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The Mismarketing and Misunderstood Beauty of Hammer’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ [Hammer Factory]

While Hammer Studios has been in business since 1934, it was between 1955 and 1979 that it towered as one of the premier sources of edgy, gothic horror. On top of ushering the famous monsters of Universal’s horror heyday back into the public eye, resurrecting the likes of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Mummy in vivid color, the studio invited performers like Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Ingrid Pitt and so many more to step into the genre limelight. Spanning a library housing over 300 films, Hammer Studios is a key part of horror history that until recently has been far too difficult to track down.

In late 2018, Shout Factory’s Scream Factory line began to focus on bringing Hammer’s titles to disc in the US, finally making many of the studio’s underseen gems available in packages that offered great visuals as well as insightful accompanying features. Over the course of this column, I will focus on these releases, gauging the films in context of the Hammer Studio story as well as analyzing the merits of the release. It’s time to highlight the power, impact and influence of Hammer Studios and ignite new conversation surrounding some forgotten classics.

Welcome to the Hammer Factory. This month we dissect The Phantom of the Opera (1962).


The Context

From the moment their production deal with Universal Studios began in March of 1958, Hammer Studios was dead set on bringing to life their own interpretation of The Phantom of the Opera. Universal too had been keen on the idea of a Phantom remake for many years. Their interest had been renewed only a few years prior with the release of the film Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), detailing the life of silent movie star Lon Chaney who made the 1925 version of Phantom a household name.

Deriving from Gaston Leroux’s 1925 novel, the property had already sustained multiple theatrical outings to varying success. Universal itself had mounted a lavish redux in 1943 starring Claude Rains and although the production went on to receive Academy Awards for Art Direction and Cinematography, it never achieved the financial or critical heights of its 1925 predecessor. While several other attempts had been made to bring a new version to the screen in-house, it was not until their partnership with Hammer and the subsequent success of their Dracula and Frankenstein films that Universal agreed to let the British Studio handle the subterranean virtuoso and his tale of revenge.

The project hung in limbo for several years. That is, until Cary Grant made a visit to Hammer’s London office. Grant expressed interest in doing a Hammer production and producer Anthony Hinds could think of no property more fitting for a performer of Grant’s stature than their great unmade prestige picture The Phantom of the Opera. Once again donning the pseudonym John Elder, Hinds penned a screenplay specifically for Grant, taking a Faustian approach that transformed the well worn tale into something much fresher than just another familiar rehash.

Grant’s involvement propelled the film into production and while it remains unclear what part he was intended to play, be it the romantic lead Harry Hunter or the titular Phantom, achieving a green light was about as far as his participation went. After he was sent the script, Hammer never heard from the movie star again. Still, the film had a budget, a start date and a director in Hammer aficionado Terence Fisher. In keeping with his other work, Fisher sought to tell a story about the nature of the human soul, what happens when it is lost and what it is that must be sacrificed to see it retrieved.

With a focus on tragic romanticism as opposed to outright horror, Christopher Lee was not awarded the part of the Phantom despite his foreboding height, proclivity for song and his deep interest in performing the role. Instead, actor Herbert Lom, with his soothing tones and playful sensibilities, was hired in the hopes that he might be a more sympathetic figure. The film was guided and crafted by many of the Hammer production greats, with Herbert Bernard on set design and Roy Ashton on effects, amounting to a sensuous picture blooming with detailed locations, poignant character moments and an allegorical story set alongside an operatic rendition of Joan of Arc.

Phantom was advertised as a true Hammer film, a frightening display of terror and murder most foul, but what the Studio delivered could not have been further from that promise. Aiming for an A Certificate from the BBFC (meaning the film would be suitable for public exhibition for those 12 of age or older), Hammer had to remove all acts of violence from the film, neutering it beyond recognition as they had been forced to do with The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) just one year before. The result was a film that was neither what the UK Hammer audience wanted nor expected and it showed in the critical reactions and financial outcomes.

When all was said and done, The Phantom of the Opera was a disappointment to the studio. Hammer’s contract dictated that the studio would receive only the UK profits for their releases while Universal would collect those dollars generated in America, so despite the uncensored version of Phantom’s success overseas, the film was a major financial loss for Hammer. It may have been their premiere release of the year, but the incredible production turned out to be anything but the monumental hit they had hoped and planned for.

