Today: April 24, 2024

British Gothic Cinema

Barry Forshaw celebrates the British horror film industry in this definitive study of the genre, discussing the flowering of the field from its beginnings in the 1940s through to the 21st century. In British Gothic Cinema, the Gothic is examined not only in film and literary form, but also as a guide to the attitudes of the society the genre reflects.

“This book, a labour of love, is an attempt to examine whether the Gothic impulse is now a mongrelised, cheapened form or a thoroughgoing reinvention of still potent tropes – tropes, in fact, which are still energising filmmakers at the beginning of the 21st century quite as much as they did such British directors as Terence Fisher half a century ago. The Gothic form is, it seems, as indestructible as Bram Stoker’s vampire count.”

With Hammer film studios at the heart of this work, Forshaw takes us on a journey beginning with the origins of the genre in literature, citing Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula as pivotal. He covers in fascinating detail a diverse range of motifs, classic characters and movies, such as variations on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Witchfinder General; Jack the Ripper; vampires and werewolves; Night of the Demon; hybrid crime/horror films such as Kill List; the English ghost story; along with crucial television contributions to the genre. The book also examines the treatment of sex in the British horror film, along with the present and future of the Gothic tradition, exploring modern day torchbearers of the genre such as Danny Boyle (28 Days Later) and Alejandro Amenábar (The Others), and last but not least the revival of Hammer studios with the success of The Woman in Black.

“There is no denying that blood is currently flowing healthily through the veins of British Gothic cinema.”

British Gothic Cinema reveals the powerful legacy of the genre, demonstrating how Gothic film classics are highly influential for today’s finest filmmakers, including Tim Burton, Ben Wheatley and Edgar Wright. Forshaw’s original approach powerfully proves that “the strength of the new wave of British horror is its readiness to investigate every quirky aspect of these isles, proving again and again that despite the geographical restrictions of this sceptred isle (compared with, say, the sprawling vastness of the USA), there is still an immense variety of attitude and accent to be mined from John O’Groats to Land’s End”.

The book also includes in-depth interviews with filmmakers, directors, writers and actors such as Ingrid Pitt, Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler, Tim Lucas, David McGillivray, Kim Newman, Christopher Wicking and Simon Oakes.

Barry Forshaw is one of the UK’s leading experts on crime film and fiction. His books include Death in a Cold Climate, British Crime Film, The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and, more recently, Nordic Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film and TV. He also edits Crime Time, and broadcasts on both television and radio.

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