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R.I.P. Anthony Hinds, chief architect behind Hammer horror

Illustration for article titled R.I.P. Anthony Hinds, chief architect behind Hammer horror

Film producer and screenwriter Anthony Hinds has died at the age of 91. Hinds was the son of Anthony Frank Hinds, who co-founded Hammer Films in 1934 with Enrique Carreras. (“Will Hammer” had been the elder Hinds’ stage name when he performed as a music hall comedian.) In the late 1940s, Anthony Hinds took over creative control of production, while Carreras’ son James assumed the post of managing director. For half a dozen years, they were content to turn out modest English thrillers with such titles as Who Killed Van Loon? (1946), What The Butler Saw (1950), and Whispering Smith Investigates (1952).


Hinds made the fateful decision to push the company in the direction now summed up in the phrase “Hammer horror” when he saw Nigel Kneale’s 1953 BBC sci-fi series The Quatermass Experiment and proposed to make a feature film adaptation. Just as important as his decision to make the movie was his request to the British Board of Film Censors that the finished film—released to theaters in 1955 as The Quatermass Xperiment—be rated “X,” which barred patrons under the age of 16. Hinds gambled that it would be worth losing the ticket proceeds from the tots to stir up excitement among teenagers by suggesting that the movie was too frightening for general consumption. His gamble paid off.

Two years later, Hammer tapped into Kneale again for Quatermass II: Enemy From Space.By the time the sequel was released, Hinds had moved on toward investing in the specific elements that would become key to Hammer’s legacy: remakes of classic Universal movie monsters, blood and bodices in bright, comic-book colors, and the tag team of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Cushing and Lee co-starred in the first color Hammer production, The Curse Of Frankenstein, with a screenplay by the studio’s busiest writer, Jimmy Sangster.

Hinds produced that film, as well as Horror Of Dracula (1958), The Brides Of Dracula (1960), and Curse Of The Werewolf (1961). By that time, Hinds was also pulling double duty behind the typewriter. Werewolf was the first of 15 Hammer films of the ‘60s and ‘70s on which he was credited as screenwriter, under the alias “John Elder,” including The Reptile, Rasputin: The Mad Monk, The Mummy’s Shroud, Frankenstein Created Woman, Dracula Has Risen from The Grave, Taste The Blood Of Dracula, and Frankenstein And the Monster From Hell. By the end of the ‘60s, he had come to prefer the more relaxing duties of turning out copy, as opposed to the day-to-day pressures of producing.

In fact, by the time he sold his last script to Hammer, for a 1980 episode of the anthology TV series Hammer House Of Horror, Hinds had been resigned from the company’s board of directors for 10 years. He also expressed misgivings about the direction horror films seemed to headed in a time of greater freedom and laxer censorship. He once recalled Jim Carreras telling him excitedly, “God, you can do anything now.” Hinds said, “I thought, ‘Well, I’m not sure doing everything is what it’s all about.’”

[Image via The UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society]