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Dracula Has Risen From the Grave / quad / UK

20.09.13

Poster Poster

A classic painting of an enraged Count Dracula dominates this quad for Hammer studios’ Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, the third film featuring the legendary British actor Christopher Lee as the titular bloodsucker. The story, which follows on from Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), sees a Catholic Monsignor (played by Rupert Davies) travel to the Eastern European village of Keinenburg where he discovers a populace too afraid to attend church mass because they live in the shadow of Count Dracula’s castle.

Despite the fact that the vampire was seemingly destroyed a year earlier, the Monsignor decides to hike up to the castle with a local priest to perform an exorcism and then seals the front door with a giant holy cross. An accident sees the priest falling onto a frozen river and the blood from his head wound seeps through the ice, resurrecting the Count who is trapped below. Dracula then follows the Monsignor’s trail back to the town and sets his sights on the holy man’s daughter-in-law Maria, played by the gorgeous Veronica Carlson.

Originally intended to be directed by Hammer stalwart Terence Fisher, the man at the helm of the original Dracula (1958), a freak road accident saw Fisher temporarily out of action and regular Hammer cinematographer (and director) Freddie Francis stepped in shortly before production began. This was the first of the studio’s pictures under their newly arranged co-production deal with Warner Bros-Seven Arts, following a split with previous partners Twentieth Century Fox.

As was typical at the time, a pre-sales marketing brochure had been prepared before the screenwriter Anthony Hinds had even finished the script and this was used to secure the required financing from the American partners. Unfortunately, no one had yet informed Christopher Lee that the deal was entirely dependent on him reprising his role as the Count, something the actor was more than a little reluctant to do at the time. There thus followed a sustained campaign of persuasion from Francis and studio boss James Carreras to entice the actor back into the cape. Lee eventually capitulated and the production was on, but it was not to be the last time that Lee would need to be harangued into stepping back onto a Hammer soundstage.

This British poster was designed and painted by arguably the UK’s most famous poster artist, the late, great Tom Chantrell. From 1965 to 1969 Chantrell effectively worked as Hammer’s ‘House Artist’ and produced artwork for the studio’s film posters as well as all of the aforementioned marketing material used to sell the film to potential investors and distribution partners. This particular poster holds particular significance in terms of the Chantrell/Hammer partnership since the depiction of Dracula is actually taken from a slightly modified portrait of the artist himself.

The official Chantrell website, launched last year by Tom’s widow Shirley and memorabilia dealer Michael Bloomfield, features a superb biography of the artist written by his friend and British poster expert Sim Branaghan (who I interviewed here). At the end of the must-read article there is Tom’s own account of the creation of this poster, which is as follows:

“With only a title to go on, I painted a poster with a head of Count Dracula, snarling away with extended teeth, surmounting a montage of characters warding off vampires with a cross, a lady vampire drooling over another, and a female victim with a decolletage having her neck bitten. I used models as there were no stills provided, and later photographed a colleague with suitable under-chin lighting, then similarly posed while he took photographs of me. Denis was too benevolent-looking, so I used one of the photographs of myself to paint from, and added a busted grave to the montage.

Later some stills arrived, and it was possible to start on a third version. This poster had the neck-biting scene with Christopher Lee, and retained the open grave and malevolent self-portrait of Tom Chantrell. Then the distributor Warner Pathe said the film was going on in two weeks, and they wanted a poster right away. No still of Christopher Lee was available, so (what the heck!) the design was printed as it was. Nobody ever questioned the poster. They all think it’s Christopher Lee, but it isn’t, it’s nasty ole’ Count Chantrell!”

The reference photograph of Chantrell as Dracula can be seen here and the two earlier versions can be seen here (both images courtesy of chantrellposter.com). It’s worth noting that this is a Hammer quad that was printed in greater numbers than others because it was used to give away to fans who wrote in to the studio, along with the ‘She/One Million Years BC’ quad (see the bottom of this page for more detail).