Terence Fisher was both proud and fond of the film, as was Anthony Hinds, but Hammer producer and overseer Michael Carreras could not overlook the facts. In the wake of the disappointing results and receptions to Fisher’s previous two films, The Curse of the Werewolf and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll(1960), it was clear that the work of the studio’s “Golden Age” needed to transition into new creative avenues and voices alike if the studio was to remain relevant and in the black. As a result, what would follow in the coming decade would challenge the perceived norms and righteous ideologies that had been present in Hammer’s catalogue up until that point which would, in many cases, prove as successful as Michael Carreras might have hoped.


The Film

“I am going to teach you to sing, Christine. I am going to give you a new voice! A voice so wonderful that theaters all over the world will be filled with your admirers. You will be the greatest star the opera has ever known. Greater than the greatest! And when you sing, Christine, you will be singing only… for me.”

A vast theater, its many seats vacant amidst the sweeping darkness, floats by as a distant organ echoes, present in a ghostly way as though in some neighboring dimension. Then, the image fades to the shiny, dank concrete walls of some underground place, surrounded by brown water and lit by flickering torches affixed to the cavernous walls. A figure dressed in black sits hunched over the organ perched in the back of the cave as another, disheveled man sits cross-legged and watches raptly, the musician’s blackened, rotting fingers moving slowly over the organ keys as he plays his melancholic tune. The image moves swiftly upward, revealing the organist’s rudimentary white mask and his one visible eye, staring intensely ahead, imbued with pain and malice in equal measure.

Already, Herbert Lom’s Phantom is one with an audience. Not a monster, but a human figure suffering identifiable pain and palpable regret, Terence Fisher’s rendition of The Phantom of the Opera opens in much the same way as his previous film The Curse of the Werewolf, holding on the eye of the story’s perceived villain and challenging the viewer to consider what lies behind its cryptic beam. Often characterized as the window to the soul, one can’t help but wonder if the single eye serves to display the occupation or vacancy of such an essence as the pipe organ drones on in low, wistful tones.

Written by Anthony Hinds, under the name John Elder, the script is a reinvention of the Gaston Leroux novel of the same title. The film is a spiritual parable about the inherent goodness of the soul, exploring what is gained and what is sacrificed when the pureness of the spirit is sold to the highest bidder. As director Terence Fisher’s work tended to revolve around a strictly functioning dichotomy surrounding the interaction between good and evil, this sumptuous, gothic romance fit his sensibilities completely, making him the perfect mind to shepherd the project.

After the Phantom’s brief introduction, a poster announces the premiere of a new opera, based on Joan of Arc, written by one Lord Ambrose D’Arcy, played by Michael Gough. From the moment he steps on screen, Gough oozes toxic levels of sniveling privilege as Lord D’Arcy in a truly staggering performance of aristocratic villainy that carries through the film’s runtime. He’s joined by theater manager Lattimer, played tremendously by soon-to-be Hammer regular Thorley Walters, who is forced to deal with D’Arcy’s illogical whims and childish tantrums with all of the repressed frustration that one might expect an artistic bureaucrat would be forced to endure.

Despite the success of a sold out opening night, the cast and crew of the opera are wary. Odd occurrences have plagued the production: torn pages of music, a strange, disembodied voice and the ever present feeling that someone is watching. Only charismatic producer Harry Hunter, played by Edward de Souza, seems to be able to keep the theater’s various players trudging forward through their fear. But, all too soon, that goodwill comes crashing down around them when a corpse appears swinging onstage during Joan of Arc’s premiere performance.

After the events of opening night, Lord D’Arcy and Harry are tasked with finding a replacement for their lead actress. It’s then that they encounter Christine Charles, played by Heather Sears. Sears, a prominent stage actress who commanded a great deal of respect in the artistic community at the time, brings a delicacy to the character that belies her perceived naïveté. This comes to life in a scene with Lord D’Arcy where he propositions her at dinner only to be thwarted by Christine’s social ingenuities driven by her general discomfort and disgust.

The first act of the film moves fast. Fisher directs with a sharp narrative eye and cinematographer Arthur Grant responds in kind, keeping the camera moving and the visuals dynamic, even when the bulk of the action is composed of interpersonal character beats. And yet, with the help of that sobering opening and Edwin Astley’s trilling score, dread is retained throughout, trudging forward as those employed by the opera house do under the threat of an unknown assassin. What the picture lacks in outright scares it more than makes up for in ever thickening atmosphere.

