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Hammer Studios' Action Films Are Adventures in Kitsch

April 15, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If you love trashy movies, Anchor Bay's new "Hammer Glamour" collection is the perfect way to wallow in kitschy cinema.

"Hammer Glamour" features four films from England's Hammer Film Studios library ($15 each): "The Vengeance of She," "The Viking Queen," "A Challenge for Robin Hood" and "Prehistoric Woman." Each film is being offered in wide-screen with original theatrical trailers.

Czech actress Olinka Berova has the title role in the 1968 hoot "The Vengeance of She." Berova, who runs the gamut of emotions from A to B, plays a mysterious woman named Carol who jumps into the ocean in her underwear and swims out to a yacht, where she begins to cause havoc in everyone's life. Carol is believed to be the reincarnation of Ayesha (a.k.a. She), a 2,000-year-old queen who once was believed to possess the secret to eternal life. Blue-eyed, blond and bland John Richardson plays her immortal lover. Derek Godfrey and Andre Morell also star.

Slightly better is the 1968 action adventure "A Challenge for Robin Hood," which is supposedly the first film to tell the complete story of the nobleman turned outlaw. Veteran British actor Barrie Ingham stars as Robin. Though he's fine in the action sequences, Ingham looks old enough to play Robin's father. Gay Hamilton is on hand as Maid Marian.

Boy-next-door Don Murray seems horribly miscast as a he-man Roman commander stationed in the British Isles in 1967's "The Viking Queen." Murray falls in love with the beautiful British warrior princess Salina (Carita), but she goes against his wishes when she has her father buried in a forbidden Druid ceremony. Andrew Keir also stars as the vile Octavian, who enslaves the princess.

"Prehistoric Women," which was released in England as "Slave Girls," is one of those so-bad-it's-fun movies that has to be seen to believed. David Marchant plays a great white hunter in Africa who strays into the area of the jungle guarded by a warrior tribe that worships a white rhino. Captured by the tribe and sentenced to death, he escapes into a prehistoric world where the dark-haired cave women, led by the sex-starved Queen Kari (Martine Beswick), have enslaved all the blond cave women. The few remaining men are also enslaved in a locked cave. Supposedly, the film was thought to have been lost, but the original negatives were recently found and restored for this edition.

Also New: Kino on Video's "Auteurs of World Cinema" collection features gay British filmmaker Derek Jarman's unique, 1979 version of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and the offbeat 1996 sexual comedy "Conspirators of Pleasure," directed by Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer.

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