October Is Hammer Horror Country


I belong to the class of people known as the “October Folk.” Our favorite month of the year is the tenth. It’s more than just a casual favorite—to us, the month feels more alive than others, the creative batteries are the most charged. It’s a social time but not a crowded time; an energetic period but not an exhausting one. It’s crisp, beautiful, and draped with the wonderful touch of the eerie we all need more of in our lives. Or at least the October Folk do.

Horror films are a major part of the celebration of October for us. But not any horror film will do. We each have special favorites that speak more of the season to us. For me, the special October seasoning comes from Hammer Film Productions, the British studio that from 1957 to 1976 crafted a special type of Gothic film. Hammer epitomizes the romanticized and fairy-tale terror that’s so pleasant to my palate this season.

Last year, I celebrated Hammer in October with weekly posts at Black Gate on different movies. Last year’s menu:

Today, we start anew. For week one, please welcome The Phantom of the Opera, Hammer’s 1962 version of the often-filmed Gaston Leroux novel. I try to balance these Hammer movie articles so I don’t cram together all the best each year—and this is one of the minor ones, despite Herbert Lom as the Phantom and Hammer’s best horror direction, Terence Fisher, at the helm.