‘The curse of the thing is Technicolor blood: why need vampires be messier feeders than anyone else?’: The BBFC and Hammer’s Colour Films, 1957–1962’

Paul Frith

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Hammer Film Productions’ move to colour in the 1950s has often been discussed in terms of their application of blood and gore becoming the primary concern for the British Board of Film Censors who sought to remove a number of shots deemed to be more objectionable when seen in colour rather than black-and-white. In order to circumvent these restrictions, it has been suggested that Hammer went against the BBFC’s wishes by submitting work prints of their colour films in black-and-white in the hope that the examiner would be unable to detect the objectionable material. However, records from the period suggest that the BBFC were not entirely against this process, and that using black-and-white stock during post-production had more to do with cost-cutting than an attempt to out-do the censor. Primarily through an analysis of BBFC reports from this period, this article will therefore address the complexities surrounding the censorship of Hammer’s early colour films, paying specific attention to what this practice of submitting black-and-white prints reveals about the decisions taken by the Board when viewing horror in both monochrome and colour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-250
Number of pages18
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Issue number2
Early online date1 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • Eastmancolor
  • Horror
  • Censorship
  • BBFC
  • Colour
  • Hammer

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