From Loch Ness Monsters to Pterodactyls - Hammer’s Unmade Films by Kieran Foster
Posted: Thu, 05 Oct 2017 15:43
Hammer Films is a mainstay in British popular culture. The revival of the British gothic horror in the late 1950s, coupled with the iconic, indelible pairing of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, cemented the company's status as one of Britain's most renowned film studios. Yet for every classic Hammer Film like The Quatermass Xperiment, The Curse of Frankenstein or Dracula, film historians and fans of the studio find themselves equally intrigued by the Hammer Films that never made it to the screen. These unmade films not only provide a number of intriguing 'what-if' scenarios for the history of the studio, but by providing new production and development contexts, can also offer us new insights into how Hammer operated at the height of its powers.
One of the earliest and most infamous unmade Hammer Films was Night Creatures,an adaptation of Richard Matheson's seminal novel I Am Legend, adapted into a screenplay for Hammer by Matheson himself in 1957. Hammer's regular clashes with the British censor are legendary, with films such as The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula all keenly contested, and Hammer's The Curse of the Werewolf irrevocably altered by the censor's interference. However, Night Creatures was one of the few projects where Hammer failed to placate the censor, with the script by Matheson being dismissed outright. The rejection of Matheson's screenplay left Hammer with no choice but to cancel the film, but remnants of The Night Creatures still exist. Hammer sold the script to Robert Lippert, who produced the I Am Legend adaptation The Last Man on Earth in 1964. Hammer even made sure the title didn't go to waste, with The Night Creatures being used as the American title of Captain Clegg in 1962.
However, despite the censor scuppering Night Creatures, Hammer had a remarkably successful produced to unproduced ratio throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. It was not until the 1970s, with the American and British Film industry on the verge of collapse, that Hammer began to see some of it's more ambitious projects fall by the wayside.
In the early 1970s, Hammer began to realise that their gothic horror formula was no longer securing finance and distribution from increasingly risk-adverse American studios. As a result, Hammer's owner Michael Carreras embarked on a new, ambitious strategy, putting a number of large-scale multi-million dollar pictures into production, with the hope that their cross-market appeal and potential for international box office would make them more appealing to financiers. This strategy ultimately proved unsuccessful, but it led to a number of intriguing unmade prospects at Hammer.
Perhaps the apex of this strategy was Hammer's unmade Nessie, a proposed $7million monster movie which would have seen an irradiated Loch Ness Monster emerge from the Loch and terrorise international waters. The project was developed as a co-production between Hammer, Columbia and Toho Studios, who were to provide distribution in Japan as well as providing the special effects to bring Nessie to life. The project proved too ambitious for Hammer, with a big budget production proving unworkable for the company against the back-drop of a failing film industry.
The decline of the industry also put paid to Hammer's planned adaptation of the science fiction comic-book Vampirella. Another attempt at a big-budget production, the film got remarkably close to making it to the screen. Michael Carreras promoted the project in New York, taking stars Peter Cushing and Barbra Leigh to the Famous Monster Convention in November 1975 to promote the film. The Hammer Script Archive at De Montfort University even holds an expenses document that budgets the potential hotel expenses of the stars during production. Ultimately however the state of the film industry, as well as complex rights issues surrounding the character of Vampirella, meant the project never made it in front of the cameras.
These projects were all developed extensively at Hammer, with Night Creatures, Nessie and Vampirella all having screenplays, directors and stars attached. However, a project such as the intriguingly titled Zeppelins V Pterodactyls, where only a storyline and poster were produced, offers a number of other intriguing questions. Who would have starred? Who would have directed? How would the brief outline's plot be developed into a full screenplay? Although these questions will sadly remain hypothetical, the screenplay developed by Steven Sheil based on the outline, to be performed in a one-off script reading at Mayhem Festival, can at least offer us a tantalising glimpse behind the curtain of one of the greatest what-ifs in Hammer's history.
