Michael Carreras had left Hammer back in 1961 after relations with his father, James, had soured (James had axed Michael's film on the Spanish Inquisition and instead utilised the already-built sets for Curse of the Werewolf). Michael formed his own company, Capricorn Films, and deliberately steered away from the horror genre. By 1970, however, James was looking to retire and tried to entice his son back to the 'family' business by offering him a post as executive producer for Hammer - effectively the position he'd held there a decade earlier. Anthony Hinds, who had co-produced Hammer's films with Michael, had left the company a few years before, dissatisfied with the way he'd been treated over the Journey Into SpaceHammer television show, while Hinds' co-producer, Anthony Nelson Keys, had recently left to form his own production company. The company needed someone who knew the business and could take over. Michael, however, refused his father's offer, which in turn led to a further dispute. By Christmas 1970, however, James attempted a further reconciliation; Michael would instead become managing director of Hammer productions, a post Michael took up in January 1971.
Sadly, the business was not as it had been in the early 1960s when Michael had last worked for the company. Having attempted a merger with another company, James Carreras decided to sell Hammer to a rival company - a move he made while Michael was out of the country. On his return, Michael was furious to learn of his father's plans and put together a counter-bid. In the New Year of 1973, Michael Carreras assumed complete ownership of the company, severing his father's control completely. It was then that Michael discovered that the company was effectively broke. The growth of television (which at the time consisted of three channels, two state-owned and one commercial) had crippled the British Film Industry - British institutions like Hammer and the Carry On... films were winding down production. Indeed, in its final years, Hammer's comedy output overshadowed its horror and drama productions. What had once been the staple diet of British cinema audiences was now considered passé. Having lost a number of influential contacts after the sale of the company, many of Hammer's final films - including Christopher Lee's final pictures for the company, The Satanic Rites of Dracula and To the Devil... a Daughter - failed to get a release in the USA. Michael Carreras began plunging his own money into uncompleted projects such as Nessie and Vlad the Impaler but to no avail. One final film, a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, went over budget and distributors, Rank, seized control of the production. In 1979, Carreras was forced to hand over the company his father had helped to build over to the receivers. That same year, former Hammer employees Roy Skeggs, who had been a producer for Hammer in the early 1970s, and Brian Lawrence were brought back onto the board of directors, acting as caretakers for Hammer's owners, ICI.
In 1980, after the success of the Hammer House of Horror TV series, Roy Skeggs and Brian Lawrence bought Hammer outright. Until recently, Skeggs was the company's managing director.
Other Entries in this Project
- Hammer - the Birth of a Studio
- The Hammer Filmography
- Hammer Stars
- Hammer Horror
- What Makes a Hammer Horror Film
- Hammer Television
- Hammer Today