Sunday, 13 May 2012

♥ "Hammer Time": Hammer Glamour by Marcus Heath ♥

"Transylvania, land of dark forests, dread mountains and black, unfathomed lakes. Still the home of magic and devilry as the nineteenth century draws to it's close. Count Dracula, monarch of all vampires, is dead, but his disciples live on, to spread the cult and corrupt the world. (Dracula Prince of Darkness)"
Well over fifty years ago now, Hammer House released the first of their iconic cult movies onto the silver screens of cinema. With films such as 'The curse of Frankenstein' & Christopher Lee's marvellous & darkly seductive performance in 'Dracula', Hammer gave birth to what could only be described as an new era of glorious technicolour horror featuring heaving, blood dripping & barely restrained cleavage, creepy monsters & ageless, classic stories re-told to an ever-changing audience. Hammer's censor-challenging mix of sex & horror broke the boundaries of cinema. With such unmistakable style & panache Hammer; a small, British company at the time, shot to world-wide fame!

I have always been a huge fan of the Hammer classics since I can remember, I grew-up watching  them... I too, much like my parents did when they were small, would sneak-out of the bedroom in the dead of night to catch a glimpse of a fanged count or a swampish creature, terrorising the undeserving occupants of a small, unknown town. Clinging only to my baby sister's hand, wearing our little, matching nighties & our long hair tousled with the past hour's attempted & failed efforts to fall asleep, we'd excitedly tippie-toe into the darkened lounge of our house into the awaiting darkness, no light to be detected, except for the flashing images of the on-screen horror...

Unlike the rather gratuitous, generic, formulaic & over-the-top violent 'horror' films of today, Hammer was one of the first of its kind to introduce horror like no other & in a way that it had never been witnessed before. No matter how cosy you were-all snuggled-up in the familiar surroundings of your home, Hammer's very essence of true, atmospheric horror & on-screen ghosts & ghouls, would leave you peeping behind yourself to see if anyone was there, fearing a full moon for the likely attack of a rampant werewolf & checking your neck in the middle of the night for the cursed bite-marks of Dracula. Although apart of the 'sexploitation' movement of cinema, Hammer didn't use bleach-blonde Barbies with San Tropez tans running & tripping over air in a forest; their double D's bouncing on impact. Their beauties were almost understated yet glamorous in every sense of the word.

In the true & unmistakable style of a bombshell, these back-combed, bouffant, doe-eyed, pouting & busty blondes & brunettes would take to the screen in wench dresses & bursting at the corset-seems gowns & nighties, waiting for their hero or their fate... These women of 60s British cinema were my style icons from a very young age. Whilst young men drooled & were captivated by their looks, I was taking mental notes on how to be & look just like these ladies of the silver screen. I found ways to emulate their style as I grew up & when other girls were transforming their conservative school uniforms into that of a provocative & maturing teen, Britney Spears & fumbling through page after page of celebrity fashion mags to see who was wearing what this very second, I was on the internet searching for old movies posters & pictures & trying to get hold of Hammer DVDs. I was determined to be a beauty of old & keep that style of old-school beauty alive.

My search lead me to the downstairs, back corners of 'Forbidden Planet' in Shaftesbury Avenue, just before Covent Garden. My boyfriend & I had just come from our usual DVD splurge at Fopp; a few shops before & I was on the look out for more finds. Right there in-front of my uncharacteristically tired for a Saturday afternoon eyes, was a book I had mentally created as a young girl! It was as if somebody wrote it for me; that or they found a way through all the glitter, pink hearts, winged unicorns & roses in my mind & accessed my beauty data, therefore creating a book of it all! Either way, invaded or not, this was what I had been looking for, for years. The book was spotlighted on a stand & was surrounded by copies of itself. It read; 'Hammer Glamour' classic images from the archive of Hammer film... I skipped towards the shelf & embraced the book in all it's glory. I had to purchase it & that I did!

We spent the rest of our day walking round the shops, having dinner out & going for a lovely, long, romantic night drive. Every now & then the thought & image of my find would pop-into my head & I'd squeal with excitement! I hadn't felt like that about a book since my previous find; 'Pretty Things', a bountiful book of burlesque that my beautiful boyfriend has surprised me with just before our dinner at 'Retsina' in Belsize Park, years ago now, on what was our 6 month anniversary! He often talks about that moment in delight at the sheer joy on my face, bless him. Yet I explain to him with truth & sincerity, again & again, that although I love these sort of things, nothing in this world compares to his love. For me, the best gift I have ever received was that of his heart, trust & love!

Yet another beautiful day with my man had passed & I was dropped-off home in our car. As that oh- so familiar feeling of "aaaawwwww *sniff*, I miss him soooooooo much" weighed down my heart & sank it to the depths of my tummy, I made my way inside my family home & into my room. Like a newborn baby, I gently & delicately lay my book onto my bed. After I chatted to my man on his way home, I ripped open that bag & began my journey into the world of 'Hammer Glamour'...

An hour had passed when I 'came-to'. I was suddenly bumped-back into reality by the sound of my lovely parents asking me if I wanted a drink :-) As I looked down at my lap, I realised that I had fumbled through all of the pages & was at the very end of the book... I was left feeling so happy & excited at the thought that I'd spend the next day attempting to recreate some of the most desired styles of these starlets.
Come on you lot!!! You can order your very own copy of the book directly from its publishers at 'Titan' or on 'Amazon' right away. Trust me, you won't regret it one bit! This book is bursting with rare & previously unpublished photos of some of the greatest ladies of Hammer Horror. From the Hammer Archive & private collections worldwide, full coloured & lavish images of the late Ingrid Pitt, Martine Beswick & Raquel Welch & her fashionista-worthy fur bikini in one 'Million years B.C', amongst others, await... Me thinks this will sit very proudly indeed on your dressing table...

Get your introduction of some of the female stars of Hammer Horror in this YouTube tribute video:

So cover your necks, put-up that string of garlic & polish that crucifix, cause Dracula & his army of the undead are back in town... Until next time...


Lots of Love,
Lover-Doll Presley.
x TCB x

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