What up Nerds! So, let me get this out of the way…I am a fan of coffee table books. Have been since I was a kid. Lots of pictures, not a lot of words. It was the perfect balance for me. Now, as an adult, I do need a little more substance and information. It makes me more interesting at parties and good at Trivial Pursuit. Do people still play that? I digress. Coffee table books. Let me tell you how I landed this review.
Giant nerd Jim was sitting in his office when I strolled in and took a seat. My eyes were immediately drawn to the beautifully-bound book sitting on his coffee table. There it was…Christopher Lee as Dracula staring at me, his eyes intent on devouring a fair maiden. Oh, sweet prince of darkness…what is this piece of fine literature sitting before me? Well, I’ll tell you. The Hammer Vault, Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films by Marcus Hearn.
I picked this robust hard cover up and set it in my lap. Jim could see the delight in my eyes. I even asked permission. Can I? Jim nodded and off I went. Flipping through page after page, staring at the collection of images…set photos, props, script pages, promotional materials, head shots, newspaper clippings and so much more. There was also something else…an abundance of words. All grouped together on every page of the book. It sent a slight shiver down my spine. Hammer Films are about horror, flesh, fangs, monsters and such. There is no need for all these words. Show me the goods. I was torn. Set the book down and walk away, or give it a few more page flips? I flipped. And I continued to flip. I couldn’t get enough.
Then something unexpected happened – I started to read. The photo captions at first, then the history of the collection. I found myself reading more than I was looking at the pictures. It was all very strange at first. This is a coffee book, right? I thought so. I consider myself a horror guy. I’ve had a subscription to Fangoria since 1980. I thought I had a pretty good take on the Hammer world, but I have to say, Marcus Hearn’s book proved me wrong.
This book is a fantastic timeline of cinematic history. From the beginning of Hammer Films, to the process of transforming British television to the cinema, through the incredible catalog of films leading up to the current films being released. The book covers it all: The actors. The writers. The studios. The monsters. The mayhem. All of it. And what this book does most of all is educate and entertain the reader. If you think all Hammer is horror. Nope, not true. Mystery, suspense, war, drama, sci-fi, you name it, they filmed it. I actually learned things from this book. To the point of appreciating Hammer Films more than I would have thought. Who knew that once they brought the films to the audiences in the US that the studios here would copy the format and development of the films and just about put Hammer Films out of business? I just figured they ran out of things for Christopher Lee to do.
Kidding aside, this book brings all the goods. History, personal stories, gorgeous images and of course…boobs. Yes. There are boobs. And my favorite part of the book, the return of the Hammer banner. A brand new crop of films are being introduced to the public from Hammer Films. The Resident starring Christopher Lee, Let the Right One In remake Let Me In, and the upcoming The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. Yup, Harry Potter.
So, has Hammer returned? Only time will tell. In the meantime, be sure to pick this book up. It is so much more than a coffee table book. It is a history book wrapped in the guise of a coffee table book. And you know what? I loved every page-turning moment, and the words made the collection of images more entertaining. Do yourself a favor, pick this book up, put it in plain sight and let everyone enjoy the wonderful world of Hammer Films. I give this book 4.5 our of 5 Nerdskulls!
‘Till next time, Nerds!