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Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 11:17 GMT
Hammer's chilling comeback

Horrific: Hammer regular Christopher Lee as Dracula


British horror film producer Hammer is to make its cinema comeback after the company was bought by a group of media tycoons.

Plans are in the pipeline for remakes of classic films, one or more TV series and internet tie-ins.

The company is planning to develop a new generation of horror stars for its film, but it is also considering asking icons such as Christopher Lee - best known for his many roles with Peter Cushing - to take part in the new productions.


Hammer helped Peter Cushing become an international star
Chief executive Terry Ilott, who will run the company with colleague Peter Naish, is hoping the recnt revival of horror films will boost the new-look Hammer's hopes of success.

He said: "We've got TV series in discussion with more than one broadcaster, and we've been approached by US producers about a number of remake ideas.

"These are the first things we will do, but we are also very keen to use Hammer as a brand and horror as a genre to get into forms of merchandising."

Prolific output

Founded in 1935, Hammer made more than 250 films and TV programmes.


Christopher Lee in The Curse of Frankenstein
Celebrated films include 1957's The Curse of Frankenstein, 1959's The Mummy and The Hound Of The Baskervilles - all starring Lee and Cushing - and The Devil Rides Out from 1968.

Production peaked in 1971, three years after the company won the Queen's Award to Industry.

The early 1970s saw the company diversify away from the horror genre - its back catalogue includes film versions of the television comedies On The Buses and Man About the House.

But Hammer could not keep up with competition from Hollywood, and there have been no new productions since 1983's Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense series.

Hollywood recognition

Since then, directors including Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino have acknowledged its influence.

Martin Scorsese once said: "If we saw the Hammer logo we knew it would be a very special picture."

A 1997 bid to raise money to revive the Hammer name failed, but the team behind the new deal includes former Warner Music chairman Rob Dickins, advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi, and British Film Commission chairman Larry Chrisfield.

Veteran producer Roy Skeggs, Hammer's major shareholder since the mid-1980s, said he was "delighted to be passing Hammer over to a team which brings an excellent range of media talent to the company".

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Homage to Hammer horror

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