Kieran Foster is based at De Montfort University as a Midlands3Cities/AHRC funded PhD student, currently undertaking his 3rd year of study. His thesis uses the archival materials available at De Montfort University's Hammer Script Archive in order to examine the unmade projects of Hammer Films.
Jonny Phillips leads cast for Mayhem Film Festival’s live stage reading of Hammer Films’ ZEPPELIN V PTERODACTYLS
Posted: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 10:45
Mayhem Film Festival is proud to reveal the full cast of its exclusive live stage reading of unmade Hammer Films script, Zeppelin V Pterodactyls.
Jonny Phillips (Titanic, Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime), who previously played Dracula in Mayhem's live stage reading of The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula back in 2015, will return to the festival as the narrator in this year's production of Zeppelin V Pterodactyls. Derby actor, Thomas Farthing, and Nottingham-based actors, Melvyn Rawlinson, Olivia Newton, Rob Goll and Sylvia Robson, will join Jonny Phillips on stage and complete the cast.
The one-of-a-kind event will take place at Broadway, Nottingham as part of Mayhem's 13th edition on Sunday 15 October at 5PM, with the group of actors bringing to life a never-seen-before Hammer story, accompanied by original music from Gavin Morrow and Gerallt Ruggiero.
Based on a thought-lost outline from the Hammer Scripts Archive, now faithfully expanded into a full-length script by Mayhem Co-Director, Steven Sheil (Mum & Dad, Dead Mine), Zeppelin V Pterodactylswill take audience members on an epic sci-fi adventure to a lost world beyond the arctic snows where prehistoric creatures may still roam. The event is made possible with thanks to Hammer Films and CATH (Cinema and Television History) Research Centre at DeMontfort University.
Earlier this month, Mayhem announced its full line-up of events and guests, including guested screenings of Double Date, which will be followed by a Q&A with director Benjamin Barfoot, writer/actor Danny Morgan, actress Georgia Groome and producer Matt Wilkinson; Habit with special guests director Simeon Halligan, producer Rachel Richardson-Jones and actor Elliot Langridge, and the UK Premiere of Preywith special guest director Dick Maas. The festival will also host screenings of Friday the 13th Part III – 3D on Friday 13th October, a new restoration of Dario Argento's Suspiria as part of The CultFilms Tour of SUSPIRIA-4k, the UK Premiere of Korean film A Day, and previews of festival favourites Most Beautiful Island, 68 Kill, Mayhem, M.F.A., Top Knot Detective and many more.
The full line-up and schedule is available at https://www.mayhemfilmfestival.com/tickets
The live stage reading of Zeppelin V Pterodactyls will take place on Sunday 15 October at Broadway, Nottingham at 5PM. Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 12-15 October 2017.
Individual tickets, day passes and full festival passes are now on sale. For more information, please visitwww.mayhemfilmfestival.com
Mayhem Film Festival reveals Short Film Showcase as tickets go on sale
Posted: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 09:06
With just one month to go until the start of its 13th edition, Mayhem Film Festival have just revealed the line-up for their Short Film Showcase, which will screen on the Saturday of the festival.
This year's line-up include the following films (in alphabetical order):
AFTER PARTY (WORLD PREMIERE)// Dir.Liam Banks, UK, 8m27
AMY // Dir. L. Gustavo Cooper, US, 6m46
BLOOD SHED // Dir. James Moran, UK, 13m18
CRESWICK // Dir. Natalie Erika James, Australia, 9m31
DON'T EVER CHANGE (UK PREMIERE) // Dir. Don Swaynos, US, 9m48
FEEDING TIME // Dir. Matt Mercer, US, 12m54
IN THE DARK, DARK WOODS (UK PREMIERE) // Dir. Jason Bognacki, US, 4m3
LIZ DRIVES // Dir. Mia'kate Russell, Australia, 8m
REAL ARTISTS // Dir. Cameo Wood, US, 12m
TEDDY BEARS PICNIC //Dir. Thomas Hodge, UK, 5m27
UNDRESS ME // Dir. Amelia Moses, Canada, 13m27
WHAT METAL GIRLS ARE INTO (UK PREMIERE) // Dir. Laurel Vail, US, 15m
Mayhem Film Festival originally started as a single collection of short films before growing into the four-day weekend it is now, and so its Short Film Showcase remains at the heart of the festival with its traditional Saturday slot, and one of the most popular and beloved events of the programme each year.
