Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WHAT WOULD HAMMER DO?

It may seem audacious now, but at one time FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine was thought influential enough to have the great gothic giant of the time, Hammer Films, listen to what its readers wanted in a horror movie. Whether it was designed as a publicity stunt or a serious survey, it's astounding that the film industry, long known for its incestuous and ego-centric behavior, would actually take time out and listen to its consumers at all. That it wasn't Hollywood makes a little bit more sense.

Now infused with the life-giving elixir called cash from Exclusive Media Group, the stake has been pulled out of Hammer Films' tired heart and it's back producing feature films. However, despite their high quality production, films such as WICKER MAN spin-off WAKE WOOD (click HERE for MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD's recent coverage), and Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliff's upcoming strange adventures with a WOMAN IN BLACK, they still seem somehow anemic and anti-climactic when compared to the bold and bloody films of Hammer's heyday (one notable exception is the superb LET ME IN, a remake of the vampire hit, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN). As with all ventures of this type, time will tell.


On the inside back cover of the August, 1975 issue of FM (#118) appeared an ad for an appeal to readers for them to furnish the great Hammer Films with their ideas for future film productions. Publisher James Warren and Editor-in-Chief Forrest J. Ackerman always seemed to have a publicity trick up their collective sleeve, and this was the newest in a long string of horror hype that the magazine had become well-known for. Participants had an entire half a line to describe what they thought should be the next horror put out by Hammer. They were also prompted for their age as well as if that would be the litmus test of authoritative market savvy.

I am unaware of the outcome of this survey and, if it was for real, if Hammer Films received enough input to bother and change the course of their productions. We all know what eventually happened though, don't we?

Now, if I had the chance to fill out a Hammer Films survey today, I'd have a couple things to cram on that half a line. Let's see, vampires are not only huge but epic these days -- how about recreating or re-imagining their Dracula franchise? And, unless that rock has been too heavy for you to push up out of the way from your life underground, zombies have taken over celluloid -- so, how about something like RETURN OF THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES? Can I add a huge "Duh!" here?

I don't expect to see a Hammer Films survey such as the one shown below any time soon in the pages of the new FM. What's interesting though, is FM has taken the time out to listen to its readership and have responded accordingly. And, that's pretty smart marketing if you ask me.

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