FANEX Film Conventions were held in Baltimore/Washington D.C. from 1984 through 2004. Over that time, hundreds of actors and filmmakers from the world of classic horror films attended and spoke, to the delight of their many fans who traveled from across North America to see them. The iconic and sexy stars at Hammer Films distinguished themsleves as fan favorites over the years. Despite having to endure grueling transatlantic flights, they always arrived cheerful and ready to answer questions and sign autographs.
Hammer Films was the undisputed capital of horror in the 1950s and 60s, filling a void left when American studios fell in love with flying saucers, aliens and atomic mutants. Between the golden age of cinema horror in the 1930s and 40s, when Universal Studios introduced the four immortal icons of movie terror (Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy and Frankenstein's Monster) and the big budget horror revival of the 1970s and 80s (sparked by The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street,) Hammer Films was the only refuge for fans of the macabre who were eager to quench their thirst for classic chills. The small British studio did the unthinkable, taking the most famous of the old black-and-white monster tales and remaking them in blood-curdling color.
This fascinating documentary tells the story of the talented people behind and in front of the cameras at the Hammer Film Studios. Their prodigious output made household names of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, arguably the greatest fright duo since Lugosi and Karloff. Filled with shocking clips, terrifying trailers, and fascinating interviews with cast and crew culled from twenty years of the FANEX Film Convention archives, this film is a horror fan's delight!
Featuring Appearances by Christopher Lee, Veronica Carlson, Ingrid Pitt, James Bernard, Val Guest, Jimmy Sangster, Freddie Francis, Caroline Munro, Virginia Wetherall, Michael Ripper, Barbara Shelley
Recorded at FANEX 4 (1990), FANEX 8 (1994), FANEX 11 (1997), Monster Rally (1999), FANEX 15 (2002)
Special Commentary by Jon Kitley, Streebo Majic, Aaron Christenson, Gary J. Svehla, Dwight Kemper
Although the studio had been around since the mid 1930s, briefly halting its production through World War II, it wasn't until 1955 and the release of THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, released stateside as THE CREEPING UNKNOWN, that Hammer Film Productions hit its stride, discovering what would become its most profitable and memorable genre: horror. Aided by the classically trained Peter Cushing and the undeniable presence of Christopher Lee, Hammer Films found success in their resurrecting and updating of such classic monsters as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy. Standing out from the crowd with its liberal doses of both gore and nudity, Hammer flourished throughout the 1960s and early 1970s with such memorable films as ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, COUNTESS DRACULA and THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH. Continuing its series of meditative documentaries on cult film trends and heavy hitters, The Fanex Files blends archival video interviews, behind-the-scenes photographs, quad posters and lobby cards with talking head commentators to present an expansive look back at the studio that dripped blood.
The first half of the documentary is spent on the life and careers of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and rightfully so as they would quickly become the most recognizable faces for the studio, starring in their most successful and memorable vehicles. While there are no interviews with Cushing included, numerous colleagues and friends are present to provide insight into his career and craft. Especially endearing are remarks by his friend and co-star, Christopher Lee, particularly his remembrance of their fondness for the old Warner Brothers cartoons. Lee even briefly provides a bit of comedic relief with a small taste of his impression of Sylvester the cat. The film makes its way through the series of Frankenstein films before turning its attention on Hammer's other icon of horror, Dracula, and its star Christopher Lee. Running down the series of Dracula pictures, the documentary makes only brief stops to highlight a handful of Christopher’s non-blood sucking roles such as Sir Henry in Terence Fishers THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. The film features several entertaining clips of an extended interview with Lee as he reflects on both his accomplishments and his regrets, such as his displeasure with several of the Dracula sequels, which he felt strayed too far from the roots of Bram Stoker’s novel.—DVD Drive-In
Any fan of classic b-movies, and in particular the films of Hammer studios will absolutely want to have this DVD in their collection. The behind the scenes stories from Christopher Lee about his amazing friendship with Peter Cushing is worth the price alone.—ROGUE CINEMA