It’s the week of Halloween and to get in the spirit of things, I’m colour coding stuff, replaying Project Zero: Crimson Butterfly and there’s a new (somewhat messy) background for my blog which will be revealed on the day (no new header because I like this one). But what is there on television for the horror fan? A lot, thanks to the BBC.
I’d like to point out to British readers that BBC Four have been screening an interesting three-part series called, A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss. Just in time for Halloween.
Mark Gatiss will be familiar to most readers as one of the minds behind The League of Gentlemen and the recent adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, but his love of genres such as science fiction and horror has always been evident in his work, so it’s fitting that he is presenting this series.
A History of Horror has been consistently entertaining and enlightening especially due to the enthusiasm and energy with which Gatiss approaches the subject. His personal reminiscences and his considerable knowledge enliven what could have been just another clip show and made me look again at many films I have neglected or dismissed.
Yes, his astute views of horror have seemingly validated re-watching lesbian vampires from Hammer Horror.
Throughout the series, he interviews horror luminaries and those close to them, analysing the careers and techniques. He looks at censorship and also explores themes such as the violence and sensuality hidden under English gentility and landscape and presents a heady mix of sex and death and beautiful girls and the directorial techniques used to make them. He has also analysed the output of Roger Corman’s ‘Poe’ films which he found to be much more sickly and unsettling due to the queasy, dream-like sequences and Freudian elements.
He has approached the horror genre from early Hollywood studio releases from Universal and RKO to Britain’s Hammer Horror. He will finish with new American horror from the 60’s onwards.
Whilst he has explored the genre and interviewed figures connected to it, he touched upon the films I have grown up with like Night of the Demon by Jacques Tourneur (which I didn’t know was based on a short story by that master of horror, M.R. James) and The Haunting.
Accompanying the series are some of the films mentioned in each episode. This is something only the BBC and in particular, BBC Four, does well (Akira Kurosawa season was a highlight). So far, we’ve had classics including Bride of Frankenstein, RKO’s The Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and Gods and Monsters amongst others
With Halloween fast approaching and the final episode of A History of Horror being screened on Monday, the week has some landmark films like The Witchfinder General, the original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Halloween!
The prospect of these films acts like a salve to the fact that The Walking Dead airs on FX in the UK on the 5th of November instead of Halloween.
For more information, check out the BBC website here.
I think I’ll drop the colour coding. My apologies for the mess.