Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss

Second only to Christmas, Halloween is my favourite time of year for great telly viewing. For all of October you can expect spooky films and film marathons to keep you occupied whilst you ignore trick-or-treaters and sexy cat costumes. I always look forward to the yearly viewing of The Exorcist or Friday the 13th and this year hasn't been much different! If I recall, FilmFour was my favourite Halloween channel last year, but this year BBCFour have outdone themselves with not only showing some great films (it was the original Dawn of the Dead last night) but also showing this great three part series called 'A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss'. The premise is to inform and delight either vetrons or newcomers to the horror genre, leading you on a journey from the silent beginnings of horror, through Hammer House and up to the birth of the American slasher film.

I would definitely recommend this program, as they're on BBC iPlayer at the moment (and bound to be repeated) if you have an interest in horror films, it's got some great little interviews and behind the scenes of famous films such as The Omen and Halloween. One thing that makes it a joy to watch is Mark Gatiss's enthusiasm. From when he was a child, he explains, he's always had a love of horror. It shows, whether by the smile on his face as he interviews Tobe Hooper (director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre) or revisiting set pieces (from the original Frankenstien films)

My only problem with the show would be the final episode, in which Mark mentions off handedly that there haven't been any significant moves in the horror genre since the birth of the American slasher. It was disappointing that he didn't touch on 'monster' films like Godzilla, King Kong or Jaws. No mention of horror comedy like Scream or Shaun of the Dead, nothing to do with the new craze of 'gore porn' like Hostel or Saw and not even a whisper about hand-held camera films like Cloverfield or Blair Witch Project. Only briefly was Asian horror touched on, with just a tiny mention to The Ring. But as he said, this was a series created for himself. But perhaps he should have called it 'The Origins of Horror' instead?

Still, my list of films to watch now is miles long, starting at Hammer House of Horror. I'm a big fan of Christopher Lee, and you should be too! Watch the series here and try not to have nightmares!!

For the rest of this week I'm going to reviewing my favourite horror films, right up til Halloween. Keep checking back, maybe you've never heard of some of them before!

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