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Hammer Production News 10.02.05

Its become fairly standard for Hammer fans, to expect a new announcement for imminent production on a new slate of films, every two or three years. The latest announcement slipped out on January 14th 2005, on, and picked up by a number of other film websites including The Guardian Unlimited and on the Random Harvest website itself here:

The announcement states (republished from website):-

In a move underlining the growing market for quality, low-budget horror, British production and financing outfit Random Harvest is starting a new Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Company, Harvest Pictures III, with Hammer Films and LA-based Stan Winston Productions.

Harvest Pictures III will back new horror films from Hammer, Stan Winston and Four Horsemen Films (Random Harvest’s genre arm.)

Several projects are already in advanced development, among them The Cottage (Four Horsemen Films) written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams, Drowning (Four Horsemen Films), Earth Requiem (Stan Winston Productions), Perfect Sight (Hammer Films) and The Beetle (Hammer Films).

"There’s a real appetite for low-budget horror, particularly on DVD," Random Harvest’s M-D Alistair MacLean-Clark told

"This is about making movies like Saw and Cabin Fever, targeted at 16 to 24 year olds, and re-inventing the Hammer brand for the 21st Century."

With the Harvest III backing, the first new Hammer horror film to shoot in 30 years is likely to be in production by the early summer. "Horror is a perennial favourite and horror movies have an exceptionally long shelf-life," Hammer chairman Larry Chrisfield commented. "Hammer is the leading brand in the field."

“Over the past two years we have been working up a slate of new movies and we are delighted to join forces with Random Harvest and Stan Winston Studios to bring these projects to the big screen."

Stan Winston, a doyen of creature and visual effects whose credits range from Aliens to Terminator, won’t simply be developing his own movies with Harvest Pictures III backing. His technicians and artists at Stan Winston Studios will also be working on Four Horsemen and Hammer projects.

Since being set up in 1999, Random Harvest has raised over $33.9m (£18m) through two earlier EIS schemes, two Section 48 Funds and a Sale and Leaseback Fund.

Of course. this isn't the first time we have heard of a Hammer renaissance, and such claims have continued since the mid 1980s when the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense aired. Let's take the last decade or so for example:

In 1993 Hammer signed a production deal with Warner Bros in the US. The four-year deal proposed a number of remakes including The Quatermass Xperiment, Stolen Face, Scream of Fear, 44 one-hour tv episodes called The Haunted House of Hammer, and other films including The Day the Earth Caught Fire (remake of the Val Guest classic), The House on the Strand, Children of the Wolf and Vlad the Impaler, The Hideous Whisper, The Devil's Own and Psychic Detective (the latter for tv).

By 1995 the Warner deal was turning sour. Variety reported in 1995 that Hammer had aquired the rights to The Lodger, a new book about Jack the Ripper, and by September Quatermass and the Pit and The Devil Rides Out had been added to the list of remakes alongside Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Impaler has been floating around since the 1970s).

In 2000 Hammer was bought from Roy Skeggs by a multi-media conglomerate. A period of reassesment of the company's properties started. A temporary flurry of activity on the official site began. It would be May 2001 before we heard anything else. Hammer Entertainment Ltd (the parent company of Hammer Films Ltd and Hammer Film Productions Ltd) and FirstSight Films Ltd announced a slate of six films. FirstSight members had been behind the television series Shakleton and Longitude.

Then another two years of nothing, before an announcement in August 2003 (and seemingly the last time, up to now that the official site was updated), that Hammer had entered a deal with Pictures In Paradise (PiP), an Australian company. They proposed a slate of "up to six horror movies over a period of five years... [with] strong potential in other media, especially DVD."

Each time, the company has stated its desire (with the exception of the Warner deal, which proposed a remake of Quatermass with a $40 million budget - around £50 million at today's prices) for modestly budgeted horror films aimed at the youth market. The current proposal suggests the success of the likes of Shaun of the Dead, and The Grudge as incentive.

Hammer fans, don't hold your breath. This is not the first time our hopes have been dashed, and whilst Stan Winston has had a great deal of success, many of his films have been straight to video (the Arkoff remakes - Creature Features series released by Columbia Tristar). Examination of the publicly available company accounts from the last decade suggest that Hammer's real asset is its existing library and film master material. Beyond that, the only thing left to exploit is the name. The last of the real players from the Hammer brand is Christopher Lee, himself no longer a young man, in his 80s, and hardly a guaranteed box office draw as he once was (Lord of the Rings and Star Wars franchises are not relying on him alone). The rest of the crew have retired or past on. The company is in completely new hands. The company itself has not produced a new piece of fiction since 1983.

Hammer Entertainment Ltd is a company still carrying the burden of previously aquired debts. Its name provides good copy for papers, gets journalists and fans nostalgic, but has so far failed to deliver the goods. I wish that things were different, like most of the fans, I would love to see a real Hammer film, but the identity has been eroded constantly over the years. I believe in telling a different story here, one that reasons and balances the evidence.

Untill Hammer contact me to tell me otherwise, we will continue to be cautious here at the Unofficial Site.

Please send all thoughts and correspondence on the matter to or via the details on the contact page.

editor of HH : the UNofficial Hammer Films Site


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