Sadie Frost stars in the return of Hammer horror

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The Independent Culture

Hammer Films, the studio whose blood-soaked, scream-inducing productions kept the British film industry alive during its bleakest years, is making its first production since 1976. But instead of playing at a cinema near you, Beyond the Rave will be shown in episodes on MySpace and released as a DVD.

And while the original Hammer films starred the likes of Honor Blackman, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing the new release will feature Sadie Frost. The ex-wife of Jude Law will be joined by Jamie Dornan, whose first film role was as a Swedish aristocrat in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. His co-stars are Tamer Hassan, who played a Millwall hooligan in Nick Love's The Football Factory, and the young Irish actress Nora-Jane Noone.

The innovative idea of a co-production with MySpace is an attempt to convince the young that this is something for them, rather than their grandparents, who clung to the arms of their seats in decrepit flea-pit cinemas watching Hammer horror films in black and white.

Simon Oakes, Hammer Film Productions chairman and chief executive, said: "This is a bold venture creating horror for the 21st century through a variety of technologies. When Hammer Films first started, it was an innovative production company and this new venture marks the beginning of a journey to recalibrate the DNA of Hammer Films for a new audience.

"MySpace is an innovative and exciting distribution platform to enable people to watch and interact with movie content in a whole new way. To relaunch with MySpaceTV's first UK co-production is perfect for a company originally born out of a culture of risk-taking and creativity."

MySpace Europe's director of entertainment and head of video, James Fabricant, said: "This partnership demonstrates the power of MySpace and how traditional media is being turned on its head. For Hammer to make their first movie in 30 years specifically for the MySpace community is a phenomenal development and shows the dramatic change in how consumers want to access content."

Hammer's first production, The Public Life of Henry the Ninth, came out in 1935. For 20 years, the studio produced low-budget comedies and thrillers that had limited impact, until they had a sudden, unexpected hit in 1955 with Quatermass Xperiment, a film adaptation of a popular BBC radio science fiction series.

In 1957, they risked investing 57,000 in The Curse of Frankenstein, a movie version of Mary Shelley's novel, with Peter Cushing as the mad scientist, which was panned by critics because of its alleged "morbid taste for the revolting" and recouped 300,000 in the UK, 500,000 in Japan and more than 1m in the US. This was at a time when cinema audiences were in rapid decline because of the arrival of television.

Most Hammer Horror films featured villains with clipped upper-middle-class accents and behaved like degenerate aristocrats. Christopher Lee became so well known as Dracula that once in Spain on holiday, a woman pulled her children away and made the sign of the cross to ward him off.

The last Hammer title was To The Devil A Daughter, featuring Blackman, in 1976. The studio was bought in February 2000 by a consortium which included advertising supremo Charles Saatchi, and sold to a Dutch-based private finance group earlier this year.

Frost appeared as a vampire in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992.

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