The Phantom makes appearances here and there, often surfacing as a proto-Michael-Myers figure, looming in the background and staring on with an imposing stillness. However it’s when the Phantom’s identity is revealed to Harry by an astonishing series of coincidences, again invoking the function of divine purpose typically present in Fisher’s work, that the narrative’s grander meaning begins to transition from one of fear to one of tragic spiritual reclamation.

But it’s not simply the flashbacks to the Phantom’s former self, Professor Petrie, and his run-in with Lord Ambrose D’Arcy shown entirely in Dutch (or canted) angles that firmly solidifies him as a tragic figure worth empathizing with— it’s the quiet manner in which Fisher allows Harry Hunter to discover that truth, wandering around Christine’s boarding house and taking in the objects there. It’s an unassuming and overwhelmingly human moment, far more interested in grounding the character in reality than it is in furthering the story. In this way, when Harry stumbles upon Petrie’s old music and proceeds to play it, he is able to connect to it. The art is a piece of the person from whom it was derived and, in its absence, that person is incomplete.

When the Phantom steals Christine away to his underground lair, Bernard Robinson’s immaculate set design takes center stage. While a portion of the film was shot on-location at the Wimbledon Theater in London, the film is an impressive example of the transformational power of Bray Studios and Robinson’s repurposing skills. Still, the Phantom’s water-logged, sewer grotto is unlike anything hitherto seen in a Hammer production and serves to further elevate the vitality of the film’s mounting atmospheric dread.

Roy Ashton’s mask design is superbly eerie in its simplicity. After weeks of elaborate conceptualization, producer Anthony Hinds called for a quick and inexpensive solution for the Phantom’s look. Utilizing little more than some cloth and string, the Phantom was born in what looks to be a believably primitive face covering that any hermit living in the sewers of London could concoct. Then there’s his skin, dark, purple and blackening; his body appears to be rotting all about him, which is made all the more visceral by the whitening, withering strings of hair sitting atop his presumably disfigured head.

The Phantom has no romantic interest in Christine, in fact, she is merely a tool. The romance exists solely between Christine and Harry, which comes to a head as he mounts his expedition to discover her whereabouts. The Phantom, on the other hand, requires Christine to reclaim his work, to present his music to the world in the manner in which it was envisioned and thereby recapture the spirit with which he once espoused his artistic ideals. In this way, he might again become whole.

After fighting off the Phantom’s murderous Dwarf, played by Ian Wilson, a character largely incongruous with the plot other than existing to be the vessel of what violence does occur in the picture’s runtime, Harry reaches the Phantom’s sanctuary. Professor Petrie’s story is recounted here with emotionally pained aplomb by the Phantom. He tells of a timid, unmasked man, also portrayed by Herbert Lom, appearing alongside Michael Gough’s devilish Lord Ambrose D’Arcy in twisted frames that feel like they jumped right off the pages of an EC Comic book.

As Faust sold his soul to the devil, so too does Petrie sell his life’s work to D’Arcy. The after effects are futile and damaging, resulting in attempted arson that leaves Petrie horribly disfigured and left for dead in the sewers beneath London. Rather than battle Harry for possession of Christine, he pleads with the producer for his help and blessing. The interaction does not serve to reveal the motivations of a monster, rather a broken man’s last desperate attempt at redemption.

The finale finds Joan of Arc finally playing out on stage with Christine instated as the lead. There is no bombastic revenge exacted upon Lord D’Arcy, rather a quiet confrontation in which D’Arcy is forced to look upon the Phantom’s unmasked face. D’Arcy flees in terror, leaving the frame for the final time, forced to reap the reality of the terrible acts he has enacted upon his fellow man. All the while, Christine performs the story of Joan of Arc, a woman inspired by God and unwilling to sacrifice her immortal soul, regardless of the cost.

The striking image of religious zealots sitting in front of a large, cartoonishly looming cross accompanies Joan’s ultimate condemnation. She sings, professing that she’s heard God’s voice, finding peace in light of the darkness. The Phantom watches from the shadows as a tear forms and falls down his cheek. Perhaps he too hears a voice in his long lost music now fully realized, different even from the one belonging to the female vessel he himself helped prepare to share it.

