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OPENS JULY 17
Utter the words “British horror” around a gorehound and chances are said fan will reflect back no further than 1958. That’s the landmark year when Hammer Films released Horror of Dracula and The Revenge of Frankenstein, both capitalizing on the studio’s first international hit, 1957’s The Curse of Frankenstein. Marked by Gothic manors, copious blood, and busty wenches, Hammer set the vibe for British horror throughout the ’60s, inspiring such future filmmakers as Martin Scorsese and George Lucas, as well as competing studios Tigon and Amicus. The former released two films by promising writer-director—and 25-year-old drug casualty—Michael Reeves: 1967’s The Sorcerers, a late Boris Karloff role, and 1968’s Witchfinder General, featuring Vincent Price at his hateable best. Tigon also enlisted Hammer regulars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee for 1973 skeleton-with-a-heart-of-evil The Creeping Flesh. Hammer, for its part, augmented its horror lineup with some mystery-thrillers—1959’s The Stranglers of Bombay and 1960’s Scream of Fear—and by the ’70s, it was trying almost anything to compete with Hollywood. 1972’s Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and 1974’s The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires combine bloodsucking with swashbuckling and martial arts, respectively. Three non-Hammer flicks round out the series: 1967’s Corruption, a plastic-surgery-disaster classic; 1974’s Vampyres, a soft-core lesbian romp; and 1988’s Lair of the White Worm (pictured), Ken Russell’s campy Hammer homage. The series opens Saturday, July 17, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 22 (see Showtimes for a complete schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Brent Burton)