He was the first to bring gothic horror alive in full color, and the sexual overtones and explicit horror in his films, while mild by modern standards, were unprecedented in his day. His first major gothic horror film was The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), which launched Hammer's association with the genre and made British actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee leading horror stars of the era. He went on to film several adaptations of classic horror subjects, including Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), and The Curse of the Werewolf (1961).
Given their subject matter and lurid approach, Fisher's films, though commercially successful, were largely dismissed by critics during his career. It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognized as an auteur in his own right. His most famous films are characterized by a blend of fairy-tale myth and the supernatural alongside themes of sexuality, morality, and "the charm of evil". Drawing heavily on a conservative Christian outlook, there is often a hero who defeats the powers of darkness by a combination of faith in God and reason, in contrast to other characters, who are either blindly superstitious or bound by cold, godless rationalism. For detailed discussions of Fisher's work, see Terence Fisher: Horror, Myth, and Religion by Paul Leggett (McFarland and Co, 2002), British Film Makers: Terence Fisher by Peter Hutchings (Manchester University Press, 2013), The Films of Terence Fisher: Hammer Horror and Beyond by Wheeler Winston Dixon (Auteur Publishing, 2017), and Terence Fisher: Master of Gothic Cinema by Tony Dalton (FAB Press, 2021).