And when the Dwarf appears once more, inciting chaos and unraveling the rope hanging the large chandelier precariously above Christine’s smiling face, the Phantom performs his final act. His true self restored, he removes his mask, and dives forward, swinging onto the stage and pushing Christine from harm’s way. This was never her fight, and he knew it.

The Phantom of the Opera is an altogether different spin on the story that so many are familiar with several times over. Its romantic notions are rooted in the relationship between the human being and their soul as well as the many ways that relationship might manifest. While outrageous censorship and mismanaged marketing led to the film’s ultimate demise in the UK, Terence Fisher crafted a deeply introspective film that fires on all cylinders. As he had done in The Curse of the Werewolf before it, he looked into the redemptive capabilities that human beings possess and, with the help of some of Hammer’s most capable creatives, constructed a timeless classic that lives up to Hammer’s “Golden Age” of films.

While the film opens on a single eye peering through the dirty, white cloth of a faceless mask, it closes on that same mask, the hole now vacant, empty without the eye. And still one wonders if there might be far more to see in that eye now that it is gone than when it was there to begin with.


The Special Features

This release comes equipped with a 2K scan from the interpositive from Universal, presented in both its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and the slightly reframed 1.85:1 ratio that acts as its default. Contrast is striking, allowing for an impressive depth of field in both wide, sweeping shots and more intimate scenarios where one might be obscured by shadow, all the while allowing for details and textures to maintain fine visibility. The DTS-HD Master Mono track offers powerful orchestral booms and the moody, atmospheric sounds of London alike, accompanying the impressive visuals with an equally impressive audio presentation. As usual, Shout! delivers the perfect presentation for this classic film worthy of being in any fan’s Hammer collection.

Audio Commentary, by Author/Film Historian Steve Haberman and Filmmaker/Film Historian Constantine Nasr

Available on the 1.66:1 Version of the film

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

In what has become one of the features most worth looking forward to on the Scream Factory Hammer releases, Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr sit down to discuss the production, thematics and meaning behind The Phantom of the Opera on yet another indispensable commentary track.

Touching on everything from Anthony Hinds’ massive “rethink” of the novel to the audience misconception which plagued the film’s eventual release, the two dive deep into what they call a misunderstood gothic romance. They touch on the infamous involvement of Cary Grant and his theorized part in the film as well as the careers and aptitudes of the various performers which did end up gracing the screen in Phantom.

Of particular interest is their dissection of the narrative as a spiritual allegory, suggesting that D’Arcy is meant to be taken as the Devil with the entire story built around a man’s quest for the soul he sold away. They explore the meaning behind the characters and their interactions in this way, further tying it to Terence Fisher’s pervasive perspective on good and evil which ran throughout the whole of his career. They also point out how satisfying the conclusion might’ve been had the filmmakers included the scripted scene showcasing the opera poster at the end of the film with Lord D’Arcy’s name papered over with Petrie’s, bringing the narrative full circle.

As they have delivered so many times in the past, Haberman and Nasr provide a commentary that simultaneously functions as a fascinating critical analysis, “Making of” and all around entertaining chat about the film and its many players. The track is a must-listen that broadens appreciation and understanding of this wonderful film which, as the commentators themselves point out, is so deserving of reevaluation.

Audio Commentary, by Authors Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson

Available on the 1.85:1 Version of the film

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

The disc comes equipped with a second commentary, this time from authors Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. While it does inevitably retread some of the ground covered in the previous track, there is certainly enough new information and personal insights to make it well worth the listen.

Howarth and Thompson delve a bit more into the technical side of things, discussing the intricacies of the set design and the differences between the European and American framing and projection techniques. They offer some interesting insight into some of the censorship the film was up against, noting that even the length of Herbert Lom’s scream was under question. They even touch upon the television version of the film (also found on this disc), discussing the padded scenes of Scotland Yard investigators that were inserted in lieu of the violence that was removed.

By all accounts, this is an amusing and engaging commentary, providing an avenue for anecdotes and personal observations that further strengthens appreciation for The Phantom of the Opera and all that went into making it. It may not be entirely necessary given the other stellar track on this disc, but the two authors more than justify their place alongside it.

The Men Who Made Hammer: Anthony Hinds (27:44)

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

Richard Klemensen, Editor and Publisher for Little Shoppe of Horrors Magazine, returns once again to share personal stories and recount the life and career of one of Hammer’s most influential figures: Anthony Hinds.

