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 screendaily.com,
and picked up by a number of other film websites including The Guardian
Unlimited and on the Random Harvest website itself here: http://www.randomharvestpictures.co.uk/funds/harvestpics3/screendaily/
The announcement states (republished
from ScreenDaily.com 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
Harvest Pictures III will back new horror films from
Hammer, Stan Winston and Four Horsemen Films (Random Harvests
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).
"Theres a real appetite for low-budget horror,
particularly on DVD," Random Harvests M-D Alistair
MacLean-Clark told ScreenDaily.com.
"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,
wont 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
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
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.
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 email@example.com or via the details on the contact
editor of HH
: the UNofficial Hammer Films Site