Reviews - What do customers think about English Gothic: A Century Of Horror Cinema (Third Edition)?
Jonathan Rigby realy brings information Nov 29, 2007
The two worst things about books on films are the psychoanalytical interprétations of the author, and the endless summing-ups of movies we allready know.
You won't have this with Jonathan Rigby. He has done his home-work, and realy brings information to "English gothic" fans.
Still not the final word Oct 30, 2006
This is a much needed and very valuable summary of the British horror film. The success of Rigby's book hinges on the accessibility of the prose. More recent summaries of this much neglected area of British cinema tend to take a strongly academic bias; either impenetrable psychoanalytical or sociological studies. The quest of academia is to elevate these films to some status of quality, but most horror fans don't give a damn about this. This book is definitely written for enthusiasts of the genre and Rigby himself shows himself to be the fan he is and writes wittily and with affection for many films. Naturally the book is unevenly tilted to the 1960's, a golden era of British horror, which is my only criticism. I personally consider the 1970's to be the most interesting time for British horror. However Rigby gives much needed attention to some forgotten gems such as "Jack the Ripper", "Night of the Eagle" and "The Skull", this isn't just a summary of Hammer Studios. The only fault of the book is that it could have conceivably been twice the length and after it I still felt a truly definitive all encompassing account of British horror is still required.
get it for the pictures Dec 6, 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.
Essential for the Horror Fan Jul 14, 2005
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.
Definitive and absorbing. May 21, 2004
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. While this loving treatment of British horror films (broadly defined, as it encompasses related mystery and science fiction titles as well) stands on its own, the book offers much more. It provides for a fascinating sociological context as well: the output of British studios, both in quantity and theme, reflect the socio/political milieu of the times. In addition, it does what no similar book has done, which is to provide a sense of what British Gothic film making was really like. It's almost like being an invisible observer, hovering over the studios during production. Even movie fans that do not care for horror films would find this aspect of the book worthwhile.
The book's 260-plus pages give appropriate focus on the aforementioned grandfather of British horror, Hammer, without cutting short the contributions of other notable studios (such as Amicus and Tigon), as well as the sometimes complex co-production arrangements between these studios and those of other countries (for example, the collaborations between Hammer and such American production companies as AIP, Universal and Warners). Such detail is very informative. It's surprising how many such films, perceived as American, were in fact British productions (such as 'Fiend Without a Face' and 'First Man into Space').
While American readers will find themselves at a slight disadvantage with the lack of familiarity with references to established British character actors, television programs, scene locations and the occasional slang phrase, this is a minor distraction. If you're a fan of British horror/science fiction, or simply of film making in general, 'English Gothic' deserves a place in your library.