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Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange

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Interest in the ancient, the occult, and the "wyrd" is on the rise. The furrows of Robin Hardy ('The Wicker Man'), Piers Haggard ('Blood on Satan's Claw'), and Michael Reeves ('Witchfinder General') have arisen again, most notably in the films of Ben Wheatley ('Kill List'), as has the Spirit of Dark of Lonely Water, Juganets, cursed Saxon crowns, spaceships hidden under an Interest in the ancient, the occult, and the "wyrd" is on the rise. The furrows of Robin Hardy ('The Wicker Man'), Piers Haggard ('Blood on Satan's Claw'), and Michael Reeves ('Witchfinder General') have arisen again, most notably in the films of Ben Wheatley ('Kill List'), as has the Spirit of Dark of Lonely Water, Juganets, cursed Saxon crowns, spaceships hidden under ancient barrows, owls and flowers, time-warping stone circles, wicker men, the goat of Mendes, and malicious stone tapes. Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful And Things Strange charts the summoning of these esoteric arts within the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond, using theories of psychogeography, hauntology, and topography to delve into the genre's output in film, television, and multimedia as its "sacred demon of ungovernableness" rises yet again in the twenty-first century.


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Interest in the ancient, the occult, and the "wyrd" is on the rise. The furrows of Robin Hardy ('The Wicker Man'), Piers Haggard ('Blood on Satan's Claw'), and Michael Reeves ('Witchfinder General') have arisen again, most notably in the films of Ben Wheatley ('Kill List'), as has the Spirit of Dark of Lonely Water, Juganets, cursed Saxon crowns, spaceships hidden under an Interest in the ancient, the occult, and the "wyrd" is on the rise. The furrows of Robin Hardy ('The Wicker Man'), Piers Haggard ('Blood on Satan's Claw'), and Michael Reeves ('Witchfinder General') have arisen again, most notably in the films of Ben Wheatley ('Kill List'), as has the Spirit of Dark of Lonely Water, Juganets, cursed Saxon crowns, spaceships hidden under ancient barrows, owls and flowers, time-warping stone circles, wicker men, the goat of Mendes, and malicious stone tapes. Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful And Things Strange charts the summoning of these esoteric arts within the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond, using theories of psychogeography, hauntology, and topography to delve into the genre's output in film, television, and multimedia as its "sacred demon of ungovernableness" rises yet again in the twenty-first century.

30 review for Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange

  1. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    If you have even a passing interest in horror fiction and/or film, you've probably heard the term 'folk horror' used to describe anything from The Wicker Man to Kill List, from Arthur Machen to Andrew Michael Hurley. But it can be difficult to define exactly what folk horror is. When a so-called genre is so often recognised by how it makes you feel, is it possible to put a label on what does and what doesn't qualify? Scovell begins by establishing the concept of the 'folk horror chain', exemplifi If you have even a passing interest in horror fiction and/or film, you've probably heard the term 'folk horror' used to describe anything from The Wicker Man to Kill List, from Arthur Machen to Andrew Michael Hurley. But it can be difficult to define exactly what folk horror is. When a so-called genre is so often recognised by how it makes you feel, is it possible to put a label on what does and what doesn't qualify? Scovell begins by establishing the concept of the 'folk horror chain', exemplified by three well-known examples of the genre: Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan's Claw and The Wicker Man. The chain has four links: landscape; isolation; skewed belief systems/morality; and a 'happening' or 'summoning'. Many famous examples conform, in some warped way or other, to these requirements. But in the following chapters, the author moves away from this definition, seeking to demonstrate that folk horror is better described as 'a type of social map that tracks the unconscious ley lines between a huge range of media'. After kicking off with a close reading of the 'unholy trilogy', Folk Horror goes on to examine the roles of topographies, 'rurality' (rural reality) and hauntology, with the final chapter devoted to modern examples of the genre. The hauntology chapter – full title 'Occultism, Hauntology and the Urban 'Wyrd'' – is the most interesting, suggesting folk horror itself is 'haunted by an era', and also the hardest-working. It acts as a vessel for Scovell's core thesis, which isn't about nailing down a definition at all, but providing an explanation for the genre's heyday in the 70s: it was 'the natural mutation of counter-culture idealism', a subversive reaction to a turbulent political climate, and, crucially, a