Art of Hammer, The (Book)
Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Written by Marcus Hearn
Published by Titan Books
We know that many of our readers aren't old enough to remember the days of Hammer Studios, but during their heyday of the 1950's to the 1970's, Hammer produced controversial and explicit (for the era) horror films that made stars of people like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. With brightly colored designs and trademark brick-red blood splattering everything in sight, Hammer created a very specific moment in horror history that is much loved by fans even today, some forty-plus years later.
What most of you young 'uns don't know is that Hammer was known for its poster art as much as for its films. Hammer's poster designs were known for their sensationalism and beauty as well as their occasional controversy.
In The Art of Hammer: The Official Poster Collection from the Archive of Hammer Films author and Hammer expert Marcus Hearn has collected nearly 200 pages of gorgeous reproductions of Hammer poster artwork from the early 1950's through the studio's original demise in the late 1970's. Beginning with an illuminating written piece by Hearn that give a great deal of background to the world of Hammer poster art, we have a section for each decade of Hammer's history, beginning with 1950–1959.
The artwork here is, by and large, absolutely stunning. Hammer's posters were often works of art above and beyond the films they represented, sometimes even presenting details that didn't exist in the films themselves.
It should be noted that Hammer's output of films wasn't limited to horror. They also produced everything from sex comedies to action films so the posters reproduced in this volume represent those as well. Horror was always Hammer's bread and butter, though, and that's the bulk of what we have here: glorious reproductions of amazing horror-themed artwork.
This volume is also a wonderful piece of work. The dust cover features a striking painting from a poster for Dracula 1972 AD, but the book "case" (the book itself) is covered in blown-up and exaggerated artwork that accurately captures the over-the-top nature of Hammer horror. This is a coffee table book for the horror crowd with excellent glossy pages in a hefty hard-cover volume.
Your interest in this book is dependent on two things: your love of Hammer and your love of art. If you love Hammer and/or horror art, this is a must-have. If not, your interest will obviously be reduced dramatically. Either way, I heartily suggest a look at this volume as it is absolutely perfect in every way for what it is.
Titan has once again hit one out of the park with this book, a real love letter to fans of Hammer horror and, more, an era when movie posters were stand-alone works of art and not the product of studio marketing departments and Photoshop. Now that Hammer has returned, we can only hope that their beautiful poster style will return with their new films.
5 out of 5
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