HOW HAMMER HORROR INFLUENCED MY NOVEL

Aug 6, 2023
HOW HAMMER HORROR INFLUENCED MY NOVEL HORROR FEATURE ARTICLE .png

Between the brilliant colors and gothic settings, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Valerie Gaunt and Hazel Court, I was hooked. A few weeks later there was Taste the Blood of Dracula. And there was no turning back.

HOW HAMMER HORROR INFLUENCED MY  NOVEL

The Vampire Lovers

Twins of Evil

Lust for a Vampire

All titles from Hammer films. All titles of some of the chapters in my novel Blood Ending.

I saw my first Hammer horror films as a teenager back in the 1970’s,  and from that point on my  horror aesthetic was firmly entrenched.  My love of horror films started with watching late night Saturday horror movies on television. Those were mostly the Universal movies that featured the likes of Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, et al. Then one afternoon my dad took me to see a double feature of Horror of Dracula and Curse of  Frankenstein.

Well.

Between the brilliant colors and gothic settings, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Valerie Gaunt and Hazel Court, I was hooked. A few weeks later there was Taste the Blood of Dracula. And there was no turning back.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s I was now in my ‘40’s and was artistic director of a small theater called The Edgar Allan Poe Theater. I specialized, obviously, in Poe adaptations and other types of horror-themed plays, all of which I wrote and directed. For the second season I wanted to include a vampire play and so chose to do an adaptation of Dracula with the emphasis on the three female vampires who lived in his castle. Thus my play, The Brides of Dracula was born. I wanted it to look as much like a Hammer film as I possibly could on an incredibly small budget.  I succeeded somewhat. Enough so, that fans commented that it looked and sounded like “one of those old Hammer movies”, and a critic who trashed it because it looked and sounded like “one of those old Hammer movies.”

Fast forward again. The theater had long since closed; I was going through my old writing files to do some purging. I came across the Brides script as well as the script to a sequel I had done back at the time. There were also pages of notes and back stories that never made it into the plays. When I jostled them all together I realized I had a hell of a lot of story on my hands.

The idea of turning all of this rich material into a novel took root. But how to do it? Most of the material was based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I knew that there were already many novel variations on that theme., and had no desire to go there. As I re-read the plays, character analyses, and notes, a Hammer film began to play on my mind’s movie screen.

Instead of the black and white Transylvania, I  imagined the colorful towns of Karlsbad and Ingolstadt with their superstitious towns people who were equally colorful (Michael Ripper!). I remembered that the non-Dracula films made use of the story Carmilla and made a legend of the Karnstein vampire family.

I envisioned Captain Kronos riding through the forest to hunt vampires. The seductive Carmilla/Mircalla and all the other vampire femme fatales that grace the world of Hammer horror.

The die was cast and I began to write a novel under the working title Vampire Heart. In my imaginings Dracula became Anton Severinescu, a student of the black arts who entreats the blood goddess Mircalla to turn him into a vampire. The brides of Dracula became a female trinity from whom he derived his power. His enemy, an alchemist who hunts him and the trinity through decades.

The Gothic trappings of the Hammer films made my scenes vivid. I returned to the castles, churches and forests over and over again. The frenzied carriage rides and the stirring James Bernard music scores. And, of course, the blood and fangs. I visualized actors such as Madeline Smith (Clarimonde), Kirsten Lindholm (Mircalla), Ralph Bates (Praetorious) and Anton Diffring (Severin) as characters in my story.

As I mentioned before, throughout the novel I used titles of Hammer films as chapter titles and references. I expanded on the Karnstein family legends. Seductions and devastating betrayals. A battle between two evil forces began. Writing had never been a  greater adventure!

And now, as Blood Ending, my Hammer-inspired vampires are alive, undead, and waiting …

BLOOD ENDING: A VAMPIRE NOVEL BY MICHAEL MCGOVERN 

Blood Ending: A Vampire Novel

With elements of Gothic horror, alchemy, sex magic, and science, Blood Ending chronicles the rise of master vampire Severin, his trinity of female vampires, and the obsessed love-sick alchemist Praetorious Biederbeck. As one century ends and a new one heads towards devastating war they find that the “old ways” are no longer viable—the lure of sex and blood now competes with the lure of science. Assisted by the doomed vampire bride Justine, Biederbeck chases after Severin and the Trinity through the decades. And what a chase it is!

From an ancient school of black magic to the slave auction block in Syria; from the decadent vampire society of old Vienna to Berlin’s 1920s cabaret scene, a fetish club in London, the fires of Dresden, and ending in the streets of New York, these preternatural beings are affected not only by their own whims and foibles, but also by a world that is changing itself, and the state of magic, at a frenzied pace. If you’re seeking a pulse- pounding, blood-drenched vampire saga, quench your thirst with Blood Ending.

MICHAEL MCGOVERN

Michael McGovern received his BFA in Theatre from Point Park College and his MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University. While at Carnegie-Mellon he was a Schubert Fellow in Playwriting and won the Bud Yorkin Award for his play Ireland’s Shakespeare. His vampire play Carmilla’s Kiss was performed Off-Off Broadway at the 13th Street Theater and in the Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. His plays have been performed in New York at the Nat Horne Theatre and The Workshop Theater; in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Bricolage, Prime Stage, The Edgar Allan Poe Theatre, and Rage of the Stage. When not involved in theater he performs his one-man show Stand-Up Horror.  Blood Ending is his first published novel.

WEBSITE LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083142917896

Blood Ending: A Vampire Novel – Kindle edition by McGovern, Michael. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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