pre-emptive 'tearing of the veil of normality surrounding 1970s popular culture'. No wonder, then, that folk horror has enjoyed a resurgence in the last couple of decades. As Scovell explains, it's a genre which 'treats the past as a paranoid, skewed trauma', but it also has the unique ability to reveal 'the horrifying under-layer of [an] era'. Folk Horror was an education – it taught me a lot about the roots of a subject I've long been interested in, but had little actual knowledge of. I read it slowly, keeping track of what I'd learned, highlighting key points and references. It's thorough and analytical enough to work as an academic text, and clear enough to be accessible for the average reader. It also gave me a huge list of works to check out, TV and films especially. So why isn't this a five-star review? I had a few reservations: – The absence of different perspectives. Since the genre rose to prominence in the 70s, many of the most significant examples of folk horror are resoundingly male/white/straight, and Scovell's approach doesn't do much to deconstruct that. I'd be really interested in an anthology tackling ideas around folk horror from a variety of critical perspectives e.g. feminist, queer, post-colonial. (Is there anything like that out there?) – I can't help but feel it would have been better as a book solely about film and TV. There are some, but few, mentions of literature; admittedly, it's hard to talk about TV ghost stories without acknowledging the influence of M.R. James, but when certain stories/novels are referenced, it seems strange to ignore others. When Scovell discusses the 21st-century revival in folk horror, it's odd to see no mention of the mainstream success of The Loney. Similarly, there's some discussion of music, but it's limited. Reading this so soon after Mark Fisher's Ghosts of My Life, it's very obvious how much of an influence Fisher's book has had on the author; the mentions of music (specifically the ouput of the record label Ghost Box) in the final chapter seem largely drawn from Fisher's book, and therefore out of place here. – Pedant alert: the book isn't brilliantly edited. My brain always snags on badly structured sentences; Folk Horror has plenty. If you are interested in the topic, this is a must-read. It's more than a primer, providing the sort of depth and analysis you can't get from, say, a handful of articles. I'll definitely be hanging on to, and going back to, my well-thumbed copy. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    Adam Scovell presents an interesting case for folk horror as a sub-genre within cinema and television at least (he barely scratches the surface of literature) but not an entirely plausible one. Part of the problem is experiential. He is looking at 'texts' through theory and backwards in time. At times, I suspect, he is writing to justify an artistic movement's cultural appropriation of the (in fact, my) past - something that one suspects his ilk would be horrified to do if it was the appropriatio Adam Scovell presents an interesting case for folk horror as a sub-genre within cinema and television at least (he barely scratches the surface of literature) but not an entirely plausible one. Part of the problem is experiential. He is looking at 'texts' through theory and backwards in time. At times, I suspect, he is writing to justify an artistic movement's cultural appropriation of the (in fact, my) past - something that one suspects his ilk would be horrified to do if it was the appropriation of the culture of some far away indigenous tribespeople. But I have to say that, while I personally consider all cultural appropriation to be legitimate so long as the source is not destroyed, the past is also another country. The appropriation of my past might be looked at askance by me as much as any native person might do in similar circumstances. I have to start by forcibly shunting aside his now obligatory rant about Brexit (the book was published in 2017) which shows the entitled (some might say parasitical) intellectual class in full panic, still unable to assess what happened except in terms of stereotypes. The grieving process for the losers is painful. I don't want to make it worse but the world seen through the universities and intense private screenings of favourite movies, filtered through liberal theory, is not actually the world that most 'folk' lived through then and live through today. I do not accept the anxiety or the panic. We got (at the time) a frisson from the new and transgression rather than any sense that our kind was capable (which we all are in a crisis) of any serious existential violence if faced by urban middle class interlopers in our brute 'idyll'. The author seems to be around 30 according to his Twitter account but, even if older, he seems not to have been an adolescent or child in the 1970s when the popular culture of which he writes was a lived experience rather than something to be 'haunted' after the event. Perhaps I am wrong but he seems to be determined to see the golden age of folk horror through certain assumptions about the era that emphasise its dark side rather than its