Ghostly tale sinking its teeth into the big screen

One of East Anglia's most famous legends could soon be terrifying cinema-goers across the world after catching the eye of the film company behind the smash hits Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones' Diary.

One of East Anglia's most famous legends could soon be terrifying cinema-goers across the world after catching the eye of the film company behind the smash hits Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones' Diary.

More than 400 years after the flaming-eyed hell hound the Black Shuck first scorched a bloody swathe across the region, the myth could be about to hit the silver screen.

Shuck the Movie has stoked up interest from both Working Title, the multimillion pound studio that realised hits like Bridget Jones, Four Weddings and more recently Hot Fuzz, and Handmade Films, behind the seminal Withnail and I and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The film has been in the pipeline for several years but producer and project mastermind Andrew Selwyn-Crome, who lives in Eye, near Diss, said that a big studio's involvement could guarantee the widespread distribution that would open the door to big box office takings and new projects.

Mr Selwyn-Crome has ambitions to use the film's future success to open up the pulsating vein of British talent and help revive the corpse of the country's horror industry.

He hopes to set up a film company in the region making new horror hits harking back to the popularity of the legendary Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 1960s, primarily based on the murky myths and legends of East Anglia.

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Mr Selwyn-Crome said: "Obviously Working Title has produced an amazing string of hits and to just have interest is really exciting, if they were to get behind it it would take the project up a massive notch."

"We are looking at Shuck the Movie as being the first in a series of films taking on the mantle of the Hammer horror films.

"We are hoping it will allow us to set up a film production company driven by the great legends and myths of East Anglia from the Stockton Stone to ghosts of Thetford Priory."

The film would focus on a notorious episode in August 1577 when the Black Shuck is rumoured to have torn through the church congregation at Blythburgh, killing a man and a boy, causing the spire to collapse and leaving scorch marks on the door.

Its cast includes Harry Potter star and Norfolk actor Chris Rankin, Tony Scannell - known as DS Ted Roach in The Bill - and TV and movie actor Ken Campbell, with award-winning director Martyn Pick at the helm.

Mr Selwyn-Crome has been interested in the project since 1990 and said it had only got as far it is today thanks to the commitment of local businesses, groups, backers and film industry professionals whose support has helped keep costs down.

He said: "This is a major motion picture for the region and I have had such amazing support from the community, everybody seems behind it. We want to get as many local people involved as possible and have a real sense of local pride and sense of place into the film."

The film is about £50,000 shy of its £180,000 target and Mr Selwyn-Crome is appealing for investors to help meet the final costs that will finance the post production and special effects work.

Mr Selwyn-Crome is also bidding for an Awards for All grant that would pay for a 45-minute documentary about the Black Shuck, a 10 minute preview of the feature film and fund storytelling and artistic workshops to get more local people involved with the project.

Mr Selwyn-Crome is also artistic director of the Fisher Theatre in Bungay and will hold a night of storytelling of The Black Shuck and other ghostly stories at the Fisher Theatre, with readings from stars such as Chris Rankin, on August 4.

To help with the project contact Mr Selwyn-Crome on 01379 870761.