28 Dec

The Suicidal Book Club: The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday December 28, 2011 | Suicidal Book Club

The Hammer Vault by Marcus HearnSo did you guys get anything crappy for Christmas? Come on. We’re all friends here. You can tell me and I promise I won’t tell your mom because if you did, I know exactly what you can exchange that shit for. You’re going to want to ditch whatever you don’t want in order to get your hands on a copy of Titan Books’ latest Hammer Films-related release, The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn. I try not to heap praise on products here as it sounds really fishy when I do. When anyone does, really. I’m so cynical and take so much pleasure in pointing out flaws that when I can’t help myself but gush about something, people start to suspect that I’ve been bought off. Not so, I assure you. It’s just that when something tickles my fancy, I mean really gets down to the erogenous zones and stimulates me without the distractions of qualities that I can be negatively critical of, I don’t quite know what to do with myself and begin with the awkward fondling of its finer qualities.

Titan Books is probably the outlet for all your Hammer needs and they’ve kicked out a series of books on the topic that have proven to be nothing less than authoritative. About this time last year, I put their title, The Art of Hammer to the test; a book collecting twenty years of movie posters and not much else and in spite of its minimalist approach to Hammer data, it was still the sort of thing that Hammer fans were going to want kicking around. The Hammer Vault takes that premise and kicks it up a notch. Though, I sense that this line of fan service has just about been mined of all its value with this release, The Hammer Vault is still an excellent coffee table book that delivers insight and entertainment.

Zeppelin vs. PterodactylsThe Hammer Vault is a presentation of noteworthy Hammer releases, beginning with The Quatermass Experiment, and the marketing materials that were used to sell theaters on bookings and tickets at the box office. In many cases you see the original marketing brochures, posters used in pre-sales, original script pages, promotional photography and cadids, etc. Like previous Hammer books from Titan, this thing is exhaustive! Titan’s resident Hammer author, Marcus Hearn leaves no stone unturned and those of you horror fans out there with a yen for British vampires and the stately gentlemen who hunt them, you’ll appreciate the staggering depths that Hearn goes to to report on the history of one of the United Kingdom’s most important film institutions. Where The Hammer Vault takes a detour from The Art Of Hammer, which I keep comparing to it to for some reason, is that Hearn this time actually delivers some anecdote and written word to give these press materials some context and it’s all quite interesting. For instance, going back to Quatermass, I’d always wondered why they cast a bullish American in the role of a character who was clearly intended to be a British dude. Brian Donlevy always struck me as particularly wooden and as it would happen, Quatermass series creator, Nigel Kneale, felt the same way. See? Learning is fun! Thanks, Titan Books!

This being a product based on a particularly specific niche, it should come as no surprise that its potential audience is a little on the narrow side. If you’re as excited about this book as I am, it means that you’re in the club and Hammer horror is your bag, if not you’re probably not even reading this and chucking down the coin required for just such a hardcover treasure isn’t really in your future. I’m hoping, though, that Titan Books isn’t on your radar and that as a fan of Hammer Films, I’m shedding some light on a vast archive of nerd culture data that’ll get your heart racing. The Hammer Vault is, in fact, all that and a bowl of grits and pretty much another feather in Titan Books’ cap. This company is unstoppable, I tell you! I look forward to another Hammer item in 2012.

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