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JOHN BURKE
The Hammer Film Omnibus


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Pan, London, 1973
(first published 1966)
price: 35p; 160 pages


The blurb on the back:

The Gorgon. What is the terrible secret of the village of Vandorf, where a murderer’s victims turn to stone?
The Curse of Frankenstein. Baron Victor Frankenstein creates a grotesque monster – and is himself condemned to death for the creature’s brutal killings…
The Revenge of Frankenstein. Escaping the guillotine, Baron Frankenstein repays the dwarf who aids him – by giving him a new body! But his creation is a killer; worse – a cannibal…
The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb. From the Egypt of 3000 BC to the London of 1912 comes the monster that would not die!


opening lines:
For five centuries the frowning Castle Borski had overshadowed the village of Vandorf. Stronghold of a noble Bohemian family, it had always dominated the entrance to the dark valley like a massive stone giant ready to stamp on any-one who tried to creep in or out. Nobody ever did creep in or out without the permission of the knights of Borski.


Back in the glory-days of the 1960s you could generally count on Hammer to knock out a decent little 90-minute horror piece that wouldn’t tax your patience or your brain overmuch – they tended to look quite stylish (or at least stylised), sounded fine with soundtracks by the likes of James Bernard, and featured fabulous casts. What they weren’t noted for was the brilliance of their storylines or the depths of their characterizations.

Which left John Burke with something of a problem when he came to re-work the plots into a series of novellas (novellae?) in this collection and its successor, The Second Hammer Horror Film Omnibus. There’s nothing wrong with Burke’s writing style, but it’s hard to see why anyone would read these when there’s so much good horror so readily available. It’s rally not worth the effort.

Mind you, I do like that description on the back of The Gorgon: ‘What is the terrible secret of the village of Vandorf, where a murderer’s victims turn to stone?’ Well, the clue could be in the title. Just a thought.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
2/5


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Dr Terror's House of Horrors
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King & Castle
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Privilege
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Till Death Us Do Part

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