Archive for the ‘Hammer Horror’ Category


April 8, 2013 - 3:43 pm 2 Comments

Author: Stephen Volk
Publisher: Spectral Press
Page count/size: Novella length
Release Date: April 2013
Reviewer: Andy Angel

It is 1971. A man, sad, broken and devastated by the loss of his wife walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent. He is approached by a 10 year old boy who wants his help.

The man is Peter Cushing but the boy recognises him as Van Helsing, the vampire hunter he has played on the silver screen. He needs ‘Van Helsing’ to save him from his mother’s boyfriend who he believes is a vampire that comes to him in the night.

This novella has several things in its favour; the first, and strongest (for me) is the sense of loss in the character of Peter Cushing. It is only a month or so after the death of his wife and it is really hitting him hard. He doesn’t want to have to face people, he doesn’t want to interact with the world. The depth of feeling with this character is so strong that you may just want to reach into the pages of the book to console him.

The second is the horror of the boys’ story and his skin crawling nastiness of the mothers’ boyfriend. Cushing may have vanquished all kinds of monsters at the movies but will he be able to stand against the monster in the real world?

The final meeting between the two takes place in a cinema where one of Cushing’s movies is playing while they face off and this is very cleverly done. It gives a very real sense of reality to the event, flicking from Cushing the Big Screen Hero, to Cushing The Man, back and forth and on and on. Trust me, tense doesn’t even come close.

This is a wonderfully written and absorbing novella that, in my opinion, deserves to be a massive success.

This novella is a work of fiction written to mark the centenary of the birth of Peter Cushing and as such is a worthy tribute to a great actor.

Vampire Circus

November 20, 2012 - 3:04 pm No Comments

Vampire Circus Author: Mark Morris Publisher: Hammer Page count/size: 344pp Release Date: 4th Oct 2012 Reviewer: Theresa Derwin Working with Arrow Books, Hammer films have expanded on their recent ventures into films by treading water in the horror literature genre. They have started by releasing new novelisations of classic Hammer Horror films introducing some original fiction too. Vampire Circus by Mark Morris is a new, fresh and modern take on the classic film. This edition includes an introduction by film Director Robert Young. The novel starts as two young girls, Jenny and Lynn, enter Mitre House, at a time when local children are mysteriously disappearing. On the road home from school, the two girls meet creepy teacher Mrs Miller who offers one of the girls a ride home. Chris Blaine has been hired to follow Anna Miller, as her husband believed she was having an affair. Blaine is shocked to see Anna taking young Jenny to Mitre House, the local haunted and apparently abandoned building. Ten years later, his memories of searching Mitre House having evaporated, Dr Jon Kersh, friend to Nick (Anna’s widower) notices a strange illness attacking the residents of Shettle, leaving him confused, exhausted and feeling helpless. Nick begins to think that he is losing his mind, after all, he sometimes forgets his wife Anna dies, or even that he had a wife. A miasma of illness swirls around Shettle, as a barrier that stops the locals from leaving town, and outsiders entering town. At the same time, a strange circus has arrived, with calliope music in the air and a dwarf littering the local school with flyers; no-one is able to resist its lure. But what dangers lurk behind the fun veneer? Reminiscent of Funhouse by Richard Laymon, with all the circus tropes present, Vampire Circus lovingly recreates the atmosphere and scenery of the classic Hammer tales, whilst putting a new spin on it. The characters are well drawn, the tension mounts and there are some nicely gruesome bits to please traditional horror fans. Morris has written a truly enjoyable yarn that entertains on every level. This is the future of Hammer.