complexity and even 'joy'. We were both more free and more restricted then - just in different ways than today. The dark side was definitely there - in fact, I grew up in a classically abusive family with a downright psychopath of a father - but I also saw the complexity. I know that the very process of struggle created by that culture also created strength and realism. In my case, it created a determination never to allow what happened in my adolescent world happen to the next generation. I am very proud of my own children's strength and resilience but I also see a generation that, frankly, elsewhere, tends to whining, fear and a useless utopianism. We seem to have swung violently from one partial dystopia to another, from the thuggish world of 'The Sweeney' to the intellectually lightweight cultural engineering of BBC Drama. If the Marxists are right, I can only hope for the thesis and antithesis to create some new workable synthesis. Scovell does not seem to understand that, because we were not shielded, we were strengthened. The dark public information films, for example, were right for that time as modernisation did create immediate new dangers. He forgets the death rates of children from car use in the 1950s. There was a desperation amongst authority to stop street urchins from snuffing it because of their liberatory urge for exploration. There were few means of mass communication that children saw. A short sharp shock was probably appreciated by both sides at the time. Similarly, the tolerance of horror tropes in children's television was actually life-enhancing. Our fears were given narrative coherence. We were respected. We were not assumed to be 'snowflakes' or 'victims' to be protected by no-platforming or trigger warnings. Ideas that were otherwise only to be found in pulp horror could be introduced to adolescents. We hid behind the sofa and had the odd nightmare but we also were imaginatively 'alive'. We could process the horror and it would make us resilient. Some of the writing in this area was superb. Yes, Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter were monsters and child protection was at a level that was not acceptable. We must give credit to Esther Rantzen for first opening up that debate but the dark side was not unique to the 1970s but residual from a nation that had seen stress and poverty as normal. There is a danger in thinking that the whole of society was rotten to the core but the real problem was silence in conditions of limited communications still beholden to Christian moralism and 'taste'. The point was that evil was not exposed because the mechanisms were not there. Any twenty-first century observer has the opposite issues to deal with - almost too much information, a lot of noise masking signal, mob hysteria about allegations, manipulation by activists of narratives - but it was very different then. From this perspective, popular culture was not a matter of streaming and social media chatter but a very few opportunities to see in very particular contexts - the cinema, particular set times for children and families to sit down and watch, books available only if collected and sought or ordered. Folk horror must be seen in these different sociological contexts - the adult thrill in a darkened room with a hundred strangers, sitting watching with siblings or alone after school and before homework or as adults in a couple with the children in bed after the 9PM threshold. And each watching was both unique (not catch-up) yet shared with millions of others for discussion later if so minded the next day - no instant tweets but a commitment to watch something and then discuss what it may mean later, having slept on it. We gained a great deal by the subsequent liberal-left revolution that brought us the best of feminism and child protection (class concerns had long predated Scovell's analysis) but the worst of the liberal-left has also ironically infantilised us as adults in the meantime. Worse, we have seen a steady infantilising of children, protecting not only them but even university students from difficult ideas or images and coating everything in a standard liberal political rhetoric requiring anti-imperialism, anti-nationalism, feminism, LGBTQ sensitivity and so on. It is not that any of these ideas are bad (not at all) but they are presented in a totalitarian way without questioning or struggle. The child or adolescent finds a ready-made ideology much like the 1950s Christian conformism from which the folk horror era was revolting. Folk horror was a reflection of a particular social and cultural reality, a working out psycho-therapeutically of a time delimited market-driven Sturm und Drang in a society under severe economic pressure and it died when it did for a reason. It took a relatively young population through a period of turmoil, expressing anxieties and fears and even offering appropriate moral warnings that were pertinent to that time. It could not do the twenty-first century's job for it and it is wrong to imply that it should have done. The hauntological nostalgic theory-driven intellectual rediscovery of the genre and the era is interesting