Hammer Complete: The Films, The Personnel, The Company HC
Publisher: McFarland
Release Date: December 2018
Price: $95.00
Author: Howard Maxford
Format: 992 pgs., B&W Illustrations, 8.5"x11", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-4766-7007-2
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

In the 1950s while the major Hollywood studios’ interest shifted from horror to science fiction, the U.K.-based Hammer Films revived the classic literary (public domain) horror sagas of Frankenstein and Dracula in lurid living color.  While the budgets were tight, and the sets often chintzy, the best of the Hammer films benefited from strong casts led by the likes of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Though many Hammer films seem dated today, the best of them, like the 1958 Dracula (the studio’s second major horror production and its best-known here in the U.S. as Horror of Dracula) are among the very best films in their genre.

Needless to say Hammer films, especially the horror films, have attracted lots of attention and spawned lots of books, especially in the U.K.  In Hammer Complete, author (and self-confessed Hammer horror movie fan) Howard Maxford attempts an encyclopedic survey of the entire Hammer oeuvre, with articles on all the key films, actors, directors, cameramen, scriptwriters, designers, etc.

The problem with Maxford’s approach is baked into the alphabetically-sorted encyclopedia format, which makes even a casual perusal of this massive volume a daunting task.  However, Hammer Complete is a true treasure trove of information about all things Hammer.  If you want to know why the helmer of Horror of Dracula, Terrance Fisher, was able to produce such a classic, you will find in his entry in Hammer Complete a detailed examination of Fisher’s movie career, which began in 1933 and much of which was spent in the editing room, where he learned how to make a film move, and how to carefully build up suspense.

While Hammer Complete is more than a bit much for the casual fan, it would be a valuable resource for serious fans of classic Hammer horror and for libraries.

--Tom Flinn