The marginalisation of both Count Dracula and Baron Frankenstein in British horror cinema of the 1970s was only one part of a much wider rejection and casting out of those male authority figures who had been so important in earlier Hammer horrors. At the same time the question of the woman’s desire became a more pressing and unavoidable issue in 1970s horror, with this sometimes having surprising consequences for the sorts of films actually produced. Clearly an important factor in this disruption of male authority, one that impinged on horror from outside, was the historical challenge delivered by the feminist movement of the early 1970s. But this needs to be linked with other influential factors, both within and beyond the film industry. For instance, one can point to the increasingly politicised and rebellious youth culture of this period (youth, of course, being the principal target audience of British horror), with its vociferous dissatisfaction with and alienation from many of society’s traditions and institutions and the often paternal authority embodied by these. The chapter examines these issues in relation to case studies such as The Vampire Lovers (1970), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) and Hands of the Ripper (1971).
The introduction to the first edition sets out the book’s cultural-historical perspective, and explains how it traces the changing nature of British horror from the mid-1940s to the early 1990s, as it constantly sought to redefine itself in the face of social change. Hutchings explains how films of some distinction are identified and discussed through the work. But the worth of British horror does not reside entirely, or even perhaps mainly, in such films. Instead, the genre, or movement if you prefer, the possibilities it offers and all the films it comprises can be seen in total as offering a rich, fascinating and multifaceted response to life in Britain.
Exclusions and exchanges in the history of European horror
This chapter seeks to identify and characterise the relationship between British horror cinema and European horror cinema. In so doing it also explores a particular and influential critical understanding of European horror: ‘Eurohorror’, from which British horror films are typically excluded. It argues that the complexities associated with this relationship, such as it was in the past or is now, connect not just to the historical development of various national horror cinemas in Europe but also, perhaps more importantly, to how European horror cinema has been discussed, defined and discursively shaped since the 1980s. Throughout this period, the ways in which a wide range of European horror films have been circulated, received, interpreted and valued have undergone significant transformation.
The introductory chapter is written to help position the reader regarding the academic climate that saw the first edition of Hammer and Beyond materialise, to consider some of the book’s omissions, and to assess the state of British horror in the years immediately leading up to, and following, its publication.
Urban legends and their adaptation in horror cinema
Mikel J. Koven
Urban legends, those apocryphal stories told in university dormitories and around campfires about hook-handed psycho-killers and boyfriends discovered hanging above the parked cars, are a form of oral literature. This chapter explores the adaptive processes these largely formless narratives have undergone to be made into mainstream cinematic horror narratives. It expands on Paul Smith's typology by considering some of the structural issues of the urban legend film, that is, films based primarily or largely on orally circulated belief narratives. The chapter defines some of the more textual dimensions to the urban legend horror film in an effort to expand on what Smith began. It identifies four main narrative strategies that filmmakers avail themselves to within Smith's 'complete plot' category: extended, resultant, structuring and fusion narratives. The chapter summarises two multi-strand narratives: fusion narratives and anthologies.
Horror and the avant-garde in the cinema of Ken Jacobs
This chapter examines how the contemporary experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs adapts the legacy of magic. His work might seem a bit out of place in the context of the horror genre. Jacobs' work, like much of the American avant-garde, rages against the commodification of the image and its seemingly passive consumption. With his seminal film Tom Tom the Piper's Son, Jacobs rescues a 1905 Biograph slapstick movie of the same name from cinematic oblivion. Cinema emerged in the late nineteenth century, accompanying capitalism's monstrous progeny: alienated production and the fetishised commodity. Jacobs' 'Nervous Magic Lantern' apparatus is similar to his 'Nervous System' performances, but it pares the cinematic experience down to even more primitive elements. Adapting the lens of the horror genre to Jacobs' 'Nervous Magic Lantern' and 'Nervous System' performances is particularly apt.
Australian Gothic represents a mode, a stance and an atmosphere, after the fashion of American Film Noir, with the appellation suggesting the inclusion of horrific and fantastic materials comparable to those of Gothic literature. The perversity of rural townships and their residents forms the basis of Gothic texts which in other respects reflect debts to generic entertainment, social polemics, fantasy and allegory. Peter Weir's first feature production The Cars That Ate Paris portrays the Outback town as the seat of deranged authority. The considerable commercial success of Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max 2 (1981) both at home and abroad is attributable to the strong generic basis for their narratives, characterisation and iconography. Max's heroic tasks grow in stature and destructiveness as the cycle progresses. In the cases of Walkabout and Shame, a significant part of the horror resides in the defamiliarisation of natural and human landscapes away from urbanisation.
The contrasting fortunes of Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh television drama in the 1990s
This chapter looks at popular television drama from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the 1990s. It suggests that the BBC's faith in the need for a broader, more flexible idea of Britishness does not yet extend to its commissioning of programmes that they hope will have genuinely broad appeal. Ballykissangel was made for BBC Northern Ireland by Tony Garnett's Island World Productions. In terms of commissioning and popularity, BBC Scotland's biggest success by far in the 1990s was Hamish Macbeth. Tiger Bay was probably BBC Wales's biggest play for a genuinely mass appeal popular drama in the 1990s, though it was by no means the only one. Unlike either Wales or Northern Ireland, BBC Scotland's drama department entered the 1990s in a position of some strength. The BBC remains, in a sense, a major instrument of what some would see as enduring colonial power.
Some reflections on the relationship between television and theatre
This chapter traces some of the relationships between the theatre of the late 1950s and 1960s and television drama of the 1960s and 1970s. Bertolt Brecht casts a long shadow across the theatre of the late 1950s and 1960s, although his work was appropriated in particular and idiosyncratic ways. Like sitcom, Theatre Workshop's productions reworked the familiar devices and routines of the music hall, such as the double-act, within the framework of a more traditional extended narrative. Theatre Workshop's productions were resolutely anti-naturalistic, in ways that loosely paralleled the 'non-naturalism' called for by Troy Kennedy Martin and others working in television at the time. The idea of a canon of television drama is contestable, and is best thought of as a set of overlapping definitions that describe different kinds of texts and practices from different viewpoints.
This chapter begins by examining the effects-laden anthologies of the 1960s and 1970s which, in their heyday, offered original and adapted teleplays that pushed the boundaries of television production through the visualisation of the supernatural and the grotesque. It turns towards the moment in which grand guignol Gothic was no longer confined to a dim and distant past but was brought up to date, with a shift towards a more quotidian kind of horror. The sense of innovation and experimentation in Harry Moore's instruction is very clearly coupled with the explicit portrayal of gory horror in Late Night Horror, emphasising both the need to display the possibilities of the new technology and the desire to place blood and gore on show in close-up. By comparison television horror is authenticated through its representation of the everyday life of the composer within a recognisable domestic space.