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Michael Reeves (British film directors) [Paperback]

Benjamin Halligan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Feb 2012 British film directors
Cine-literate and single-minded, Michael Reeves took on exploitative film production companies, the British censors, and even Vincent Price to create a unique vision of savage poetry and lacerating despair: Witchfinder General. He died aged 25 in 1969, between the end of Swinging London and the collapse of the British film industry - an apt candidate to represent all that could have been. This critical biography claims Reeves as the great, lost auteur of British cinema and traces his conception of film back to his childhood and formative experiences. Benjamin Halligan examines Reeves's films in the context of the times, citing The Sorcerers and Witchfinder General as foreshadowing and critiquing the psychedelic and revolutionary zeitgeist. Reeves's earlier work on the fringes of the freewheeling European exploitation cinema is also covered, with particular emphasis on his Revenge of the Blood Beast. Drawing on recollections from colleagues, friends and family, many speaking here for the first time, draft scripts, correspondence and original documentation pertaining to the controversial censorship of Witchfinder, and Reeves's struggle with his own private demons, Halligan creates a complete picture of this elusive, driven figure and his films. He speculates on what Reeves would have gone on to achieve, and why this should still matter.

Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press (13 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719063515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719063510
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Dr Benjamin Halligan is Director of Postgraduate Research for the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Univerity of Salford, UK.

Product Description


Halligan creates a compelling portrait of a strange driven figure and his disturbing films. --Mark Venner, Film Ireland, September/October 2006

About the Author

Benjamin Halligan is a Lecturer in Film at York St. John College.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's heir apparent 26 July 2003
By A Customer
Meticulously researched, beautifully limned pen-portrait of a British original. Before his tragic death at a young age, Michael Reeves had emerged as the first British director since Hitchcock to intuitively understand the visual aspects of cinematic storytelling. Reeves' small but impressive oeuvre -- REVENGE OF THE BLOOD BEAST, SORCERORS and WITCHFINDER GENERAL -- demonstrates the impressive progress of a dynamic talent that refused to be confined by the narrative and financal limitations of the low-budget horror genre. Indeed Reeves subverted the usual conventions in much the same way his idol/mentor Don Siegel rewrote the rules for police dramas. Halligan's biography is an informative, engaging and long overdue addition to any library on British cinema.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating 16 Nov 2004
The length of Halligan's research is simply astounding at times, given the limited information available on Reeves and his life previously. The story is incredibly heartbreaking and Halligan tells it beautifully and poetically, especially towards the end when he tells of the events surrounding and leading up to Reeves' tragic death. For anyone even remotley interested this is an absolutely fascinating read.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars seriously fascinating 30 Dec 2003
Halligan has really done his homework, talking to everyone and following every lead to produce a lively portrait of boy wonder filmmaker Michael Reeves, his times, and his work. (Full disclosure: Halligan tracked me down to ask about a 1969 article I'd written on Reeves.) Halligan's thesis, it turns out, is that had Reeves not died young, he might have been one of the greats. This is a reach (think arguing the same for Spielberg after 'Duel.') The achievement of the book is that, thanks to the detailed description of Reeves' vision, and the constraints out of which he crafted a sort of masterpiece 'Witchfinder General', the argument is a credible one. Along the way we get the full story of Vincent Price's work on 'Witchfinder,' and the sometimes hilarious gay sidelights (Price sitting in a ditch, commenting on an attractive young co-star). There is also important historical reportage of the sticky battle with the censors over Witchfinder's violence. As an examination of 60s London, the mind of a filmmaking genius, and the ins and outs of making low-budget genre movies, this is seriously fascinating stuff.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. 16 May 2011
By jimbob
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thoroughly researched, and full of illuminating details, this book is recommended for fans of 60's British horror films and Michael Reeves in particular.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book about a gifted director 6 July 2010
A great find. Informative and thoughtful portrait of a wonderful director and analysis of his tragically brief career. Recommended for anyone with a passion for British films and a desire to know more about not just Michael Reeves but also the fascinating world of film production in late sixties London.
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