Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Wednesday, 22 October 2008 11:54 UK

Hammer film not a horror for village

By Johnny Caldwell
BBC News


Local residents' views on filming in the village

News that Hammer Films had begun work on its first feature-length production in almost 30 years had horror fans around the world shrieking with delight.

But few of these fans will have heard of, never mind visited, Pettigo where 'The Wake Wood' is being filmed until Saturday.

Promotional poster for The Wake Wood
The film is the company's first feature-length production in almost 30 years

The picturesque village is one of only a handful of places which is bisected by the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but is mostly in County Donegal.

Its recent connection with one of the biggest names in cult cinema, whose credits includes Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Plague of the Zombies, is expected to make it a must-visit destination for scores of die hard fans.

The set of 'The Wake Wood' has been off-limits to the media, however, residents of Pettigo have managed to get up close and personal with some of the stars.

And one man, who BBC News spoke to, told of how he had hired out a field to the production team for a very spooky scene.

"They have leased a piece of land off me for a graveyard scene," said David Lyttle, who drives the local school bus.

"They're going to dig a body out of the ground, and there's going to be a ghost or something."

Christopher Lee as  Dracula
Christopher Lee played a variety of villains in Hammer films


The Wake Wood's plot centres around attempts by a vet and his pharmacist wife to bring their only daughter back to life after she is ravaged by a dog, using a pagan ritual.

Whether or not it resurrects Hammer Films' fortunes, we'll have to wait until horror fans get their teeth into it.

Community worker Natasha McGrath was involved with ensuring that it would be a case of lights (sorry twilights...), camera, action with regards to welcoming the world famous company to Pettigo.

She said: "The film company approached ourselves back in April/May of this year looking for a suitable village location to shoot a full-length horror film.

"Of course, we did everything in our power to ensure that they would come to Pettigo."

Aidan Gillen (centre) with Queer As Folk co-stars
Aidan Gillen is one of the stars of The Wake Wood

Natasha added that Pettigo's suitability went beyond it being a picturesque village setting.

"It would have its fair share of ghost stories, but of course how much you read into them is up to yourself," she said.

Contrary to the perception of film stars having diva-esque demands, chef Paul Maguire, who has been cooking for the cast and crew at the Pettigo Inn, said the most outlandish thing he had been asked for was cranberry juice.

He said among his happy customers were Harry Potter and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet star Timothy Spall and Aiden Gillen, who is best known for playing Stuart in Queer As Folk.

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