October 20, 2012 - 3:16 pm No Comments

Author: Tim Lebbon
Publisher: Hammer
Page count/size: 632pp
Release Date: 11th Oct 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

In the Appalachian mountain deep beneath the earth is a subterranean facility called Coldbrook, after its founder Bill Coldbrook, scientist and inventor. Bill is now dead, having committed suicide, so the facility is now run by Jonah Jones aged 76 years, sleep deprived and haunted by nightmares of a plague ridden burning world. And within Coldbrook is the breach, a gateway to another Earth, another universe, where strange creatures exist, and those living creatures who attempt to enter Bill’s version of earth are immediately killed with Holly’s device, the eradicator.
Celebrating the discovery of the breach with his colleague Bill, Vic Pearson seems assured of their place in the history books. All experiments are progressing well, that is until the shambling humanoid creature which comes through the breach isn’t stopped after three attempts at the eradicator. Holly assumes the creature is human, but there is something so very wrong with that assessment, which she realises as the thing attacks a fellow scientist with claws and teeth. Coldbrook is thrown into lockdown, but not before Vic can escape through a duct to try and be with his family, and not before Holly runs to the alternate earth to escape the monster, and not before . . . something, escapes the facility.
The other side of the breach, as seen through Holly’s eyes, is extraordinary, as is one of the ‘locals’ she meets.
In this z-poc thriller, Lebbon brings something new and original to the genre with his alternate universes and the breakdown of society he explores as the world is devoured in disease and decay. This is an apocalypse on a grand scale, reminiscent of King’s The Stand or The Mist, brutal, gruesome and an honest portrayal of the reactions of humanity in the midst of death and destruction.
Events are initially relayed through radio broadcasts, which add realism and an extra dimension to the novel. We often see the disaster striking a variety of places across the world and this makes the book a groundbreaking piece of work, and most certainly an original take on this well harvested genre.
The apocalyptic visions and survivors fights are vicious and gripping. Though a little long, it is still well paced and incredibly visual, reminding me of an epic mini-series. Despite the feel of it being ‘epic’ Lebbon still creates vivid characters through an ensemble ‘cast’, which breathes life and individuality into the book. In fact, as mentioned earlier, through its brutal imagery, plot construction and strong characterisation, I felt as though I were almost reading a middle period Stephen King book, if it were not for Lebbon’s distinctive authorial voice.
A truly breathtaking horror fantasy that had me reading into the wee hours of the morning in order to reach the end. Well done Mr Lebbon.

Halloween Comp

October 11, 2012 - 2:14 pm 3 Comments

Dear All

Do I ever have an amazing guveaway for you this Oct? Apart from my regular comp to win Jaine Fenn’s Downside Girls, this month I have TWO, YES TWO copies of Vampire Circus by Mark Morris to throw your way. Not only that, they’re SIGNED!!

So, what do you have to do I ask? Share this amazon link for my book on FB AND drop me an email and tell me what is your favourite monster and why?

The link you need to share is;

Many Thanks and good luck

Hammer Horror Homage

March 11, 2012 - 7:08 pm 2 Comments

Hell Train
Author: Christopher Fowler
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page count: 270pp
Release date: 5th Jan 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

“When the Devil was summoned to Earth, he built a train to take the damned to Hell”.

Deliciously devilish and thoroughly nostalgic, Hell Train is an old style Hammer Horror homage set initially in the Fall of 1966 as American screenplay writer Shane Carter is drafted in to writing a script for the failing Hammer studios. In typical portmanteau style, the 1966 scenes at Bray studios featuring appearances by Hammer regular creators and Cushing & Lee, cleverly frame the actual story which is Carter’s script.

The predominant story then is set in Eastern Europe, Carpathia, in 1916 during the height of WWI. Four passengers find themselves inadvertently trapped by fate on a train tearing through Eastern Europe to an unknown destination. To survive the journey with their souls intact they must face a trial against their own inner demons. Only the mysterious Conductor really knows where the train is travelling to.

Firstly, the intermittent scenes with Shane and other Hammer employees include interesting dialogues on the subtext of the ‘film’ within the novel including discussion about the portrayal of the different classes. And all of the Hammer tropes are here; the priest, the virgin, the arrogant aristocrat, the peasants who are revolting (maybe they should’ve had a bath heh heh) and the spooky European tavern. There is also a fare share of visceral gore for those who like a bit of blood, as well of the occasional dose of humour to lighten the mood.

I found myself grinning with childish delight the whole way through this novel, which really needs to be filmed. Are you listening Mr Fowler? In fact, after I finished it I was compelled to access my DVD collection and watch Dracula Prince of Darkness.

Quite simply, this is the best Hammer film that was never made! Get on board this gravy train.