The Hammer Vault Review

Author: Markus Hearn

Looking for the perfect gateway into the world of Hammer horror? The Hammer Vault could be just what you’re after.

Yes, another Vault book is upon us and this time it’s focusing on the Hammer series. And even at a lean length (under 200 pages) it manages to pack in an impressive collection of behind the scenes visuals and marketing materials covering films released by Hammer from 1953 to present day.

The trouble with this release is that unlike most books in the Vault series, it lacks depth (it also lacks those fun pull outs you get from many of the others).  Hammer horror surely has a wealth of lobby cards, posters, marks, designs and other memorabilia that would have been worth reproducing here. Sadly this isn’t one of “those” Vaults. As for the lack of depth, they do say early on that this isn‘t meant to be the be-all and end-all of Hammer volumes. It doesn’t even cover every film.

Now for the titles that are covered – often titles are given a two page spread – you’ll get various poster designs, stills and behind the scenes photographs; perhaps even a bit of concept art or press response reproductions. And there are plenty of sidebar and text-asides to help explain what you’re looking at. What’s missing though is a main body of text contextualising the film. All too often you get a few quick paragraphs that don’t delve very deep into the film at all (but as stated before – this isn’t the book’s intention). So this works at best as perhaps an introduction to Hammer.

Clearly a lot of research went into the look for his book – and it looks phenomenal in places – but the fact that there’s no decent text to back it all up is crushing. The upside is that this means there’s room for a more fully rounded book to head our way in the future where we can learn all we can about each of the films in the canon. For now though, you’ll have to settle for the basics.

To its credit, The Hammer Vault works as a brisk but colourful insight into a world that’s been almost forgotten by the modern world. If you’re looking to add a gift that might pique someone’s interest this Christmas, then this could be an ideal book to get them. This book will work just as well on the coffee table as it’s got lots to look at. Even if it’s just to jog memories of a time way back when.

Steven Hurst

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