The 1957-1962 period was crucial for Terence Fisher. This chapter argues that it was a period of considerable achievement for the director. If one discounts Hammer's The Terror of the Tongs, Fisher was actually responsible for all of Hammer's costume horror films in the 1957-1962 period. Later, from 1962 onwards, Fisher's relationship with Hammer would become more sporadic, but during Hammer's initial burst of horror-related activity, Fisher was, even by his standards, astonishingly prolific on behalf of the company. The authority-subjection nexus around which Fisher's Dracula had been structured was carried over into The Revenge of Frankenstein, with a strict division observed between strong and weak men. Fisher's The Stranglers of Bombay offers a half-hearted, qualified and somewhat confused defence of certain aspects of British rule in India while the more interesting The Mummy traces the collapse of British authority.
Networked spectrality in Charlie Brooker’s 'Be Right Back’
‘Be Right Back’ (Black Mirror 2011 - ongoing) fictionalises the possibility of reconstructing a deceased loved one based on posts to online social media sites as a means of managing grief. This chapter reads the episode according to a new theoretical framework, ‘networked spectrality’, which considers the relevant historical, technical, social, and political dynamics of digital networks as they relate to the concept of haunting. By paying attention to the affordances of networked publics, including the problems of context collapse in mediated social interactions, networked spectrality helps explore the significance of Ash as an enduring multiplicity of haunting and the uncanny in the lives of Martha and their daughter. As an allegory of contemporary media use, networked spectrality offers an approach to consider the implications of mediated remains and technical persistence in a society that tends to identify and articulate such encounters as spectral.
Identity and culture in Clive Barker’s ‘The Forbidden’ and Bernard Rose’s Candyman
This chapter analyzes Clive Barker's 'The Forbidden' and Bernard Rose's Candyman, highlighting the feminine aesthetic of horror and how this is played out with respect to transformations of identity within horror film and fiction. It proposes that this form of comparative analysis, of the main elements of horror in a British story and its 'Americanised' Hollywood film version, can underscore the gendered dimensions of, and reactions to, horror narratives. The main themes of the short story, namely poverty, slums, class difference and folk culture, are easily mapped onto the film adaptation, replacing class with race as the main locus of the horror. In many respects, Candyman is a key text. Fans mention the strong female lead, the erotic appeal of the monster, their delight in the horrific imagery and themes, and a narrative that makes the viewer think.
Adapting the metaphor of psychopathology to look back at the mad, monstrous 80s
This chapter examines American Psycho and Donnie Darko, two films that look back at aspects of the American experience in the 1980s. These titles represent only two out of a larger series of recent 'Monstrous 80s' films, including Capturing the Friedmans and Monster. Each of these films adopts the framework and language of psychopathology in contextualising its monstrous protagonist. The apocalyptic tenor of the films suggests an emerging national metaphor, as if the cultural pathology which was latent in the 1980s is finally becoming manifest in the retrospective understanding of history. The retrospective analysis of US history through film and the overarching metaphors of psychopathology and prophecy that characterise the cycle of movies are explored as constituting an adaptive interpretive process in the horror genre. Horror films are consistently reactionary in terms of their internal politics and serve to reinforce normative values and ideas.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book is about the British film director Terence Fisher. It demonstrates that an appreciation of Fisher's films is aided by thinking about them in terms of that British accent. Ultimately, perhaps, this provides the best way of trying to understand what it is about Fisher's films that makes them so distinctive. It takes us closer to explaining why some of these films have captured the imagination of so many for so long. A way of establishing Fisher's work as significantly British is through locating it in relation to an indigenous gothic tradition. A revealing exchange of views about 'Britishness' and one especially pertinent to an understanding of Fisher's work occurred during the pre-production of The Curse of Frankenstein, Fisher's first horror film.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book shows that Terry Gilliam sometimes enjoyed a remarkable degree of financial support and creative freedom, especially with films linked to Monty Python. Gilliam employs an extraordinary variety of genres: medieval comedy; children's historical adventure; dystopian satire; the fantastic voyage; science fiction; Gonzo Journalism; fairy tale; and gothic horror. Peter Greenaway speaks of admiring Gilliam and fellow Python Terry Jones for their anarchy and irreverence. Derek Jarman puts 'glorious Terry Gilliam's Brazil' on a very short list of British 1970s and 1980s films he would keep. Gilliam's American work in the 1990s determines that he does appear in British Cinema of the 90s. The book argues the centrality of hybridity to Gilliam's films.
As in the case of the major European film industries, Australia's history of filmmaking represented a source of nostalgia, pride and regret for those who sought the rebirth of the national cinema during the 1970s. The standard to which all other national forms of film expression are compared is that of Hollywood, and the American film industry casts an equally long shadow in economic terms. The ideological purpose behind the dominant representations and images of nationhood produced by the Australian cinema is linked to enduring colonial, cultural associations. The stereotypes of Australianness which emerged in early, successful or favoured cinematic representations have entered the consciousness of local and foreign audiences. The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and They're A Weird Mob stressed the contrasting commercial and generic influence of America in Australian cinema. These films depict the solitary Australian either abroad or at home and successful at home and overseas.
As in Gothic literary studies, it is possible to produce an initial taxonomy of Gothic television in order to distinguish the genre from the other generic categorisations which are applied to its texts. A study of Gothic fiction on television in the UK and US which attempted to be encyclopaedic in its coverage would include consideration of the some programmes, such as A Ghost Story and The Night Stalker. The uncanny is located in the moments in Gothic television in which the familiar traditions and conventions of television are made strange, when television's predominant genres and styles are both referred to and inverted. The chapter presents some key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book aims to construct what Umberto Eco might call a 'model viewer' by reading the Gothic television drama's modes of address and by scrutinising its semantic and syntactic elements.
The politics of ‘Crazyspace’, children’s television and the case of The Demon Headmaster
Máire Messenger Davies
The BBC drama series The Demon Headmaster managed to combine the contrasting terrains of 'quality' children's television drama with the more commercial requirements of 'wacky kidvid' to produce a very radical piece of television. The Demon Headmaster series was a loud counter-blast to all this. It turned on the critics of children and childhood and pointed out the link between their formal, rote-learning methods of education and totalitarianism. The Demon Headmaster was the top-rated children's programme in 1995-96, with an unprecedented audience share of 70 percent of nine-to-twelve-year-olds. Childhood, in The Demon Headmaster stories, is not a problem for the adult world to solve; the problem is the other way around, with children rescuing adults from themselves. This message was doubly underlined because it appeared on television, in 'crazyspace'.