of midnight (well, from about 23.45 GMT yesterday) the first Hammer
production since the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense series in
1983, is available to watch for free on myspace.
Who would have thought when
this site started back in 1999, that within a decade the legendary
Hammer company would be back in production. Its been a long journey,
thwarted by various pitfalls and disappointments. But despite the
set-backs, the future has looked a little brighter since the
acquisition of Hammer in early 2007 by a major investment group.
Sceptics will be pleased to see that Hammer have spent some of their
£25million investment in making this film...
Talk of Hammer's revival has
already been met with fierce criticism from the existing fan base, who
argue that Hammer is not the same and can never be the same as the
company they love. As such, Beyond
the Rave will face a tough time with the inherited fan
base, but here at unofficialhammerfilms.com we're sure that in time
many will be won over.
I feel obliged to point out
that Hammer has always evolved. The company that began life in 1934 was
not the same company that re-emerged after the war. And indeed, it was
not the same company or same group of people that embarked on the
golden age of Hammer horror with The
Curse of Frankenstein in 1956. And that group was a very
different one from that which made On
the Buses and Hands
of the Ripper in the early 1970s. And Hammer in the 1980s
was a different beast again.
Similarly, any delusions that Hammer was simply a company which made
superb horror films should be thrown away too. Whilst Hammer has become
synonymous with horror, much of their filmography is dedicated to
comedies and thrillers, not gothic horror.
The decision to launch their
first production online is an interesting one. Certainly contentuous,
but the marketing brilliance of the idea deserves applause. Hammer have
always excelled at one thing - making competent low-budget productions
which reap big financial rewards. That is simply good business. It
doesn't make sense to take a chance on a £50million film which may
flop, if you can carefully market a £1million film... The success of
low-budget filmmaking in recent years is well known. Think of The Blair
Witch Project, or even Juno. Beyond the Rave is not about bringing back
the old Hammer - its about starting afresh. By making the film
available free and using the massive push of myspace, they create a
brand awareness which has been unheard of since the 1970s. If you log
onto myspace.com right now (and at least for those in the UK), the
entire site has been redesigned to push Beyond the Rave
music, and video content, with the name Hammer visible everywhere.
Creating brand awareness, the
hope is that people will be curious enough to watch the film, and then
to look at the rest of Hammer's history, and beyond... that they will
spend money on Hammer products, on Hammer films, and on future
theatrical releases. The episodic nature is suited to the moment - just
as The Quatermass
Xperiment was perfect for its moment in the mid 1950s.
Times change, people change, and tastes change. There is little point
in being nostalgic (although
Beyond the Rave seems to include several nods to the
company's heritage) if it doesn't attract an audience. If there is no
audience, then there will be no investment from outside, and thus there
will be no future for the company. To the nay-sayers, I say, Hammer
were unable to do anything for 25 years. And now they've got a whole
film - that's 1 more film than they've had in 25 years. And there's
more to come....
I've just watched the first
three episodes via myspace and I have to say, so far there is little to
complain about. Yes, I find the format slightly irritating. I'm not
against the idea of serialisation (Hammer have done it before - both
the Dick Barton
films in the 1940s and 1950s for a start), and it can work very well.
My complaint is simply that the episodes could do with being twice the
length in order to breathe. Just as I start to get comfortably into the
episode it stops. But, we must remember that one of the investors in
Hammer now is John De Mol, and we can take as read the lessons that
Endemol have learned over many years with their online marketing. No
doubt a great deal of time and money has been spent deciding on the
format. And I also suspect that the risk for Hammer is minimal -
they've made this with Pure Grass Films and Myspacetv (and for the
record, Hammer has survived on co-productions for decades).
The storyline centres on a
young soldier on the night before deployment to Iraq. He meets his
friend Necro and they set out to find a rave. Beyond that, what else
can I say, except that there is vampires involved....
Echoes of Dracula AD 1972 are
fresh in the mind. I'm out of touch anyway I imagine. I didn't think
they still did raves, and certainly I don't hear people talking about
them in Belfast. That said, I was on a train to Birmingham the other
week and met a 17 year old girl who was talking about going to
raves.... so maybe I'm wrong. Channel 4's youth drama Skins features them
quite prominantly too. And I like
Dracula AD 1972... so why should this be any different?
Curiously Hammer have chosen
vampires to return to production with. They haven't made a vampire film
since Legend of the 7
Golden Vampires in 1973, but I guess in this the 50th
anniversary year of Dracula
nothing would be more appropriate. Hammer has been asleep for many
years now, but looks to set to rise from the grave and infect us all
once more (BTR is
exploiting a viral advertising campaign after all).
Further allusions to the past come in the presence of Ingrid Pitt - a
cameo role certainly, but Ingrid has been Hammer's unofficial
spokeswoman since Countess
Dracula and The Vampire Lovers.
She's even written (an as yet unpublished) book on the company.
And in the title. Beyond the Rave.
Its like beyond the grave.... geddit? A cute pun, and whilst echoing
the title of a non-Hammer classic from the 1970s, does at least show a
In the three epsiodes I
watched, I saw some guns, some blood, a couple of vampires, some drugs,
and a bit of a dance. I saw slick production values and obvious
craftsmanship that was in keeping with the Hammer tradition. I saw
competent performances, and a little humour. I did hear a little too
much swearing, which whilst perfectly commonplace will no doubt grate
on the older fans. But is this any more risque than Dracula was in
1958 or The Vampire
Lovers in 1970? Pete Tong is certainly not James Bernard,
but the soundtrack is pulsing, racing, contemporary and appropriate to
Perhaps they'll much it up
during the next 17 episodes but I doubt it. I'm almost certain that
I'll find the feature length version more to my viewing tastes - and a
dvd is certainly round the corner (in fact you can pre-order it for
And with this a new wave of Hammer awaits.
We're reserving final verdict
for the rest of the film, but our first impressions are promising. I
liked what I saw - it was much better than I feared it might be.
Without a doubt there will be more to come, and frankly I can't wait.
Welcome back Hammer, we've missed you....