"This year we have something for everybody: from scary short shockers, to thought provoking science fiction, from the genuinely creepy, to the full-on gory, all from some of the most promising new directors out there around the world... and closer to home." - Chris Cooke, Mayhem Film Festival Co-Director.
Mayhem's full line-up was revealed last week and individual tickets, day passes and full festival passes will go on sale at 10AM on Tuesday 12 September.
Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 12-15 October 2017 at Broadway, Nottingham.
Mayhem Film Festival reveals full line-up for 13th edition
Posted: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 14:04
Mayhem Film Festival is proud to announce the full line-up of its 2017 edition, which will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 12-15 October. The festival showcases the best features and short films in horror, sci-fi and cult cinema, through premieres, previews, guested screenings and special events each year.
As previously announced, Benjamin Barfoot's Double Date will open the festival on Thursday 12 October and will be followed by a Q&A with guests yet to be revealed. Director Simeon Halligan will present his film Habit and will be joined on stage by producer Rachel Richardson-Jones and lead actor Elliot Langridge. Dick Maas (Amsterdamned, Saint) will also attend the festival to present the UK Premiere of Prey, the ferociously funny tale of a man-eating lion terrorising Amsterdam. The cast for the live stage reading of unmade Hammer script, Zeppelin v Pterodactyls, the centrepiece of the festival's last day, will be announced at a later stage.
Mayhem's 13th edition also includes screenings of Top Knot Detective and Mayhem – both previously announced – as well as the UK Premiere of tragic Groundhog Day-like South Korean sci-fi thriller, A Day, and preview screenings of Natalia Leite's revenge thriller M.F.A. starring Francesca Eastwood, riotous comedy-thriller 68 Killwhich plays like a gender-reversed True Romance, Ana Asensio's spellbinding and award-winning debut Most Beautiful Island, and the darkly comic zombie flick Dead Shack which will close the festival.
With a total of 17 screenings and events, the 2017 edition will also see a screening of Dario Argento's Suspiria, in a glorious restoration on its 40th anniversary, as part of The CultFilms Tour of SUSPIRIA-4k. The short film programme and the fiendish Mayhem quiz, The Flinterrogation, hosted by author David Flint, will return to round up the festival's line-up.
Early Bird passes will remain on sale at the discounted price of £65 until 10AM on Tuesday 12 September at which time individual tickets, day passes and full festival passes at the regular price of £75 will be made available.
The live stage reading of Hammer Films Zeppelin v Pterodactyls is made possible with thanks to Hammer Films and CATH (Cinema and Television History) Research Centre at DeMontfort University.
Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 12-15 October 2017 at Broadway, Nottingham.
The full line-up and schedule for Mayhem 2017 is available to download here.
Mayhem Film Festival announces Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls, Habit and Mayhem
Posted: Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:41
With less than two months to go before the festival's 13th edition, we are proud to announce two new titles and a special event as part of their programme.
Building on the success of The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula from the 2015 edition, Mayhem Film Festival will present a new live stage reading of an unmade Hammer production – the legendary Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls. Based on a thought-lost outline from the Hammer Scripts Archive, now faithfully expanded into a full-length script by Mayhem Co-Director, Steven Sheil (Mum & Dad, Dead Mine), Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls will take you on an epic sci-fi adventure to a lost world beyond the arctic snows where prehistoric creatures may still roam. If you couldn't attend the 2015 production, expect an immersive 'screenless cinema' experience with actors bringing the screenplay vividly to life. This one of a kind event is made possible with thanks to Hammer Films and CATH (Cinema and Television History) Research Centre at DeMontfort University.
