The Nightmare Of Collecting Hammer
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.