…

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Countess Dracula (1971)

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from theblackboxclub.blogspot.com

Image sourced from theblackboxclub.blogspot.com

When I was a wee lad, well maybe a not-so-wee six footer of 14 to 15, back in the early 1970s, I used to sneak into my local Odeon, hoping my recently broken voice would not give me away as I asked for an adult ticket for the Saturday late night horror double bill.

Hammer’s Countess Dracula (1971), which has just been reissued on Blu-Ray by our good friends at Network Distributing as part of their British Film series, was one of those movies, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to become reacquainted with the wicked Countess Elisabeth Nasdasdy. Building upon her Hammer debut as Carmilla in 1970’s The Vampire Lovers, Ingrid Pitt stars as the aged Hungarian noble who discovers that bathing in the blood of virgins restores her youth.

The story is based upon the legends surrounding the real life Countess…

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Hands of the Ripper (1971)

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from ghostof82.wordpress.com

Image sourced from ghostof82.wordpress.com

Originally released in 1971 Hammer’s Hands of the Ripper put a new spin on the Jack the Ripper legend. When Anna (Angharad Rees) is the only suspect of the grisly murder of her guardian, a fake medium (guest star Dora Bryan) Dr John Pritchard (Eric Porter) takes her into his home hoping to unlock the secrets of her mind using the newly fashionable science of Freudian psychoanalysis.

What Pritchard hadn’t bargained for was that Anna is the daughter of the Whitechapel serial killer and that it only takes a quick dazzle of light and a kiss to set her off on a bloody murder. Before long a trail of murders with some remarkably inventive weapons leads to a thrilling conclusion as Pritchard tracks Anna down to the Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Daubed in buckets of Kensington Gore, Hands of the Ripper is a different kind of 1970’s Hammer Gothic…

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The Changes (1975)

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from johnlprobert.blogspot.co.uk

Image sourced from johnlprobert.blogspot.co.uk

Now listen up Hothouse Flowers, The Changes, which as just been re-released by the British Film Institute as part of their BFI SCI FI: Days of Fear and Wonder celebration, may have been made for the BBC children’s TV slot, but it’s a thought-provoking drama that packs a few shocks along the way. Originally broadcast on the BBC in 1975, The Changes was based upon Peter Dickinson’s best selling trilogy of sci-fi novels: The Weathermonger, Heartsease and The Devils’ Children. It tells the tale of Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams) who is sat happily at home doing her English homework when a strange noise turns everyone against machines. Nicky’s homework is forgotten as she joins mum and dad in trashing the telly, radio and kitchen equipment. Outside ordinary folk have gone Basil Fawlty on cars, trucks and vans.

Image sourced from johnlprobert.blogspot.co.uk

Image sourced from johnlprobert.blogspot.co.uk

In the…

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Frankenstein: The Metal Opera: Q&A with Composer and Writer Richard Campbell

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Images provided by Richard Campbell

Images provided by Richard Campbell

So, my Hothouse Flowers, what happens when Gothic horror, grand opera and heavy metal collide? Frankenstein: The Metal Opera that’s what, and what’s more it’s coming to a theatre in London’s East End on Halloween, too.

News of all this excess was too good to ignore so The Horror Hothouse‘s Simon Ball tracked down composer and writer Richard Campbell at his secret laboratory deep within the fog streaked gaslit alleys of Shoreditch (in reality Orpheus Studios on Kingsland Road aka Pho Mile thanks to the number of excellent Vietnamese restaurants nearby).

Horror and metal are such natural bedfellows, but what was it that so intrigued Richard about Frankenstein?  

“The project began when I was looking for a story to use for my second album,” Richard explained. “My previous album had been a rock opera, based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, and I wanted to stay in concept album territory as…

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Our Lady of The Streets Review

Originally posted on The Horror Hothouse:

Image sourced from jofletcherbooks.com

Image sourced from jofletcherbooks.com

So, the goddess Mater Viae has returned to London and the city’s streets are convulsing as their very infrastructure of pipe, cable and wire are imbued with life. Here and there, pockets of humanity hang on hiding from Mater Vrae’s henchmen, the Masonry Men, creatures of clay that can travel through the ground at breakneck speed, and Mater Viae from her throne in Canary Wharf needs humans to complete her dastardly plan for world domination.

All kinds of strange creatures share this world with the humans; methane dragons from the drains called Sewermanders, animate statues of saints and angels, beings of electric light and Gutterglass, a creature formed of garbage and vermin. Humanity’s only hope is Beth: a teenager who has been infected by London, her skin a mass of roof tiles, train tracks and tarmac, even her voice is the sound of the city; car horns and engine noise, and her sidekick Pen…

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