Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My 10 favourite British horror films

It's Halloween in only three weeks, and as the clocks get ready to go back, here's a list of 10 of my favourite (not actually very) scary movies, perfect accompaniments for dark nights. (I haven't included any films between 1980 and 2000 - because nothing of any cultural value was made during this period).

Peeping Tom (1959) Someone is killing the whores of London (again!). Could it be the shy German man who lives upstairs? This film was almost the downfall of director Michael Powell, for being too "ahead of its time". Still, everyone appreciates it as a classic of film-making now. And rightly so.

Carry on Screaming (1966) A bit of silly nonsense really. This was the first ever film I sat all the way through, aged about 6. The title music is very exciting and the murder of poor Charles Hawtrey, playing Dan Dan the lavatory man, always makes me laugh.
Fenella Fielding and Kenneth Williams are outrageously arch as the monsters - kind of like the Adams Family conceived by drag queens on acid.

The Devil Rides Out (1967) A classic Hammer romp of satanism, with Charles (no neck) Gray as the head baddie.

Psychomania (1972) Posh bikers (one is called Gash) and Beryl Reid! No wonder George Saunders killed himself a year later.

The Stone Tape (1972) It's actually a tv play, but I'm not letting that stop me including it. Scientists think they have found a new way of recording, based around ghostly goings-on in the cellar of an old Victorian house. But they're messing with a power that's millions of years old and they can barely imagine what they're letting themselves in for. Poor Jane Asher (the only sympathetic character in the whole thing) will bear the brunt.

The Wicker Man (1973) Forget the ridiculous remake, this is the original and the best, with Edward Woodward (a man untouched by human hand) venturing onto a remote Scottish Isle to find out what happened to little Rowan who's gone missing. Are the islanders part of a conspiracy to sacrifice her so their crops will grow next year? Has some great, eerie folk music involving mapole dancing and Britt Ekland's bum.

From Beyond the Grave (1973) The first "anthology" film in the list. Peter Cushing owns an antique shop and each of his customers will have an encounter with horror, just after they try and con him. Horror stalwart Diana Dors plays a "nag".

The Monster Club (1980) Another anthology - this one's aimed more at children. One tale's about a monster whose scream causes cats to sizzle and another's about a village full of humgoos (that's a cross between a human and a ghoul - the film makes use of a big diagram that explains all the different types of monsters you get when you mix humans, ghouls, vampires and werewolves together). Very educational.

The Hole (2001) Four privileged school-kids hide down a big bunker to avoid a boring school trip, but then discover they're trapped down there. As the days go on, it gets nastier and nastier, with paranoia, violence and murder becoming the only ways to pass the time. There's a twist I think. See Thora Birch when she was more famous than Keira Knightley.

28 Days Later (2002) The only British zombie film I can be doing with. The scenes of Cillian Murphy walking through an empty London are particularly evocative, although it gets a bit daft by the time we've encountered Christopher Eccelestone's sex-starved army outfit.

7 comments:

Tom SF said...

A recommendation from me:

The original House of Wax. It scared the bejesus out of me.

Also, maybe you can help me find the names fo two other films.

The irst I thought was a Hammer Horror film, but now I am not so sure. It is to do with when you get cared a small animal lives in your spine and it grows suddenly. This sends shivers down your back. Some scientists try and capture one of these animals alive by scaring someone and then slicing and dicing.

The second film is about a doctor who lived in a big house on a hill. His wife or daighter was blind and he kidnapped people and stole their eyes and used them to try and develop eye transplantation.

Kitten said...

I love Dead of Night (1945). I watched it aged about 12 and it really scared me. The stories that are told by the characters are scary on their own (except for the golfing comic relief one) but then the world starts falling apart at the end and I distinctly remember feeling the need to run away. And then it starts all over again... Genius recurring dream type stuff

DazPaz said...

The first film is I believe William Castle's 'The Tingler' starring Vincent Price. I've no idea about the second but it sounds great!

matty said...

Ohhhhh, what about Shelly Winters in WHO SLEW AUNTIE ROO? ...or, is that camp. I find it kind of scary. I also love that film with Oliver Reed --- THE SHUTTERED ROOM? I think that is British. Isn't DON'T LOOK NOW a film made in the UK --- (and Venice) ...that is a masterpiece.

Halloween is my least fave holiday. ...creeps me out. I know that this is the idea but it just isn't my cup of tea to have people scream "boo" at me with fake knives and the like.

Tom SF said...

Thanks DazPaz!

Someone who reads this blog just emailed me to say that the other film is Mansion of the Doomed

Lubin said...

I'm impressed that the readers of this blog are so cinematically erudite and helpful.

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