Saturday, 13 February 2016

Count Down: Addendum - Sound Bites

There are many different ways a not-so-classic film can be enjoyed...

“Peter Cushing immediately says:
“Who the f_ing ‘ell are you - where’s Chris? Chris!?
And Dracula (John Forbes-Robertson) says:
“Ah no, I’m playing the part of Chris this evening, Sir Cushing…”
And he gives him a b*tch slap!
He does… he gives him a proper slap! 
And Peter Cushing says:
“… I wouldn’t even take that from Christopher Lee,
so I’m certainly not taking that from you ‘ponce-boy’”,
- and he promptly kills him!”
(The climactic confrontation from Hammer’s Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, not co-starring Christopher Lee, as narrated on the Hammered Horror Podcast)

I’ve recommended the brilliance of the Hammered Horror podcast before, effortlessly combining reverence and complete irreverence in their look at a broad range of horror films.  My favourite episode was their look at Dracula AD 1972 so when I heard they were doing the final film in Hammer’s Dracula cycle, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, I had high hopes.  Hosts Mr Ash and Mr Paul possibly had an easy task ahead of them in examining this notorious but glorious mash-up of Gothic chills and Kung Fu thrills (covered by me here:, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

(copyright the Hammered Horror Podcast)
At the end of their achingly funny and surprisingly informative podcast episode, Ash happened to mention that Hammer also released the soundtrack to this film as a story record in 1974, with Peter Cushing accompanying the film score with a narration of the story.

Quicker than you could say ‘Geek crack’ I tracked down a recording (I love you, internet) and have to report that it is absolutely delightful.
Story records at this time were, largely juvenile affairs, the sort of thing you would hear on the Sunday morning children’s radio requests programme - and apparently Hammer received some criticism for apparently trying to break into this market.
In fact,  this album is anything but. It’s a given that Cushing’s narration, with cut-glass diction and an ability to find more syllables in words than we mere mortals ever suspected existed, is superb.  James Bernard’s music, re-arranged for this release by Philip Martell, combines the disparate themes and settings of the film with skill and gusto, while writer Don Houghton refines his screenplay elegantly for ‘P Cush’s’ (As Hammered Horror call him) retelling.  Houghton’s wife and television actress Pik-Sen Lim even voices some dialogue as Maio Kue, the chop-sockying heroine who, although nothing new in Hong Kong cinema, could be regarded as a pioneering empowered female role model in a British film.

Complete with sound effects from the film , the care and attention which went into this record marks it as perhaps one of the earliest adult audio books - a market which continues to flourish today.  Even in their dying days, Hammer were once again at the forefront of entertainment.  Sadly, this is only one of two records which Hammer City Records produced, (more on the other in a post to come).

Like the film itself, re-releases have seen The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires soundtrack album become better appreciated with the passing of time.  Also available on You Tube and Amazon, it only reinforces how ahead of their time Hammer was with their final productions, and how much more in step with current sensibilities films like this are now - over forty years later!

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