A History of Horror With Mike Gatiss

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There are few things I find more interesting than the history of pop culture. Take for example the history of things you wouldn’t typically think about. The history of malls or fast food chains. Going to an old abandoned amusement park makes me simply giddy with happiness. And, at the top of the list, is the history of Horror Films. I remember discovering in my school library a book on the history of horror films with stills of Boris Karlof and still from movies like Cat Eyes and Black Sunday. I was amazed that such a book had gone uncencored. I would make sure to find a chair that was hidden off in a corner somewhere so nobody would see what I was looking at. It was like a guilty pleasure. But why was I taking so much pleasure in stories that involved misery. What is our fascination with horror?

Looking through different current resources, mainly YouTube, I was pleased to find a documentary I watched a number of years ago. It was refreshing to find someone who had a common experience with horror, and even referenced the same book that I read so many years ago.

In the first part of the series, Gatiss discusses the origin of Horror films as well as Lemle’s revival of horror at Universal during the great depression. As most of us have probably seen Tim Burton’s film Ed Wood and Martin Landau’s Oscar Winning performance as Bela Lugosi, it is truly amazing to see the origins behind this famous era of horror film and it’s many influences today. It’s also interesting to discover how important director James Whale was, injecting his own social commentary into Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.

Part two of Gatiss’s series deals with horror films from the 50’s and 70’s. It’s interesting to note how much of an influence the films from the 50’s, specifically Hammer Films and the Poe films by Roger Coreman, had on the next generation of horror filmmakers like John Carpenter. It’s also nice to see Black Sunday mentioned as one of the great Italian Horror Films.

The third and final part of the series deals with horror films starting with Psycho and getting us up to the present day. Gatiss discusses the horror new wave including filmmakers like the late Toby Hooper and

Filmmaker IQ’s The History of Horror
For a different perspective and a more objective view of horror history, Filmmaker IQ has created a very good video tracing the foundations of horror as well as it’s many sub genres. In addition, they also provide a little more insight into the climate in which many of these films were made. For example, Cabinet of Caligari was made in the wake of Germany’s defeat in WWI. For anyone who knows 20th Century History, you understand that Germany was a country in shambles during this period. The Treaty of Versailles controversially made Germany financially responsible for causing the war and therefore would have to pay to rebuild not only itself, but all the countries it had attacked. So, maybe it’s not such a surprise that living in those conditions produced two (some would say three) of the most influential horror films of all time.

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