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Hammer Has Risen From the Grave

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Mark Kermode | 14:46 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

This week sees the release of Wake Wood - the second film from the new generation Hammer Studios. It's a creepy, quirky and very British horror movie - but what is the future for Hammer ?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Its future, hopefully, is in original in-camera works. Hollywood's penchant for CG-heavy re-makes is starting to grate.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think it's a great time for Hammer to come back especially that it's harder for filmmakers to get films made at the moment.
    I can see Hammer getting talents like Gasper Noe etc to make films for them especially when no other studios are willing to be adventurous and instead make the same thing over and over again.
    It's also a great training gound for the next big thing to learn as you have mentioned Mark before with the likes of Scorsese learning his trade with Roger Cormen. Grindhouse sort of films have always been financially viable like in Australia, here and America.
    Hopefully this time there will be more structure and learn from before and not do the same mistake again but already with Let Me In and The Woman in Black coming out, they seem to show signs of quality as well.
    It’s just not a great thing for British films it back, but for film in general as well.

  • Comment number 3.

    The more the merrier. The Brit Film Industry is always in danger of reductively reproducing its slight successes, churning out period drama and RCurtis Rom-Coms. Having another player on the field can only increase the variety which will hopefully lead to quality. Particularly having Hammer possibly returned as a genre stalwart will hopefully give us interesting and sometimes quirky horror rather than the next instalment of Torture Porn III (in 3D).

    Long live the new, erm, old, erm, new flesh!

  • Comment number 4.

    This film has an irish director, irish stars and is set in ireland. Dont you guys have enough talent over in britain? Why do you have to claim ours aswell?

  • Comment number 5.

    @ loubert

    Two points.

    1.This film is an Irish-English production filmed in Sweden.
    2. That doesn't even matter because nationalism is ludicrous, and particularly so when it comes to cinema. It is brilliant that actors, directors etc. can work with those from other countries and thus tackle unfamiliar cultures and customs, perhaps providing new and original perspectives.

    This is definitely on my must-see list, thanks for the head-up Mark. One thing that intrigues me about it is Timothy Spall's role, this looks like it could well be one of his better performances as I find him a very hit-and-miss actor. For instance, in Pierrepoint I think he is very convincing, but less so in The King's Speech as Churchill. Then again, perhaps that's just because he was overrworked, what with him being in every scene...

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to vent some frustration here. The Wake Wood came out today and yet I can't find it playing anywhere near me. I can't say that I expected it to get a big release or anything, but I figured that Picture House cinemas would give it a short run right?

    Nope, nothing.

    Why are we still - in 2011 - giving our home grown genre flicks a lack of attention and support? If The Wake Wood was some 'realist' flick ala Mike Leigh we'd see independant cinemas everywhere playing this film. But when it comes to our genre talent we do nothing for them unless they get success in America? Where's the love cinema owners? And why does this genre snobbery still exist?

  • Comment number 7.

    As Mark has said in the past, these are the films we need to produce and support to help our film industry progress.

    I guess the upside is that I can go get it on DVD monday, but I really wanted to support it in the cinema.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks for the heads-up Doctor! A Hammer fan on the other side of the Atlantic, I didn't know about this, and I'm intrigued to hear that the Gothic Factory is back in business!

  • Comment number 9.

    hopefully as a company Hammer may even be willing to take a chance on new talent. People who may have a script or even completed movie that simply needs distributing. The Resident (hillary swank) is a Hammer film and although very american looking it certainly has an english hammer feel to it. and it has christopher lee!!!

  • Comment number 10.


    No as most of ours is now in Hollywood like Matthew Vaughn and Nolan etc. Could be worse mind, we could be exporting U2 to the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 11.

    I can't wait to see Wake Wood. I'm looking forward to the fact that it seems more grounded in Hammer traditions. Finally, a British Hammer horror once again. This so called 'resurrection' of Hammer has been more like an AIP revival.

  • Comment number 12.

    @stringer bell

    I don't know why you felt the need to correct me, my comment had nothing to do with nationalism(which isn't ludricrous) I was simply complaining about the fact that from a creative standpoint the film is Irish and it's not fair to say it's "very british"

  • Comment number 13.