and has opportunities for the expression of genius (I greatly admire Ben Whateley, for example) but it is also in danger of epitomising the inauthenticity of the intellectual observer. The book and the current movement tells us far more about the plight of the twenty-first century creative artist and university intellectual than it does about the era in question. It is psychotherapy still but for people not even born when Vincent Price strutted his stuff in 'Witchfinder General'. The book remains, however, an excellent compendium of the films and television series that can be said to represent folk horror. Many of Scovell's particular arguments have merit even if he seems to evade what he is doing -applying a 21st century liberal sensibility to past experience. The Brexit stuff is no better or worse than any other of the nonsense on the subject coming out of our frightened creative class - a perfect example of that class digging its own grave - but the post facto feminism and redrafting of history is both tiresome and typical of our time. The honest truth is that the vast majority of these films were produced by people under pressure in a competitive market under difficult economic conditions. They produced what would sell and what would be interesting to that market. Many 'auteurs' are troubling for modern intellectuals because they were often simultaneously social democratic (Enlightenment believers in improvement) and culturally very conservative. You had to be there to truly understand what drove Shaffer and Kneale. It is no accident that Nigel Kneale was continually frustrated (latterly) by the BBC and found his voice as much with commercial operations like Euston Films and Hammer. Kneale was resonating with his public because he was providing 'ideas' about the situation of the people at that time. That situation was one of first cultural (1960s) and then socio-economic (1970s) uncertainty. The folk horror writers were offering coded opportunities for catharsis during times of national breakdown, inflation and generational conflict as well as thwarted desire. If I have a theory of popular 'folk' horror in the 1960s and 1970s, it centres on something that does have resonance with Brexit - an urban middle class projecting its own anxieties and neuroses on to the rural and urban working class who then watched it all for its transgressional frisson. Plus ca change! An intelligentsia ducking and diving to survive economically, with a righteous view of what the population should be yet terrified of what it thinks it actually is, and expressing their anxieties through an Art that sells as Entertainment. Plus ca change! I can certainly recommend the book for his facts and its enthusiasms as well as its introduction of the reader to the rediscovery of folk horror as 'hauntology' in both film and music (as well as in the brilliantly ironical Scarfolk invention) but I cannot entirely be impressed with the analysis. I suggest the reader enjoy working through the films and TV series that make up the Selected Filmography (a lot of which is easily available on the internet) but try to wipe away any impulse to post-modern theorising or nostalgia, ironical or not. Read some history of the period instead! Treat the actual lived experience of the period between from the 1950s to 1970s as one historical event and the twenty-first 'romantic' rediscovery of it as an entirely different and creative event that says more about a depressed (not unjustifiably) post-2008 generation than anything else. The earlier period is not usefully viewed through the moral evaluation of twenty-first century creative artists except as an insight into their own anxieties and, frankly, weaknesses. Those who lived through it need no theory to know what it meant. Oh, and if I see the word 'diagesis' used once more by Scovell (it is like a tic), I might throw his book at him. That would be a shame because I still want to keep it in my library! For the record, the authors web site is at https://celluloidwickerman.com and, if you are a cinephile, that is a lot of good stuff to be found on it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara Mazzoni

    Il libro fondamentale sull’argomento (per adesso). Molto leggibile, considerato che è un saggio in inglese. Da leggere se si ha una predilezione per il genere cine-televisivo (ma anche letterario) del folk horror o se si vuole scavare dietro al discorso dell’hauntology per capire meglio da cosa deriva. Contenuti: - spiegazione della folk horror chain, il gruppo di elementi che definiscono un’opera come afferente al filone; - storia della televisione e del cinema britannico del genere; - storia dell Il libro fondamentale sull’argomento (per adesso). Molto leggibile, considerato che è un saggio in inglese. Da leggere se si ha una predilezione per il genere cine-televisivo (ma anche letterario) del folk horror o se si vuole scavare dietro al discorso dell’hauntology per capire meglio da cosa deriva. Contenuti: - spiegazione della folk horror chain, il gruppo di elementi che definiscono un’opera come afferente al filone; - storia della televisione e del cinema britannico del genere; - storia della definizione stessa; - riflessioni sul ruolo del paesaggio britannico e sulle influenze letterarie del folk horror; - analisi privilegiata di alcuni autori, in particolare Nigel Kneale; - riflessione sul concetto di ruralità e i suoi trope; - Public information films; - sottogeneri e generi limitrofi: backwoods horror, survival horror, occultismo, realismo magico, Australian outback…; - e poi ancora: l’hauntology; l’eerie; il folk horror non britannico; l’urban wyrd; contaminazioni fantascientifiche; - il folk horror odierno.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ian Casey

