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Hammer Films Has Risen From the Grave

by smbpapon22P

The Big Picture

  • Hammer Films, the iconic UK studio known for Gothic horror, has been acquired by theater titan John Gore and will soon announce a new slate of films.
  • With plans to capitalize on nostalgia and the Hammer name, Gore aims to celebrate and preserve the studio’s legacy while ushering in a new era of storytelling.
  • Hammer gained international attention in 1958 with horror classics like The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, but was liquidated in 1979 before being revived in 2007.

Hammer Films, the venerable UK studio famed for its Gothic horror movies of the ’50s and ’60s, has returned from the dead. British theater titan John Gore has acquired the studio, and plans to unveil a new slate of films shortly. Variety reports that the appropriately-named Gore has acquired the UK label, which has been in limbo since the liquidation of its partner company, Network Distributing, in 2022.

The multiple Tony and Emmy-awardee Gore plans to capitalize on the Hammer name and nostalgia, and will announce a new slate of Hammer films imminently. Says Gore, “Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve been enchanted by the magic of Hammer Films. Its stories, its characters and its unique place in British heritage and cinema have been a source of inspiration and wonder. Today, as I stand at the helm of this iconic studio, my commitment is twofold: to celebrate and preserve the unmatched legacy of Hammer and to usher in a new era of storytelling that captivates audiences worldwide. With significant investment and a fresh creative vision, we will ensure that the spirit of Hammer not only endures but thrives in the modern age.” The announcement coincidentally follows the revival of fellow British horror studio Amicus earlier this month.

Hammer: Titans of British Horror

Founded in 1934 and named after London’s Hammersmith district, Hammer released movies from across the spectrum of genres, from crime thrillers to comedies, but they were best-known for their horror films. The studio gained international attention in 1958, releasing two films that would vault them into the annals of horror history, and their two stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, into screen legends: The Curse of Frankenstein, a retelling of Mary Shelley‘s novel starring Cushing as Dr. Frankenstein and Lee as his monster, and Dracula, starring Lee as the vampiric count and Cushing as his nemesis Dr. Van Helsing. Gothic horror had been passé with filmgoers since the end of Universal’s horror cycle of the ’40s and ’50s, but with Hammer’s fine craftsmanship blended with then-shocking amounts of gore and sexuality, their films were huge successes in the UK and abroad. The Dracula and Frankenstein series would each run for over a decade, and spurred Hammer and their talented writers and directors, including Jimmy Sangster, Terence Fisher, and Freddie Francis, to film a litany of horror classics, many of them remakes of Universal’s classic films – The Mummy, The Witches, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Plague of the Zombies, and even a horror-tinged The Hound of the Baskervilles, with Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and Lee as Sir Baskerville.

Peter Cushing's Van Helsing cauterizes a vampire bite in Hammer Horror's Brides of Dracula
Image via Hammer Film Productions

As horror movies became more explicit in the wake of Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hammer’s output, once shocking and transgressive, was increasingly seen as quaint and old-fashioned by moviegoers. The studio was liquidated in 1979, but was revived in 2007, and produced a number of recent horror films, including Let Me In, The Woman in Black, and The Lodge. In 2021, they partnered with Network Distributing to form a new entity, and had plans to restore Hammer’s catalog, but were subsequently liquidated upon the death of Network managing director Tim Beddows. One final film from that era of Hammer will be released later this year: Doctor Jekyll, starring Eddie Izzard as both Dr. Nina Jekyll and her alter ego, Rachel Hyde.

Hammer’s new slate of films will be announced imminently. Stay tuned to Collider for future updates, and watch the trailer for Hammer’s 1958 classic The Curse of Frankenstein below.

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