From Hinds’ early days in the jewelry business, to his time spent at war in World War II, Klemensen walks through the story of how Anthony (or Tony, as he signed his name) Hinds came to join the Carreras family at Hammer in 1947. While James Carreras was good at sourcing financial backing, Hinds was there to “watch the money.” Klemensen provides a near encyclopedic breakdown of how Tony identified the popular BBC special The Quatermass Experiment (1953) as the ideal feature for the company to invest in and how he went on to oversee the scripts for most of Hammer’s breakout hits in the coming years.

Whether he was helping save Universal Pictures from bankruptcy with Horror of Dracula (1958) or he was “ripping out” script pages to bring a picture in on budget, Tony Hinds was an undeniably instrumental component of Hammer’s “Golden Age.” As usual, Klemensen shares his story through the lens of an old friend, fondly recalling Hinds’ idiosyncrasies— taking quiet strolls through the woods to plan out story beats, for example— and painting a concise picture of what made the man and the studio so special.

Phantom Triumphant: Edwin Astley and Hammer’s Horror Opera (15:47)

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

David Huckvale, author of Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant-Garde, delivers a quick music lesson along with a brief biography on the career and accomplishments of composer Edwin Astley. Pointing to the various theme songs Astley wrote for popular television shows in the 60’s, like Danger Man and Department S, Huckvale explores the composer’s driving, staccato heavy style. As he did in the Benjamin Frankel segment on the The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) disc, Huckvale uses the piano to describe the music while explaining how Astley used the tritone, what’s known as “the Devil in music”, to combine a trilling sound, a wailing voice and a xylophone to bring the audience to more “frightening territory”. All told, this feature is another fascinating look into a very key component of what makes The Phantom of the Opera so effective, paying a great deal of respect to Edwin Astley, his unique score and partial opera that serves the drama of the story so memorably and so well.

Herbert Lom: The Soul Behind the Mask (15:28)

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

Screenwriter and novelist C. Courtney Joyner shares a story about the night he met Herbert Lom at a cocktail party and the personal and professional relationship that arose from that chance encounter. Describing Lom as unpretentious, wry and yet holding the capacity to be “gloriously silly”, Joyner describes how the Czechoslovakian WWII refugee began his career recording fake British broadcasts that were sent out to trick the Nazis into deploying troops to the wrong locales. He speaks of Lom’s illustrious career and of his time on Phantom, recalling that Lom himself was the one who requested that the Phantom be physically rotting in the cave, requesting that deterioration be an intrinsic component of his character. Joyner ultimately ended up helping Lom with his novel, learning along the way that he was a man who, no matter the money or the project, always did his absolute best. The feature stands as a sweet, honest remembrance of Herbert Lom and a fitting tribute to the creative’s accomplishments.

The Making of The Phantom of the Opera (31:01)

(2014, Final Cut Entertainment)

Narrator Edward de Souza “unmasks” the making of The Phantom of the Opera in this briefly packaged making-of documentary ported over from the 2014 UK Blu-ray release of the film.

The feature provides an overview of Hammer and its place in cinema at the time, as well as the catalyst for the film’s production (i.e. Cary Grant showing initial interest). While, admittedly, some of the feature falls into plot recaps and generalities, there are some genuinely interesting production tidbits mixed in as well. Stories of uncooperative rats, Michael Ripper’s “bald wig” and the manner in which Terence Fisher would rotate his extras in the wide theater using different clothes and hats based on the shot to make it look full make this documentary worth the time.

It concludes with the film’s disappointing box office performance and lukewarm reviews, however those involved are sure to note that the film’s fanbase and appraisal has improved with time. The commentaries offer most of the same information and more, but for those interested in a condensed version of the film’s history, this is a great option.

Behind the Scenes of The Phantom of the Opera (3:08)

(New: 2020, produced by Shout Factory)

Special Effects Artist Brian Johnson recalls spending time on the set of The Phantom of the Opera. He describes building sets for virtually no money, eating his sandwiches in Bernard Robinson’s impressive sewer set and the Jack Russell Terriers they employed to catch rogue rats. It’s short and breezy and reminds of the human element which lies behind every production.

