This is the best news I've heard in ages: According to Variety, UK horror film pioneer Hammer Films is actually back in business.
I know this may not mean much to the younger generation of horror buffs, but when I was growing up, Hammer was the alpha and the omega of all things Dracula and Frankenstein and Quatermass… I saw their early films on TV and their later ones, like The Creeping Flesh (1973), in theaters. Hammer introduced me to cruelly sexy vampires and demonically possessed vampire slayers. Hammer made me a fan of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring, Oliver Reed and too many others to count. Hammer sent me scurrying to libraries and used bookstores for novels by Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly, J.S. Le Fanu , Josephine Tey (via Paranoiac, a shamefully uncredited adaptation of her haunting psychological thriller Brat Farrar), Guy Endore, Dennis Wheatley and others.
Hammer had its ups and downs, but it helped shape my ideas about horror movies. The first serious book about horror movies I bought as a teenager was David Pirie's A Heritage of Horror: The British Gothic Cinema 1946-1972, and much of its appeal was how much it had to say about Hammer (and yes, I've already ponied up for his A New Heritage of Horror because really, how could I not?).
Make no mistake: I'm not a pie-eyed optimist about the new Hammer.
But it warms my heart that such a storied named has, like Dracula, risen from the grave.