At last my long ordered copy of the DVD, Beyond the Rave, has arrived from Play.com. Of course I wanted this primarily because it was the first new Hammer film for 25 years. The big question is, just how much like a Hammer film is it?
That's a hard one to answer. It certainly wasn't a return to the familiar late Victorian era so favoured in many of Hammer's vampire and Frankenstein movies.On the other hand, Hammer was never worried about updating things either. i.e. Dracula AD 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, not to mention all their psychological thrillers, etc. In that sense, this modern day vampire film was certainly more effective than Dracula AD 1972. And it had a good, wide-ranging cast of character actors, from the squadie on his last day of freedom before being sent off to help the invasion of Iraq, the drug-dealing, thuggish gangsters, the 700-year old vampire who could be oddly charming one moment and a cold-blooded killer within as many seconds as it takes me to type this out, plus many others. I enjoyed it, especially the bonus episode where three of the vampires seek sanctuary overnight in an very odd boarding house. It certainly had touches of the dark humour I always associate with Hammer, while the violence was definitely graphic - and sometimes deliberately funny too - the two-fingered defiance of one of the gangsters in his dying moments was a stand out one for me.
I believe the new Hammer are making the English-language version of Let the Right One In, renamed Let Me In. If they do it as well as they did this I would be more than satisfied.
Was it old Hammer? No. Too many years have passed for it to be that. But in any case the old Hammer was constantly evolving as censorship and public tastes - and tolerances - changed. Compare the late fifties Frankenstein and Dracula with Hammer's productions by the early seventies. If Hammer had not ceased film production, I could believe that Beyond the Rave would have been the kind of film they would have been bringing out today. So, yes, it could be Hammer to me. It was very British. It had humour. It had violence and blood. It had some extremely good character actors. Those are the things I always associate with Hammer. And this film had them all.
The DVD has loads of extras which I haven't had time to look at yet, though I shall very soon.
Recommended for anyone who likes a truly bloody, very British vampire film.