Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Nick May0
Schlock of Ages!
Picture this: it’s a cold winter’s night. A man discovers a strange demi-monde, a cavalcade of the weird and wonderful. This chance find becomes a guilty pleasure and before long he’s hooked on the Horror Channel.
It began with watching Roger Moore stretch his acting to the limit as a staid city gent and his doppelganger in The Man Who Haunted Himself, before graduating to Jon Pertwee playing a ham actor possessed by a prop cape in The House That Dripped Blood. From there, it got even weirder…
The Horror Channel shines a light into the darkest corners of British cinema. The Sixties and early Seventies were a hotbed of the movie macabre. Writers like Brian Clemens and Peter J Hammond provided screenplays for Hammer, Amicus and Associated, where top British talent was directed by the likes of Basil Dearden and Roy Boulting. Some of the films will be absent from the CVs of those involved, some are unfairly overlooked, but all are an interesting snapshot of their era, not just in cinematic terms but society as a whole.
Time and changing attitudes mean some of the films have aged better than others. 1968’s Twisted Nerve was prefaced with a voice-over to mitigate the film’s portrayal of mental health. The relaxation of film censorship meant that The Flesh and Blood Show could portray copious nudity to shore up a flimsy plot and it remains the only horror film ever set in Cromer. The disturbing Blood On Satan’s Claw says as much about the genre’s portrayal of women as it does about the ‘back to the land’ ethos of the early Seventies. In that regard, the Horror Channel is a superb reference tool for film historians.
Not that the Horror Channel lives completely in the past. It also provides a showcase for low-budget indie horrors, like zombie flick Before Dawn, written, directed by and starring Dominic Brunt of ITV’s Emmerdale. Who knows? Years from now, we may be looking at Before Dawn and films like it as a time capsule of our era, albeit a time capsule covered in something icky…