If you look up Hammer Film Production on Wikipedia it will tell you that the company was founded in 1934. Wikipedia also give a list of some of the ‘landmark’ films that Hammer have produced over a long period of time. Wikipedia also states that the company did some re-imaging in the 70’s. Hammer also spent most of the 80’s doing television. The 90’s were spent doing documentaries.
Hammer then went quiet until their recent re-birth with the production of the 2008 on-line serial Beyond the Rave. A fairly inauspicious re-birth, but it was still a rise from the proverbial ashes. Beyond the Rave was about vampires who held illegal raves to lure new victims in. Made with a budget of £500,000 the final episode of the serial wasn’t even aired on-line. After a two year wait a limited amount of DVD’s were produced in both PAL and NTSC formats.
Then in 2010 Hammer produced the re-make of the Swedish horror film Let the Right One In. The re-make was re-titled Let Me In it had Chloë Grace Moretz who was a hot property after her portrayal of Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. It was very good as re-makes go and it was nice to see the Hammer name associated with a better than average horror film, even if it was a re-make.
2011 saw The Resident with Hilary Swank as the main protagonist. The film was a straight to DVD release although it was given a limited cinema release in the UK, The Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Brazil. The chiller was got mixed reviews from critics ranging from two stars to four. Not really setting the world on fire, but Hammer had at least gotten off the re-make train.
2011 also saw the release of Wake Wood a Irish-Hammer co-production. Wake Wood was a modern Gothic tale set in Ireland. In essence it was Pet Semetary without the device of animals being brought back to life. Actor Timothy Spall was the local vet who could bring back the dead for a limited time only. The film had a satisfying sting in it’s tail and put another notch on Hammers camera.
2012 aka the present, Hammer has produced but not released the thriller Winchester Mystery House. But more impressively Hammer has produced the film The Woman in Black starring Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe. The film is based on the novel written by Susan Hill and not the West End play of the same name.
The Woman in Black has hit Gothic gold for Hammer. The box office for the opening weekend of the film was Twenty million dollars, the most any Hammer film has pulled in for a US opening. This is no doubt the main reason that Hammer has scheduled a sequel for the film. Critical response has been mainly good. As of June this year the film has made over $127 million world wide and has the distinction of being the highest grossing British Horror film of all time.
I haven’t seen The Woman in Black yet, but I am going to rush down to the rental place as soon as possible to rent it. My daughter and I both watched the stage version in the West End and it scared the crap out of us. As best as I can remember the stage play was based on the novel as well.
If the film is only half as scary as the play, it will be worth watching.