ICONS OF HORROR - Hammer Films
from Sony Pictures

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb
The Gorgon
Scream of Fear

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll is a turn-about on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale witha subtle twist. This seldom seen Hammer film turned up at our local B-movie palace in 1965, at which time I was unable to attend, so I had to wait 44 years to see this highly stylish film from Hammer's in-house genius Terrence Fisher. This flick twists and turns, and has a surprise ending to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Next up on the program is The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. This sequel to Hammer's first Mummy remake starring Christopher Lee comes five years after the bandaged one sank to a watery grave in an English swamp. This time out it's a different mummy named Ra-Antef, played by Dicke Owen, who fell into the sewer used as a set piece for the film's climax and had to have his mummy wraps cut loose by hammer's veteran make-up wizard Roy Ashton. The cast sports Ronald Howard, the son of famed actor Leslie Howard who scored big with the classic Warner Brothers show The Petrified Forest, which co-starred Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart (who star Leslie Howard insisted reprise his stage role as "Duke" for this classis gangster flick). Fred Clark plays a P.T. Barbym type who tries to take the mummy on a international tour, much to the Wrapped One's displeasure. The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb was released in 1964 with the next show in the box set, The Gorgon, whic is the double bill that this scribe saw at te World Theater 45 years ago.

The Gorgon is a tour de force duel of Hammer's top stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, set against a background of the Medusa legens, in which three sisters were Gogons whose heads were adorned with snakes and turned all who gazed upon them into stone. Hammer favorite Barbara Shelley plays the human half of Megaera, while Prudence Hyman doubles as Megaera in the Gorgon make-up. Leading lady Shelley would score for Hammer in such following films as Dracula Prince of Darkness, Rasputin the Mad Monk, and Quatermass and the Pit (U.S. title Five MIllion Miles to Earth).

Scream of Fear (the U.S. title; it was known as Taste of Fear throughout the rest of the world) is the last offering in this box set. Starring the late Susan Strasberg (daughter of famed Method Acting teacher Lee Strasberg), this black and white thriller has more twists and turns that one of the Gorgon snakes. Fine performances from Ann Todd, Ronald Lewis, with a special appearance by Hammer fave Christopher Lee. While some viewers may prefer the color horror films to the psychological thrillers, this one has a tight enjoyable script by in-house wonder kid Jimmy Sangster, who also produced this show.

This Hammer collection from Columbia Pictures has something for everyone who has been a fan of this highly respected British studio.

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