In addition to this special live event, Mayhem is proud to announce two more films from their 2017 line-up, including Simeon Halligan's Habit. In this subversive film from the director of White Settlers, a young man working in a massage parlour discovers something dangerous and sinister lurking in the mysterious room no.9. Director Simeon Halligan will present the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A.
Wrapping up this second wave of announcements is Shudder's fittingly titled Mayhem, from American director Joe Lynch. Beyond the endless amusement of Mayhem screening at Mayhem, the film is a relentlessly fun corporate horror in which Derek Cho (Steven Yeun) finds himself trapped within the law firm he has just been fired from, as a super virus making people lose all of their inhibitions condemns the building to quarantine.
Mayhem Film Festival will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 12-15 October 2017. Early Bird passes are still available for a limited time only at the discounted rate of £65.
Mayhem Film Festival announces DOUBLE DATE, TOP KNOT DETECTIVE and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3: 3D
Posted: Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:40
With our 13th edition fast approaching, we are very proud to announce the first three titles from our 2017 programme!
The festival will open with a preview screening of Benjamin Barfoot's Double Date, which will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and crew. Double Date follows mild-mannered innocent Jim as he attempts to lose his virginity on the eve of his 30th birthday; but the beautiful sisters he and his friend Alex have met for the night, may have darker plans in mind. We will announced guests for this event later in the summer.
Also on the line-up is the utterly hilarious Top Knot Detective, an Australian mockumentary about a 90s Japanese samurai/detective series known in Japan as 'Ronin Suiri Tentai' ('Deductive Reasoning Ronin') but known in Australia as 'Top Knot Detective'. Battling ninjas, monsters, outrageous behaviour, and killer lines, it has it all and is not to be missed!
Wrapping up our first round of announcements, the festival will screen Friday the 13th Part III: 3D, on Friday 13 October, for its 13th edition – an evening with Jason by Crystal Lake, not for the superstitious.
More events, films and guests for Mayhem 2017 will be announced later in the summer.
Mayhem Film Festival will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 12-15 October 2017 and more news will be revealed over the summer about this year's edition.
For more information and to book your discounted Early Bird Passes, please visit www.mayhemfilmfestival.com
Mayhem recommends It Comes At Night
Posted: Tue, 04 Jul 2017 16:27
Summer is here (apparently), and we're busy bees programming for this year's festival. We will bring you some news in a few weeks, we promise.
In the meantime, we wanted to draw your attention to a fantastic film which is coming out on Friday 7 July - that's this Friday! - and called It Comes At Night.
It Comes At Night stars Joel Edgerton and is set in a near-future world, when a mysterious plague has decimated the population. Edgerton's family must defend themselves from whatever's out there but the tenuous order he's established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. In the words of Rolling Stone Magazine: "You want horror that screws with your head? This is your ticket..."
Our good friends at Broadway, Nottingham are showing the film on date from Friday (click here for screening times), but the film is out nationwide so check your local listings and independents, or request the film to your nearest cinema.
Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby present MINDHORN at Broadway Cinema
Posted: Thu, 13 Apr 2017 09:57
Broadway will be welcoming Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby on Saturday 29 April for a preview screening of British comedy Mindhorn, and a Q&A with our very own Steven Sheil.
Directed by Sean Foley, Mindhorn stars Julian Barratt (Nathan Barley, The Mighty Boosh, Aaaaaaaah!) as has-been actor Richard Thorncroft who peaked in the 1980s as hit TV detective Mindhorn, and sees an opportunity to relaunch his career when a dangerous criminal demands to speak to Mindhorn, and Mindhorn only. Returning to the Isle of Man to assist the local police, Thorncroft also gets a chance to reconnect with old partners, including former stuntman Clive Parnekiv, played by Simon Farnaby (Bunny and the Bull, Paddington, Horrible Histories). Both starring in the film, Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby also penned the screenplay for this eccentric comedy graced by a stellar cast.
