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on 15 April 2017
Another fine publication from Hemlock Books, plenty to read, much new to me despite being a long time horror fan. Some pretty well known films are discussed along with some real obscurities. Enjoyed looking at the stills as well as the text.
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on 11 July 2014
Outstanding. Great to see some of the more obscure films getting some decent space for a change, 1500 + words (and no waste on bland synopsis). The stuff on films like Peeping Tom is fine but they have been covered on more depth elsewhere- though this is the first time I have seen Anna Massey and Pamela Green talking about the film. Really liked the comments from 'B' movie vets like Warren Mitchell and Vernon Sewell and would have love see these interviews printed In full at some point. Like books like English Gothic, it draws on contemporary sources Kine Weekly etc which gives the films a proper perspective but he doesn't make the mistake made there of just rehashing the critics view.

Kudos to Hamilton for his easy going and amusing style and making even the most inane movie worth reading about (not sure I will be rushing to watch The Vulture anytime soon though)
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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2013
John Hamilton, author of Beasts in the Cellar (a biography of exploitation producer Tony Tenser) here offers a run through of what he terms 'independent' British horror films from 1951 to 1969. By 'independent' he means nothing by any major studios (eg The Haunting, Village of the Damned both made by MGM) or by Hammer, Amicus, AIP or Compton/Tigom (covered in his Tenser book) although he does include films by Anglo Amalgamated which was a bigger company than either Tigon or Amicus or Hammer.

What's left you might ask? Well, quite a lot actually (mainly because he includes Anglo) and about 75 odd films get a run through here including Peeping Tom, Blood of the Vampire, Devil Doll, Corruption and Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire. The X Cert title is misleading as a number of these films were released without an X certificate (over sixteens only in the time period in question). One obvious missing film is the X rated Where Has Poor Mickey Gone? which was picked up by Compton for release but made independently by a collective.

The book gives about 3-4 pages of narrative covering each film's production background, a critique and snippets about its release and any other stuff. For those of you after more detail about lesser known British horrors the book is fairly good value and in particular there are a number of very interesting stills and posters including, for example, a comparison of the 'clothed' and 'unclothed' takes in the 1959 Jack the Ripper.

where I was disappointed is that I got the impression that, apart from collecting some good and rare photographs, Hamilton had done negligible original research for this tome and just cribbed from already existing sources (especially Jonathan Rigby's English Gothic and Tom Weaver's numerous articles and books on Richard Gordon's films). It was pretty noticable for example that, on Jack the Ripper, he was cribbing from David Pirie's poorly structured and inaccurate censor notes contained in New Heritage of Horror. This means that Hamilton fails to challenge existing authodoxy and just repeats dubious statements that others have made without challenging them. Elsewhere the book suffers from a number of basic factual errors (Lyn Fairhurst, writer of Devils of Darkness, is a man and not a woman for example ) and lazy writing with Hamilton sometimes assigning 'auteur' status for a project to a director hired at the last minute to direct a script that had already gone several rewrites (Theatre of Death for example).

Overall, though, I did find it a usewhile addition to my collection.
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on 31 January 2014
Wasn't sure what to expect from a book on British horror films that makes a point of not talking about Hammer, Tigon, Amicus and AIP but this turned to be a delightful surprise. Hamilton explains his choices in the introduction and accepts that these may be a somewhat controversial but it can be easily summed up as more or less everything not made by the above or by US companies on location in UK. Lots of obscure films covered with 2000+ words on each, some insightful comments and critique, and all written in a largely informal and engaging way- the author is a former journalist and the book is a welcome change from the endless fanboy vanity publications of recent years.

Icing on the cake has to be the extensive comments by the filmmakers, amongst the interviewees are Vernon Sewell, Freddie Francis, Robert S Baker, John Cairney (some great stories about The Flesh and the Fiends), Pamela Green and Anna Massey on Peeping Tom and a couple of dozen others. the book is dedicated to the author's friend the late Richard Gordon who gets fair bit of coverage including a 'afterword' tribute and the author quotes extensively from a long interview they did together in the 1990s. Minor critique but some of Hamilton's interview was published in The Darkside at the time, albeit in abridged form. Likewise his interview with Vernon Sewell but I don't believe any of the other interviews have appeared before.

I would have given it 5 stars if Hamilton had been a tad more flexible in his selection and covered The Innocents, easily the best horror film made in Britain, though I accept maybe not a British film per se.
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So runs the rather sensational blurb on the back cover. "See Nubile Women Fall Victim to Carnivourous Plant". Of course the author, John Hamilton, is quoting from the often misleading, occasionally hilarious publicity for the films in this incredibly well researched, written and illustrated book, about, as the cover says "The British Independant Horror Film 1951-1970". The intro to the book neatly presents his decisions on what to include, and what he includes is masses of readable information, gossip and facts about the films and the people who made them. At the back of the book instead of an index (pity) there is a complete credit list for all the films covered. I have seldom come across a film reference book that I literaly read from cover to cover. Someone somewhere may find a fault (or even an error) in the writing, but I couldn't. Highly recomended to all lovers of cinema, particularly of course, fans of the British Independant Horror film...!
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on 29 March 2013
An overview of the truly independant Brit-horror film in the post war era up to 1970. So that means absolutely no overseas partnerships what so ever. Even Tony Tenser is a footnote here. So revel in the stories of such organisatons as Associated Artists and Anglo-Amalgamated and movies like '3 Cases Of Murder', 'The Man In the Back Seat' and 'Night Of The Eagle'. A very interesting read for genre fans and movie historians alike. I'm holding out for a sequel.
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on 22 May 2015
First part of a two part book set lining out the independent horror films from England 1951 - 1983. Buy this one and then make sure you buy the second part (X - Cert 2). That way you will have a horror films bible full of unknown facts which many horror fans will enjoy !!
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on 28 November 2014
Very interesting book. Looking forward to reading X-Cert 2
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on 25 November 2014
Great book
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on 28 April 2013
as with all of hemlocks publications,the presentation is is very well done but alas on this occasion the contents was in my oppinion a bit of a let down,there is not much here that i did not already know,somehow it was lacking in something,or my expectations was a little higher than usual,whatever,slightly dissapointed.
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