Hammer Studios Rises From The Grave

Hammer Films made a name for itself as one of the foremost purveyors of British horror in the mid-20th century. Now, the production company behind "Horror of Dracula" and other cult favorites is reconstituting itself as Hammer Studios in partnership with Network Distributing.

According to Variety, the move will allow Hammer to "invest substantially both in restoration and new production development from both its owned and newly created IP." Network and its label, The British Film collection, have a pre-established identity as a distribution house for cult classics of both the movie and TV variety, having previously overseen a restoration of "The Prisoner" and "Monty Python's Flying Circus," to name but two of thousands.

The plan, via Network's managing director Tim Beddows, is for it to "work [its] way through restoring [Hammer's] entire back catalogue for future generations." Beddows and financial director Jonathan Lack will chair the studio with Hammer CEO Simon Oakes, who said:

"This new partnership will, for the first time, professionalize the restoration and creation of elements that are essential for distribution of the Hammer library across all media. At the same time we will, with Network, be able to build on the legacy of Britain's most iconic film brand, one that started in 1934 and is alive and kicking in 2021."

The History of Hammer

Hammer was founded in November 1934, so the company is 87 years old as of this month. As noted on its official website, Hammer's name has become inextricably linked with horror, but it dabbled in other genres — even cavegirl movies — and only a third of its 300-plus titles were horror.

It was in the 1950s that Hammer began to build its brand in horror with films like "The Curse of Frankenstein," "Dracula," and "The Mummy." Characters that had become known to audiences as black-and-white Universal Monsters found new life in color with Hammer.

The studio's version of "Dracula," starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, became known in the States as "Horror of Dracula" to differentiate it from the 1931 Universal film starring Bela Lugosi. On David Court's list of the 12 best vampire movies for /Film, you won't see Lugosi but you will see Lee, which just goes to show how highly regarded Hammer's titles are among certain genre fans.

Hammer came back to life in the late 2000s and has since gone on to produce such films as "Let Me In," the Matt Reeves remake of "Let the Right One In," and "The Woman in Black," the first film that Daniel Radcliffe made post-Harry Potter. More recently, it produced the Riley Keough-led Sundance hit, "The Lodge."

Hammer's recent output, however, has been sparser than what it was during its heyday. This new partnership with Network and the formation of Hammer Studios should enable it to produce more new films and also restore old classics for a new generation to see.