Three-part series in which actor and writer Mark Gatiss celebrates the greatest achievements of horror cinema.
Mark uncovers stories behind the films of his favourite period - the 1950s and 60s - which fired his lifelong enthusiasm for horror. These mainly British pictures were dominated by the legendary Hammer Films, who rewrote the horror rulebook with a revolutionary infusion of sex and full-colour gore - all shot in the English Home Counties. Mark meets key Hammer figures to find out why their Frankenstein and Dracula films conquered the world, making international stars of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. He looks at the new boom of horror that followed in Hammer's wake, including the ravishing Italian movie Black Sunday, and talks to the influential American producer Roger Corman about his disturbing and dreamlike Edgar Allan Poe films. He also explores the intriguing cycle of British 'folk horror' films, such as The Wicker Man and Mark's personal favourite, Blood on Satan's Claw. Mark also speaks to leading horror ladies Barbara Steele and Barbara Shelley about their most famous roles, makes a pilgrimage to Whitstable, home of Peter Cushing, and finds out why Dracula's bedroom activities got the British censor steamed up.
Mark explores the explosion of American films of the late 1960s and 70s which dragged horror kicking and screaming into the present day. With their contemporary settings and uncompromising content, films like Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre remain controversial. But Mark argues that these films - often regarded as only being for hardcore fans with strong stomachs - have much to offer. Made by pioneering independent filmmakers, they reflected the social upheavals of American society and brought fresh energy and imagination to the genre. Mark gets the inside story from a roster of leading horror directors, including George A Romero, whose Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead turned zombies into A-list monsters; Tobe Hooper, director of the notorious Texas Chain Saw Massacre; and John Carpenter, whose smash hit Halloween triggered the slasher movie boom. Mark also celebrates the other great horror trend of the era - a string of satanically-themed Hollywood blockbusters, including Rosemary's Baby, the Exorcist and the Omen. Along the way Mark visits the Bates Motel, gets mobbed by zombies and finds out what happened to Omen star David Warner's decapitated head.
Three-part series in which actor and writer Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Doctor Who, Sherlock) celebrates the greatest achievements of horror cinema. A lifelong fan of the genre, Mark begins by exploring the golden age of Hollywood horror. From the late 1920s until the 1940s, a succession of classic pictures and unforgettable actors defined the horror genre - including The Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney, Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff. Mark explains just how daring and pioneering these films were, and why they still send a chill down the spine today. He also traces how horror pictures evolved during this period, becoming camp and subversive (The Old Dark House and Bride of Frankenstein, both directed by Englishman James Whale), dark and perverse (films like Freaks, which used disabled performers), before a final flourish with the psychological horror of RKO Pictures' films (Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie), which still influence directors today. However, by the early 1950s the monsters were facing their biggest threat - the rise of science fiction films in the post-war atomic era. Along the way, Mark steps into some of the great sets from these classic films, hears first-hand accounts from Hollywood horror veterans, discovers Lon Chaney's head in a box and finds out why Bela Lugosi met his match in Golders Green.