Hammer Country Concludes

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John Carson in The Plague of the Zombies

The end of another October crammed with articles about horror films from Britain’s great beast of the genre, Hammer Film Productions. Like last year, I did a Hammer horror-post-a week for Black Gate. This month’s selections:

As I did last October, I mixed up the periods and the qualities of the movies and saved the best for the last slot: The Plague of the Zombies is underseen for such a great film in this horror subgenre. Thankfully, there’s a North American Blu-ray coming from Shout! Factory in January. Two of the films are from Terence Fisher, Hammer’s great horror practitioner, but The Phantom of the Opera and The Man Who Could Cheat Death are among his weakest. Apologies for that, Terence, but I did two of your best last year. Hands of the Ripper is, hands down, (sorry) my favorite of Hammer’s 1970s output. I think I’ve watched it every October since I bought the Blu-ray.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll do Hammer October again next year. I still haven’t run out of titles, but I may do the Hammer Frankenstein movies as an article series once I finish my John Carpenter retrospective, and that will more than fill up the Hammer bill for the year.

The Best of Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett

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Earlier this year, I wrote an article about The Best of Edmond Hamilton, one of the volumes of DelRey’s influential “Classics of Science Fiction” paperback line from the 1970s. Black Gate was running a series of articles written by James McGlothlin covering all of the DelRey series. Since I had recently completed reading the Edmond Hamilton collection, I asked James if he wouldn’t mind if I contributed an entry. James not only didn’t mind, he was excited to have help with the endeavor. I also checked with Black Gate‘s editor John O’Neill because he’s often stated that Edmond Hamilton is his favorite pulp SF author.

I discovered it was impossible to write about The Best of Edmond Hamilton without also writing about Leigh Brackett, his wife and one of the great science-fantasy authors of the twentieth century. Not only did Brackett edit the collection celebrating her husband’s work—providing an unusually close perspective rarely found in anthologies—but Hamilton in turn edited The Best of Leigh Brackett that DelRey released a few months later. It was an important double tribute. Both writers died soon after, leaving the two collections as an interesting swap of letters of admiration.

After reading my Best of Edmond Hamilton article, James told me it only made sense for me to also tackle The Best of Leigh Brackett. I was glad to, with some apprehension. Leigh Brackett is on the short list of my favorite authors of all time, and I often find myself more nervous writing about someone who means so much to me. The emotional tangle and flood of knowledge makes it hard for me to tell if I’m writing clearly about the subject. There’s also the pressure I place on myself to write something I feel is worthy of a beloved author.

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