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.
This essay examines diverse strands of surrealist influence in the cult film The Holy Mountain (1973), by Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Through a discussion of the historical context of Jodorowsky’s artistic production in the post-war period, as well as specific surrealist sources for the film, I argue that La montaña Sagrada is closely aligned with international surrealism in plot, set, and cinematography, but that it simultaneously formulates its own unique countercultural framework by building on this substrate of influence. Based largely upon the unfinished novel by French para-surrealist René Daumal, Le Mont Analogue: Roman d'aventures alpines, non euclidiennes et symboliquement authentiques (1952), The Holy Mountain evokes Jodorowsky’s fascination with surrealism since his involvement with theatre and poetry in Santiago, Chile during the 1950s, and his collaboration in the para-surrealist group Panique in France and Mexico starting in in 1962. Continuing his long-standing homage to Leonora Carrington and Antonin Artaud in The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky explores a saturated visual world of the occult, alchemy, the tarot, and altered states of consciousness in a barrage of experimental tactics throughout the film.
Luis Buñuel’s essay ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ was first published in 1958, but dates back a further five years to a paper the reclusive director gave in 1953. This essay demonstrates that, first, the backdrop to the essay is the international success of Buñuel’s Los olvidados (1950), which had put him back on the map, in Europe at least, following his disappearance as a film-maker after 1933’s Land without Bread (Las Hurdes). Second, since Los olvidados and Italian neorealism are contemporaneous, Buñuel, wary of the conflation of the two, to the detriment of his own movie, feels compelled to define the parameters of both neorealism and surrealism. Third, ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ is a surrealist text through and through. Fourth, both Los olvidados and ‘The Cinema, Instrument of Poetry’ mark the return to the surrealist fold of this cinéaste maudit, at least as a far-flung fellow traveller using the ideas of the movement as his moral-poetic compass.
A few years before Lawrence Jordan’s cut-out animations, Jean Desvilles made a film in 1961 animating Max Ernst’s surrealist collage novel, Une semaine de bonté, published in 1934. The essence of animated film being movement, transferring and adapting a book to film necessarily involves a redefinition of collage. Desville’s process is indeed not just an adaptation, but a genuine transposition. For instance, while Ernst endeavoured to erase all traces of the collage process, Desvilles detached the figures from the background when animating them. Far from obliterating Ernst’s efforts and the collage process itself, Desvilles renewed Ernst’s collages with cut-out paper animation, but also with other film techniques, such as a flickering effect within the frames hung on the walls as in Ernst’s original work, a vibrating effect for the figures, and figures superimposed over figures. From collage to cut- out, several problems arise as to how Desvilles’ movie is to be understood in the context of post-1945 surrealist film. Far from being unfaithful to Ernst, this frame-by-frame cut-out animation is a way of showing Ernst’s work on screen rather than in a book, a film as an exhibition, and a kind of film on art.
The post-war surrealist Robert Benayoun acknowledged in an interview the importance of a certain strain of science fiction to his film Paris n’existe pas (1969), but also its indebtedness to the fiction of modernist author Henry James and the 1933 mainstream movie Berkeley Square, lauded by André Breton around the time of its release. In this essay, I bring together the two films for the first time, reading Paris n’existe pas initially against the background of SF, but more as an updated version of Berkeley Square. That is to say, I interpret Paris n’existe pas as a film that is immersed in a history of mediumism as that has been understood in the theoretical and anecdotal history of surrealism. In this sense, the commonalities between the ‘time travel’ on view in both Paris n’existe pas and Berkeley Square are shown to be nothing less than the second sight observed by Breton in his longer theoretical tracts, such as Nadja (1928) and Mad Love (1937). Consequently, these can then be related to the novels of James in a comparison of surrealism and high modernism made on only one previous occasion, in the writings of none other than Benayoun himself.
The early surrealist writings on film have secured their place in film history and the history of film theory, but the surrealist movement’s presence in post-war film culture remains a blind spot in film studies. The Introduction describes how surrealists turned to film criticism and film-making with renewed vigour following World War II, before discussing the methodological challenges involved in expanding the study of surrealist film to the post-World War II period. It argues that surrealist cinema and its widespread impact cannot be fully understood unless its drastically understudied post-war history is consistently acknowledged and charted. Discussing the post-war reception of surrealism, its political pursuits, and its widened interests generally, the Introduction sets out specific examples of how the history of surrealist film intersects with the movement’s broader history and outlook.
This essay deals with Joseph Cornell’s peculiarly American transformation of surrealism in both his more traditional art works, his boxes and collages, and the films he made. Although Cornell’s work frequently displays his Francophile taste, I claim his appropriation of surrealism shows a strong relation not only to European Symbolist poetry, but also American Romanticism as typified by Melville and Hawthorne, but particularly Emily Dickinson. Further, both his boxes and his cinematic work show Cornell’s grasp of the moving image as a unique means for conveying moments of sudden inspiration and revelation, corresponding to what Walter Benjamin called surrealism’s ‘profane illumination’. Cornell’s films, but also his boxes, which frequently evoke the mechanism of ‘pre-cinema’, inscribe an experience of glimpses and sudden revelations through the evanescent aspect of the moving image.