HorrorMovies.ca

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

DeadHorse 37 Comments

Let me set for you the stage. An impressionable lad (yours truly) has just been forced to sit through Bible School thanks to his highly religious and over-bearing grandmother.  After church Mom would be doing chores and my grandparents would inevitably fall asleep in their easy chairs. Despite their respectful attempts to keep me pure as the driven snow, this was a grave mistake in my rearing (and I emphasize grave). Left alone to my own devices, I found myself being drawn away from my usual helpings of Bugs, Magoo and the Panther to find myself awash in Technicolor thrills on those Sunday afternoons.

I surrounded myself with gothic mysteries, Dr. Frankensteins, vampires and Van Helsings, witches, mummies and scores of beautiful bountiful women spellbound by all manner of monstrous predator.

This was sinful, and I loved every single stinking moment of it.  I was addicted.  I wanted more.  I never turned back.  This was my first real introduction to horror – the house that Hammer built, one beguiling brick at a time.  They impressed.  They scarred.  They titillated.  They gave me a corset and petticoat fetish that continues to this day.  Most importantly, they made my Sundays worth getting up for.

They still haunt my subconscious, and I keep them all close to my blackened heart.  Whittling down my top ten favorite Hammer Horrors was an arduous task to say the least, I feel as flushed now as I did when I first got an eyeful of Barbara Shelley’s cleavage, but I digress. Here they are for your consideration – musings of a misspent youth, indeed.

10. Demons Of The Mind (1972)

Sexual repression, madness, incest, suicide, possession – it’s all for e-strange-d doctor Patrick Magee to discover in this intellectual mind hump.  It’s a convoluted morality play posing science against religion; however, there’s enough blood, boobs and gothic weirdness going on to satisfy most horror fans, I assure you.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

9. Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)

This particular doctor gets a gender face lift in this interesting twist on the famous tale of duality.  Ralph Bates gives his best, and Martine Beswick is ferociously sexy as the other-half intent on completely taking over.  Hammer also throws famed graverobbers’ Burke and Hare and Jack The Ripper into the mix to keep the proceedings from ever getting dull.  It remains a smart and classy presentation despite the many lurid possibilities.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

8. Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)

This serious marsupial memoir stars a young Oliver Reed as Leon, the result of a rape between an imprisoned beggar and a servant girl, who is cursed for having been born on Christmas Day.  Leon’s only hope for redemption is true love, and we all know it’s not easy finding a girl who will put up with his type of moonlighting.  Excellent performances, especially from Reed, help to make this a fascinating character study that shares little in common with most of its counterparts – aside from the requisite silver bullets.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

7. Fanatic aka Die! Die! My Darling (1965)

Tallulah Bankhead does her Baby Jane-best in this over the top psycho-thriller.  Bankhead Bible-thumps and gun totes her way into Camp Classic, as a mother intent on keeping her dead son’s fiancé faithful to the end.  Richard Matheson’s kinetic script swiftly builds to the inevitable and entertaining climax.  In addition, Donald Sutherland’s turn as halfwit imbecile here is a delight onto itself.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

6. The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)

This compelling argument for undead labor unions was an obvious influence on Night Of The Living Dead.  When locals refuse to work in the village Lord’s hazardous tin mines, he kills and resurrects them with voodoo rites.  A chilling dream sequence remains a highlight in this genuinely suspenseful and well acted revenant relic.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

5. The Gorgon (1964)

Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, along with director Terence Fisher, were the unholy trinity in the House of Horror – and this gothic fairy tale is one of their best.  Barbara Shelley is excellent as a troubled woman who turns into the mythical snake-haired creature at night and petrifies all those in her sight.  Cushing carries the impetus of the film as a man struggling with his own personal demons, while Lee attempts to vanquish all evil.  Impressive mix of characters, action and thrills topped off (pun intended) by a memorable bleak ending.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

4. The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Another strong Matheson script is realized through intense performances from Chris Lee and Charles Gray.  This was a pet project of Lee’s, and he really embraces his role with zeal.  Imaginative and skillfully directed, this tense morality play is thoroughly entertaining with some fantastic set pieces.  Also notable as one of the most thoughtful and serious attempts to realistically portray the practice of magic.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

3. Twins Of Evil (1971)

Ah, the Karnstein Trilogy, let my inner pervert catch its breath for a minute.  You see, Hammer went softcore in a trio of vampire tales – these being generally more graphic in both flesh and foul than any of the company’s previous excursions.  It was a wrestling match with my crotch to not include them all quite honestly.  The first, The Vampire Lovers (1970) stars the comely Ingrid Pitt and the always dependable Peter Cushing, and is a common favorite for some; Lust For A Vampire (1971) was even more explicit, but it marginally suffers from an inexperienced cast.

Twins Of Evil would find Cushing back in tow, alongside the Collinson Sisters (Playboy’s first twin playmates), who make fine additions to Hammer’s able-bodied (ahem) female roster.  This could be considered a prequel of sorts, and we are treated to more food for thought in the narrative, giving this entry the most substance of the three in my opinion.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

2. The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)

While Americans were under attack from wild teenagers and atomic monsters, the Brits usher in the return of gothic horror (and in graphic color, no less) with this indisputable masterstroke.  Terence Fisher skillfully directs the first coupling of soon-to-be Hammer stalwarts Lee and Cushing, and both give brave interpretations. Lee wordlessly inspires both shock and sympathy, while Cushing’s portrayal shows remarkable depth and gravity.  A landmark.

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

1. Horror Of Dracula (1958)

One of the most iconic vampire films ever made, period.  The perfect blend of gothic horror, suspense and eroticism insures this film the top spot on my list.  Hammer made seven sequels, all but one starring Lee; while Cushing would only reprise his Van Helsing role three more times.  As explicit as the censors would allow in the day, Horror Of Dracula was a groundbreaking and subversive punctuation in the neck of horror cinema. Only Dracula – Prince Of Darkness (1966) would come close to capturing the same exquisite magic if you ask me, but they’re all enjoyable

The 10 Best Hammer Horror Films

Criminally absent:  Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) & To The Devil A Daughter (1976)

Honorable mentions:  Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971) & Countess Dracula (1971)

Trending in Horror

Gallery: Best Walking Dead Zombie Kills! Sexiest Horror Movie Victims Best & Worst Horror Movies of 2012

37 Comments

Our policy for commenting is simple. If you troll or post spam or act like a child we will send you to your room without dinner and take away your posting priviledges. Have fun, be polite!


      1. Doc Rotten February 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        A strong list. It is missing a few ignored classics: Vampire Circus, Quatermass and the Pit and Hands of the Ripper. But you can’t include them all. – Doc Rotten, host of the Monster Movie Podcast

      2. Marigen Beltran February 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        Havent seen any ot this!!! I feel ashamed…..which one should I see first?

        • taker1 February 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm

          Start with Horror Of Dracula and work your way through the list, they’re all classics so you’re on to a winner wherever you start! I do however have to disagree with the mention of To The Devil A Daughter as to me it was a horrible mess and you could tell that Christopher Lee didn’t want to be there. Apart from that this list makes me want to watch them all again so that’s what I’m going to so!

        • Paul Scollon March 16, 2014 at 4:51 pm

          Dr. Jeckyl and Sister Hide is an unexpected pleasure. You should start there. Then the insanely brilliant The Devil Rides Out!

      3. Daniel Brenneis February 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

        Pretty solid list. I wouldn`t have “Demons Of The Mind” and “Twins Of Evil” in my Top 10 Hammer Horror Films of all-time list (“Demons” is too vague and SLOWLY PACED for me AND “Twins” is a good movie but slightly derivative to be ranked that high for my tastes, although Cushing is quite good in it!) I would take those out and replace them with “The Creeping Unknown” AND “Never Take Sweets From A Stranger” instead…..The other choices are fabulous! I agree with “Horror Of Dracula” and “The Curse Of Frankenstein” being #1 and #2 ……Cushing and Lee were magnificient in those ground-breaking films!

