Terence Fisher was always something of a latecomer, so far as his career in cinema was concerned. However, there was something about Fisher's career in what might be termed his 'wilderness years' that, while of no apparent importance at the time, would in retrospect become significant. Of the nineteen low-budget films directed by Fisher up until 1957, eleven were for a small, up-and-coming independent production company called Hammer. Hammer's horror production represents one of the most striking developments in post-war British cinema. Particular genres can be seen as organising both an audience's belief and interactions between realism and fantasy within films. A neglect of the collaborative contexts within which film production takes place, and a reliance on what might be termed 'elitist' concepts of artistic value. Both these factors seem seriously to undermine the credibility of looking at film in terms of directors.
The Frankenstein and Dracula myths in Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos
Fulcanelli, an early twentieth-century alchemist, describes his art as 'a spiritualistic chemistry, for it allows people to catch a glimpse of God through the darkness of substance'. In the opening scene of Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, a fictional representation of Fulcanelli has discovered the secrets of the unknown animator. Cronos is, therefore, just as much an atypical Frankenstein film as it is an atypical vampire film. Toro has combined the myths of Dracula and Frankenstein in order to form his own creation myth. His film, therefore, takes the evolution of these myths one step further. Rather than containing an image of one dark twin that conjures the other by contrast, as in films like House of Dracula, Cronos presents people with the scientific, vampiric Fulcanelli and his vampiric monster, Jesus.
According to its director, Terence Fisher, The Gorgon was not a horror film at all, but a romantic fairy tale and 'frustrated love story'. Although the film is set in Hammer's usual stylised middle Europe, the Gorgon herself derives not from Gothic literature, like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, but from classical mythology, unfamiliar imaginative territory for the British studio. Relocating an ancient monster within the paraphernalia of Victorian Gothic, the film was Hammer's most striking experiment in free adaptation before the frankly bizarre transnational genre-fusion of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. The Gorgon was Fisher's first Hammer film since The Phantom of the Opera and his only film about a woman. Significantly, it marked an attempt to invent a new monster at a time when, as the Dracula and Frankenstein films trailed off, Hammer sought to diversify its range for a wider international audience.
This chapter analyses four films written and directed by Mario Bava between 1960 and 1966: La Maschera del demonio, La Frusta e il Corpo, Operazione Paura and Sei donne per l'assassino. The first three titles belong to 'the supernatural horror film', the latter to the Italian genre of the giallo. The first point worth noting is that the three examples of 'supernatural horror' are all 'period pieces', set in the nineteenth century, whereas Sei donne per l'assassino is set in the contemporary period. Since he is directing a 'period piece', Bava chooses to concentrate on questions of honour, the family, patriarchy and the selfishness of a power that goes without saying as everyone accepts it. La Frusta e il Corpo extends the notion of submission to take in the male members of the family, but the concomitant notion of adapting for the woman remains intact: now two women are unhappy.
Terence Fisher offered much more complex and less moralistic treatments of the independent women in his post-1962 work for Hammer, but Night of the Big Heat is interesting precisely because of its difference from that Hammer work. Between 1964 and 1967 Fisher directed three science fiction films, The Earth Dies Screaming, Island of Terror and The Night of the Big Heat. A shift of focus is certainly evident in The Gorgon, Fisher's 'come-back' film for Hammer. Scripted by John Gilling from a story by John Llewellyn Devine, it was the first Hammer horror to centre on a female monster. Given that Fisher's first horror film was about Frankenstein, it seems appropriate that his final horror film should deal with the Baron. The Devil Rides Out turns out to be one of Fisher's most impressive films so far as its mise-en-scene is concerned.
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.
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 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.