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English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema Paperback – July, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Reynolds & Hearn (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903111013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903111017
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,588,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though British horror films enjoyed a golden age from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, film critics were long reluctant to give Britain its due, according to film historian Jonathan Rigby. He buries any lingering doubts about his country's unique and considerable contributions to the genre in English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, taking readers on a deliciously chilling ride from the silent era through 1975. Particularly riveting are the more than 150 film stills and other black-and-white photos that capture characters cowering in fear, being stalked by mummies and turning into werewolves; fortunately, these overshadow the small type, packed too tightly into its pages.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This useful overview of British horror films condenses 100 years of celluloid fright into 100 key works and over 170 black-and-white illustrations. Less scholarly than Peter Hutchings's Hammer and Beyond (Manchester Univ., 1993) and less focused on a particular period than Gary A. Smith's Uneasy Dreams (McFarland, 1999), this book will likely prove more popular with a wider readership. British film historian Rigby's prose is lively and assured. His evaluative comments are worthwhile, and his recounting of historical developments is both accessible and informative. Fans will appreciate his attention to detail, while casual readers will benefit from his skilled survey. Libraries that already own Andy Boot's similar Fragments of Fear (Creation Bks., 1995) might hesitate before purchasing, but otherwise, this title is recommended for any institution supporting a large film studies collection. Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
For years, the only good history of British horror films was the one by David Pirie -- but that's almost 30 years old, and Pirie's focus meant he simply did not cover some films. Rigby's astonishing ambitious take on the genre required him to cover every single movie released in England that could be considered horror; he mentions many mouth-watering titles that have never crossed over to this side of the Atlantic or, if they did, are long gone. He's honest, rigorous and intelligent; his ideas, if not startling original, are reasonable and consistent. The book is beautifully illustrated (the British edition has a better cover, though), and a very handsome package. If you have any interest in horror movies, this is simply a must-buy. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "hammeris1" on September 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
SINCE THE AMAZON.COM SITE IS NOT INTEGRATED WITH THE AMAZON.UK.COM SITE, I DRUG R.TRIPP'S REVIEW TO THE U.S. SITE:
R. Tripp (Gavcrimson@tesco.net) from london, england , 15 August, 2000 The Life and Times of the British Horror Movie.
As the opening chapter to English Gothic-a century of horror cinema by Jonathan Rigby notes there is a tendency among British books on British horror films to be divided into camps. The Seventies offered an endless gravy train of coffee table books, poor old Denis Gifford had a noted passion for horror films of the Thirties, but ignored Hammer films and pained himself to mention anything from the dreaded permissive society. Even younger critics who carried the Hammer torch spat venom at everything that came after. Ever since then few books have covered the entire spectrum of British horror cinema without any sign of generation gaps- the only one in recent memory being Fragments of Fear by Andy Boot. Fragments was chatty and likeable but unfortunately stereotypical of the sort of book that David McGillivray talks of in this books afterword, full of unchecked facts, typos and riddled with errors. Compared to Fragments the tone of English Gothic is more down to business and could be accused of lacking the obvious author enjoyment of Boot's tome, but in every other way this is a superior book. For one, its not about to label Corruption (1967) as a part of the Tigon legacy, when it was made by Titan. In fact English Gothic is the Encyclopaedia Britannica when it comes to obscure facts, quotes and eye opening asides. Well researched ? most of the book is structured chronologically by the day the films went into production!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Hawley VINE VOICE on May 21, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a huge fan of horror and science fiction films of the 'Golden Age' of the genre, I've always had a particular fondness for the (generally) more sophisticated and cerebral output of the British studios. As was the case for many of my generation ('baby boomers'), my introduction to these great films began with the legendary Hammer Studio's remakes of the classic Universal monster films, kicked off by the seminal Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee vehicle 'The Curse of Frankenstein'. I recall being scared silly as a child by the indelible image of Christopher Lee's bloodshot, snarling visage in the staircase scene from the superb 'Horror of Dracula', of having my heart race with excitement while watching Lee's turn as 'The Mummy', and, like a drug addict, anxiously awaiting the next chiller to be exported to U.S. movie screens. For those who harbor similar memories, 'English Gothic' is for you (this review is of the 2nd edition).
There have been numerous other books that took a turn at this historically important product, but none (at least that I've read) comes close to this book's comprehensiveness, style and sheer reading pleasure. Author Jonathan Rigby (an actor himself) infuses this masterful work with insightfulness and attention to detail that could well serve as a model for others. Beginning with a chapter titled 'British Horror in Embryo', it concludes with the sad (but accurately titled) final chapter, 'British Horror in Retreat'. In between one will find a veritable treasure trove of detail, the effect of which is to present the reader with a unique contribution that is at once both somewhat scholarly yet readily accessible.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Samerdyke on July 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books written on the horror film. Rigby writes well and is very informative about the development of the British horror film from silents to the Nineties.

Of course, the heart of his book is the era from 1956-74, roughly from "The Creeping Unknown" to "The Wicker Man." Even if you have read about Hammer films before, Rigby has something new to say. He has seen EVERYTHING from this era, and his book steered me to fascinating movies like "Demons of the Mind" and "And Now the Screaming Starts" that I would never have heard of otherwise.

I don't agree with all of his opinions. (Rigby is incredibly down on the movies of Amicus Studios.) But Rigby really appreciates Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Terrence Fisher and Freddie Francis, making this a fun, informative read. Horror fans could only do themselves a favor by buying it. A most enjoyable book and one that the reader will go back to many times.
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