By B. Forshaw
Barry Forshaw celebrates with enthusiasm the British horror movie and its fascination for macabre cinema. A definitive learn of the style, British Gothic Cinema discusses the flowering of the sector, with each key movie mentioned from its beginnings within the Forties via to the twenty first century.
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Additional info for British Gothic Cinema
To some degree, aficionados of the genre must admit that a certain desensitising process is at work, and the films that once terrified audiences now seem distinctly sedate. But the corollary of such a normalising process is not that audiences will rush out to perform the atrocities enacted by Dracula and co. H. Lawrence talked about the necessity of maintaining a sense of the reality of pain, something that the better horror films incorporate along with the honest imperative of (as Dickens’ fat boy enjoyed) making our flesh creep.
The suggestion that horror films routinely put audiences in the position of (and thereby in sympathy with) the monster or killer also does not stand up to much scrutiny. The extensive use of subjective camera point-of-view in films from the 1980s onwards may go some way towards shoring up this canard, but the ultimate imperative of most such horror films is the final survival of the heroine or hero, and this remains the principal source of the generation of suspense (we may be exhilarated by the brilliantly edited depictions of murder and mayhem, but in the best films we feel an acute sense of waste and loss, while audiences unquestionably want the beleaguered heroine or hero to survive).
Moreover, the embroidery on the writer’s brief original was far less creative and in sympathy with the material than that practised by Richard Matheson for the later Corman version. Nevertheless, despite its paucity of effects, the film achieved the distinction of being the second British film (after The Dark Eyes of London) to be granted the ‘H’ certificate. But unlike the later ‘X’ certificate which the wily Hammer Films studios parleyed to considerable commercial advantage (suggesting to sensation-hungry audiences that the restrictive category meant that they would be party to some kind of forbidden fruit), this lacklustre version apparently did very little business.
British Gothic Cinema by B. Forshaw