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Terence Fisher

IMDb

Date of Birth:
23 February 1904London, England, UK

Date of Death:
18 June 1980Twickenham, London, England, UK  (heart attack)

Short Biography:
Terence Fisher was born in Maida Vale, England, in 1904. Raised by his grandmother in a strict Christian Scientist environment, Fisher left school while still in his teens to join the Merchant Marine. By his own account he soon discovered that a life at sea was not for him, so he left the service and tried his hand at a succession of jobs ashore. It was during this time that he discovered the cinema, entering the film industry as "the oldest clapper boy in the business." One day, almost as a lark, he applied to J. Arthur Rank Studios to become a film editor. To his astonishment, he was accepted. In 1947, at the age of 43, he made his directorial debut with a supernatural comedy called Colonel Bogey (1948)--a foreshadowing of things to come.

For the next few years he switched between "A"-film assignments (Noël Coward's _The Astonished Heart (1948)_, So Long at the Fair (1950) with Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde and Lost Daughter (1949) with Herbert Lom) and a succession of "B" films, which enabled him to support his wife and daughter. Typical of these programmers are Three Stops to Murder (1953) and Spaceways (1953), efficient but uninspired films that show little in the way of personality.

His break came in 1956 when, at the age of 52, he was asked to helm Hammer Studios' remake of Frankenstein (1931). The result, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), broke box-office records and enraged critics worldwide who were unaccustomed to its plethora of hearty bloodletting. The Eastmancolor shocker set a new standard for horror films and helped to make Fisher, Hammer and stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee into bankable commodities. With its emphasis on realistic character interplay over melodramatic conventions, the film established Fisher's personal approach to horror, which stood in direct defiance to the old Universal films--in fact, Fisher flatly refused to watch James Whale's 1931 version for fear that it might influence his vision.

More remakes followed. Fisher actively sought to remake Dracula (1931), and the results proved to be both aesthetically and commercially superior to "Curse of Frankenstein". Horror of Dracula (1958) proved to be universally popular and is commonly held as Fisher's--and Hammer's--finest work. It may or may not be, but it does remain the freshest and most vibrant big-screen reworking of the story; even Francis Ford Coppola in his remake failed to recapture its vigor and sense of urgency.

Fisher's subsequent films tended to place less emphasis on shock effects and more on complex emotional interplay. For example, the titular characters of The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and The Phantom of the Opera (1962) are more sympathetic than the so-called "normal" characters, while Fisher's fascinating Freudian take on the Dr. Jekyll story--The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)--offers a homely old Dr. Jekyll who transforms into a virile man about town named Edward Hyde. Similarly, The Gorgon (1964) disappointed schlock fans by offering a haunting story of doomed love in place of the conventional Hammer-style shocker. Following the commercial failure of "Phantom"--Hammer's most expensive film to that point--Fisher was booted out for a brief period. During this time lesser talents like Freddie Francis were entrusted with the franchises that Fisher had helped to establish. Invariably the results were inferior. Despite his hatred for sci-fi, which stood in contrast to his confessed love for horror, Fisher made good work of The Devil Rides Out (1968) precursor The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) (with Dennis Price), while Island of the Burning Damned (1967) (again with Lee and Cushing) benefited from his ability to suggest pent-up passion and paranoia.

Back at Hammer after this brief hiatus, Fisher resurrected Christopher Lee's count in the under-rated, poetic Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) before detailing the further adventures of Baron Frankenstein in Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) and his last film, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). All three films offer subtle variations on the character of the Baron, played by the impeccable Cushing, thus emphasizing Fisher's unique ability to lend complex, credible characterization to seemingly formula-bound material. "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed", an unusually bitter film which mirrors the nihilism of the late 1960s, remains Fisher's finest, most multi-layered work, despite its lack of popularity. At the center of Fisher's work is a fascinating moral dilemma: the seductive appeal of evil vs. the overzealous, frequently close-minded representatives of good. The consistency of theme in Fisher's work, coupled with a distinctive style achieved through precise framing and a dynamic editing style, refutes the idea that he was merely a hack for hire, while lending his films a recognizable signature.

Best films: "So Long at the Fair", Lost Daughter (1949), "Dracula", The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Mummy (1959), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), "Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll", The Brides of Dracula (1960), "Curse of the Werewolf", The Phantom of the Opera (1962), "The Gorgon", "The Earth Dies Screaming", "Dracula--Prince of Darkness" and "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed".

