First Look inside The Hammer Vault, the Coffee-Table Tribute to a Horror Institution

I've spent the last few days transfixed by The Hammer Vault, Marcus Hearn's new tour through the history and archives of the infamous genre maestros at Hammer Films. It's got everything -- from the stories behind the celebrated creature features of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to remembrances of the risible pseudo-PSA Never Take Sweets From a Stranger to a rummage through such unmade Hammer fare like When the Earth Cracked Open and the awesome Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls (seriously). And while its official January release date won't necessarily help you for the holidays, it's worth earmarking a line in the early 2012 budget for any horror, fantasy and B-movie devotees in your life. CORRECTION: The publisher writes to say that it will be out for the holidays! Hallelujah!

Below, Movieline has rounded up an exclusive (if tiny) sampling of the history you can expect to find in The Hammer Vault (out Dec. 20 via Titan Books). Latter-day Hammer offerings like Let Me In are featured as well, but for sheer, exhilarating nostalgia's sake, it's tough to beat Cushing's script notes or Raquel Welch in all her One Million Years BC glory. Check it out...

· Christopher Lee, fully made up as the Creature (The Curse of Frankenstein), examines a reel of film in the projection room.


· In December 1965, Hammer placed this full-page advertisement in a Daily Cinema supplement:


· In this annotated script page from The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Peter Cushing questions the speech where his character, Lorrimer Van Helsing, describes Dracula's "mortal dread of silver." The most poignant note on this page simply reads "Helen," the name of Cushing's late wife.


· Acrylic artwork for a flyer that stressed the links between Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell and Hammer's traditional Gothic horrors.


[Artwork from The Hammer Vault, © Marcus Hearn and Hammer Film Productions Limited as joint owners 2011.]


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