Recently we passed along word that the all-new Hammer Films documentary Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros. Years written and directed by Marcus Hearn is coming to Blu-ray via Diabolique Films tomorrow. We’re excited to check out the new documentary as Hammer, and its history of horror fascinates all of us here at Dread Central.
But this new documentary has us wondering: “What happened to Hammer Films resurgence from a few years back?” Hammer marked its return to features in 2010 with the release of the critically acclaimed Let Me In, an adaptation of the highly praised Swedish film Let the Right One In. Since then the studio has released a few horror titles here and there (to varying degrees of success) but then following the 2015 follow-up to The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe, Woman in Black: Angel of Death, the studio just stopped putting out new content.
Let’s start with a bit of history on the resurgence and then go from there. Hammer marked its return to features in 2008 with the release of the British horror film Beyond the Rave on MySpace. Yes, you read that right. It was released on MySpace on April 17, 2018, and then on a limited edition (5,000 copies) DVD in September 2010. It turns out, this film wasn’t a great jumping off point.
But things got better with their second effort; the critically acclaimed Let Me In, an adaptation of the highly praised Swedish film Let the Right One In. The film was written and directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and starred Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road). The film hit theaters on October 1, 2010, where it scored an underwhelming $12.1 million. Disappointing box-office aside, the film scored 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and we consider it to be one of the better horror remakes out there.
Then in 2011, Hammer released Antti Jokinen’s The Resident starring Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) and Hammer legend, Sir Christopher Lee. It was released in March of 2011 and was both a box-office and critical flop, scoring a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
That 2011 release was quickly followed up by that of Wake Wood directed by David Keating and starring Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, and Timothy Spall. Even though the movie scored a respectable 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, following a limited run in four movie theaters, it’s mostly a forgotten film.
Hammer Films got a bit more on the right track again with the above-mentioned gothic-horror throwback, The Woman in Black, Hammer’s first ever feature ghost story. Directed by James Watkins, adapted by Jane Goldman from the book by Susan Hill, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, the film saw a theatrical release in February 2012. The Woman In Black took in over $130m worldwide at the box-office making it one of the biggest indie horror films ever.
Next came The Quiet Ones starring Jared Harris (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel). The film scored $8.5 million at the box-office and a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 37%.
Then finally, Hammer Films new banner followed up their biggest hit to date with the underwhelming sequel Woman in Black: Angel of Death. The flick has the weak distinction of being Hammer’s first sequel in 41 years. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 22% and landed $26.5 million at the domestic box-office. Not bad. But evidently, not good enough it would seem.
So all of that aside, what the hell happened to Hammer Films resurgence? Was it the box-office and critical failure of Woman in Black: Angel of Death?
More importantly, however, is this idea. We believe Hammer Films’ resurgence had it all wrong from the get-go. Why did they start with remakes of classic horror films such as The Woman in Black – which was initially a made-for-tv British film – and Let the Right One In? And if the new banner decided to go ahead and remake classic horror films (which is admittedly a sound business approach sadly enough) then why the hell didn’t Hammer start remaking THEIR classic movies?!
Hammer Films needs to have yet another resurgence. But this time Hammer shouldn’t start out remaking shit like The Babadook (it’s only a matter of time) and start rebooting their classics. They could start with films such as The Man Who Could Cheat Death, a badass horror-based version of The Hound of Baskervilles, These Are The Damned, Captain Clegg, Paranoiac, The Nanny, The Witches, One Million Years B.C., The Devil Rides Out, Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, and more!
Hell, they could even start their very own legit Dark Universe like Universal. But it could be, you know, the dark and brutal version of the major studio’s effort; a Dark Universe that’s, you know, actually dark. Reboot and mish-mash films like The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula, Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Abominable Snowman, The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf, and The Phantom of the Opera. Not to mention the million sequels each of these films received.
And like the classic line up of Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, and Peter Cushing, wouldn’t it be excellent for the next wave of Hammer Films to create a new collection of actors that were in every film? I think it’s a killer idea. Please come back Hammer Films, and this time, please make sure to bring your classics along with you. Please don’t forget where you came from and why we all love you!