News: New Hammer Horror In Name Only

CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN recreated the Gothic formula. Why can't Hammer do that again?In an article focusing on a wave of horror films from the United Kingdom, Variety notes that Hammer Films, the recently reborn company that once upon a time fashioned Gothic classics like CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL, and THE GORGON) is planning a new slate of three films. Unfortunately, the new productions will do little to continue that famous Hammer Horror Legacy.

Even Hammer Film Prods. is getting in on the act in the wake of the banner’s revival last year by Dutch producer John De Mol by unveiling a slate of pics far removed from the bodice rippers of the 1960s and 1970s with which it made its name. The iconic studio is prepping three features that are a far cry from the theatrical dueling of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Hammer is set to start production later this year on “The Wake Wood,” directed by David Keating, “The Resident,” a chiller directed by Antti Jokinen that is described as being in the tradition of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” and “The Quiet Ones,” based on the supposedly true story of a group of Canadian hippie scientists in the 1970s who attempt to create a ghost.
“Those earlier Hammer films were very much of their time, and there is a lot of affection for them, but we have to keep up with audiences’ expectations today,” says Hammer chief exec Simon Oakes. “I like to think of ourselves now as dealing more in the Hitchcockian areas of terror and suspense.”

Okay, I’ll make the obvious point: When Hammer released CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1957, Gothic Horror was already old hat and dated. The Universal horror boom of the ’30s and ’40s had long since faded away, and everyone was making sci-fi monster flicks about alien invaders and atomic mutations. Hammer cashed in on this trend to some extent with THE QUATERMAS XPERIMENT (released as THE CREEPING UNKOWN in the U.S.), but they really hit the big time at the box office when they revived classic horror from the dead – like Dr. Frankenstein, stitching together the old familiar elements into something distinctly new.
Yes, the new incarnation of Hammer Films need not slavishly cling to its past, but the best way to stay true to the company name would be to attempt a similar reinvention of old familiar forms, instead of following current trends.

4 Replies to “News: New Hammer Horror In Name Only”

  1. I’m not so sure that is true. What works in one era may not work in another. What IS important is that Hammer is working on projects once again.

  2. Hm, guess I didn’t make my point clearly. I wasn’t suggesting that Hammer should stick to what it did in a former era; I was saying that it should re-invent the old formula for this era.
    I don’t think it’s particularly important that the name “Hammer” is appearing on movie credits again. If all they have to offer is the name, who cares?

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