Book Review: The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

Review: The Hammer Vault / Written by: Marcus Hearn / Published by: Titan Books / Release date: Out Now

When is a “Vault” book not a “Vault” book? When it's The Hammer Vault.

That is not to say that it is a let down. Far from it.

After the months of waiting, with release dates pushed back and such, the heavyweight tome is finally out. While not what you would normally expect from the title, the book delivers page after page of wonderful information and a myriad rare and unseen photos.

The story behind the studio has been told many times before, in dozens of books (including some written by Vault keeper Marcus Hearn) but this new addition, which covers the years from 1954's The Quatermass Xperiment right up to the recent Let Me In, focuses more on the publicity material and archive items, of which there is plenty to keep the Hammer fans happy.

There are plenty of photo reproductions of press books, front of house stills, script excerpts and tie in paperback covers, and behind the scenes stills that have never been seen. However nice it would have been to have the usual facsimile versions that usually accompany these type of releases, once you get into the book, and become more and more engrossed you don't mind at all.

A few minor gripes with the book, its large, heavy format makes you very conscious when turning the pages - all 176 of them - for fear of breaking the spine, and it would have been nice to have at least a section of the studio's history and output prior to their breakthrough in the 50s. The formative years of Hammer and Exclusive Films are overlooked (let us not forget the Bela Lugosi film The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (1936) was a Hammer film), as are the comedies of the 70s (mostly TV spin offs like the On The Buses films, That's Your Funeral and Nearest and Dearest). These are just nit picking niggles though, and I'm sure their absence won't be noticed by most readers.

Make sure you head over to the official Hammer website when you buy it too, for an extra entry covering the eagerly awaited The Woman In Black.

There is a deluxe edition – complete with slipcase – that does include some of the paraphernalia that you would normally get in these releases, but at £50 is a little out of the price range of the average buyer. Maybe one to put on the Christmas list?

The standard edition, however is more than good enough to grace any bookshelf; although as I mentioned, it's long format (at over 12inchs) would probably make it stick out a little further than most! You can pick it up from Amazon for less than £20 too so if that isn't value I don't know what is.

Highly recommended.

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