    @ rbevanx

    Americans don't go around calling Mathew Vaughn american. and the U2 remark was immature

  • Comment number 14.

    Hammer films were hammy and camp. How the hell can they ever fit in with today's cynical, techno-savvy audiences, used to top-notch SFX and direction? What makes a Hammer film stand out in today's world? I can't see anything. Hammer films died out for a reason: they were behind the times. Why dig them up again like some old corpse?

  • Comment number 15.


    Oh yes ranting about "Why do you have to claim everything is yours" is a great example of mature lol.

  • Comment number 16.

    well if this is the sort of debate you want to have, im outa here

  • Comment number 17.

    Another interesting blog entry! Wake wood seems like my cup of tea, I have to say.

  • Comment number 18.

    It would would be great if there were more great hammer horrors to give Kate Bush nightmares!!.Part of old hammers appeal is that they were hammy and camp,my brain says `Audition` but my heart says `Vampire Circus`The blood in todays films is to dark and sticky, in hammer it was always about the colour bright bright RED !! lovely
    There have been some great recent british horror flicks, Eden Lake,Wilderness and Severeance to name but three, so the more the merrier, bring em on

  • Comment number 19.


    Really enjoy your blogs but can you please do something about the sound. The music is stupidly loud and the dialogue is stupidly quiet. Fix please.

  • Comment number 20.

    I found the sound fine myself but this problem has been mentioned before with the BBC TheHalfWit. I think people had the same problem with Wonders of the Universe.

  • Comment number 21.

    I would actually like to cite WAKE WOOD as proof positive of the utter uselessness of the Day-Date release pattern. It's on DVD as of tomorrow (Monday 28th) and is on at one screen in the whole of England, Scotland and Wales. For one show a day. Where does that give us CINEMAGOERS the chance to see it in a CINEMA?

    This isn't a cinema release. It's a DVD premiere with a tiny tiny handful of theatrical screenings. Even if - IF - the PictureHouse chain do screen it in up to ten sites, as the distributors claim - that's NOT a cinema release.

  • Comment number 22.

    There are warning on the packet not to use 3D glasses as sunglasses!

  • Comment number 23.

    As a huge hammer horror fan, the best decades for Hammer horror were the 50s and 60s. There was nothing hammy or camp with their movies, and people who say or write those things, have only seen a couple of films which was most likely Dracula AD 1972, or Satanic Rites of Dracula.

    The majority of their back catalogue have been excellent mainly from the 50s and 60s, they did quite a few psychological thrillers, adventure movies, and a few comedies.

    Quatermass movies were a huge inspiration to the X Files, and Fringe, as well as science fiction, and horror movies especially to John Carpenter in his heyday, and whilst people think J Horror are better, in all honesty they like to recycle the same idea over and over again. I liked the genre when it first came out, but like so many others we became quickly bored, and moved on, and fell back in love with European horror movies, and we Brits started to make good horror movies again.

    Cynics always love to dismiss classic British horror movies, and always point out that the 70s was the decline of British horror. When in actual fact Hammer did some great movies, and they wasn’t scared to try something new with the old formula, such as Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Hands of the Ripper, Taste the Blood of Dracula, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Fear In The Night, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (the title maybe off putting but it is really good).

    Hammer needs the love and respect it truly deserves, because they re-invented the classic monster movies, they introduced us to up and coming actors such as the late great Oliver Reed, and even in today‘s horror movies, there are homage’s or inspiration to the great Hammer studios.

    Here’s something to think about. If Hammer made The Wicker Man, it would be exactly the same film as we see today, but complete, and shown as an A picture rather than a B picture.

  • Comment number 24.

    Absolutely agree with Stuart Yates... early Hammer (50s/60s) is really terrific. One of my loves is Hammers awfully titled, awfully good, 'The Abomnibal Snowman' - it is so atmospheric I class it alongside the original 'Cat People' as cousins - it was also from Nigel Kneale's expert pen like 'Quatermas' - but who in their right mind changed the original Kneale title to such a silly one for the film?

  • Comment number 25.