The Phantom of the Opera— The Standard Definition NBC Broadcast Version (1:37:59)

(New)

Extended by a little more than 13 minutes, the broadcast version of The Phantom of the Opera is presented here for the first time on disc. Not only is all footage depicting death or acts of violence excised, several new scenes were written, shot and edited into the film without input from Hammer or director Terence Fisher.

The new scenes involve Scotland Yard inspectors investigating the odd deaths occurring throughout the film. The scenes are long and poorly paced, typically revolving around the two inspectors as they pontificate on the nature of man and attempt to wrap their minds around their baffling case. The only new sequence with any weight or baring on the film finds the Dwarf attacking Lord D’Arcy’s mistress in her bedroom at night, but as neither of the original actors were involved, everything is shot in murky shadows and silhouettes, rendering the scene somewhat toothless as a result.

Without the gut punch of the violent imagery and with the addition of seemingly endless amounts of meandering investigative footage, the television cut of The Phantom of the Opera is largely sapped of its power and impact. Still, this version is a welcome addition to the package, for it’s the perfect showcase for why artistic integrity is so important to uphold and protect.

Theatrical Trailer (1:16)

A threatening voice announces that behind the cavernous walls of this opera house lies terror… unspeakable terror!

A man, hanging by his neck, comes swinging forward. Suddenly, a chandelier is about to drop from the ceiling! Images of women looking terrier grace the screen as the viewer is asked, “who was this Phantom?” More images of Christine in peril and much of the final act confrontation flicker by until finally the thick blue letters which spell out the title over the Phantom’s near silhouetted face: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Harry and Christine clutch one another, holding each other close, as the trailer concludes, promising a bevy of terrors that the final film is never going to deliver.

Image Gallery (4:12)

Lobby cards with production stills, cast and on-set photographs, one sheets and poster artwork from around the world are just a few of the images that can be found in this entertaining time capsule of The Phantom of the Opera’s release. A fun way to reflect on the marketing and social zeitgeist of an era of movie-going long gone by.


Final Thoughts

With enthusiasm from both Universal and Hammer at its peak and Hammer’s impressive roster of creatives backing the project, The Phantom of the Opera seemed poised to be the studio’s release of the year in 1962. Anything but a clone of its predecessors, Anthony Hinds’ and Terence Fisher’s Phantom would forgo the maniacal monster in pursuit of his lust and love to present a broken man attempting to achieve and redeem his immortal soul. Embodying the high-minded sense of gothic romanticism and visual opulence Fisher’s work translated so well, the film is a gorgeous, meaningful tribute to everything that’s special about Hammer’s “Golden Age”.

However, the disconnect between what Hammer was hoping to achieve with the film and the picture that audiences were sold was catastrophic. No amount of enhanced budget or story rethink could make up for the fact that movie-goers had been promised the exact sort of frightening monster movie that Hinds and Fisher set out to avoid making. In the end, The Phantom of the Opera, despite its artistic and creative successes, was a failure in the studio’s eyes, leading to some major directional changes in both the people behind the camera and the stories on the screen.

Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition offers a gorgeous presentation of the film and features that not only help to expand an understanding of the film’s thematics but aid in unmasking those people behind the scenes that worked so hard to bring the film, and others like it, to life. Be it the wonderfully detailed and engaging commentary tracks, the retrospectives on Anthony Hinds and Edwin Astley or even the bloated television cut of the film, everything one could want to know about Phantom is present and accounted for. If the film wasn’t a must-own on its own merits, this package seals it as so.

The “Golden Age” of Hammer, in many ways, came to an end with the release and failure of The Phantom of the Opera. New directions were soon to be explored, moving away from the grandiose morality tales of Fisher’s heyday and into bleaker, less starkly bi-chromatic storylines of good and evil. While the decisions Michael Carreras would make in the stead of Hammer’s future would go on to be sound ones, it’s safe to say that, all of these decades later, Fisher’s work during that time was essential to Hammer’s lasting legacy, regardless of their success.

Rather than more of the same, films like The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Curse of the Werewolf and The Phantom of the Opera provided fresh, new and challenging spins on familiar stories. Were they not so hindered by censorship and marketing, perhaps they might have helped to guide the horror genre of the 1960’s in a different direction. As it was, Hammer was set to change with the times and usher in a decade of cinema that held true to their gothic roots and further embraced the more sultry, bloody horror their audiences had come to so demand.

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