TERENCE FISHER. MASTER OF THE MACABRE.

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1956, was a landmark year for Hammer films, it was in this year that the studio decided to embark on the ambitious task of producing re-workings of the classic black and white Hollywood horror movies, such as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and the MUMMY etc. Hammer films are certainly full of stars as Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and many others but some of the real stars or unsung heroes of cinema were working behind the cameras, one such important and talented figure was director Terence Fisher. It was Fisher who Hammer turned to asking him to helm the first of the horror remakes THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and after the success of this production Fisher was also given the reins on a movie that would become one of the studios most iconic movies DRACULA.

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Fisher had worked on a handful of movies for Hammer previous to stepping into the world of the Gothic horror, five years before FRANKENSTEIN he had directed THE LAST PAGE and in the ensuing half a decade the filmmaker was involved with a number of productions, STOLEN FACE, BLOOD ORANGE, THE FOUR SIDED TRIANGLE, MANTRAP and MASK OF DUST to highlight just a few. After the success of both FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA Fisher was to become a much applauded horror director and Hammer returned to the filmmaker many times to make sequels of their first forays into gothic horror territory.

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Fisher however never restricted himself to directing movies that focused upon these two iconic figures in horror history, for example he turned to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1958 when he directed THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and also in the same year was responsible for the entertaining feature film THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH. As the decade of the 1950,s drew to a close Fisher triumphed again in 1959 when he was the director on THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY and THE TWO FACES OF DR JEKYLL, it was also in this year that the director brought to the screen an exciting and dramatic full colour version of THE MUMMY, a year later the filmmaker was responsible for introducing actor Oliver Reed to cinema audiences in the now classic horror movie THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. The 1960,s was a busy time for the director and he worked on a number of projects which were varied and above all entertaining, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and a number of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA projects the 1960,s came to an end with Fisher taking up his familiar position behind the camera on FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED(1969). It was at this time that Fisher was to be involved in two accidents which kept him away from filmmaking for around three to four years, however when he was fully recovered he soon returned to making movies and in 1973 was responsible for Hammer’s FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL.

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Fisher went to sea as a young man, it was thought by his Mother that after the death of his father in 1908 this career would be the making of him and stand him in good stead for what life might throw at him, however Fisher never stayed at sea and after a period of some eight years he decided to return to dry land. He began to work in the textile or clothing industry and became an assistant display manager at Peter Jones. Whilst pursuing this career Fisher began to think of going into films at first he could not decide in what area he wanted to work but eventually became a film editor working his way up the ladder at Shepherds Bush film studios from clapper board operative to the editing room where he began to work on the films of Will Hay. Fisher then changed studios and went to the Teddington Studios which were run by Warner Brothers. In 1947 Fisher was invited to take up a position at the Highbury studios by the rank organisation who were offering an apprenticeship of sorts for aspiring young filmmakers. Fisher made a handful of shorts whilst there and was picked out by Sidney Box, who gave him a chance to try his hand at directing a full length feature. The rest as they say is history. Born in Maida vale, London on February 23rd 1904, Terence Fisher passed away on June 18th 1980, I know that we will never see his like again in the British film industry.

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