The British Horror Film: From the Silent to the Multiplex
Published by Fonthill Media, 2017. 222 pages
By Ian Fryer
I’m a sucker for any books on British horror films, especially when they are going to cover Hammer. But then there are still so many other great pictures and talented filmmakers that came out of the UK, so there is much more of a history than just Hammer. Whether it is a good thing or not, but Fryer spends more of the time covering the famous Studio that Dripped Blood. So it’s a toss-up to find that a complaint or not, because they were such a dominating force in that country’s horror film output.
He does do a decent job covering other entries, such as Amicus, Tony Tenser, Pete Walker and the likes, so it’s not just Hammer. Even when we get to the modern day, he mentions quite a few of the people making a name for the genre, like Neil Marshall, Christopher Smith, and Ben Wheatley.
There are some issues I had here. When covering the Hammer years, he goes over quite a few of their non-horror films. If this was a book strictly on Hammer, then I could see that. But why cover the non-horror titles when the title says “British Horror Films”? Plus, there are a few mistakes or just typos in the book, like when discussing I, Monster, Amicus’ version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Fryer writes “By the end of the film, Blake’s make-up looks much like the startling and iconic style that Lon Chaney wore for his 1920 silent version of the tale.” I think you mean John Barrymore, don’t you?
Yes, it does get under my skin when I find these kind of errors, but I can’t really fault the author because he does do a pretty good job getting some attention to some films and filmmakers that might get lost in the shuffle when it comes to films from the UK. So while the author should have had the book go through a few more fact checking readings, I still think it is a good place to start for film fans that might not be familiar with British horror. While most of the meal here is about Hammer, there are a few side dishes that you might find a bit flavorful.