As a child watching the old black and white movies of Universal Horror, I would be mesmerised in a world of excitement and wonder. To me, it was a different world altogether, one where I could escape, one that was attractive and full of amazing characters. I was introduced to the wonderful Gothic architecture and mobs of angry peasants with blazing torches chasing the monsterous Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula down to an unfortunate end.
Inspired by Universal Horror
I loved the dramatic acting style from the likes of Lon Chaney Jr, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi against the backdrop of a musical score that built in intensity as the drama unfolded. Back in those days, they worked a lot harder to scare and create a full range of emotions to excite the movie goer. I love movies before the invention of CGI!
I have a lasting impression of these monsters faces, not only in the films, but on horror posters and in magazines, which have stood the test of time. Above is a horror portrait of Luke that is certainly inspired by Universal Horror’s startling imagery.
Although not horror, Universal’s picture, The Hunchback of Notre Dame created in 1923 is one of my favourites. What I didn’t know until recently is, I named my daughter Kerry Norman and one of the main stars of this movie is Norman Kerry. How bizarre and what a coincidence?
Graveyard Photography Inspired by Universal Horror
The old graveyards in these films looked beautiful with the white smoke and the long casting shadows. This has undoubtedly influenced my passion for photographing graveyards in order to try and capture the same eerie atmosphere that Universal Horror projected so well. Please visit my Graveyard Cemetery Gallery for more images.
It’s not just Universal Horror and Hammer Horror that inspire me. In my teens, I stumbled across The Munsters. This TV programme made me laugh and it still does to this day as I have both season one and season 2 on DVD. I always remember wanting a family like The Munsters and for Herman to be my Dad.
Inspired by Hammer Horror
As a teenager, I fell in love with Hammer Horror. These films were like the modern day Universal Horror, but they were in colour and they were illicit with their sexual undertones. No wonder I was captivated as a teenager going through puberty. I was totally mesmerised with Christopher Lee. He was scary, but also very sexy. The power he had over the numerous women who would fall weak at his knees and beg to become his vampire lover, so that they could be with him for all eternity, obeying his every command was exciting. How I often wished that I would be woken by Dracula standing beside my bed. It must have been the forbidden desires of falling under his erotic spell that I loved so much. Lee turned Dracula into a master of horror while Hammer Horror put the sex into vampires.
Ingrid Pitt Interview
The story of Countess Dracula played by Ingrid Pitt was based on the very real Elizabet Bathory (1560-1614) who was sentenced to live out the rest of her life in an asylum for the murder of over 600 young women. She tortured and killed them for her sadistic pleasures. Hammer Horror based the story around her thirst for blood. When she bathed in virgins blood, Countess Dracula believed it kept her looking young.
I was extremely lucky enough to interview Ingrid Pitt and talk about her role as Countess Dracula and more. Please read the Ingrid Pitt and Hammer Horror Interview.
Hammer also based three of their other films on the character Carmilla Karnstein created by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu in 1872. The first film was ‘The Vampire Lovers’ starring Ingrid Pitt. The second film was Lust for a Vampire starring Yutte Stensgaard and finally The Twins of Evil starring the Collinson twins. All three of these vampire films are absolute favourites of mine. I used to run a vampire website and went by the name of LiaCarla as I misheard the name MiaCarla from Lust for a Vampire.
I could waffle on all day about how Hammer Horror and Universal Horror inspired my horror photography and love of vampires, but time is fleeting and I must return to my lair. Please feel free to comment below.