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Cult Classics: Hammer Horror
The Woman in Black marks a comeback for the Hammer Films banner, as the new Daniel Radcliffe ghost story is a welcome return to Gothic form for the legendary British production company famous for its many horror films of the late '50s, '60s and '70s.
With their own take on the Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolf and Mummy legends, the prolific brand implied that there would be plenty of blood, lust and gore, often in lacey Victorian style. Classic titles included Taste the Blood of Dracula, Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Plague of the Zombies, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Lust for a Vampire, Quatermass and the Pit, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Dracula A.D. 1972 and so much more.
Christopher Lee (later of Saruman/The Lord of the Rings fame) and Peter Cushing (later of Grand Moff Tarkin/Star Wars fame) were the key players of the Hammer Horror films, with Lee taking on not only the Dracula character but Frankenstein's monster and The Mummy.
Hammer had a huge influence on other artists eager to cash in on the horror genre, including notorious copycat producer Roger Corman, and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow production and costume design was directly inspired by the old Hammer look; he even cast Lee as a judge in the film. And Kate Bush was inspired by Hammer's body of work and wrote a song called Hammer Horror.
The company hit hard times financially in the mid-'70s and eventually put the final nail in the coffin before the turn of the '80s, but was resurrected in 2007 and had a co-producing hand in such recent horror films as Let Me In and The Resident (which co-starred Lee).
Here's hoping that The Woman in Black is a hit, paving the way for more quality Hammer Horror.