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YMMV / Hammer Horror

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  • Audience-Alienating Era: With the rise of the New Hollywood movement in the late '60s, Hammer could no longer just compete with their sanitized, Hays Code-era Hollywood horror competition on sex and violence alone. The studio didn't truly start hurting, however, until 1972, as Hammer's Dracula franchise fell into its own Dork Age with Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, before the failure of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires in 1974 drove a stake through production of all future vampire movies at the studio. After that, Hammer spent The '70s going out with a whimper as the Gothic Horror films that used to be their bread and butter faded from mainstream relevance in the face of a changing horror landscape, culminating in the company going into receivership in 1979 after several years trying to keep up with the times. Among other things, they spent their final years churning out feature-film adaptations of British sitcoms. Much like their famous vampire however, they rose from the grave in 2011 with several horror hits like the Foreign Remake of Let the Right One In (Let Me In) and The Woman in Black.
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  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Some criticize Hammer for allowing increasingly salacious content in their movies, but there would generally only be a couple minutes at most of actual nudity in any given film.
  • Cult Classic: Hammer's early horror films were often hugely successful in theaters, but many of the studio's later projects such as Vampire Circus and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter failed to find an audience in their day and are now considered cult classics, remembered and celebrated by a dedicated selection of horror fans. In general Hammer's films, even the most successful ones, aren't nearly as well-known nowadays as the older Universal Horror films or newer horror films like Halloween (1978), at least the United States, making the studio's output as a whole a bit of a cult interest.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Christopher Lee's Count Dracula, of course.
    • Ingrid Pitt was this for the guys in the 'Karnstein Trilogy', in which she played Mircalla Karnstein, cheerily drinking the blood of men and women alike.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, while the Baron has already blackmailed a young couple and murdered several innocents, this could still be justified in his own twisted logic as part of his quest for scientific progress. The rape of Anna pushes him well past this point as the act is unnecessary for anything except his own gratification. The rape scene was added by the producer who thought the movie needed "more sex." No one involved wanted to do it. Peter Cushing took actress Veronica Carlson out to dinner as an apology. Carlson's friend Roger Moore had to stop by the set to cheer her up before shooting. Director Terence Fisher walked off the set in the middle of the scene and the producer finished shooting it himself. Since no one wanted the Baron to do this, should it be counted? Well as the page says, YMMV.
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  • Seasonal Rot: Given the sheer number of movies we're talking about, dips in quality are inevitable, though which periods suffered from the most rot is debatable. In general, Taste the Blood of Dracula is often pointed to as the beginning of a subpar run of Dracula movies while The Evil of Frankenstein is the low point of the Frankenstein series. On a broader scale, the studio's output from the 1970s isn't nearly as well-regarded as what came out of the previous two decades.
  • Special Effect Failure: Stuffed bats on strings, for example.
    • This was actually part of the reason that it's outright stated in Hammer's Dracula that vampires don't change shape. Regrettably, they changed their mind.
    • Vampire Circus has everything from bad jump cuts and awful day-for-night footage to horrible composite footage of live bats bluescreened into the sky and a seemingly rocket-propelled cross that jams itself through a vampire horizontally when it's meant to just be falling straight down.
  • Theiss Titillation Theory: Shows up sometimes, particularly in the caveman epics. It's astonishing that Victoria Vetri didn't bounce right out of her top every time she moved in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Peter Cushing said that no matter the quality of the script, he would treat every Hammer film with the same respect he would Shakespeare.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • Never Take Sweets From a Stranger was released in 1960, and the subject matter — child molestation — was apparently a bit too much for audiences at the time. It was a commercial failure (as Hammer producer James Carreras said, "Message pictures? I tried one – Never Take Sweets from a Stranger. Nobody bought it. I'm not an artist. I'm a businessman."), but in the years since it has come to be seen as a groundbreaking film, and one of Hammer's best.
    • More generally, while Hammer's early movies were popular with audiences, they were extremely unpopular with critics, who wrote them off as foul crimes against cinema due to their violent content and morbid themes, barring them from any serious discussion of British film. It wasn't until later years that a critical reassessment of these movies began to take place, accepting them not just as pulp genre fiction but as some of the most technically innovative and well-crafted films coming out of Britain at the time.
    • Countess Dracula is seen as significantly better than most of Hammer's other releases in the 70s due to it being an original story (despite the title, it's not really part of the Dracula series), not gratuitous with the nudity and being quite sophisticated in parts.