    It may well be time for Hammer to route round the archives and make some good old fahioned exploitation films again, who wouldn't love to see a re-make of she, Quatermass, blood from the mummy's tomb?.
    (can we also have a re-make of Witchfinder general, not a Hammer film I know but an absolute classic story that could be a bit slicker).

  • Comment number 26.

    I think this is a great time for Hammer to get back in the game. Low down dirty film making used to be cheap, and now it's even cheaper. This is a great chance for the British film industry to foster new talent in the way that Roger Corman did for the American directors like James Cameron, and I'd extend that to writers and cinematographers too. I just hope that Hammer can avoid falling into the trap of pandering to a more commercial American market and stick with the Brit-centric sensibilities that give our cinema it's signature appeal. I personally can't wait to see Wake Wood, and I'll be giving it my full support by buying a copy on my lunch break today.

  • Comment number 27.

    As I haven't seen "Let the Right One" in, I was able to watch "Let Me In" last night with no preconceptions from the original. I rather liked it, though it certainly didn't feel like a Hammer film of old. I do rather like the idea of the freshly-risen-from-the-grave Hammer making distinctly British/European horror movies too. Let's hope it happens.

  • Comment number 28.

    "4. At 19:17pm on 25th Mar 2011, loubert wrote:
    This film has an irish director, irish stars and is set in ireland. Dont you guys have enough talent over in britain? Why do you have to claim ours aswell?"

    Because it's been funded and made by a British production company... Not complicated.

  • Comment number 29.


    Hammer time.

  • Comment number 30.

    What a wonderfully chilling concept. The short clip in Mark's video above sold me on it completely. I just hope that Hammer are able to write and tell genuinely terrifying and original stories. That is why I loved them as a child. Proper edgy characters not just shiny-toothed American quiffs.

  • Comment number 31.

    The premise of this movie seems a lot like "Godsend" with Robert DeNiro, now that I think of it. Also, the other Hammer movie "The woman in black" with Daniel Radcliffe seems quite promising too!

  • Comment number 32.

    @clint75 very funny :)

  • Comment number 33.

    Having now seen it - on DVD, since for all intents and purposes it's getting no theatrical release - I really didn't care for it at all. It's sometimes creepy and the coda hints at something very nasty indeed, but it didn't work very well for me.

    And I do rather feel that the distributors basically used its minimal-to-nonexistent cinema release to publicise the DVD.

  • Comment number 34.

    Having seen Wake Wood just today I found it to a quite enjoyable film, like you said it's not perfect, it's predictable but some efficient filmmaking and acting and with an ominous setting Wake Wood is a great deal better then that total tosh (quite a few T's there) we see Hollywood output every year. I feel that Wake Wood would achieve some recognition in the future as it could possibly achieve a cult following.

  • Comment number 35.

    Watched it and loved 'Wakewood'... the only disappointment is that it is only available on DVD... no Blu Ray. Since it is not showing at the cinema, it would have been nice to have seen it as high definition as possible.

  • Comment number 36.

    This reminds me that I need to crack open my 21-disc Hammer collection sooner rather than later. Yes, Hammer is hammy, but that's the charm of it. To deny that, or pretend they were high art is silly. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy them either.

  • Comment number 37.

    HAMMER time... doo, doo, do doo!

    Yes indeed, and I'm very happy that it is. I've always had a soft spot for the studio and it's particular brand of gothic horror.

