You may have seen Thursday's news that the recently-revivified Hammer have been digging into their vaults again, emerging with a plan for a new version of 1957's The Abominable Snowman.Empire happened to be on other Hammer business on the day of the announcement, so we were well-placed to score some further details from Hammer CEO Simon Oakes and producer Ben Holden. "We're very excited about it," enthuses Oakes. "Inevitably somebody not understanding the history and mythology of it will see a word like 'abominable' and take the piss, but more fool them!"
The new version of the Yeti story will see an illegal Himalayan expedition accidentally awakening the dangerous beasts, risking almost certain death. "We're not remaking the Val Guest film," explains Holden. "We're starting again from scratch, but the conversation began because that creature or that myth is part of the Hammer library or lexicon and we wanted to develop something around it."
Following a happy Hammer experience on The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death, John Croker is writing the new film, in cahoots with Matthew Read (Hammer Of The Gods). "Hammer has always seemed to give rise to these iconic sorts of stories," says Holden of the pair's remit, "so we're carefully trying to keep that DNA thread from the 'old' Hammer but keep it relevant and modern. You can't reinvent the wheel with these things, but you can always spin it a bit differently..."
"Our version of The Abominable Snowman will have something of the uncanny about it," continues Oakes, "and it'll have the mythology, and all the big [original writer] Nigel Kneale ideas of man and beast and nature. It won't be heavily special effects-driven. It'll align itself with the characters and the threat. John and Matthew are both super writers, and they'll do a great job."
Elsewhere within Hammer, The Quiet Ones are awaiting their release next Spring; Jeanette Winterson's novel The Daylight Gate is facing a film adaptation; and a rebooted Quatermass is on the way as a TV series in the 90-minute format. "That's with the BBC," says Oakes, "and Steve Thompson, one of the Sherlock writers, is working on that for us. Quatermass is well-known in the UK but not really outside, so we want to re-establish him as an iconic British character like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. We're heavily involved in the development of that and it's going really well."
And what of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, another title from the depths of Hammer that's often mentioned in terms of a revival? "The thing about Kronos is that it's one of those things where we need to find a way in," Oakes explains. "Brian Clemens wrote the first one saying he wanted to bring a modern take to the idea of the vampire hunter, and yet Kronos still wears tights! But the ambition and imagination at work in that film were what people responded to. People at Comic-Con always ask if we're doing a new one, and I always say, 'Yeah, we're doing Kronos!' and the blogosphere goes wild. So if we can find the right writer to reimagine it then that's what we'll do."
We've heard, we suggest, that Ben Wheatley is something of a Kronos fan...
"I've offered it to Ben Wheatley!" Oakes reveals. "I've told him Kronos is his whenever he wants it. You can put that in print! That might get him off his arse! [laughs] I'm a huge fan of Ben's. I told him, 'Whenever you want Kronos, it's yours, mate. Just get back to me.' And he never got back to me! So we'll shame him in print into doing it now!"
Mr Wheatley, the ball is in your court...