Hammering the Stakes Once Again: Close Readings on Hammer Horror Films

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns

Hammering the Stakes Once Again: Close Readings on Hammer Horror Films



Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns 

Matthew Edwards


Essays are sought for an academic book that aims to examine the popular cycle of horror films produced by the British Hammer Film Productions Ltd., best known as Hammer. While the studio began exploring horror with The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (1935), starring Bela Lugosi, Hammer’s goal never was to become the House of Horrors but rather to produce and distribute any genre in vogue. In the 1950s, and after almost disappearing as a production unit, Hammer ventured into science fiction territory with two Terence Fisher’s films: Four Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways (1953). Later, the Quatermass franchise blended science fiction tropes with horror narratives through a series of films dealing with social and cultural anxieties regarding forms of alien Otherness. Yet the real success would later come with their Gothic horror films, with Terence Fisher elegantly directing The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). The myth has begun.

This myth, in turn, has fetishized Hammer, to the point that the rich and complex history of the studio has overridden the most important aspect: the films. Indeed, the films made by Hammer are almost secondary, just background in the tapestry that Hammer’s history is. As such, there is an alarming lack of scholarship on the films. David Pirie’s A New Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema, dated 1973 (with Hammer still producing horror), and Peter Hutchings’ excellent Hammer and Beyond: The British Horror Film, dated 1993, are examples of only a handful of books addressing the films. Later scholarship tends to focus on the history, the names behind the camera, and the downfall of the House of Horrors. Further, only films like The Curse of Frankenstein or Dracula received some scholarly attention scattered in journals, while other interesting efforts are practically invisible.

Like we did with other neglected areas of horror with the giallo cycle (University of Mississippi Press, forthcoming 2022) and horror comics (Routledge, forthcoming, 2022), we ask for chapters analyzing, via close readings, the films from any era and from different theoretical perspectives including:


-Postcolonialist readings of The Abominable Snowman (Val Guest, 1957), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), The Reptile (1966)

-The family under siege in The Snorkel (Guy Green, 1958), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Demons of the Mind (1972)

-Adaptation studies in Frankenstein, Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

-British masculinities in The Mummy (1959), The Mummy's Shroud (1967)

-Fairy tales’ studies in Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

-Animality in Shadow of the Cat (1961)

-Trauma in The Full Treatment (1960), Nightmare (1964), Hysteria (1965), Fear in the Night (1972)

-Horror and adventure in Captain Clegg (1962), Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

-Noir and horror in Maniac (1963), Paranoiac (1963)

-The female monstrous in The Gorgon (1964), The Reptile (1966), The Vampire Lovers (1970), Countess Dracula (1971), Hands of the Ripper (1971)

-Ageing in Die, Die, my Darling! (1965), The Nanny (1965), The Anniversary (1968)

-The proletariat in Revolt of the Zombies (1965)

-Queerness in Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)

-Moral panics in The Devil Rides Out (1968), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), To the Devil, A Daughter (1976)

-The posthuman in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

-The spectral turn in The Woman in Black (2012)

-Postmodernity in The Lodge (2019)

-Serialized horror in TV Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984)

-Urbanity in The Resident (2011)


The list is far from exhaustive and all disciplinary approaches are welcome. It must be noted, however, we sought for chapters focusing on the films rather than in tracing the history of the studio and its misfortunes.

Please submit 300-500 word abstracts with working title and short bio in the same doc to hammerhorrorproject@yahoo.com by May 15, 2022. Abstracts must be delivered as a Word attachment. A renowned academic publisher has showed interest in the project.

This will be one of the first books centred exclusively on close readings on an under-studied area and, as such, this collection will have an appeal to scholars and students in horror film studies, visual rhetoric, philosophy, sociology, media studies, pop culture, and Hammer fandom.

Please, share this CFP with all you believe might be interested. Thanks.


Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns (PhD in Arts, PhD Candidate in History) works as Professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) - Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (Argentina)-. He teaches courses on international horror film. He is director of the research group on horror cinema “Grite” and has authored a book about Spanish horror TV series Historias para no Dormir (Universidad de Cádiz, 2020) and has edited books on Frankenstein bicentennial (Universidad de Buenos Aires), one on director James Wan (McFarland, 2021), the Italian giallo film (University of Mississippi Press, 2022) and horror comics (Routledge, 2022). Currently editing a book on Wes Craven for Lexington.