The Mondo Esoterica Guide to:

Terence Fisher

  About Terence Fisher:

Born in England 1904, Fisher spent several years at sea, followed by work in retail until he managed to secure a job at Shepherd's Bush studios and quickly progressed to editing films. After a few years of sucessful work, he was sent on a directoral training course, and shot a few small British films. During slight decline in the British film business, the only studio making progress were Hammer Productions; Fisher joined and was immediately put to work directing The Last Page (1951), starring British starlette Diana Dors, and prophetically, former Dracula stage actor Raymond Huntley. Fisher went on to direct a variety of Hammer films, including their early sci-fi works Four Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways (1953). His biggest break came in 1956 when Hammer gave him the director's chair on Curse of Frankenstein (1957) starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee; its sucess changed the studio forever, and brought a whole new level to horror films worldwide signalling the re-birth of the gothic period horror story. Fisher followed up this sucess by directing the duo in the highly sucessful Horror of Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959) and Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). Fisher's luck started to run out with the only averagely sucessful Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and the expensive flop of The Phantom of the Opera (1962), as a result he did not work for Hammer for several years.

During the break, Fisher filmed
Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962) with Christopher Lee, for the German Constantin Film Company and the a poorly received horror/comedy The Horror of It All (1963) for the former Hammer co-producer Robert Lippert, before eventually returning to Hammer to re-unite Lee and Cushing in The Gorgon (1964). He went on to shoot a couple of independent British sci-fi films with Peter Cushing including Night of the Big Heat (1967), before returning to Hammer for good with Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Frankenstein Created Woman (1967). After the very impressive The Devil Rides Out (1968) and Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969), often considered to be Hammer's best films, he suffered an accident that kept him from directing for several years, and he eventually returned to the director's chair for the last time to shoot Peter Cushing in the final Frankenstein series film Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). After Hammer's subsequent demise, he retired, and died in 1980.

Unlike many of the popular European directors of the 1960s and 70s, Fisher was not an auteur-director but worked as part of the extensive Hammer team. His directoral style is notable mostly for remaining unnoticed throughout the films, prefering to focus the audience to the story onscreen, rather than grab their attention with fancy camera-work or odd angles - in interviews he stated his dislike for 'tricky shooting' that made films look like TV commercials. Fisher's work for Hammer Studios is likely to remain the most well known of his career, and it is no co-incidence that their most sucessful films were all directed by him.

DVD Reviews: Films directed by Terence Fisher

Brides of Dracula (1960)
US Universal Region 1 DVD (Hammer Horror Series Boxset)
The least of Hammer's early gothics, Fisher's decent direction is let down by a flawed script.
Not recommended.
Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
UK Warner Brothers Region 2 DVD
Hammer's first horror film with impressive production and a fantastic leading duo. A very important film.
A strong, highly recommended film to all viewers.
Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
US Universal Region 1 DVD (Hammer Horror Series Boxset)
Well written, directed and acted, this is not a traditional Hammer horror title, but is certainly a very good film.
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Optimum UK Region 2 DVD (Ultimate Hammer Collection boxset)
One of Hammer's best, with strong production, a good story, and a great directoral turn from Fisher.
Highly recommended.
Four Sided Triangle (1954)
UK DD-Video Region 2 DVD
A smart sci-fi script, although with a poor ending, this film benefits from strong Fisher direction and heralds the Frankenstein films. Of interest to Hammer fans.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)
German E-M-S Region 2 DVD
A a very good film with a great script, a wonderfully dark, atmospheric setting, and good performances by all.
A recommended film to all Hammer fans.
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
UK Warner Brothers Region 2 DVD
An interesting concept, but an unexciting film. Fisher's direction is adequate but can't help the film.
Partially recommended to Hammer fans.
Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969)
UK Warner Brothers Region 2 DVD
A strong, near-perfect script combined with top notch performances and great production.
Highly recommended to all.
Island of Terror (1966)
UK DD-Video Region 0 DVD
An entertaining, although un-original horror/sci-fi film with a good Peter Cushing performance and strong direction.
Mask of Dust (1954)
UK DD-Video Region 2 DVD
A motor-racing movie with more cars than plot. Very well edited together and with Fisher's recognisable direction.
Partly recommended.
The Mummy (1959)
UK Warner Brothers Region 2 DVD
An impressive film from the beginning of Hammer's gothic cycle. Well directed for a brooding atmosphere.
Recommended to all.
Phantom of the Opera (1962)
US Universal Region 1 DVD (Hammer Horror Series Boxset)
More period romance than gothic horror, this film was unpopular at the time, but stands up well with decent direction.
Recommended to fans.
Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
UK Columbia Region 2 DVD
Solid direction and acting combine with a story that takes a new branch to the traditional story.
Recommended to Hammer fans.
Spaceways (1953)
UK DD-Video Region 2 DVD
An average detective film trying to capitalise on the space-race. Unexciting but solid direction.
Not recommended.
Strangers of Bombay (1960)
Sony US Region 1 DVD (Icons of Adventure Boxset)
A rather mediocre script but some strong acting and directing at least make this film watchable.
Of interest to fans of the Hammer adventures.


Return to main menu.

Return to people/genre page.

All text in this site written by Timothy Young - January 2006.
Text from this site not to be used without authorization.

Please contact: