Not counting documentaries such as "The World Of Hammer" and "Flesh And Blood - The Hammer Heritage Of Horror", this is the first output to bear the famous name of Hammer since "The Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense" TV series in 1984. So now, after many years of speculation, Hammer are finally back in business.
"Beyond The Rave", a modern vampire tale, is actually a collaboration between Hammer Film Productions and Pure Grass Films. It was originally shown on the networking website MySpace as a 20 part serial and now all the episodes have been put together on a limited special edition DVD to form a complete movie. So is it any good?
Unfortunately, I am sorry to say that the answer is NO. In fact it's absolutely terrible. I can't believe that Hammer fans have had to wait so long for this rubbish.
For a start, the script is poor. There are no likeable, sympathetic characters in this story. Most of the human characters are either violent, obnoxious thugs or drugged-up losers. Even the film's "hero", Ed, is a foul-mouthed, drug-taking, immoral son of a bitch who gets drunk with the lads and cheats on his girlfriend (who is no angel herself) by sleeping with a prostitute. I'm not sure whether it was a deliberate ploy by the film makers to make the human characters even more repellent than the vampires but they certainly have achieved this. The problem is that whenever any of the humans suffered a grisly death at the hands (and teeth, of course) of the vampires, I didn't really care and I found myself cheering for the vampires. The dialogue is awful and packed with crude obscenities. There is barely a single line of dialogue that does not contain words beginning with "F" or "C". Blimey, poor old Peter Cushing must be turning in his grave!!! The stream of profanities is so relentless that it just becomes tiresome and I ended up not being the slightest bit interested in what anyone had to say. If the human characters and their situations are meant to represent a true and realistic cross-section of British society than I'm glad I don't live in Britain anymore.
I absolutely love the old Hammer horror movies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and many of these films are now rightly regarded as classics. It is fair to say that some of these films were groundbreaking and were even considered to be controversial and shocking in their day. Many of these original Hammer movies had great scripts, brilliant sets, superb direction and wonderful acting. These films have been admired by film makers such as Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton and Peter Jackson. The name of Hammer has become a legend in the film industry and, although they made lots of different types of films, Hammer has become synonymous with the horror genre. Unfortunately, "Beyond The Rave" is neither shocking or scary and has no class or any real style or atmosphere. Even the scenes featuring vampire attacks are ridiculous. The scariest thing about this film is that the people responsible for it must have thought that there are people out there who would actually enjoy watching this dross! If this was really a "worldwide online hit" as stated on the back cover of this DVD, then I can only assume that some modern horror fans must be easily pleased.
I realise that times have changed since the golden age of Hammer and that cinema has also changed. I did not expect "Beyond The Rave" to be a gothic horror film in the same vein as Dracula or Frankenstein. I did however hope that it would be quite good in its own right. My optimism and expectations were shattered within the first 5 minutes. "Beyond The Rave" really disappointed and depressed me. This is a grim movie with no redeeming qualities. It's so depressing that it makes the ending of Sergio Corbucci's "Il Grande Silenzio" look like "It's A Wonderful Life". There have been some great contemporary horror movies made in recent years but BTR is not one of them. This film is an insult to the name and grand tradition of Hammer.
On a slightly more positive note, the new age of Hammer has 2 more films in the pipeline - "Let Me In" and "The Resident" (the latter featuring Christopher Lee). I can only pray that these films will be a vast improvement over BTR. If they aren't then I won't care if Hammer remains dormant for about another 25 years.