September 27, 2008

Hammer Rises From the Grave in Co Donegal

By Victor Gordon

THEY made the blood curdle, the spine chill, the hair stand on end.

But Hammer Films, whose gory productions died a death in the 1970s when TV killed off the cinema until its resurrection in the late 20th century lives again - in Ireland!

The final nail has been extracted from the Hammer coffin and the makers of all things horrific have risen from their tomb, and turned up in dear old Donegal for its first film in three decades.

The new film is a grave production called The Wake Wood, full of tomato ketchup and gunge - aka blood and gore - and tells the homespun tale of a couple trying to resurrect their dead daughter, who has no doubt, met her untimely end by the foulest of means. The stars are Timothy Spall and Aidan Gillen.

It's the first feature film made by Hammer since the cult British film company was taken over last year by a Dutch company, and aficionados of the genre are hoping they can turn out offerings to match classics of the past like The Curse of Frankenstein, The Curse of the Werewolf, Dracula and To The Devil a Daughter - Hammer's final film production, in 1976.

But will the new stars of murder, mayhem and the occult ever match the fearsome presence of the likes of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing?

Will they capture underlying humour of the horror happenings, as these films were made tongue-in-cheek in the glory gory days of yore?

Will The Wake Wood awaken the need for more of the same, or will the clutch of Dutch movies hammer the old need for Hammer movies to death?

Should the Hammer styles films be allowed to rest in peace?

The answers will be known in autumn 2009 when the movie - backed by the Irish Film Board - comes to life...

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