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A History of Horror

Yesterday and today I binge-watched the three-part BBC documentary A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss on YouTube. (Thanks to Jen Light for letting me know about it.) Even though I already knew most of the history Gatiss discusses, I found it remarkably enjoyable. Most of that is due to Gatiss’s own enthusiasm for the genre — like me, he grew up loving horror movies — and the personal lens through which he discusses it, admitting right up front that he will be focusing pretty much entirely on his favorite films from his favorite eras, to the exclusion of much else.

Horror aficionados will likely be familiar with all the films Gatiss discusses, although I was pleased with the inclusion of Blood on Satan’s Claw in the second part, a bit of British folk-horror from 1971 that I didn’t think many other people were familiar with or liked. (Apart from intrepid Doctor Who fans, of course. The film features two prominent actors from the classic series: Wendy Padbury and Anthony Ainley.) Gatiss also scores personal interviews with a number of horror luminaries, including John Carpenter (who, in part one, reveals a surprising distaste for Val Lewton films), Tobe Hooper, Barbara Steele (whose comments in part three about appearing in David Cronenberg’s Shivers are hilarious), George A. Romero, Jimmy Sangster (who wrote and directed many of the best Hammer horror films), and others.

If you love horror, I highly recommend checking out this very fun series on YouTube before the BBC wises up and yanks it:

Part One: Frankenstein Goes to Hollywood

Part Two: Home Counties Horror

Part Three: The American Scream

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