Nessie has risen from the grave
Hammer Films’ Nessie is the great lost British sea monster movie. Developed between 1976-1979, Nessie was Hammer’s most ambitious project, a multimillion dollar co-production with Japan’s Toho Studios that would have seen the Loch Ness Monster rampage across the world from the Scotland to the Canary Islands and Hong Kong harbour. The global scale of the films plot was mirrored off-screen, with Hammer, desperate for financial backing, entering into a number of ill fated distribution and finance deals before the production collapsed and Hammer itself went into receivership. This chapter offers a detailed pre-production history of Nessie, drawing on screenplays (by Christopher Wicking, Michael Carreras and Bryan Forbes), and day by day correspondence and financial records in the Hammer Archive at De Montfort University. It also considers the unmade film as a British ‘Jawsploitation’ movie and sets it in the context of both the Loch Ness Monster in film and TV (Secret of the Loch, ‘The Terror of the Zygons’, Loch Ness, The Water Horse) and the wider history of sea monsters in British cinema (The Giant Behemoth, Gorgo). Textual analysis of the screenplays shows how Nessie combines the elements of classic sea monster stories such as Moby Dick and Jaws with the tropes of British science fiction cinema, the disaster film, King Kong, and the ecological horror film. The chapter ends by arguing for the value of studying the ‘shadow cinema’ of unmade films. Nessie, with its production costs mooted at one point to be nearly $7 million, perhaps stands as one of the most ambitious monster movies never made, and the chronicling of its screenplay and tortuous production process not only gives us a glimpse of a project which could have potentially altered Hammer’s ailing fortunes, but also an opportunity to examine how a film seemingly too big to fail ultimately never made it in front of the camera.
Citation : Foster. K. and Hunter, I.Q. (2018) Nessie Has Risen from the Grave. In: J. Hackett and S. Harrington (eds), Beasts of the Sea: Sea Beasts and Popular Culture. New Barnet: John Libbey.
ISBN : 9780861967339
Research Group : Cinema and Television History Research Centre
Research Institute : Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- Leicester Media School