The Friday Afternoon Movie: Hammer Double Feature

It’s the week before Halloween people, so that means horror movies on the FAM. All horror from here to the witching hour (or twice, for those counting their Fridays). Today the FAM presents a double feature unabashedly ripped off from TCM’s programming schedule from the past month, comprised of two fine films from the classic Hammer Film Productions: The Devil’s Bride (or The Devil Rides Out in the UK) from 1968 and The Gorgon from 1964, both directed by Terence Fisher and both starring Christopher Lee, along with fellow Hammer superstar Peter Cushing in The Gorgon. Additionally, Devil’s Bride features a screenplay by Richard Matheson (author of I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come, among others, as well as a host of well-known Twilight Zone episodes) based on the novel The Devil Rides Out by Devil Dennis Wheatley.

Hammer is perhaps best known for their slightly more graphic takes on famous Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy, as well as interpretations of The Phantom of the Opera, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Robin Hood, and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde which featured a troupe of actors (most notably Lee and Cushing) and directors perhaps the most famous of whom was Fisher. The studio is also responsible for a great number of films without the benefit of well-known subjects and The Devil’s Bride and The Gorgon are two of the best examples of this.

The Devil’s Bride, for all it’s new-age influenced Satan-worshiping cheese is surprisingly effective, not only for Charles Gray’s turn as the villainous Mocata but for the quiet menace of the entity who he serves. Indeed, the best scenes feature mostly silent specters, such as the demon in the observatory. The Gorgon may be even more of a success, transplanting the traditional Greek myth of the Gorgon to turn-of-the-century Middle Europe and features some absolutely stunning work from cinematographer Michael Reed. And while the titular Gorgon may seem campy by today’s standards, she is incredibly effective in the brief glimpses leading up to her reveal.

Hammer’s horror films are some of the defining examples of the genre and, at the time, were shocking in their depictions of violence and sexuality. By the end of the 60s Hammer’s formula had lost most of its punch however, and the release of low-budget films like The Night of the Living Dead and Hollywood productions like The Wild Bunch made the studio’s offerings look downright tame. Still, the quality of the acting and production combined with an almost perfect level of camp makes these films a nessecity in any horror buff’s education.

2 Responses to “The Friday Afternoon Movie: Hammer Double Feature”

  1. Mer Says:


    Love this. You’re making me homesick for fall, Ross.

  2. Phil Says:

    Did you know that Mocata was based on Aleister Crowley, who Wheatley had met at least once? I reviewed this film at Horror News, here’s the link if you want to see it. But I won’t take it personally if you don’t.
    I love this blog btw and visit it regularly. Great work.