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Hammer Film Productions

Production Company

Main image of Hammer Film Productions

Hammer Films was created in 1934 by theatre entrepreneur and actor William Hinds (stage name Will Hammer) and Spanish born Enrique Carreras, owner of film distribution company Exclusive Films.

During the 1930s and '40s, the company released a great many films of varying subjects and quality. The Paul Robeson vehicle Song of Freedom (d. J. Elder Wills, 1936) was one of the best known until the Dick Barton series in the late 1940s.

Hammer didn't really hit on a winner, though, until it bought the rights to the TV sci-fi/horror hit The Quatermass Experiment (filmed as The Quatermass Xperiment, d. Val Guest, 1955). By this time, the founders' sons James Carreras and Anthony Hinds had taken over the reins at the studio and recognised that the horror genre could put Hammer on the map.

The 'Hammer House of Horror' brand was born with the cult film The Curse of Frankenstein (d. Terence Fisher,1957) - Britain's first colour horror film - a massive box office success which made stars of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Subsequent hits included Dracula (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) and The Mummy (1959) - all directed by Fisher - and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (d. Michael Carreras, 1964).

Despite critical hostility, Hammer was one of the few film companies to thrive during the 1950s and '60s. It was the only British company with a guarantee of US distribution and in 1968 it picked up the Queen's Award for Industry for its success in bringing in American dollars. Curiously, Hammer's biggest commercial hit was the TV spin-off On the Buses (d. Harry Booth, 1971).

Although Hammer's style was considered vulgar and sensationalist in its day, its films were immensely popular with audiences, not least because of the way they brought out the previously disguised sexual subtexts of Gothic horror. Today, their cult status ensures the Hammer legend survives.

Lou Alexander

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Vampire Circus (1971)Vampire Circus (1971)

Bloody, erotic horror taking Hammer's vampire cycle into new territory

Thumbnail image of Hammer House of Horror (1980)Hammer House of Horror (1980)

Horror series about supernatural goings-on in the present day

Related collections

Thumbnail image of Hammer HorrorHammer Horror

How a small studio brought new blood to the British horror film

Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Carreras, Michael (1927-1994)Carreras, Michael (1927-1994)

Producer, Director, Writer

Thumbnail image of Carreras, Sir James (1909-1990)Carreras, Sir James (1909-1990)

Producer, Executive

Thumbnail image of Francis, Freddie (1917-2007)Francis, Freddie (1917-2007)

Director, Cinematographer, Producer

Thumbnail image of Hinds, Anthony (1922-2013)Hinds, Anthony (1922-2013)

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Thumbnail image of Lee, Christopher (1922-)Lee, Christopher (1922-)


Thumbnail image of Nelson Keys, Anthony (1911-1985)Nelson Keys, Anthony (1911-1985)

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