    I'm looking forward to both 'Wake Wood' and 'The Woman In Black' but I'd also like just a couple of remakes (yes, it's a horrible idea when Hollywood goes there but this is Hammer, it's British and I think they could pull it off with a select few of their properties) I'm thinking, 'Quatermass And The Pit' and maybe 'The Reptile'? Wouldn't it be great to see Hammer's logo at the start of a new series of Quatermass films, wouldn't those make for a lucrative British export? I think so.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ever since I saw Hammer's films in my youth on BBC 2 in the horror double bill seasons they have held a very affectionate place in my heart.They were made with a real passion and most of the classic Hammer horror's were all remarkably filmed in the confined spaces of Bray studio's in Berkshire by a very talented team of both actors and behind the scenes talent. Sir Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing excelled as both Count Dracula and Baron Frankenstein and they were lent powerful weight by Hammer's top director Terence Fisher,production designer Bernard Robinson and music composed by James Bernard who made such an enormous contribution with his very distinctive style.Whilst the newly relaunched Hammer has tried hard with The Resident and Wakewood lets all hope that The Woman In black is the film that sends Hammer back to It's gothic roots a genre they so successfully dominated for forty years.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think its fantastic that Hammer has made a comeback. Wakewood is a great piece of dark gothic horror in the style of Wickerman meets Pet Cemetery.
    I sincerely hope they keep that very British vibe and feel for their future productions and make the Hammer brand as big as it deserves to be.
    The BBC did a fantastic job with Dr Who.. look how successful that franchise has become. Lets hope Hammer can do the same..

  • Comment number 40.

    Thought Wakewood was a solid British horror film, thoroughly recommended for a night in.
    Good central performances by the couple, Timothy Spall was excellent.
    Gory, slightly unnerving, a bit jumpy, all in all a fine return from Hammer. Hope they continue.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sorry, I've seen this and its just like a wierd episode of Emmerdale Farm ... It looks awful ... Like cheap television ... I don't know who shot it but never let him behind a camera again
    This whole rebirth of Hammer thing is a total joke ... Leave it dead ... Just like the charachters in and the charachters involved in the making of Wake Wood should have done

  • Comment number 42.

    @4. loubert

    while Ireland should be proud of Wake Wood, if you listen to Mark's points closely you'll hear him talk about a culture and sensibility rooted in the British Isles - that's one of the things I pick up most when watching Hammer's horror - it's an interpretation influenced by Celtic Paganism. While Ireland has it's own specific myths, there is a connection between The Tain and Beowulf (and with both to the Viking Sagas), The Celtic Druids, Welsh Mystics and Priests of Ireland. The Welsh and Irish Gaelic languages sound different but have many underlying similarities. Scots Gaelic is derived from Irish Gaelic. Scotland was originally a part-Irish ruled nation. Pagan Myth does not recognise as much of a cultural barrier as modern politics and this is where Hammer comes from. The recent Scottish-Irish horror film 'Outcast' was based on the same mythology. I would say the Irish filmed, English funded film 'Isolation' was similar. As Mark says, not doing the obvious is precisley the right course for Hammer to choose, building an audience in the British Isles and Northern Europe first before expanding again, and retaining it's strangeness. For example, a new interpreation of Beowulf or one of the other ancient West Saxon Book of Monsters myths, set in somewhere like Denmark, could be of interest to British, Irish and Scandinavian audiences. I'm assuming that the whole point of Let Me In was to cultivate links with Scandinavia for future bi-lingual stories - many Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans, speak good English, and English speaking audiences are notoriously lazy with subtitles.

    Nicolas Winding Refn, Darren Aronofsky and Gaspar Noe would be good directors for them to work with. Maybe even Ang Lee. Working within some sort of updated Hammer structure and budget would stop creative minds wandering off into their personal obsessions and serve an audience while retaining their originality.

    On a more affordable level, director Marc Munden, cinematographer Lol Crawley and musician Cristobal Tapia de Veer, would produce an excellent modern Hammer Horror based on the look and feel of their recent TV mini-series The Crimson Petal and The White (shown on bbc).

    @41. Boyd

    While I take the point, that they should not resurrect Hammer if they are going to sully the memory that fan's have, I have heard lots of negative reviews of the shakey camera technique and deliberately making something look mundane and ordinary which don't seem to recognise why the director is doing that - in order to create contrast or place you inside the mind of the character. I don't%2

  • Comment number 43.

    Written & produced by an Irish man, directed by an irish man set & shot in Ireland with a cast and crew of mostly Irish people with genuine Brit, Spall in a great central role paid for in part by a British production company where most of the money came from the USA & The Irish Film Board.

    How exactly is this a solid British horror film again?

  • Comment number 44.

    I bought Wake Wood a few weeks ago and as a Hammer film come back film it tick all the Hammer ingredients. As a horror film it is a dark creepy horror film.


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