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English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema Paperback – July, 2002

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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Reynolds & Hearn; 2 edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903111358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903111352
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 7.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,120,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on January 31, 2010
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As a longtime fan of old school horror films and British horror films in particular, I was absolutely blown away by this book. First of all I was surprised that I am only now catching up with it but then I haven't focused on these films for quite awhile having devoted most of my time in recent years to films from the silent era now that they are coming out on DVD. I did get the update on David Pirie's book A HERITAGE OF HORROR which remains essential but this one goes beyond that. Jonathan Rigby's subtitle is "A Century of Horror Cinema" and he chooses 100 films that he considers significant as well as provides background information on other films made at about the same time. While I don't agree with all of his assessments, overall the results are simply sensational. Lots of great photos too.

Any list of films is always going to be subjective and I can think of some films that I would have included in the Top 100 and a few that I would have left off but at least the other films are mentioned. I found ENGLISH GOTHIC to be comprehensive but not judgmental. While I understand Rigby's starting the list in 1954 with THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT for that's when the horror boom begins, I would have included a handful of earlier films like THE GHOUL (1933), DEAD OF NIGHT (1945), LATIN QUARTER (1945), and THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1948) but he does discuss them in the prologue. As of the writing of this review, I have seen 86 of the Top 100 and will try to see the others although some titles like SHADOW OF THE CAT (1960) and CORRUPTION (1968) don't appear to be currently available in any format.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David L Rattigan on October 4, 2002
After ploughing through the very disappointing Inside Hammer by Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster, I was delighted at the brilliance of this volume. Rigby traces British horror films right back to their genesis, with the emphasis rightly placed on the period from about the mid-'40s to the mid-'70s (which period is also covered by David Pirie's A Heritage of Horror, now sadly out of print). The commentary is a skillful blend of background information on key productions, synopsis and critical commentary. There is a good sense of historical flow, as Rigby tells the story of the British horror film in chronological sequence, rather than focussing separate chapters on different genres or directors, say. Thus the reader is made alert to the historical and sociological context, a dimension lacking in lesser books on the same subject.
The style and format is at once readable and also entertaining. Though it is possible, even advisory (and certainly enjoyable), to read the entire book from cover to cover, its format (the chronological order, along with side bars on every page giving details of key films) makes it a great reference tool to dip into from time to time. English Gothic is without doubt one of the finest, most compelling and exciting books I have come across on this subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By david mills on June 24, 2003
This book covers all strata of British horror, from the silent film era until the millenium. It's a beautifully produced volume, with excellent stills, photos, and side-bars within the text zeroing-in on specific films. Rigby, unlike some reported experts on British horror, gives full credit to Hammer Films for having added to, if not revitalized, a genre that had existed haphazerdly in Britain until the 1950s. The text is smoothly written, with some wit, and gives valuable information on the background of various films and on such modern classics as Peter Walker's trio of highly considered films made in the late sixties-early seventies. Other films convered are the UK-filmed productions featuring Vincent Price. Only in his treatment of Todd Slaughter is Rigby somewhat harsh: the actor made no pretence of being other than melodramatic. This book is highly recommeded, and I would even advise the owner not to lend it to anyone. They might not get it back.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Max Parkinson on December 5, 2005
I had high hopes for this book when I heard about it, but shortly after receiving it they were quicky dashed. There is a wealth of information on many different British horror movies, which is interesting - and a lot of movies included made by companies other than Hammer. And the picture selection is excellent, and many readers may want it for that. However, there is a kind of Puritan fog that shrouds this book, which makes it far from appealing, and something I haven't seen before in British books on horror movies. The sexy scenes which are a well-known characteristic of British horror movies are "sleazy" or "vulgar" or "exploitation" and looked at disapprovingly by the author, while he delights in the grisly scenes. . The mild "Circus of Horrors" (1960) is "quasi-pornographic", etc., etc. and the whole book has this kind of feminist film-journal quality about which is far from appealing. This, together with the turgid, humorless style makes it a chore to get through. The main aim of the writer seems to be to take all the fun out of British horror movies. Better pass this one up.
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