Bringing the Chained Oak legend to the big screen

The Chained Oak legend, on which the Alton Towers ride Hex is based, will soon be brought to life in the form of a feature film.

It will be the work of Dean Maynard, who has family in the area of Alton village and has visited the Staffordshire theme park many times over the years.

It was while queueing for Hex on one such occasion that he overheard a group talking about how great it would be if the story was made into a film.

Inspired by this, over the last few years he has been working on bringing the idea to fruition.

Original story

According to the local legend, in 1821, the Earl of Shrewsbury was returning to his home of Alton Towers via horse and kart when an elderly woman appeared in his path.

After being refused the charity of a coin, she placed a curse on the Earl – stating that for every branch of the old oak tree that fell, a member of his family would die.

The atmospheric Hex ride is located within the ruins of Alton Towers

A thunderstorm that night reportedly severed a single branch and true to the curse, a member of his family suddenly died.

In an attempt to prevent further tragedy, the Earl had the tree’s remaining branches chained up.

The tree remains enchained to this day, and is adjacent to the Chained Oak Farm bed and breakfast.

New film

Opening at Alton Towers in 2000, the theming and presentation of the atmospheric dark ride Hex is based on the local legend.

It is one of film maker Dean’s favourite rides at the theme park and features a pre-ride short film, special effects and culminates with an spinning illusion ride known as a Madhouse.

Of course the film’s script cannot be revealed to us, but Dean did say that the original legend will be explained to the viewer.

The octogon section of the ride features numerous special effects

“The legend will be explained for those who don’t know or have never heard of it, but at this time I can’t really say any more without giving the plot away,” he told us.

He is also predictably tight-lipped on who will be starring, but did reveal that filming is to take place within months.

“I want to keep the cast members secret for now, as we will do a press launch close to the film wrapping. Nearly all of the actors are from the Staffordshire area.

“We will be filming in the Staffordshire area in May.”

Dean extended his thanks to the Chained Oak B&B, BBC Stoke and the local media and Mr Peter Berks, who have all helped him develop the project.

He also said that Alton Towers had been very supportive, predicting that the film’s release would be of great benefit to the park.

“There will be people around the world who have never heard of Hex or the legend and as a result, they will come to visit the park.”

The film is expected to be released by early next year, and we would like to thank Dean for his time and wish him good luck with the project.