Mindhorn premiered at the BFI London Film Festival last autumn and Broadway will host a special preview of the film on Saturday 29 April at 8PM, with Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby taking part in a post-screening Q&A with Steven Sheil, Mayhem Film Festival's Co-Director.
The event will take place ahead of the nationwide release of the film on Friday 5 May.
For more information and to book tickets please contact Broadway's box office on 0115 952 6611, or visit http://www.broadway.org.uk/events/film-mindhorn-preview-plus-qanda
Mayhem Film Festival returns to Broadway this autumn
Posted: Tue, 10 Jan 2017 09:57
Save the date! Mayhem Film Festival returns to Broadway for its 13th edition on 12 – 15 October 2017.
With premieres, previews, special guests and midnight screenings, Mayhem Film Festival showcases the best in horror, sci-fi and cult cinema, through feature films, short films and special events.
Having grown from a single short film programme to a four-day event, Mayhem continues to expand, welcoming more special guests, celebrating new and emerging talent, and highlighting bold and exciting new feature and short films from the dark edges of genre and beyond.
In previous years, Mayhem has welcomed many filmmakers from around the world such as Nicolas Roeg for a special screening of Don't Look Now at St Mary's Church in Nottingham, Ben Wheatley for a preview screening of Sightseers, Gareth Edwards for Monsters, Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock) for a special masterclass, and cult Canadian collective, Astron-6. Mayhem Film Festival has also hosted exclusive events such as screenings with specially-commissioned live scores from 8MM Orchestra, a one-of-a-kind live reading of unmade Hammer Films screenplay, The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, and a live performance of Tales of HP Lovecraft by The Duke St Workshop featuring British actor Laurence R. Harvey.
Planning is currently underway for Mayhem Film Festival's 13th edition with more information and announcements coming soon. Submissions for feature films will open in the spring.
Mayhem Film Festival will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 12 – 15 October 2017.
Mayhem reveals full 2016 line-up
Posted: Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:55
We are proud to reveal our full line-up ahead of our 12th edition on 13-16 October at Broadway, Nottingham.
Joining The Duke St Workshop, who will open the festival with a live performance of Tales of HP Lovecraft featuring cult horror actor Laurence R. Harvey (Human Centipede II and III); and Steve Barker who will be presenting his new film The ReZort; we will also welcome British director Gareth Tunley for a screening of The Ghoul; and Billy O'Brien for I Am Not A Serial Killer. Astron-6's Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski will close the festival with a screening of The Void and will be joined by producer Casey Walker. We previously welcomed Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and Conor Sweeney from cult film collective Astron-6 in 2014.
One of Mayhem's most diverse editions, the programme also includes Italy's They Call Me Jeeg Robot and the UK Premiere of Headshot from Indonesia's Mo Brothers – both previously announced – as well as preview screenings of Julia Ducournau's remarkable debut and Cannes-hit, Raw, Emiliano Rocha Minter's "fairy tale for adults", We Are The Flesh, hilarious horror-comedy Don't Kill It from the director of Big Assed Spider and starring Dolph Lundgren, and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's latest film, Creepy, about a criminal psychologist and his suspicious neighbours. From the archives, we will screen Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires, which has been restored and remastered under the supervision of Nicolas Winding Refn, as well as H.G. Lewis's Blood Feast.
With a total of 17 screenings and events, our 2016 edition will also see the return of Mayhem's Short Film Programme and the fiendish Mayhem quiz, The Flinterrogation hosted by author David Flint.
Early Bird Passes for the full festival are still on sale for £60 until Thursday 15 September. Individual tickets, day passes and full festival passes at the regular price of £70 will go on sale on Friday 16 September at 10am. We are currently experiencing some issues with our online booking but you can still purchase Early Bird Passes by calling the Box Office on 0115 952 6611.
The Duke St Workshop live featuring Laurence R. Harvey is made possible with the support and partnership of Kino Klubb.
Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 13-16 October at Broadway, Nottingham.
You can see our full line-up HERE.