Legend of the Werewolf / one sheet / UK

30.01.12

Poster Poster

British designer and illustrator Vic Fair is responsible for the arresting poster for this 1975 horror film Legend of the Werewolf directed by Freddie Francis and produced by Tyburn Film Productions. Francis is probably best known as an Academy-Award winning cinematographer (Sons and Lovers, Glory), and he worked with David Lynch on The Elephant Man, Dune and The Straight Story. He’s also responsible for directing a slew of films for the British production companies Hammer, Amicus and Tigon, including Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and Dracula has Risen from the Grave.

Tyburn was apparently set up by Freddie Francis’ son, Kevin, and was only active for a short period, producing three horror films in 1975, including this one, The Ghoul and Persecution. I wasn’t able to discover much more information about the company so please get in touch if you know anything of note.

The story is set in 19th century France and focuses on Etoile (David Rintoul) who is raised by wolves and is later found and adopted by a sideshow troupe traveling through the forrest. He eventually escapes to Paris and becomes infatuated with a prostitute (Lynn Dalby), but when her clients begin to be brutally murdered a police surgeon (Cushing) begins to suspect all is not quite right with Etoile.

Sim Branaghan, author of the excellent book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History is a fan of the film and sent this through to me shortly after I added the poster to the site:

I actually know a large amount about this film – and Tyburn – for the simple reason that a book was published by the BFI back in 1976, which exhaustively documented its production. The film happens to be one of my personal favourites and I think it is witty, thoughtful, and finally genuinely moving (if only in a small way). Tony Hinds’ script is classic dark-fairy-tale, the acting fine, Francis’s direction skilfully-unobtrusive and Harry Robinson’s score absolutely terrific. Cushing gives his usual model, controlled performance (rather more light-hearted than usual), Ron Moody is excellent, and David Rintoul fresh and sympathetic as the werewolf.

The supporting cast is a bit mixed, but nobody actively embarrasses themselves. Yes, the film is painfully low-budget and sometimes looks pretty threadbare, but it has HEART. Historically, it’s hugely significant as the last Costume Gothic produced in the UK (almost exactly eighteen years after the first, Curse of Frankenstein, back in autumn 1956). Hinds and Cushing worked on both of course, and the sense of fin-de-siecle here is palpable, and very poignant to a true fan of the genre.

Obviously all criticism is subjective, and you might well find plenty of other horror fans who’ll cheerfully tell you Legend is a pile of shite.  But they’d be wrong. 

The pictures of the poster don’t do the striking neon colours justice and I believe it was done with a type of screen-printing as they are particularly solid and bright in person.

Here’s a clip from the film featuring a red-tinted werewolf-vision attack.

Dark Tower / one sheet / international

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Dark Tower
AKA
Il grattacielo della morte [The skyscraper of death] (Italy)
Year of Film
1987
Director
Freddie Francis, Ken Wiederhorn
Starring
Michael Moriarty, Jenny Agutter, Carol Lynley, Theodore Bikel, Kevin McCarthy, Anne Lockhart, Patch Mackenzie, Robert Sherman
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Michael Moriarty, Jenny Agutter, Carol Lynley, Theodore Bikel, Kevin McCarthy, Anne Lockhart, Patch Mackenzie, Robert Sherman,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
International
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
It reaches HEAVEN... and touches HELL!

Tales That Witness The Madness / one sheet / black and white style / USA

17.05.11

Poster Poster
Title
Tales That Witness The Madness
AKA
Delirious (Italy)
Year of Film
1973
Director
Freddie Francis
Starring
Kim Novak, Georgia Brown, Joan Collins, Jack Hawkins, Donald Houston, Michael Jayston, Suzy Kendall, Peter McEnery, Michael Petrovitch, Donald Pleasence, Russell Lewis
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Kim Novak, Georgia Brown, Joan Collins, Jack Hawkins, Donald Houston, Michael Jayston, Suzy Kendall, Peter McEnery, Michael Petrovitch, Donald Pleasence, Russell Lewis,
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
Black and white style
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1973
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
27" x 40"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
--
Tagline
An orgy of the damned! It happens beyond madness... where your mind won't believe what your eyes see.