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(Review originally written at 10 September 2008)

This is a rather nice 100 minutes lasting outline of the history of Hammer Film Productions ans simply a must-see for every Hammer movie lover.

I did not only wanted to see this documentary because of its subject and I'm a big fan of the Hammer studios movies but also because this was the last project Peter Cushing worked on. He died in the same year as the release of this documentary. He also sounded really old and just not 100% healthy during his narrations. The other part of he narration is being handled by his old buddy Christoper Lee. Together they starred in dozens of Hammer movies. It also feels right that this was Peter Cushing's last project, since he spend most of his career playing in Hammer movies and is also a reason why he is still so well known and loved, due to all the fine and iconic roles he has played in Hammer productions.

A lot of persons appearing in this documentary has died ever since so obvious the documentary is better than it could had been as it was made at this current day and time, although this movie also uses a lot of archived interviews. The documentary got made at the right time, after the Hammer reign had already ended.

It lets actors, directors, studio executives and everything in between speak about their own personal experiences and the history of the Hammer film studios, from the '30's to their peak at the '50's, '60's and '70's and the end later less successful years. It of course mostly focus on the horror productions, for which the Hammer studios are so well known. The movies had a very unique and distinctive style, which gave them a very large cult following, which was the reason why the Hammer movies were so successful at their time. They putted new life into the declining horror genre in the '50's.

The documentaries provides some unique behind the scenes footage and stories. It's also filled with footage from the actual movies and interviews with all those involved. It isn't just only about their successes but also about the bad choices they made and they also don't pretend like they were making "Citizen Kane" sort of movies at time and their movies were all perfect in every way thinkable.

The documentary is mostly insightful into the history of the Hammer studios and explains why they did things their way. It's perhaps not as insightful on the actually movies and some of its stars and directors, so just don't expect to learn a whole lot of new things about some of the Hammer classics.

Also the actual style of the documentary itself just isn't anything special. It's formulaic but pleasantly fast paced. It doesn't let one person needlessly say more than the other and the documentary features a wide variety of interviewees, which makes this a pleasant and always nice paced and told insightful documentary.

An essential movie for the Hammer lovers.

8/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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