Three Standalone Hammers

No clever intro this time: I’m clearing my backlog of Hammer movie reviews, here’s a review of three which don’t fit into any neat category.

The Nanny

After What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was a surprise hit, Bette Davis was more than happy to spend a chunk of her late career cashing in on her newfound acclaim as a horror villain. After all, the performance she and Joan Crawford had pulled off in Baby Jane had kicked off a brief micro-genre of psychological horror movies with older women as malevolent figures – why not exploit that, when the industry was otherwise all too willing to leave aging actresses on the shelf? That’s how she ended up starring in this 1966 Seth Holt film, which ended up being Hammer’s last black and white feature.

We open with Bette’s character – referred to simply as “Nanny”, for that is the capacity in which she’s hired by her employers – enjoying a happy little walk through her local park before she enters the home of her employers, the Fane family. As soon as she steps inside, the contrast between the miserable atmosphere inside the house and the happy outdoor scene is brutally obvious.

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“How Long Does a Franchise Live?”

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

There are few species that Hollywood is more keen to preserve than a good SF or horror franchise. Few genre films emerge these days without at least someone in the money chain keeping an eye on the sequel potential; and those that do not pass muster today are reappraised frequently by those hoping for a juicy remake. This wasn’t always the case, of course – whilst now series of films are carefully cultivated, there once was a much more chaotic time when they were allowed to grow unmanaged, like weeds. Take, for instance, the example of the original Fly movies; like Jeff Goldblum in David Cronenberg’s remake, they began looking pretty decent, but with subsequent iterations became increasingly unbearable to watch…

The Fly

On my Blu-Ray copy of the 1958 version of The Fly 20th Century Fox has gone out of its way to make sure all the cover artwork and the art on the menu screen is in black and white, presumably to avoid people accidentally thinking this is the 1980s Fly from David Cronenberg; this misses a trick, though, considering how actually this was a colour feature – in fact, it’s a full-colour widescreen extravaganza, which by 1950s standards means it was a decidedly high-budget affair for a genre movie – particularly one with subject matter as gruesome for its time (and still gruesome in its implications today) as this one.

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