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Hammer Time at Gateway Film Center

George Wolf George Wolf Hammer Time at Gateway Film CenterCaptain Kronos: Vampire Hunter - Photo via IMDb
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If you’re finally ready to donate those old parachute pants you never wear, stop.

August is Hammer time.

For the entire month, Gateway Film Center will feature Horrors of Hammer, a retrospective of iconic British genre studio Hammer Films. The Film Center will present 12 carefully chosen titles, with select entries screening on 35mm film.

Founded in November 1934, Hammer is one of the oldest film companies in the world and is synonymous with horror, after defining the genre in Britain with classics such as Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy, which spawned numerous sequels.

“I am so excited that these films are coming to Columbus and the Film Center, both as a programmer and as a fan,” says Gateway Film Center President Chris Hamel. “I grew up watching these gothic horror stories and I cannot wait to present them in our screening rooms and to participate in the conversations that follow. The Film Center will screen three of these on 35mm and feature drink specials in The Torpedo Room as well.”

Gateway programming committee member Brandon Thomas helped curate the retrospective, and he’s looking forward to giving the studio an overdue spotlight.

“Hammer is sometimes unfairly overshadowed by Universal’s classic monster movies,” Thomas explains. “Hammer’s contributions to the genre were just as good – and in some instances better – than Universal’s iconic films. A big screen retrospective is the best kind of reminder of just how exciting – and beautiful – Hammer’s films are.”

Hope Madden, Columbus film critic and Gateway board member, feels the retrospective will give viewers the chance to see many Hammer films again for the first time.

“These are movies that beg to be seen with a crowd of people on a big screen,” Madden says. “Hammer films are so gorgeous, but for most people, they’re something you might have only caught on TV as a kid. It will be great to see these sets and costumes in all their glory.”

Thomas agrees.

“Hammer’s films were always a little edgier, a little gorier and a little sexier,” Thomas says. “There was also a strong emphasis on visuals. The sets and production design are eye-popping, and who can forget Christopher Lee’s first bloody-fanged moment as the deadly Count Dracula?”

The program will feature 12 films focused on the prime Hammer era, 1957–1975. To make the features easy to see, the Center will maintain a schedule of daily screenings for all films in the program at 7:00 p.m. with an additional 2:00 p.m. matinee presented on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

As an added Friday, August 13 bonus, the Film Center will offer a one-night only “Modern Hammer” presentation featuring Let Me In (2010) from filmmaker Matt Reeves and the 2019 chiller The Lodge from co-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz.

While Madden denies there was any temptation to title this series Too Legit to Quit, she relishes the cheeky joy found in many Hammer titles.

“Some of Hammer’s films are undeniable classics, but my favorites are the others—the trashier ones,” Madden admits. “Even their classics—The Horror of Dracula, The Mummy—are a little bloodier, a little more ribald than the classic monster tales that came before them. But I’m so excited to see Vampire Lovers and Twins of Evil. They’re such campy fun.”

Pressed for their personal favorite, both Hamel and Thomas say the captain makes it happen – Captain Kronos, which they all demanded be included in the program.

“There is so much to see and appreciate during this program,” Hamel says. “From the 1950s-1970s Hammer re-imaged some of the greatest horror film characters of all-time with a gothic style and lush color schemes. They’re amazing works of art and so fun to watch.”

Horrors of Hammer lineup:

  • 8.1 – 8.3.21 Horror of Dracula (1958)
  • 8.4 – 8.6.21 Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
  • 8.7 – 8.9.21 Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)
  • 8.10 – 8.12.21 The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
  • 8.13.21 Modern Hammer: Let Me In (2010)
  • 8.13.21 Modern Hammer: The Lodge (2019)
  • 8.14 – 8.16.21 The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
  • 8.17 – 8.19.21 Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) on 35mm film
  • 8.20 – 8.22.21 The Mummy (1959)
  • 8.23 – 8.25.21 The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
  • 8.26 – 8.28.21 The Vampire Lovers (1970) on 35mm film
  • 8.29 – 8.31.21 Twins of Evil(1971) on 35mm film

Regular ticket prices apply. MyGFC members are admitted to all screenings at no additional charge. Tickets are available at gatewayfilmcenter.org.

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