While many of my peers grew up on TV showings of Asian martial arts films, my foreign movies of choice were always the Hammer horror films. Lush and vibrant with incredible atmosphere, the Hammer films defined a certain kind of gothic horror. To this day I can’t see fog creeping along the ground without thinking of Christopher Lee. Plus, the Hammer girls were often just as lush in shape as the films were in color.
Now Hammer is coming back, thanks to a Dutch producer (and the creator of Big Brother) and a private equity firm. They’ve bought Hammer’s 300 title library, which includes Blighty versions of Famous Monsters of Filmland like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Mummy, as well as the sci-fi classic The Quatermass Experiment and its sequels.
"Hammer is a great British media brand that has lain dormant but lived on in people's imaginations. It is more intelligent and character-driven than traditional American 'goreography,' and we intend to capitalize on this and make it a global brand," says Simon Oakes, who, along with Marc Schipper, has been tapped to run the revitalized studio. They’ve reached out to LA-based producers Guy East and Nigel Sinclair to make two or three horror films or thrillers for the studio a year, and there’s already talk of a Hammer horror TV show.
Done right, this could be great. Horror is cyclical, and we’ve reached the end of the slasher/stalker/torture era. It’s time to do something else, and Hammer’s gothic horror could be the future – if these guys do it right. There’s no guaranteeing that anything the new Hammer puts out will be even remotely recognizable as a Hammer movie. I feel like the greatness of those films lays in elements specific to the time and place, elements that can never be recreated.