Let me start by saying that this review has been a long time coming. Why? Because this book is huge! This 2019 release by McFarland is probably the definitive book on this subject and it is one that every horror fan, especially if you’re a fan of the classics, should have in their library.
Growing up, though I enjoyed the original Universal Studios’ monster movies, it was the Hammer versions of these very films that scared me. By the time I saw the Universal classics, as a child in the early 70’s, they already seemed dated, even at a young age. Even though they featured great actors and sets, to me, something was missing. I oftentimes found myself losing interest in the original DRACULA or FRANKENSTEIN while they were on and I would usually end up turning them off, which was frustrating to me. I needed my weekly monster fix on our local Creature Double Feature and these old black and white films just weren’t doing it for me. When the Hammer films came on though I was glued. The fast pacing, full color and amazing sets and acting just gave me what I was looking for, more than the films from 20 years prior. With that being said though, now that I am older I have developed a new appreciation for the classic Universal horrors.
This gigantic book, clocking in at 992 pages and weighing over 5 lbs, is the definitive encyclopedia of everything Hammer. If you want to know about the actors, it’s in there. If you want to know about the directors, it’s in there. The same holds true of every other aspect of these films. It also doesn’t concentrate on just the horror and science fiction pictures, for what they are best known for. Also listed are the dramas, musicals and television shows that the company produced during changing times.
The entries are very detailed and though you will likely just look up what interests you, you may just find yourself looking at the other entries, learning something new and perhaps causing you to want to seek out some of these other films. Just the entry on Hammer goes on for eight pages, and this is with each page having three columns with small print!
As far as the listings for the movies themselves, they are also very thorough. I have heard some negative feedback because the author will state if he feels that a movie is less than great and will point out why there are issues. For me this is not a problem as I acknowledge that this is the author’s opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone’s personal tastes are different.
Don’t let the price tag of this book discourage you either. In addition to it being a large book, the quality of the book is exceptional. It is hardcover with a nice tight spine that will stand up to the book being opened and closed repeatedly and the pages are crisp and clear. McFarland continues to live up to their reputation of producing not only great quality books, but the best books covering the horror and science fiction genres. You can order your own copy either through Amazon by going HERE or directly from McFarland by going HERE!
If you would like to read others in the Basement Bookshelf series, just click HERE.