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English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema [Paperback]

Jonathan Rigby
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema 4.3 out of 5 stars (3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (7 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903111358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903111352
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 18.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,452,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


This is the first book to trace the rise and fall of the Gothic genre from its nineteenth century beginnings to the present day, encompassing the lost films of the silent era, the Karloff and Lugosi chillers of the 1930s, the lurid classics from Hammer's house of horro and the explicit shockers of the 1970s. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh insights on a familiar subject 10 Jun 2002
By Libretio VINE VOICE
Jonathan Rigby's flawed but fascinating book "English Gothic A Century of Horror Cinema" (Reynolds & Hearn, 2000 [revised 2002]) traces the development of this particular subgenre from the literary and theatrical traditions of the 18th century, to the 'quota quickies' which dominated UK screens during the first half of the 20th century, and the influential success of Hammer Films in the 1950's and beyond. The bulk of the work is devoted to a hundred key titles, from "The Quatermass Experiment" (1954) to "To the Devil a Daughter" (1976), all of which are reviewed in-depth, whilst the closing chapters bring things up to date with a brisk saunter through most of the horror films produced since the late 70's, and a headlong gallop through Gothic subjects on TV.
Profusely illustrated with many rare photos - including a small but sumptuous colour section - Rigby's survey charts a predictable course (most of the major Hammers are covered, along with selected titles from the likes of Amicus and Tigon), with a few surprises along the way ("The Corpse", "Tower of Evil", "Expose", etc.), and his comments are supplemented by invaluable production details and a review of the social circumstances in which these movies were first exhibited. Moreover, the book suggests that British horror films were stifled by a hostile critical response that was entirely at odds with the genre's commercial popularity.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally lucid and informative 4 Oct 2002
By www.DavidLRattigan.com - Published on Amazon.com
After ploughing through the very disappointing Inside Hammer by Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster, I was delighted at the brilliance of this volume. Rigby traces British horror films right back to their genesis, with the emphasis rightly placed on the period from about the mid-'40s to the mid-'70s (which period is also covered by David Pirie's A Heritage of Horror, now sadly out of print). The commentary is a skillful blend of background information on key productions, synopsis and critical commentary. There is a good sense of historical flow, as Rigby tells the story of the British horror film in chronological sequence, rather than focussing separate chapters on different genres or directors, say. Thus the reader is made alert to the historical and sociological context, a dimension lacking in lesser books on the same subject.
The style and format is at once readable and also entertaining. Though it is possible, even advisory (and certainly enjoyable), to read the entire book from cover to cover, its format (the chronological order, along with side bars on every page giving details of key films) makes it a great reference tool to dip into from time to time. English Gothic is without doubt one of the finest, most compelling and exciting books I have come across on this subject.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have for the Interested 24 Jun 2003
By david mills - Published on Amazon.com
This book covers all strata of British horror, from the silent film era until the millenium. It's a beautifully produced volume, with excellent stills, photos, and side-bars within the text zeroing-in on specific films. Rigby, unlike some reported experts on British horror, gives full credit to Hammer Films for having added to, if not revitalized, a genre that had existed haphazerdly in Britain until the 1950s. The text is smoothly written, with some wit, and gives valuable information on the background of various films and on such modern classics as Peter Walker's trio of highly considered films made in the late sixties-early seventies. Other films convered are the UK-filmed productions featuring Vincent Price. Only in his treatment of Todd Slaughter is Rigby somewhat harsh: the actor made no pretence of being other than melodramatic. This book is highly recommeded, and I would even advise the owner not to lend it to anyone. They might not get it back.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Sensational. 31 Jan 2010
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
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As a longtime fan of old school horror films and British horror films in particular, I was absolutely blown away by this book. First of all I was surprised that I am only now catching up with it but then I haven't focused on these films for quite awhile having devoted most of my time in recent years to films from the silent era now that they are coming out on DVD. I did get the update on David Pirie's book A HERITAGE OF HORROR which remains essential but this one goes beyond that. Jonathan Rigby's subtitle is "A Century of Horror Cinema" and he chooses 100 films that he considers significant as well as provides background information on other films made at about the same time. While I don't agree with all of his assessments, overall the results are simply sensational. Lots of great photos too.

Any list of films is always going to be subjective and I can think of some films that I would have included in the Top 100 and a few that I would have left off but at least the other films are mentioned. I found ENGLISH GOTHIC to be comprehensive but not judgmental. While I understand Rigby's starting the list in 1954 with THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT for that's when the horror boom begins, I would have included a handful of earlier films like THE GHOUL (1933), DEAD OF NIGHT (1945), LATIN QUARTER (1945), and THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1948) but he does discuss them in the prologue. As of the writing of this review, I have seen 86 of the Top 100 and will try to see the others although some titles like SHADOW OF THE CAT (1960) and CORRUPTION (1968) don't appear to be currently available in any format.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars get it for the pictures 6 Dec 2005
By Max Parkinson - Published on Amazon.com
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.
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