British Horror Cinema (British Popular Cinema) by Steve Chibnall, Julian Petley

By Steve Chibnall, Julian Petley

From no-budget to the Hammer studio, British Horror Cinema investigates a wealth of horror movies together with classics similar to Peeping Tom and The Wicker guy. participants examine the Britishness of British horror and deal with problems with censorship, the illustration of relatives and of ladies. in addition they research sub-genres equivalent to the portmanteau horror movie, and the paintings of key filmmakers together with John Gilling and Peter Walker.

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This was simply too much for Ferman, who radically restructured the scene, allowing the audience to watch Henry and Otis watching themselves, safe in the knowledge that these people have no connection with us. Once again, Ferman was striving with a vengeance to take the horror out of this purest of horror films. The result, as ever, was to deface and defile a radical work of art, to make it ‘palatable’ in a way which utterly negated its entire raison d’être. This re-editing of Henry remains an extraordinary testament to the UK censors’ almost pathological fear and dislike of horror cinema, and the subsequent undoing of Ferman’s re-editing jinx by his successors in 2001 merely confirms how muddle-headed his actions were in the first place.

Lejeune in the Spectator on Dracula (1958): ‘we all know the vampire sucks blood and doesn’t, on the whole, lose much sleep about it. But seeing a vampire sucking at its victim’s neck, seeing the wound it makes in close-up, the blood round its teeth and lips, the exhaustion of its dying victim, etc. ’ Meanwhile Derek Hill, in his Sight and Sound article, ‘The Face of Horror’, which remains the key example of the kind of approach examined here and is usefully reproduced in Silver and Ursini (2000), treats this theme at some length.

Although (c) and (d) appeared to have considerable bearing on the censorship of horror videos, the Board’s subsequent Annual Report 1994–95 stated that: ‘the possibility of harm had always been at the heart of BBFC policy, so the new clause did not require a fundamental shift in examining practice’ (BBFC 1995: 1, my italics). The report further explained that the new criteria represent not a break with former policy, but a confirmation of it, since they put on the face of legislation factors which the Board has been taking into account for many years.

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