The Nightmare Of Collecting Hammer

The Arts

After years of disastrous mismanagement, the revival of Hammer is finally something to be welcomed.

I saw most of the later Hammer films when they first came out in double bills. After many years, some of the cut versions were restored and the films were issued on DVDs. But the so-called ‘definitive’ and ‘collectors’ box sets are filled with a pick and mix selection of oddments and oddities, and are very far from being complete.

The problem is that even if you just wanted, say, the canonical Frankenstein and Dracula films, collecting them is a virtual impossibility. Hammer was bought and sold so many times for its back catalogue that it ruined the rights situation for the films, and the resulting mess has meant that the brand has never been properly exploited.

Instead of issuing, say the Peter Cushing set or the Christopher Lee series, the discs have been issued piecemeal in different formats of varying quality. As a result, the only way to assemble anything approaching a decent collection is to buy from different regions.

Let’s hope Hammer can clear the rights and restore the prints to something like definitive editions. If anyone has any tips of the best way of collecting Hammer, I’ll be happy to pass them on.

3 comments on “The Nightmare Of Collecting Hammer”

  1. Joyce says:

    When I was a little girl my dad used to work as an electrician in theatres and cinemas in London. He usually took me with him and, while he crawled around in asbestos laden places fixing wires etc, I was left to watch films all by myself. Lord knows what time of the day it would have been but I do remember the projectionists (dad’s mates) letting me choose the film. I loved Tweety Pie. The first film I ever saw was ‘The Mummy’ – I must have been about 4. I loved it and every Hammer horror I got to see afterwards. I can still recall the feeling of being right in the middle of the seats, on a cushion, feeling the film soundtrack go through me. Cinemas now are rubbish in comparison. Dad died of asbestos related cancer in 2006 which was a b.shame. Just a memory, thanks for letting me share. (I sound so old, I’m only 55!)

  2. Helen Martin says:

    I’ve read Joyce’s little story several times and enjoyed it each time. The asbestos part makes me, as a Canadian, feel guilty, even more since we are still mining and selling the stuff. The people who work there say that they should all be dieing of asbestosis, but they aren’t so the cancer risk must be fake or a plot to ruin another group of Francophones. (I made that last bit up.)It must be something that’s done to the mineral in the processing that makes it so dangerous.

  3. Joyce says:

    Trust me, that stuff kills. Yes, you are right – there are 3 common types which are manufactured using the raw material) and the worst one (I think it was called brown asbestos?)is the stuff that you inhale and absorb through the skin. You have to work directly with it for years with no protection to get cancer. Just thought I’d follow this up and bring it to an end.

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