Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer of British Film: Horror

The BBC's Summer of British Film moves on to horror next week - there is a full listing of the films on the season's website. Th0se films chosen display a broad interpretation of that genre. In what sense is Brazil a horror film?

First, a warning. In Dr Who And The Daleks Roy Castle gives what has a strong claim to be the single worst acting performance in the history of British cinema. I know the Lib Dem blogosphere is swarming with Dr Who fans, but this has to be a low point of the whole oeuvre, doesn't it guys?

I grew up being told how wonderful the Quatermass television series was, though I have never seen it. Maybe The Quatermass Xperiment will prove to be a more successful transition to the cinema?

Equally, I know I should have seen Witchfinder General long ago. And Things to Come looks promising: stalwarts like Ralph Richardson, Raymond Massey and Cedric Hardwicke in a 1936 science fiction film.

Maybe I shall tape it and watch it to see if it really qualifies as horror. But, to be frank, I am running out of the energy to watch all these films. You may have to do more work yourself.

I suspect that the highlight will be Brazil. I wrote about George Orwell's 1984 earlier today. A respectful adaptation of the novel was released in, er, 1984 and was soon forgotten. Whether or not it is what he intended, in Brazil (released the following year) Terry Gilliam captured the spirit of Orwell's novel far more successfully.

Is it a horror film? I suppose the final scene is horrific in its implications - Gilliam cast Michael Palin as the torturer because he was the nicest man he knew and thought that would shock the audience far more - but we remember it as an escape or liberation.

When it came out, Brazil's look was a wonderful combination of the contemporary and Austerity Britain. But I suspect today's young viewers may believe that in 1984 computers really did have Imperial Typewriter keyboards.

3 comments:

Will said...

The Milton Subotsky Dalek films are OK, but they're not "real" Doctor Who...

Sadly, the Quatermass Experiment TV serial is partly lost, so it's harder to compare to the film version than Quatermass and the Pit. Brian Donlevy isn't the best Quatermass though...

Pop fact: Dr Who and the Daleks director Gordon Flemyng is the father of modern day Quatermass Jason Flemyng.

HE Elsom said...

Things to come is definitely worth seeing. Its visual and emotional prediction of the English view of the second world war is chilling -- Menzies, apparently adapting German expressionism, pretty much invented the gritty black-and-white Time-Life style -- and its view of the further future (Cyril Cusack as a mad poet demanding an end to "all this progress", Ralph Richardson as a proto Mad Max) is hilarious, though still visually stunning. It probably only qualifies as a horror film for Raymond Massey's shorts.

Ondrej Dyrka said...

Quatermass TV series is really not cool.