This marks yet another departure from Hammer's history as a purveyor of campy horror goodness, from countless Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing flicks to vampy lesbian films like The Vampire Lovers and even a dip into the "cave woman" genre. (Yes, there's a genre dedicated to cave women.) Hammer's newest features are looking more swanky, though. Horror lovers everywhere (myself included) let out a collective yawp of anger when it was announced that Let the Right One In was getting remade for US audiences as Let Me In, but as more news and images trickle out about the remake starring Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road), the better it sounds.
Another upcoming Hammer release is The Resident, which stars Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Sir Christopher Lee in a "sexy thriller" about a very creepy landlord and his growing infatuation with his new tenant. Lee Pace is also in The Resident, although it's not clear what his part is yet. The marvelous Erin Cressida Wilson (Chloe, Fur, Secretary) is attached, although she told Melissa Silverstein at Women & Hollywood, "I did what I would call a character brush on it. I don't think it's my film. I don't think my name's going to be on it. I don't know. I just did a fixer, character thing for a little extra delicious money."
The site for The Resident has an on-set video interview with Lee that begins with the off-screen journalist saying, "This is a new Hammer Productions, and it's a studio that has much nostalgia for you." Lee notes, "It almost feels like I'm starting all over again" and goes on to discuss his career, his start at Hammer, and what it's like to be back there. "There are a few people alive, not many... who worked in Hammer Films, but they're not young, and I'm probably the oldest." He describes the old Hammer as "like a family," although he does go on to say, "This crew here is terrific, and all very delightful and very polite and very helpful." Then the video ends, and I have to wonder if Lee had more to say about working with a bigger, perhaps better, but less familial version of Hammer than he was used to.
The lingering question is whether or not Hammer can, in fact, change its image after so long, or if fans would even want them to. On the other hand, change is inevitable, and part of what has kept American horror revving its tires is the tendency to stick to sequels and remakes. Another part of the problem is, of course, the stigma of making "genre" movies and the reluctance of studios to take a chance on edgy films for the time being. Hopefully, the incredibly smart and scary Splice, which is being distributed by Warner Bros., will show other studios that unique, thrilling "genre" films are worth a roll of the dice. And maybe some new blood in the House of Hammer, and its partnership with Dark Horse Comics, can do the same.