Wednesday, April 22, 2009
70s British Horror
It’s hard not to write horror manuscripts and make spooky arts and crafts and hunt ghosts without wanting to watch horror in your down time. That’s me. I adore horror. I especially love supernatural themes and atmospheric British 1970s horror.
One of the most popular horror makers in Britain in the 70s was Hammer Films. They produced movies from the 50s to the 70s that were part of regular viewing for lucky Brit’s. A slew of films came from it including lots of Dracula and Frankenstein, but also a TV series called “Hammer House of Horror.” This was somewhat akin to the series “Night Gallery” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” that were showing in America at the time. It begins with creepy music and spooky settings and moves into what feels much like a play. Some of the episodes included “The House That Bled to Death,” “Children of the Full Moon,” and “The Mark of Satan.” These episodes are actually very riveting once you get over the time period campiness of the mod short skirts and frosted lipstick and move onto the story at hand. Hammer films were all formulaic and they worked. Much of what we consider to be classic horror came from these vaults.
Another popular series in that time period was “Thriller.” Many “movie episodes” were made off of this weekly series such as “Someone At the Top of the Stairs,” which started Donna Mills and Judy Carne. A lot of top stars from America at the time vied for a place in this weekly series. The filming of “Thriller” was very much like “Dark Shadows” with creaking floorboards and ambient room sounds coming across the poor audio, and a stage-like feel to it and scripting. The episodes are filled with quirky couples and eerie settings and can be genuinely chilling and inventive.
Aside from TV, Brit’s really got into the gothic feel of the 70s from influences of castles and history, paganism and free sexuality. America became known for slashers in the 80s, but 70s in Britain was the motherland for goth folks and horror buffs.
Some of my favorites I have in my collection include the two TV series listed above. I also have some favorite movies of that era and hope to continue the collection including “The Legend of Hell House,” “And Now the Screaming Starts,” “The Wicker Man,” “The Haunting” (1963), “Blood on Satan’s Claw.” This was such an influential time in horror movie making that there are loads of sites online that cover it. Here’s the British Horror Timeline. Some of these titles will be familiar, others you'll want to investigate.
For those who love or would like to learn about the heydays of British Horror, check out This site. What is so compelling about 70s British horror is that they truly understand atmosphere is 95% of a horror movie, the characters are perhaps 3% and the story is 2%. What is creepy about horror is a combination of isolated setting, frightened fragile characters, and a fantastically creepy score.
Well, you know what they say, “once you go British horror, you never go back.”
at 10:27 AM