Baker, credited early on in his career simply as Roy Baker, counted The October Man (1947) and A Night to Remember (1958) among his first successes. Before that, he was second assistant director on the Will Hay comedy Oh, Mr Porter! (1937) and first on the Hitchcock thriller The Lady Vanishes (1938).
In the 1960s and 1970s, Baker made a name for himself directed horror, fantasy and science-fiction, including the Hammer horrors Quatermass and the Pit (1967), The Vampire Lovers (1970), The Scars of Dracula (1970), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and the entertaining kung-fu crossover The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974). For Hammer's rival, Amicus, he shot And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973), as well as the anthologies Asylum (1972), Vault of Horror (1973) and The Monster Club (1980).
He was a talented director whose knack for suspense and horror technique could also be his downfall. Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde has some truly memorable moments, but Baker's skill is almost too showy at times. Quatermass and the Pit stands out as one of Hammer's all-time most tense and riveting movies, however. The Scars of Dracula stands out as one of the studio's most embarrassingly bad pictures, while the same year's The Vampire Lovers pleasingly echoes Hammer's very best Gothic style.
Roy Ward Baker, who was born in 1916, in London, passed away on Tuesday, October 5, 2010.