Terence Fisher died in 1980 at the age of 76.

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

# 09175 IMDb

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

TaglineHis brain came from a genius. His body came from a killer. His soul came from hell!

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 39min)

UK UK

Rated 6.3 after 2,143 votes on 25-Mar-16.

Last of the Hammer Frankenstein films, this one deals with the Baron hiding out in an insane asylum, so that he may continue his experiments with reanimating the dead, along with inmate Dr. Helder, who has been institutionalized for conducting such experiments.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

# 12437 IMDb

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

TaglineThe Most Frightening Frankenstein Movie Ever!

By Terence Fisher

Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi (1h 38min)

UK UK

Rated 6.9 after 3,062 votes on 10-Dec-16.

Baron Frankenstein is once again working with illegal medical experiments. Together with a young doctor, Karl and his fiancée Anna, they kidnap the mentally sick Dr. Brandt, to perform the first brain transplantation ever.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

# 08571 IMDb

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

TaglineThe beauty of woman . . . the demon of darkness . . . the unholy union of "The Devil's Bride"

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 36min)

UK UK

Fine! Rated 7.0 after 5,501 votes on 28-Jan-17.

The Duc de Richeleau and his friend Rex discover their young charge Simon has fallen in with the powers of Darkness and is about to be baptized into the service of evil. The Duc is fortunately versed in such matters and finds himself locked in a duel with the deadly Mocata, disciple of the left-hand path.

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

# 08465 IMDb

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

TaglineThe Ultimate in Evil!

By Terence Fisher

Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi (1h 26min)

UK UK

Rated 6.6 after 2,989 votes on 14-Jun-16.

A dead and frozen Baron Frankenstein is re-animated by is colleague Dr. Hertz proving to him that the soul does not leave the body on the instant of death. His lab assistant, young Hans, is found guilty of murdering the local pub owner with whom he had an argument where he foolishly swore to kill the man and Frankenstein acquires his body immediately after the execution. Hans had been quite (...)

Island of Terror (1966)

# 14797 IMDb Unrated | Approved 

Island of Terror (1966)

TaglineHow could they stop the devouring death...that lived by sucking on living human bones!

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 29min)

UK UK

Rated 6.2 after 2,134 votes on 10-Aug-18.

A small island community is overrun with creeping, blobbish, tentacled monsters which liquefy and digest the bones from living creatures. The community struggles to fight back.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

# 08350 IMDb

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

TaglineThe Greatest All New Fright Show In Town!

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 30min)

UK UK

Rated 6.7 after 6,412 votes on 07-Jun-16.

Two couples traveling in eastern Europe decide to visit Carlstad despite dire local warnings. Left outside the village by a coachman terrified at the approach of night, they find themselves in the local castle and are surprised at the hospitality extended by the sinister Klove. It turns out the owner, Count Dracula, dead for ten years, has been hoping for such a visit.

The Gorgon (1964)

# 14045 IMDb Approved 

The Gorgon (1964)

TaglineA Monster With the Power to Turn Living Screaming Flesh Into Stone!

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 23min)

UK UK

Rated 6.5 after 3,918 votes on 25-Oct-17.

In the early 20th century, a Gorgon takes human form and terrorizes a small European village by turning its citizens to stone.

The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

# 14013 IMDb Unrated | Approved 

The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

TaglineOut of the hell-fire of horror unimaginable rises the figure of terror incarnate!

By Terence Fisher

Drama, Horror, Music, Mystery, Thriller (1h 24min)

UK UK

Rated 6.4 after 2,201 votes on 31-Oct-17.

1 nomination

Terror strikes the London Opera House as a new opera is disrupted by the actions of a deformed specter of the show's past who has an obsession with one of the production's chorus girl.

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

# 07964 IMDb

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

TaglineEVEN THOSE WHO LOVED HIM WERE NOT SAFE!

By Terence Fisher

Drama, Horror, Romance, Thriller (1h 31min)

UK UK

Rated 6.8 after 3,843 votes on 10-May-17.

In Spain, Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl who was raped by a beggar. His mother dies giving birth and he is looked after by Don Alfredo. As a child Leon becomes a werewolf after having been taken hunting. As a young man, he works in a wine cellar and falls in love with the owner's daughter Cristina. One full moon, he again turns into a werewolf and terrifies the town.

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

# 14047 IMDb

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

TaglineSometimes, Terror Has A Handsome Face.

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 28min)

UK UK

Rated 6.5 after 1,825 votes on 22-Jan-18.

Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

The Brides of Dracula (1960)

# 07884 IMDb

The Brides of Dracula (1960)

TaglineHe Turned Innocent Beauty Into Unspeakable Horror.

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 25min)

UK UK

Rated 6.8 after 5,154 votes on 27-Oct-17.

A young teacher on her way to a position in Transylvania helps a young man escape the shackles his mother has put on him. In so doing she innocently unleashes the horrors of the undead once again on the populace, including those at her school for ladies. Luckily for some, Dr Van Helsing is already on his way.

The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)

# 12492 IMDb

The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)

TaglineHIS HIDEOUS OBSESSION LED HIM TO COMMIT GHASTLY CRIMES OF PASSION AND VIOLENCE.

By Terence Fisher

Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi (1h 23min)

UK UK

Rated 6.4 after 1,192 votes on 27-Jul-18.

A remake of "The Man in Half Moon Street" (1945) (qv.). Dr. Bonner plans to live forever through periodic gland transplants from younger, healthier human victims. Bonner looks about 40; he's really 104 years old. But people are starting to get suspicious, and he may not make 200.

The Mummy (1959)

# 07843 IMDb

The Mummy (1959)

TaglineTorn from the tomb to terrify the world!

By Terence Fisher

Horror (1h 28min)

UK UK

Rated 6.8 after 6,456 votes on 22-Jun-18.

In the 1890s a team of British archaeologists discover the untouched tomb of Princess Ananka but accidentally bring the mummified body of her High Priest back to life. Three years later back in England a follower of the same Egyptian religion unleashes the mummy to exact grisly revenge on the despoilers of the sacred past.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

# 07819 IMDb

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

TaglineSherlock Holmes' Most Terrifying Adventure!

By Terence Fisher

Crime, Drama, Horror, Mystery (1h 27min)

UK UK

Fine! Rated 7.0 after 7,821 votes on 29-Jul-18.

Returning to his family's manor house on the lonely moors after his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Sir Henry Baskerville is confronted with the mystery of the supernatural hound that supposedly takes revenge upon the Baskerville family. The famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson are brought in to investigate.

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

# 07390 IMDb

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)

TaglineThe Terror Rises Again

By Terence Fisher

Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi (1h 29min)

UK UK

Rated 6.9 after 3,763 votes on 27-Jul-18.

We watch Baron Frankenstein escaping from the guillotine and going to Germany. There, he names himself Dr. Stein and plans to restart his experiments by using parts of dead bodies.

Dracula (1958)

# 04320 IMDb

Dracula (1958)

(Horror of Dracula)

TaglineDon't Dare See It...Alone!

By Terence Fisher

Horror, Thriller (1h 22min)

UK UK

Fine! Rated 7.4 after 15,327 votes on 22-Aug-16.

1 nomination

After Jonathan Harker attacks Dracula at his castle (apparently somewhere in Germany), the vampire travels to a nearby city, where he preys on the family of Harker's fiancée. The only one who may be able to protect them is Dr. van Helsing, Harker's friend and fellow-student of vampires, who is determined to destroy Dracula, whatever the cost.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

# 05812 IMDb

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

TaglineNot recommended for people of nervous disposition

By Terence Fisher

Sci-Fi, Horror, Drama (1h 22min)

UK UK

Fine! Rated 7.2 after 6,371 votes on 18-Sep-16.

After all his family has died, young and rich Baron Victor Frankenstein finds himself a teacher, Paul Krempe. Over the years, their relationship switches from teacher-pupil to research colleagues. Their specific interest lies in life itself. After resurrecting a dead puppy, Paul Krempe sees the monstrosity of their experiments and decides to quit working on those projects. But as Elizabeth, (...)

So Long at the Fair (1950)

# 12106 IMDb

So Long at the Fair (1950)

By Antony Darnborough, Terence Fisher

Drama, Mystery (1h 21min)

UK UK

Fine! Rated 7.3 after 1,148 votes on 10-Mar-17.

1 nomination

Vicky Barton and her brother, Johnny, take a trip to the 1896 Paris Exhibition. They both sleep in seperate rooms in a hotel. When the sister gets up the next morning, she finds her brother and his room had disappeared and no one will even acknowledge that he was ever there. Now Vicky must find out what exactly happened to her brother.

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