55. A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss
Informative, entertaining, and excellent all around. I’d expected Mark’s enthusiasm to lift it beyond the basic documentary, but I didn’t expect it to be this well-done in so many other areas (though I probably should have). I don’t consider myself a horror enthusiast, though Netflix tends to take my inclinations towards dark and psychological films as horror enthusiasm, so I was pleasantly surprised both by how much I enjoyed learning the history as just a general film fan and that the films covered were by and large the supernatural and pre-slasher subsets. It started with the silent Phantom of the Opera—and here let me recommend that if you ever have the chance to see this accompanied by a live organ on Halloween, it’s an amazing experience—and ended with Halloween, so I’d at least seen the bookends of the coverage if not more than a handful of other films discussed. I also enjoyed seeing Cronenberg’s roots in horror covered, having just watched Eastern Promises, and I loved the interviews with, in particular, actors from films that went on to become classics, probably because they had more of an outsider perspective than the directors and writers and had some pretty amusing comments. Also, Patrick Troughton was speared in The Omen using the same method that I recall learning from the Joan of Arc episode of Wishbone. But my favorite aspect of this series by far was the humor and visual elegance of the interstitial narration scenes (which is why I couldn’t choose just one cap to include, even with low-quality YouTube images). They were all structured to resemble or comment upon the films and topics being discussed at that time in a way that was reverential or tongue-in-cheek (or both). Discussing The Exorcist in a gorgeous cathedral, being stalked through suburbia by the camera while talking about Halloween, talking about Cronenberg in off-center shots in an imposing cement structure…it was all beautifully done. Highly recommended.