Topps Shock Theater trading card #30 Dracula A.D. (UK version 1976)
Back in 1976 trading card company Topps produced a collection of cards called “Shock Theater” that were based on the films of the legendary British cult film company, Hammer.
Part of Hammer’s long-running appeal was due to its use of gore and sex, a tactic they used in excess to try to stay relevant during the 70’s. So it’s more than a little confusing as to why they marketed the cards to kids (the packs came with that nasty, cardboard flavored pink gum we all spit out after chomping on it for 30 seconds). For example, the Karnstein Trilogy (1970 and 1971), featured three films, The Vampire Lovers starring Ingrid PItt, Lust for a Vampire, and Twins of Evil, that contained explicit sex scenes and lesbianism that had not yet been seen much in English-speaking films. The storyline for 1970’s Taste the Blood of Dracula (one of many Hammer/Dracula films starring the late Christopher Lee), has three swingers turning to black magic to help boost their dwindling libidos.
As far as gross-outs are concerned, 1970’s Scars of Dracula (Hammers very first Dracula movie given an R rating), has a scene that shows dismembered corpses lying in a church with blood-stained walls. To say nothing of the part when a giant bat regurgitates blood all over Dracula’s ashes. And if you’ve never seen 1972’s Vampire Circus, I’ll just say this. There’s a woman dancing around naked, covered in tiger-looking body paint, and loads of sex and blood. In other words, it’s an excellent film.
Topps Shock Theater trading card #34 Taste the Blood of Dracula (UK version, 1976)
Topps Shock Theater Hammer trading card #36 Dracula A.D. (UK version, 1976)
Topps put out two sets of Hammer-themed cards, one in the U.S. in 1975, and a second, nearly identical set in the UK in 1976. The cards are amusingly captioned, a feature that perhaps helped tone down the image on the cards. The back of the cards also had jokes on them as well as a brief description of the scene from the film it depicted. In mint condition, both sets of cards can go for more than two-thousand dollars. Expertly preserved proofs can sell for over $400 apiece. But, if you dig this kind of thing, cards in various conditions can easily be found for less than $20 bucks on eBay.
Topps Shock Theater Hammer trading card #35 Dracula A.D. (UK version 1976)
Topps Shock Theater trading card #49 The Satanic Rites of Dracula (UK version, 1976)
Shocking Theater trading card #49 back view
Topps Shock Theater trading card #47 Dracula A.D. (UK version, 1976)
Topps Shock Theater trading card Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell
Topps Shock Theater trading card wrapper