Web Page 1148
18th May 2013
Top Picture: Nearest and Dearest Cover
Bottom Picture: Holiday on the Buses Poster
Hammer House of Horror
Britain's most successful film-maker of the 1960s
Founded in 1934, Hammer Film Productions became, in the 1960s, synonymous with the gothic type of horror film. During its most successful years, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying vast worldwide distribution and considerable financial success due, in no small part, to distribution partnerships with major the United States studios, such as Warner Bros. Hammer's first significant experiment with the horror film came in the form of a 1955 adaptation of Nigel Kneale's highly successful BBC Television science fiction serial The Quatermass Experiment (that’s the one when we all hid behind the sofa in the scary bits!). The film was an unexpected hit, and as a result a sequel, Quatermass 2, went into production.
At the same time Hammer were looking to increase their profile in America and when they were offered a script for Frankenstein by Max J. Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky they entered into talks with Associated Artists Productions in the USA. The film was an enormous success, not only in Britain, but also in the USA and all over Europe The huge box office success of the Frankenstein movie led to Hammer acquiring yet another horror icon. Dracula, like Frankenstein, had been a hugely successful film character for Universal Pictures in the past. Dracula began principal filming in November 1957. The original stars were Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (as Count Dracula) and they were teamed up again. Dracula was an enormous success, breaking all box-office records in the UK, North America and right across the world. The 1960s proved to be a golden era for Hammer horror films but they also produced a series of 'cave girl'-themed films such as One Million Years B.C. and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth as well as psychological thrillers which became known as 'mini-Hitchcocks
However the studio did not move on and by the 1970s, it struggled to maintain its place in the market as leaders in gothic horror produced films, mainly due to changing public taste. The cult for vampire and monster movies had peaked and died and audiences seemed to be more interested in Kung Fu movies of the type Bruce Lee was making. Hammer tried to marry the two subjects together with The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires but found it could not compete with the Lee films.
It then briefly flirted with comedy with some degree of success adapting for the large screen television sitcoms such as On The Buses, Love Thy Neighbour and Nearest and Dearest. These films apart from the Buses films they were not a great success. Here I have a personal interest as one of my ex girlfriends, Sue Hinds who I only lost touch with a few years ago, became an actress and worked for Hammer films (she was also related to the Hinds Jewellery company). She had a very brief part in Nearest and Dearest as Scarlet O’Hara and it took me years to get a copy of the film. It is the only work of hers that I have ever seen. She appeared under the name of Sue Hammer and this is the only film she made! I wonder where she is now.
In 1979, Hammer remade Hitchcock's 1938 thriller The Lady Vanishes, starring Elliot Gould and Cybill Shepherd. The film was a failure at the box office and all but bankrupted the studio. In the early 1980s a series was created for British television, Hammer House of Horror, which ran for 13 episodes. A second series, Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, was produced in 1984. This series was Hammer's final production of the 20th Century.
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Re Cosham Cottage Hospital
Re Cosham Cottage Hospital
Background to this tale: In the early 1950's, my parents John and Mary Barlow my brothers and sister lived over my fathers Chemist shop in Cosham High Street "Bakers of Cosham". Wednesday afternoons were early closing day. I was about 10 years old. Every Wednesday afternoon my parents used to pick up a little orphan girl from the Cottage Homes called Gillian and brought her home to spend the afternoon with the family to give her a bit of family life. This went on for a long time, months possibly a year or two.
One day, my parents were told they couldn't see Gillian any more; they were given no reason and couldn't find out. She was a lovely girl and that was the last we saw of her.
Roll the story on to June 2009, about two months before my mother died five weeks before her 90th birthday. I was talking to her about this and that, and I happened to say to her "Do you remember the little girl that you and your dad used to have out from the Cottage Homes". She said she did but could not remember her name. I could remember quite clearly it was Gillian. My mother said, I wonder what happened to her, she suddenly disappeared and we never did find out.
Move on to late August 2009 and we were all waiting to go into Portchester Crematorium for my mothers’ funeral. A lady who I had never met came over to me and asked if I was Peter Barlow. I said yes and she said "I am with a friend who used to know your family and she has got a photograph with her of us all out on a family picnic with her, would you like to see it". I went over with her and instinct immediately told me it was Gillian. She said that she thought my parents had died long ago otherwise she would have tried to make contact. The only reason she was at the funeral was, she had seen a half page Obituary in the Portsmouth News.
We invited her back to tea after the funeral and she told us what had happened to her. She had been fostered out to some people and she was forbidden to have any contact with our family. She said the people were not nice to her and she didn't like it. She told us about the Cottage Homes and she said they were very badly treated. They were made to believe that they were nobody, useless and that they had no future for anything. So much so, that she didn't bother to work at lessons and her life was a complete misery with absolutely no ambition for anything. The whole place was like a prison. She said that she thoroughly looked forward to those Wednesday afternoons and the occasional Sunday picnic with the family. I am pleased to say that as she got older life had turned out much better for her.
News and Views:
The Revd. Little Richard received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia on May 11. Meanwhile, Macon officials announced that his boyhood home there will be moved to avoid being demolished by a highway construction project. In its new location, the home will become a neighbourhood resource centre.
On this day 18th May 1960-1965
On 18/05/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions
On 18/05/1961 the number one single was Blue Moon - The Marcels and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/05/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/05/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Liberal Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/05/1964 the number one single was Don't Throw Your Love Away - Searchers and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 18/05/1965 the number one single was King of the Road - Roger Miller and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.