Sunday, 6 October 2013

Mummies, Monsters, Mad Scientists... The Hammer Connection

An expedition to the Himalayas to catch a Yeti. Much of the story is set in a remote monastery. Wolfe Morris is in it. The Yeti turn out to be something no-one quite expected...
Not the Doctor Who story of 1967, but the Hammer film of The Abominable Snowman in 1957. It stars Peter Cushing - the movie Dr. Who and one of Hammer's most prolific actors.
Cushing's most famous role is probably that of Dr Frankenstein. Whilst the Universal series of films chose to follow the exploits of the Monster, Hammer elected to follow the not-so-good doctor. There was a different creature in each film. One of them (in the final Cushing / Frankenstein film - Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, 1973 ) - was played by Dave Prowse (the Minotaur of The Time Monster).
Prowse played the monster twice - also appearing in a Cushing-less attempt to revamp the franchise, co-starring Kate O'Mara (the Rani) in Horror of Frankenstein, 1970.
Another unlucky subject of brain transplants is George Pravda (three Doctor Who appearances) in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969).
I recently covered The Brain of Morbius in my on-going look at all the Doctor Who TV stories, and that is totally influenced by the Frankenstein story - and the reason for this "Connections" post.
The Brain of Morbius also has elements from She - which was also filmed by Hammer with Peter Cushing and Bernard (Wilf Mott) Cribbins in 1965.

The Abominable Snowman was written by Nigel Kneale. A film version of his first Quatermass serial was Hammer's first X-Certificate release. Kneale's work is part of the DNA of Doctor Who - both as an influence on the creation of the series and in the writing of a number of stories (especially the UNIT era, but there are others such as Image of the Fendahl). Kneale always declined to write for the series as he said his stories were always being used anyway...
My own personal favourite TV Quatermass was Andre Morrell (The Massacre). He appears in one of the Hammer Mummy films as well (The Mummy's Shroud - 1967) which guest stars Roger Delgado (The Master). Morrell stars in the TV serial of Quatermass and the Pit. The film version features Julian Glover (The Crusade & City of Death).

In an alternative universe, this is a scene from The War Games...
If Peter Cushing is the most obvious link between the worlds of Hammer Horror and the universe of Doctor Who, he is not the only one. Another Doctor made quite a few appearances in Hammer films. He was filming one, in Ireland, at the time he was offered the role. That was the non-horror The Viking Queen (1967), and he was Patrick Troughton. Troughton played a rat catcher who meets a nasty end in 1962's The Phantom of the Opera (which features Michael Gough - The Celestial Toymaker and Arc of Infinity- in a villainous role. He's also in the first Hammer Dracula, 1958).
Troughton was back as a dodgy police officer in The Gorgon (1964). The titular monster was played, in human form, by Barbara Shelley (Planet of Fire).
Shelley was also in Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966) alongside President Borusa himself - Philip Latham. Latham played Dracula's human servant, Klove - a role taken up by Troughton in Scars of Dracula (1970).
Troughton can also be seen in that final Hammer / Cushing Frankenstein film mentioned above - playing a grave robber.

"Oh great Osiris! If this doesn't work out, let me have better luck on Telos..."
An obvious Hammer / Who crossover is actor George Pastell. The Tomb of the Cybermen is clearly based on the Mummy movies. Pastell plays Eric Klieg, who wants to bring the Cybermen back to life to do his bidding. In The Mummy (1959), he plays an Egyptian villain out to do something similar with Christopher Lee's desiccated High Priest. Pastell is also in Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), and a non-horror Hammer called The Stranglers of Bombay (1959).
Talking of Mummy films - old Arbitan from The Keys of Marinus (George Couloris) is one of the victims in Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1971).

I could go on all day (but promise I won't) but let me select just one Hammer film that features a number of Doctor Who guest artists: Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970).
A bunch of apparently strait-laced Victorian gentlemen claim to do charity work in London's East End once a month. They are really visiting a house of ill repute, run by Russell Hunter (The Robots of Death). Two of these gentlemen are played by John Carson (Snakedance) and Peter Sallis (The Ice Warriors). The Sallis character has a daughter - played by Isla Blair (The King's Demons). Carson has a son - played by Martin Jarvis (three Doctor Who appearances).

Two of my favourite Hammer Horrors are out-with the Dracula / Frankenstein / Mummy franchises. They are the stand-alone movies The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies (both 1966).
Both feature a very young Jacqueline Pearce (The Two Doctors). In the first film she transforms into the titular monster, and the hero of the tale is Ray Barrett (The Rescue).
Pearce becomes one of the undead in the second feature - courtesy of villain John Carson (see above). Out to stop him is Andre Morrell once again.

So, next time you settle down to watch a Hammer Horror, with the lights turned down, see how many familiar faces you can recognise (like Professor Eldred from The Seeds of Death burying an alleged vampire victim, or Autloc from The Aztecs facing up to a group of devil worshippers).
If there is one person who is totally synonymous with Hammer, it is the aptly monickered actor Michael Ripper. Sadly, he never did a Doctor Who.
Probably too busy serving the doomed students of Kleinenberg with foaming steins of lager before firmly locking the shutters, and hanging up lots and lots of garlic...

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