Mark Gatiss did a three-part documentary called A History of Horror a year or two ago, which covered horror films in Hollywood and Britain, that I had really enjoyed. I found the programme was a fascinating watch, especially from a filmmakers perspective, and a very good introduction to the genre. So, I was very happy when I discovered he had done another documentary, Horror Europa, about European horror films.
The BBC has then proceeded to broadcast a couple of the films mentioned in the documentary - The Devil's Backbone (2001) by director Guillermo del Toro and The Bird with The Crystal Plumage (1970) by Dario Argento. Though not on Halloween of course. Which is ashamed since Horror Europa was broadcast on the 29th October, and it would have been a nice touch to have the horror films of the documentary shown on the most appropriate night of the year!
Anyway, so last week I saw The Devil's Backbone, which tells the tale of boy sent to an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, who discovers their is a ghost in the building . It is an excellent film, which uses poetry and poetic language beautifully - but in my opinion not very scary.
I think this is because, partly, I saw the ghost as only one layer of a slightly bigger, more complex human drama happening in the film. But also because during Horror Europa, Mark Gatiss commented on how the ghost was a 'tragic presence' - which made me feel the ghost was something to feel sad for, rather than be scared of.
As for The Bird with The Crystal Plumage, I intend to watch that today! In the meantime, I have stumbled across this useful video of Mark Gatiss demonstrating how to make edible, horror movie style fake blood. An important skill surely all horror filmmakers should have?