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BOOK REVIEW: The Art of Hammer

11.12.2010by: Ammon Gilbert

A few months back a little coffee table book was released focusing on the women of Hammer Films entitled “NAME OF BOOK.” Now Titan Books is releasing another little coffee table book about the films of Hammer, a coffee table book any film fan would be proud to have in their living rooms: “THE ART OF HAMMER” (BUT IT HERE). Compiled and commented on by Marcus Hearn, “THE ART OF HAMMER” is a compilation of poster artwork from every single film released from 1950 thru 1979, the golden years of Hammer Films. If you’re a fan of movie posters in general, especially those of the hand-painted and artistic variety, then look no further than “THE ART OF HAMMER”, a book that not only highlights the golden years of Hammer, but the golden years of movie poster art, a time before any yahoo with photoshop could crank out a poster.


Kicking off with an introduction from Hearn as to why he put the book together in the first place and why poster art like this is important, the book is split up by decade, featuring the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s in chronological order. All films are presented with not only their U.S. poster, but posters from the U.K. and other international territories. The book guides you through the years when Hammer was making comedies and film noir action films, when Hammer rocked war films and prehistoric fantasy films, and (of course) when Hammer found its real niche in the horror genre. That’s right folks, every DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and MUMMY movie they ever made is here and then some.


Most of Hammer’s poster art was hand painted by artists that specialized in painting film posters. Along with tidbits about the year and who painted each poster, there are blips sporadically placed throughout the book describing some fun little insights into their creation. If the poster was complete before the artist ever saw a frame of footage, (THE MUMMY [1959]) that information’s here. If the only known copy of a poster belongs to someone famous, that’s in here too. Just fun little facts here and there in case you feel the urge to actually read more than the tagline presented on the posters themselves.


But don’t let all this talk about reading fool you. It’s a picture book first and foremost, a book with colorful images, images that seem to pop off of every glossy page, images that looks so fresh and crisp that you might even considering ripping a few pages from the book, framing them, and hanging them on your wall. The posters presented are amazing and will make any fan of poster art nostalgic for a time when there really was an art form behind creating the perfect movie poster, and not just some dude with Photoshop who cranked out a poster in a few minutes.


Posters for films like ONE BILLION YEARS B.C. (1966) with Raquel Welch, double-bills like CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), or TWINS OF EVIL (aka TWINS OF DRACULA) (1971), or WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970) and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968). Each of them classic in their own right, regardless of the quality of the films themselves.


If you love classic movie posters, especially those that are highly exploitive in their use of taglines or promises of things that the film would never actually deliver, then this book is for you. It’s a bonus if you’re a big fan of Hammer Films and enjoy the classic Christopher Lee / Peter Cushing mash-ups of your favorite monsters or blood-suckers. Their posters had a lot of heart and, even if you’ve never seen the films presented within (I’ll admit to seeing only a small fraction of them), the posters are still fun to look at, and all of which are amazing pieces of art in their own right. Pick up “THE ART OF HAMMER” today and get lost in the colorfully glossy pages of poster art from yesteryear, when the posters were as much fun (or funner) than the films themselves.



Source: AITH



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