        • Christine Walker January 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm

          Twins of Evil is one of my faves It was my 1st Hammer Horror. Love Countess Dracula and Prince Dracula too.

      4. paul allen July 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

        What about Dracula Prince Of Darkness

      5. Thomas Raven (@ThomRaven) September 22, 2013 at 12:13 am

        Oh you have to include my all-time favorite, Countess Dracula! Ingrid Pitt! Need I say more?

      6. Jason Figgis October 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

        Also really criminally absent are The Nanny, Quatermass and the Pit and Revenge of Frankenstein

      7. idleprimate October 9, 2013 at 2:53 am

        I’d like to see more editorials about Hammer films and also an Amicus list

      8. Samuel November 8, 2013 at 12:03 am

        Great reviews! I would definitely agree with 5/10 but no Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed or Hands of the Ripper?

      9. eddie ganim November 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

        what a great list! I am a huge fan of “the devil rides out”, absolutely one of my favorites, and although Peter Cushing is not in that movie, and Cushing is a favorite of mine, Christopher Lee shows the versatility that made him a horror icon, along with Cushig I might add lol

        Many people refer to Lee as Dracula, remember him for that role, but like Boris Karloff, Lee was extremley versatile, and he could play any role within the horror genre.

        Hammer gave us Cushing and Lee, and Cushing and Lee gave us Hammer. Look at the above strong list by our poster, Lee and Cushing are in at least half of the movies listed either one of them or together.

        When you talk about the “Hammer Hall Of Fame”, both of these guys must be listed along side of, Sangster, Fisher, Reed, only to name a few. True icons not only with Hammer,but with the Horror genre in general. What would that list be like without those two great icons?

      10. Alex Martin January 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm

        Brides of Dracula deserves to be there. I can’t believe Twins of Evil is number 3. Nothing to do in comparison to all Fisher films though I agree number 1 and 2.

        • Paul Waddington March 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm

          Yes, The Brides of Dracula is my favourite too. I would also have had Taste of Fear and The Mummy’s Shroud high up the list too, the latter for Michael Ripper’s greatest performance. I recently watched around 65 Hammer Horror films over a 2-3 month period and, whilst it’s true that the stronger ones were earlier in the series, there are still gems to be found later on and, even if the films are found lacking, the regular actors like Cushing, Lee and Ripper are always worth watching.

        • Tel Sutton March 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

          Make that another for Brides. Just like Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein, it’s blend of camp/Gothic Horror is perfectly weighted.

      11. Daniel Yagolkowski January 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        I feel that perhaps you could’ve A Tomb in Eternity, where, for the first time, in a movie it is suggested the possibility that aliens had visited us in a remote past and still have a (ghastly) influence on us, via a Martian war machine tht comes to life and pits humans againts humans to destroy humankind and leave this planet ready for Martian invaders.

        Anothe movie I would haveincluded would have been a movie (I can´t recall the name) where Peter Cushing plays a weird antique dealer. To his shop come several people and many of them show deep flaws of ethics and moral and are consequently punished, until a young couple come and are sincere and honest, so they are spared the punishment all of the others had deserved. Though may not be a brilliant movie, I thik it was the first to show that evil has its punishment.

      12. Frank January 13, 2014 at 6:39 pm

        Are any of these on Netflix?

      13. Kenyetta Flowagrrl Jones January 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm

        Yes…I agree.

      14. Mab Cloggy January 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

        The best

      15. Jason Bloomfield January 13, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        I will definitely agree with Vampire Circus but my all time favourite is Captain Promos Vampire Killer. Originally made as a pilot for a TV series but shelved.

      16. Jason Bloomfield January 13, 2014 at 7:51 pm

        I meant Captain Kronos. I hate predictive text!!!! Grrrrrrr

      17. Bob Mikkelsen January 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        Horror of Dracula rightfully so number 1.

      18. Frank Flynn January 13, 2014 at 9:16 pm

        Any on Netflix?

      19. Matthew Brandford January 13, 2014 at 9:40 pm

        Dr Terror’s house of horror?

