|Index||7 reviews in total|
This series is absolutely essential for anyone who has a love of horror movies which Mr Gatiss obviously has. It is honest, respectful and informative, has excellent interviews with some huge names involved in the genre and brilliant film clips. The interviews with Barbara Steele and Roger Corman were outstanding. Although in three hours it only skims the surface of the subject, I still find, after years of being totally obsessed by horror films, I'm learning something new with each episode and now have a long list of more DVDs to buy. I hope there will be more episodes in the future and that it is released on DVD, there must be some excellent stuff not included in the current TV programme.
You can't fault Mark Gatiss's enthusiasm for the horror genre and
that's something that shines through in this three-part documentary
tracing the genre from the Universal Classics of the 1930s to '70s grit
like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and beyond. Gatiss makes it clear
from the outset that this is a personal history - note it's "a"
history, not "the" - so it's a question of sitting back and letting the
man talk to us about why he loves the films he does.
As something of a horror obsessive, I've already seen most of the films featured here, but even so my attention never wavered for a second. There's a good selection of discussion on what makes the films so effective, copious use of clips as well as interviews with key luminaries (Corman, Carpenter, etc.). The main topics covered are the Universal horrors, the Val Lewton flicks, Hammer and other British horror and then finally '70s classics such as The Exorcist and Halloween.
A wonderful package which, sadly, doesn't look like it will ever be coming out on DVD - Gatiss has explained that it would cost too much to license all of the film clips for such a release.
Unfortunately, it's only a three part documentary. If you want to make
a show called "a history of horror" in three hours you either try to
cramp in as many "important" movies as possible, or if you wanna go
into more detail you have to select a handful of examples - but by what
Mark Gatiss presents some of his favourites in these three parts (early Hollywood classics, the classic era of British horror films, and the new "post-gothic" 60s and 70s American horror movies).
Gatiss does a decent job as presenter/writer. He really seems to be a fan of these movies and has a knowledge about the development of the horror genre and (therefore) doesn't put himself into the center of attention (unlike some other TV-shows whose presenters/guests don't seem to know anything about the subject they're supposed to talk about). He really focuses on the movies, their plots, achievements, the people behind it and tries to explain why these movies or certain characters are so appealing or special. What I liked a lot were the interviews with some directors and actors. Gatiss knows the right questions to ask, so he gets some interesting/insightful answers.
Horror buffs might be disappointed, they might miss many "important" movies and there might be little new to them, but it would have been impossible to make a documentary about the history of horror films which covers every important/influential film (mainstream or independent; blockbusters, cult movies, underground cult movies, movies not just from the UK and the USA but also from Germany, Italy, Asia, etc., the entire oeuvre of certain directors, production companies, actors, etc.); the story of/behind those movies, companies, directors, writers, actors; discuss the movies and various related topics (the "monsters", the fascination of horror, the socio-political background, etc.), and include interviews and clips. Such a documentary would rather fill three days than three hours, so on the whole Mark Gatiss personal little history of horror is very well done for a three hour TV-production.
As a fan of Gatiss' work with "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock," I found this
series and its companion piece "Horror Europa" a valuable look into
what makes him creatively tick as an actor, writer and filmmaker. It
certainly throws Gatiss' own interpretation of Mycroft Holmes into
perspective to learn that Gatiss grew up admiring Ernest Thesiger and
Peter Cushing. And I found myself going YESSS! when he explained the
"Val Lewton bus," having previously recognized a classic bus used in
the "Sherlock" episode "The Hounds of Baskerville," itself a classic
piece of cinematic horror which Gatiss wrote and gave himself a
memorable cameo in.
Gatiss himself emphasizes that these pieces are meant to be a reflection of his own personal tastes rather than a definitive survey of the horror genre, and there are a few points on which I'd take him to task if he had pretended otherwise (e.g., "Mad Love" was certainly NOT a "pre-code" picture.) But this gave me the urge to go do some more classic horror watching, and since that was the whole point I think he succeeded.
I don't know why so many people have such a problem with this TV show
as it was fantastic, it personally taught me an in depth history of
Horror, and gave me a whole new outlook on movies I now see.
People who say he is a snob and whatever probably just don't like his taste in movies. It was a shame this was originally aired on BBC 4, and it deserved to be moved to BBC 1 or 2 around Halloween.
The only problem I had was that he should have done 2 more episodes, one of the horror movies of the 80's and early 90's and a final episode on horror movies of the mid 90's up until today.
In conclusion this is a highly underrated and wonderful TV show and I would give it 9/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a big fan of horror films, and from the opening of this three part series I could see that the host was obsessional about them too, so with Halloween approaching, I wasn't going to miss this. Presented by Mark Gatiss, best known for spoofing horror films with the guys behind The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, these programmes gave us an insight into creating many of the greatest horror films. Starting from the beginning, to what is considered almost the last great horror to use the simplest scares without resorting to loads of blood, Gatiss goes through all the decades and themes to show us how these great films came to be. Gatiss goes to all the sets where stars like Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Sir Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Anthony Perkins, and many others filmed the scariest moments of cinema, sees some of the props and tricks to create the frights, and really gives us an insight into how much horror films mean to him. With contributions from some of the people behind and involved in the horror films featured, including John Carpenter, Sara Karloff (Boris's daughter), Roger Corman, Donnie Dunagan, Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, Barbara Shelley, Barbara Steele, Gloria Stuart, David Warner and many more. Films featured and mentioned in the series of programmes included The Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein, Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Old Dark House, Bride of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Freaks, Son of Frankenstein, Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Body Snatcher, The Quatermass Experiment, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein, Black Sunday, The Masque of the Red Death, Night of the Deomn, The Haunting, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dead of Night, The Wicker Man, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, Shivers, Dawn of the Dead, Halloween and many more. Very good!
This 3 part series about the history of horror is quite entertaining, but it fails in 2 different aspects: 1. Like so many other documentaries about movies in general (even "A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies" makes this annoying mistake) it spoils a lot about the movies by revealing the ending. 2. A history of horror without even mentioning "Nosferatu" and the influence of early German cinema (movies like "Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam ","Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari") on later productions like Frankenstein etc. ...please, you must be kidding me. It also leaves out other great early "horrific" movies like "Häxan", "The Unknown" or the great "The Man Who Laughs" (who later became a great influence on the "Joker" character of the infamous "Batman" comics). This series feels like it doesn't consists on part 1,2 and 3. But on part 2,4 and 5 leaving out part 1 (early films like "nosferatu" etc), part 3 (classic and highly influential 50ies horror/sf like tarantula( only shortly mentionend),"Creature from the Black Lagoon","The Thing from Another World", "It Came from Outer Space","Them!","The Bad Seed" or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers")and part 6 (80ies horror like "The Fog", "Cannibal Holocaust", "The Evil Dead", "Poltergeist", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Hellraiser" or "The Thing". And maybe some 90ies horror ("Ôdishon", "Braindead", "Nightbreed"...) and recent horror like "Versus", "Eight Legged Freaks", "28 Days Later", "(Rec)" ... would have been nice too. Also, what about classic movies like "King Kong","Carnival of Souls","Village of the Damned", "Two Thousand Maniacs!", "Phase IV" or "Alien"...? A better history of horror is "Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film"
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