Not to be outdone by Rob Zombie's Lords Of Salem, Hammer is turning its attention to some witch trials closer to home. The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are on their way to the screen, via an adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's excellent novel The Daylight Gate. Conveniently, Hammer also publishes the book, through its imprint at Arrow.
Nine women and two men from Lancashire's Pendle Hill area were tried as witches during the unfortunate events, with ten found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The details we know about the trials come from a contemporary report, Thomas Potts' The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster (the trials happened before spelling was invented).
In Winterson's hands, however, the story involves real witches as well as the falsely accused, William Shakespeare, magician Dr John Dee and, this being not many years after Guy Fawkes' rise to infamy, a gunpowder plotter.
It's "an exciting and compelling fictional work" says Hammer's head honcho Simon Oakes. It's also brutally gruesome and not a little strange, but that shouldn't cause too many headaches for the famous horror brand. There are no details yet of the names involved in The Daylight Gate's journey to the screen, but since Winterson has adapted her own work before (notably Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit for the BBC) it's not impossible that she might provide the screenplay.
Next up from Hammer is The Quiet Ones, due for release on April 11 next year. It'll be followed sometime later by The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death.