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By Emily Booth, Thursday 28th April 2016
As our regulars know we love a bit of classic Hammer Horror here on the UK’s only dedicated genre channel with our regular Hammer Thursdays, the recent Easter Hammer-thon and regular showings of fan favourites To The Devil A Daughter, The Devil Rides Out and Twins Of Evil to name but a few.
Founded way back in 1934, film studio Hammer held the screen for a good 5 decades, rolling out icon after icon both monster and man! Hammer was no ordinary studio but became a defining genre in itself with lavish film sets, period settings, costumes and gothic themes. Hammer was not just a quirky British outlet making the ‘labours of love’ you so often hear about in today’s industry – no, it was a financial success during its golden era, partly due to distribution deals with major American players such as Warner Brothers. However the Horror market became saturated, American teen-slashers were in vogue and the Goths were out. In the 80’s the studio’s output died and went graveyard silent. Until 2007 when it was announced Hammer Films had been bought by Dutch producer Jon de Mol, along with the studio’s extensive film library of approximately 300 titles – the lucky chap! Thankfully, said lucky chap also invested millions in re-booting Hammer Film Productions but of course with the loss of their in house location Bray Studios and the death of the gothic- horror, the Hammer brand focused on contemporary horror.
So with potted history in the body bag what of their new movies? After their enterprising Beyond The Rave (a webisode movie released solely on MySpace), Hammer went somewhat back to its roots in the pagan inspired horror Wake Wood getting its network premiere on Horror this Saturday. I love this film, for its winning formula of moodiness, tragedy and paganism with a strong storyline, characters and very good casting. A couple grieving the sudden loss of their daughter move to the titular town in a bid to make a new start, but there’s something that goes on in Wake Wood, a power that once harnessed, bonds you forever to the small secretive town. When the village ‘leader’ offers them a chance to see their daughter one more time, to say goodbye properly, how can they resist the urge, the umbilical pull of their only child. But of course playing the hand of God has its side effects….
I love the echoes of The Wicker Man (surprisingly not a Hammer film) combined with the deeper emotional drive of losing a child and the darkness parents are willing to go, to get that child back.
A very strong cast of Timothy Spall, Eva Birthistle and Aidan Gillen, along with the naturalistic acting style (totally opposite to the ‘Ham’ in classic Hammer!) makes this striking film all the more believable.
Don’t miss this chilling Hammer revival film when it premieres on Horror this Saturday 30th at 10.50pm.
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