      20. Stephen Dyer March 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

        Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors was not a Hammer film , Matthew . Daniel , the film you are thinking of was ‘From Beyond The Grave’ , which was again not a Hammer film .

      21. Alan Fosberry March 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

        The film where Peter Cushing was a shop owner was ‘From beyond the grave’, a portmanteau style horror film made in 1973 (from memory!). It was actually produced by Hammer’s biggest competitor of the time ‘Amicus’ so would not qualify as a potential alternative entry in this particuliar top 10.

      22. Seanidk74 March 15, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        Guilty pleasure of Dracula AD 1972 anyone? Only ever saw pictures of it in the classic Horror Movie books that were popular amongst young impressionable lads in the 70′s & 80′s and had to wait until the grand old age of 15 to get my first viewing of this “masterpiece” on late night TV (ITV if I recall) – I know I am letting my own personal feelings cloud my better judgement but it has to be there for me. Quatermass and the Pit, the Devil rides out & Dracula quite rightly have to be up there, as does Cushing’s first ever outing as the Baron. I would also have to squeeze in Frankenstein & the monster from Hell & Captain Kronos for same reasons as AD 1972 – took me ages to ever view them! Well, 3 years is ages when you are in your early-mid teens! Twins of Evil for 2 (or 4 depending on how you look at it ;) obvious reasons – too many quality productions to ever call!

        • Thom March 17, 2014 at 4:26 am

          Love Dracula AD 1972. Caroline Munro was beyond sexy and this allowed Christopher Lee to be an even more foreboding presence than usual. Cushing so cool as the Van Helsing keeping up the family tradition.

      23. 00ghoul00 March 17, 2014 at 12:53 am

        only 10?
        terence fisher made more than 10 films for hammer. every one of which is great.
        i love his frankenstein series.

      24. Samhain Bloodworth March 17, 2014 at 2:52 am

        A great list and so many I personally agree with. It’s nice to see The Plague of the Zombies getting the love deserved. And the Devil Rides Out I agree on too, despite Lee being synonymous with the Dracula roles I felt this to be his shining moment. Although it’s impossible to argue The Horror of Dracula which is sublimely creepy. I have to add The Nanny which is disquietingly eerie, Bette Davis is on beautiful form and completely entrances you. And Frankenstein Created Woman which is actually in some respects, a slight tamer but as devastating as everything Hammer Horror has done. I don’t think anything as come quite as close to this studio in a very long time. Superb choices deadhorse.

      25. Thom March 17, 2014 at 4:23 am

        I love a lot of the list (Devil Rides Out, Horror of Dracula, The Gorgon, Plague of the Zombies, etc.). Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter should also be a consideration, as should newer Hammerl…The Woman in Black really earned its way on to this list as well.

      26. Bill March 19, 2014 at 12:50 am

        Ingrid Pitt?

      27. grapenewt March 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        Nice list. I am a huge Hammer Horror fan as well. I recently just saw Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter for the first time. I would definitely put this one on my top 10 list. It is not your typical vampire tale and has quite a nice twist ending. A must see for any horror aficionado. By the way, has anybody ever seen any of the Amicus Horror movies available for online streaming?

      28. David Greybeard March 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        Twins of Evil
        The Gorgon
        Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde
        Frankenstein Created Woman
        Countess Dracula
        Vampire Lovers
        Lust for a Vampire
        Dracula, Prince of Darkness

        The Nanny
        The Old Dark House

        Would be my choices, in no particular order. The Nanny scared me to death as a child and I loved the comedy version of Old Dark House with it’s Chas Addams intro, also a childhood favorite.
        Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde or Countess Dracula are my favorites.

      29. Chuck March 26, 2014 at 1:30 am

        Is that Mr Deltoid in #10?

      30. Chuck March 26, 2014 at 1:33 am

        Sorry, not Mr. Deltoid, but the husband in “A Clockwork Orange”?

      31. Chuck April 11, 2014 at 5:38 am

        It is Patrick Magee.