Hammer develops TV horror project

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Image caption,
Let Me In, starring Chloe Moretz, is Hammer's first big screen horror since 1976

The newly-resurrected Hammer film company is planning a return to television for the first time since the 1980s.

Hammer chief executive Simon Oakes said the company was "very keen to build a television business" alongside its current film and publishing projects.

After a hiatus of more than 30 years, the British horror brand is returning to the big screen with Let Me In.

The film is a remake of Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In.

"Television is incredibly important," Mr Oakes told the BBC. "I like the idea of going against conventional wisdom. People tell me that anthology doesn't work any more. So that makes me think let's try and make it work."

Hammer's last excursion into traditional TV was with the Hammer House of Horror and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense series in the first half of the 1980s.

"I think it's possible to do this anthology series where Hammer House of Horror has a one hour event story every week," Mr Oakes added.

"Television is very different - you have to be very cognisant of what the controllers want - and they are looking a year, two years in advance.

"We're taking baby steps in television but we're very, very keen to build a television business."

Hammer recently announced that it was moving into the literary world to publish new works of horror and adapt classic films for the page.

The first commission is a novella from by author Jeanette Winterson, best known for Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.

Stage fright

Hammer is also expected to announce details of a theatrical project before the end of this month.

"We are creating a Hammer Theatre of Horror," Mr Oakes said. "I believe that the best brands can exist in multimedia... and I think there's no better storytelling platform than the theatre."

He added: "It's also a chance to have that repertory feel to it that Hammer had in its film days."

Hammer's last horror movie was 1976's To the Devil a Daughter, starring Christopher Lee and Nastassja Kinski.

Lee returns to Hammer with the release next year of thriller The Resident, with Hilary Swank in the lead role.

The studio is also filming a new adaptation of supernatural novel The Woman in Black, starring Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe.

The Hammer company was founded in the 1930s but it was not until the 1950s that its name became synonymous with the horror genre. The company also produced comedies, thrillers and science fiction.

Its run of Gothic monster movies included Dracula and The Curse Of Frankenstein and it made stars of British actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

After being dormant since the 1980s, the company and its back catalogue was bought in 2007 by a consortium, with Simon Oakes as CEO.

Hammer's initial return to horror was an interactive web serial Beyond The Rave, which was broadcast via MySpace in 2008.

Meanwhile, Let Me In is due to have its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival later tonight. The film goes on general release on 5 November.

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