Friday, 17 February 2012

Hammer - Has Risen Again

In my youth, I was a serious film fan, making many visits to the cinemas of Edinburgh, many (most) now no longer existing. This was in the days before the rise of the multiplex, when each cinema had it's own character and it was within their darkened voids that I saw many a great film and many not so great. It was also during this time that I was able to enjoy the vistas of the cinema widescreens and the epics that were usually produced in the various formats. CinemaScope, VistaVision, Todd-AO, Panavision and Cinerama and all the rest became a great interest to me but as I can see your eyes glazing over, I shall keep my widescreen enthusiasm for another blog.

Visits to the cinema or 'the pictures' are now rare and are usually to Filmhouse, Edinburgh's art and repertory cinema and home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. So it was, on one of those rare visits, that I took my wife on a St. Valentine Day visit to the pictures. Now the multiplex offered much choice and I could have treated the love of my life to movies such as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, War Horse, The Descendants, The Vow or even The Muppets. However, being the old romantic that I am, the treat was a ghost story, The Woman in Black. I can thoroughly recommend this film which returns to the simply idea of telling a tale while attempting to frighten you out of your wits. There is nothing original in the techniques used to scare you in the film but you are drawn into this little world and it's terrible secrets and Daniel Radcliffe produces a fine performance as the young widower. The cinema was full of many young girls, claiming to be twelve or over and I feared that this would spoil the film for me. To my surprise, I was reminded of the reason why there is no better way of enjoying a film and that is the shared experience of laughter or tears or screams, the latter being the most prevalent at this showing. I was reminded of a late night showing, many years ago, of Hammer Films 'Dracula'. When leaving the cinema, there was a buzz from the audience that had shared the exciting ending of that film. Mention of Hammer is interesting because The Woman in Black is a Hammer film. Of course it is not the same company. The name and the library of films, still owned by Hammer, are being carried forward by an American group using the name of Exclusive, the original company of that name, being the original distributor of the early Hammer films.
Many distributors were involved with Hammer when the latter was at their peak and those distributors  will still have the rights to many of the best Hammer films. However, I wish the new Hammer Films and the Exclusive Media Group much success and hope to see the Hammer name on many future productions.

While the youngsters added to the enjoyment of the film, I was also reminded why I seldom sit in the darkness of a cinema watching the light and shadows flow across a white screen. Two old ladies behind us talk throughout the film as if they were watching the tele in their living room. I realise that this is minor annoyance compared to what many have to put up with when they visit the cinema but the two old dear's narration did not enhance my enjoyment of the film. I will say no more on this as I feel this could be the subject of a future Room 101 blog.

In closing, the last few days here have enjoyed the sort of weather that suggest that Spring may not be long in coming. My snow shovel has stayed unused (I'm I tempting fate here) and the days are getting longer. This photo shows that the crocus flowers think that it is Spring. I hope they are right.

Until the next time......


  1. Hammer has also resurrected itself as a book imprint, letting some fairly "literary" authors have fun with ghostly supernatural stuff, such as Helen Dunmore's The Greatcoat.

    Later in the year we'll be getting (allegedly) scary stuff from Jeanette (Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit) Winterson, "controversial" children's author Melvin Burgess and horror/dark fantasy author Tim Lebbon.

  2. The weather has definitely felt more spring-like the last few days. Having said that, there's just been a sleet shower. Really must go and see The Woman In Black - if I can persuade Himself!