For any avid fan of horror movies, the name Hammer Films should need no introduction. Originally founded in 1934, the legendary film studio was behind a series of horror film classics and completely dominated the genre from the mid-1950s right up to the early 1970s, with a list of films that included Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Quatermass Xperiment. Eventually, as competition from rival studios and changing trends superseded the winning Hammer formula, the company began to struggle and, in the late 1980s, ceased production on new titles.
In 2000 the company was bought by a consortium headed by Charles Saatchi and it looked as though the company might be back from the dead, but it proved a false dawn and no new films were produced. Then, in 2010, the company was sold again, this time to Dutch media Tycoon John de Mol, who promised investment for new productions. Finally, after a period of inactivity that had lasted over 25 years, they released Let Me In, the first of three new films to be released by the studio, along with 2011's The Resident and 2012's The Woman In Black. Next week a fourth film, The Quiet Ones, is released on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Based, as horror films often claim to be, on 'real events', the film is directed by John Pogue and details the story of a series of experiments carried out by a university professor and his team of students in 1974. The subject of these experiments is Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) , a young girl suffering from a form of mental illness, possibly as a result of some past trauma, but Jane has no memory of her past or where she came from. The professor, Dr. Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris), has a theory about the supernatural phenomena around the girl and how it could be a manifestation of her illness, but things soon begin to spiral out of control when the group decide to film the experiments.
The storyline isn't really breaking any new ground but the performances are convincing and the film has enough going for it to make it a genuinely scary thrill ride, but most of all it's great to see Hammer Films back doing what they do best: scaring the bejesus out of us.
So, in the tradition of the great British horror film, we've picked out 10 of our all time favourites...
The Quiet Ones (2014) - Official Trailer #1
10. Dog Soldiers
Neil Marshall's 2002 film stars Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd as two soldiers in a platoon undertaking what should be a routine military training exercise, but soon turns into a nightmare when the group realise that something else is inhabiting the area. When two of the soldiers are attacked and injured, they find refuge in a local cabin owned by a zoologist named Megan (Emma Cleasby) who tells them their wounds were caused by werewolves. A refreshing take on a tried and tested formula, Dog Soldiers adds both comedy and terror into the mix for Marshall's film. Not a huge box office hit, but well worth a look for any horror fans.
9. An American Werewolf in London
John Landis' comedy-horror classic was released in 1981 and, if we're being honest, it is starting to show its age a little, but despite the dated feel and the ketchup special effects, it's still one of our favourites. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne star as two American students on a walking tour of Great Britain who find themselves mixed up in some spooky happenings in a remote village somewhere on the Yorkshire moors. They hear stories of werewolves, but none of the locals will give the rumours any legitimacy. That is, until the boys are attacked by one. Also starring a young Jenny Agutter, this is as light-hearted as horror films get, but it's still great fun.
8. The Descent
Another of Neil Marshall's films to make this list, where Dog Soldiers mixed some comedy into the proceedings as light relief, The Descent offers no such comforts. Featuring a largely female cast that includes Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza and Saskia Mulder, the film tells the story of an underground caving expedition that begins to go horribly awry when it turns out that the explorers have disturbed the natural habitat of a very strange group of predators. This one will have you on the edge of your seat for sure.
7. The Last Great Wilderness
This 2002 film from director David Mackenzie, the man behind Starred Up and Hallam Foe, stars Alastair Mackenzie and Jonny Phillips as two men who meet heading to Scotland on very different purposes. Charlie (Mackenzie) is headed north to find a house belonging to the man that stole his wife with the intention of burning it to the ground, while Vicente (Phillips) is in hiding in an attempt to avoid a contract castration. Grisly stuff, but matters only get worse when they reach their destination to find its inhabitants are mixed up in some very strange rituals and behaviour. A very underrated film, but one we'd recommend you give a chance.
Before his role on Eastenders, Danny Dyer starred in many films, often with mixed results, but occasionally he'd appear in something brilliant. Human Traffic is one of the best examples, but the other is this 2006 film from director Christopher Smith.
The premise of the film is simple: a group of work colleagues from the weapons contractor Palisade Defence are sent on a team building exercise in the remote forests and mountains of Eastern Europe, but they soon find themselves the unwitting targets of a revenge mission carried out by crazed, murderous veterans who want them dead. As funny as it is terrifying, Severance is not be missed.
5. Eden Lake
Starring Kelly Riley and Michael Fassbender as a couple looking for a romantic getaway, James Watkins' 2008 horror-thriller starts inauspiciously enough, but just as it seems that schoolteacher Jenny and her husband Steve have found the perfect idyll on a lakeside near the woods in a remote setting, all is peaceful until a gang of youths encircles their campsite. When Steve confronts them he is brutally attacked and Jenny must flee to get help, with the gang in pursuit at every turn. Not the film to watch if you're planning a romantic camping trip, but highly recommended for everybody else.
4. Shaun of the Dead
Although a very different type of zombie film to the likes of 28 Days Later and the output of George A. Romero, Edgar Wright's film, the first of his 'Cornetto' trilogy, finds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost holing up in their local pub as they defend themselves from hordes of the undead. A comedy-horror classic that cemented Wright's growing reputation as a director, Shaun of the Dead contains so many great lines that it may well be the most oft-quoted horror film ever.
3.The Wicker Man
A well-established cult favourite that was recently the subject of a Hollywood remake, Robin Hardy's original from 1973 is still the best. Edward Woodward stars as a police sergeant who heads to a remote Scottish island to investigate the disappearance of a girl the locals claim never existed, but soon uncovers a community with some dark and twisted secrets. Also featuring Britt Ekland in what still ranks as one of the weirdest depictions of erotica ever committed to celluloid, The Wicker Man is eerie, unsettling and ends pretty badly for Sergeant Howie. An absolute classic.
2. 28 Days Later...
Although Danny Boyle's film was shot on a relatively modest budget, 28 Days Later makes the most of what it has – namely a talented cast, a convincing plot and a brilliant director – to great effect. Cillian Murphy stars as a bicycle courier who wakes from a coma following an accident after 28 days, only to discover that London is completely deserted. When he meets Selena (Naomie Harris), he learns that an outbreak of the Rage virus has turned the human race into legions of murderous zombies. The film's spooky sequences featuring Murphy wandering through a deserted London are chilling and bizarre, helping this iconic horror flick to become a huge box office hit.
1. Kill List
Directed by Ben Wheatley, Kill List is, in our opinion, the best British horror film in a long, long time. Released in 2011, the film stars Neil Maskell as hitman who takes on a contract to kill three people after botching an earlier job, but things don't go to plan. We could go into more detail, but for anyone who hasn't seen Kill List our recommendation would be to watch this knowing as little as possible about the film's plot. You won't be disappointed.