After years of disastrous mismanagement, Hammer is rising again under the auspices of Simon Oakes, who seems to genuinely understand how to restore the brand. You may be aware of their success with The Woman In Black, Let Me In and Wake Wood, but they are also branching into other areas in recognition of the need to hit several formats at once.
Hammer film novelisations have been commissioned from a lineup of great authors, I’ve just written one of their first original radio plays, and next week at Manchester’s Grimmfest I’ll be introducing ‘The Devil Rides Out’ in a pristine new print, now that six Hammer classics have arrived in Bu-Ray versions. Hammer is seeking out the censored seconds from their old prints and restoring the footage, and it will be nice to see Dracula’s eyes finally drop into his face. It means I’ll have to buy the films all over again, but it’ll be worth it.
Horror gained respectability through the creation of sumptuous fantasy period pieces. English horror had extended from a civilised background, the world of Benson, James and Saki, of ghost stories told over after-dinner port. The new Hammer is seeking the same effect, eschewing cheap splatter for an emphasis on good plots and strong performances. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.
The Hammer picture is of course by Graham Humphries.