Sex Sells – The Last of the Hammer Film Scream Queens

Many readers have heard me talk about watching movies on TV in the afternoons while I was growing up. They combined it with a game show to make sure you watched. Many of the movies the TV station played were low horror films made by Hammer Film Productions. This is a film production company in the United Kingdom that was founded in 1934. It is best known for a series of Gothic “Hammer Horror” films produced from the late 1950s until the 1970s. Hammer films were cheap to produce but nonetheless appeared lavish, making use of quality British actors and cleverly designed sets. During its most successful years, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying worldwide distribution and considerable financial success.

Many of the movies starred recurring actors as Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ralph Bates, Oliver Reed and many more. There were also beginning roles in the Hammer films for actors like Peter Graves, David Carradine , Dirk Benedict ,Dean Stockwell and 007’s Pierce Brosnan.
Besides the men there was also some very sexy women who played in those movies. In the last week we have lost two of the Hammer film top scream queens. Hazel Court and Julie Ege have taken their Final Taxi.

Julie Ege

— Julie Ege was a Norwegian actress and model in the 60’s and early 70’s. Born in the south-west coast of Norway in 1943 Ede was brought to the public’s eye when appeared on the Miss Universe pageant in Florida in 1962 and then did some modeling in Penthouse magazine.

In 1967, she made her acting debut playing a German masseuse in “The Sky and the Ocean”, a low-budget Norwegian film. In 1969, Ege’s stunning looks caught the eye of the film producer Albert Broccoli, who cast her in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the only James Bond film to feature George Lazenby as the lead. In that role she played “The Scandinavian Girl” one of the 10 women of different nationalities being brainwashed by Blofeld, the villain portrayed by Telly Savalas.

In 1970, Ede played opposite Marty Feldman in the comedy Every Home Should Have One. ( A film that I wish would come out on DVD.) It was her first role with more than a little dialogue.
She made a fatal career choice next by turning down a role with Peter Sellers in the saucy comedy “There’s a Girl in My Soup.” The role went to Goldie Hawn and that part helped launch Hawn’s career.

Instead she signed up with Hammer to do Creatures the World Forgot. While other caveman movies like “One Million B.C.” and “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” did well while giving us sexy girls and stop-motion animation dinosaurs, “Creatures the Earth Forgot” gave us only the sexy girls and a poor plot. The film did help Julie Ege to become a pin-up queen following the film’s release with her in tight and erotic cavegirl costume.

She also starred in ’70s B movies, including The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, The Final Programme, and The Mutations, and the British comedies Up Pompeii, The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins and Not Now, Darling.

In the Seventies, Ege lived for several years with the Beatles associate Tony Bramwell and recorded a version of “Love”, a John Lennon composition originally featured on the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album in 1970. She subsequently went back to Norway and took up photography before training as a nurse in the Eighties.

In 2005, she featured in the BBC documentary Crumpet! A Very British Sex Symbol. She died at the age of 64 from breast cancer.

Hazel Court

— Hammer Film actress Hazel Court took her Final Taxi at age 82. The British star became a scream queen of the first magnitude in the 1957 Hammer horror film “The Curse of Frankenstein.” Ms. Court played Elizabeth opposite Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein. She was menaced by the Creature played by Christopher Lee. This was the first and among the best of the gothic horror films made by Hammer. In 1959 Ms. Court reteamed with actor Christopher Lee and director Terence Fisher for Hammer’s “The Man Who Could Cheat Death.” In 1961 Ms. Court starred opposite Kieron Moore in “Dr. Blood’s Coffin.”

All of these films have become cult film fan favorites.

Born in Birmingham England in 1926 Court set her sights on an acting career at an early age by appearing with thee with the Birmingham repertory company. Her sister sent her photograph to the film director Anthony Asquith and she was given a small role in Champagne Charlie (1944), a salute to Edwardian musical halls starring Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway.

Following that was Dreaming (1944), followed by another period musical, Gaiety George (1946). Her popularity grew when she played Sally Gray’s crippled sister in Carnival (1946) and Phyllis Calvert’s sister in The Root of All Evil (1947).

She was given her first starring role teamed with the American actor William Eythe in Meet Me at Dawn (1947). And in 1949 she gave a spirited portrayal of a fairground ice-cream vendor who falls in love with a married man (Douglas Montgomery) in Forbidden.

She starred in two “B” thrillers, Ghost Ship (1952) and Counterspy (1953), then in 1954 she played in the first of her “cult” movies, the low-budget sci-fi tale Devil Girl from Mars, in which a leather-clad Martian (Patricia Laffan) comes to Earth to take men back to her female-dominated domain.

Court’s red hair and green eyes were seen in color for the first time when she was cast in the role which would redefine her persona, Terence Fisher’s The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), which not only changed the course of her career, but launched the Hammer horror cycle, stretched existing boundaries of gore, and teamed Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee for the first time.

Court’s next Hammer movie was Fisher’s The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959) and then Dr Blood’s Coffin (1960). In 1962 she made the first of three films in which she was directed by Roger Corman, The Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death ( 1964).

Court described Corman’s The Raven (1963) as her favorite film because everybody laughed and joked and it was fun to work with three such talented giants of horror films, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. Court also worked alongside a new upcoming actor named Jack Nickolson. This is a film worth renting just for the cast.

Her many TV credits include “Playhouse 90,” “Thriller,” The Twilight Zone,” “Bonanza,” “Rawhide,” “The Wild Wild West,” “Mission Impossible,” “Mannix” and “McMillan & Wife.” Hazel. Court made her final screen appearance in a cameo in “Damien 3: The Final Conflict.” The “Omen” sequel was directed by her second husband Don Taylor.

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