    Semi-academic yet eminently readable, the first edition of Adam Scovell's Folk Horror makes a fair fist of being the definitive overview of nearly a century of the genre on screen from Haxan (1922) to The Witch (2015), both in terms of history and critical analysis. It falls some way short in that it explicitly and unapologetically focuses on British film and television, and especially that of the defining boom period of the late 1960s and 1970s. A decent attempt is made at discussing such divers Semi-academic yet eminently readable, the first edition of Adam Scovell's Folk Horror makes a fair fist of being the definitive overview of nearly a century of the genre on screen from Haxan (1922) to The Witch (2015), both in terms of history and critical analysis. It falls some way short in that it explicitly and unapologetically focuses on British film and television, and especially that of the defining boom period of the late 1960s and 1970s. A decent attempt is made at discussing such diverse non-British contenders as Kwaidan, The Blair Witch Project, Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice, and Picnic at Hanging Rock, but it can't hide the fact that Scovell hasn't the passion (nor, conceivably, the depth of knowledge) to give equal attention to other film scenes. With that caveat, it's an excellent read. Scovell acknowledges that trying to put firm boundaries around the genre is a fool's errand so instead posits the 'Folk Horror Chain', being a series of aspects typical of the form but which are subject to endless variation or outright omission. These include the importance of the landscape itself, the isolation of the characters, the skewed sense of morality among some of the characters, and some form of summoning or happening. The so-called 'unholy trinity' of Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan's Claw and The Wicker Man are considered core material, but Scovell makes clear that the canon is much wider, and many partial or borderline cases are considered. He devotes copious portions of the book to discussing the colossal influences of M.R. James (particularly in terms of the numerous tv adaptations thereof), Allan Garner and Nigel Kneale. But equally he considers that aspects of the genre appear pervasively in British culture, including in such venerated institutions as Hammer, 'Public Information Films' and Dr Who. Whilst the analysis and insight is thoughtful and rarely verges towards dubiously interpreting more into a film than necessary (a common hazard of film criticism), if nothing else it also serves as a catalogue of potential viewing. I was conversant with a number of the works cited (which is, after all, why the book appealed to me), but many were sufficiently obscure that I had never so much as heard whisper of them before, despite being examplars of the form. See, for example, Penda's Fen, Requiem for a Village and The Pledge. A revised edition could, I think, inch rather closer to perfection and deserves a wider, more affordable release. Certainly the copy editing could do with a touch up (for example, more than once he said 'women' in place of 'woman' and he sometimes overlooked to close a bracket or a quote). I'd also be curious as to his thoughts on the film adaptation of Adam Nevill's The Ritual. Scovell rather dips his toe in the water of discussing folk horror influences in music, with a few pages about Ghost Box Records. As it stands, this section feels like an inexpert afterthought so if there's another edition I'd rather see more commitment, but again this may be outside his passion and knowledge. We don't need a full history of occult rock and doom metal but it would be nice to vaguely acknowledge their existence, and the massive impact of folk horror imagery on bands such as Electric Wizard. Another criticism is that several times, Scovell finds a means of shoehorning in his angst about Brexit and trying to draw parallels between it and the mindsets surrounding folk horror both diegetically and non-diegetically. Even as someone inclined to agree with his politics, I think this is a mistake. To me it's an unnecessary diversion which not only distracts from the subject matter but will also affirmatively date the book as one of its time as assuredly as many of the films discussed are of theirs. That is very much a negative for what could otherwise stand to be the principal reference work for years to come. Such quibbles notwithstanding, this is brilliant work and required reading for anyone with an interest in the genre or the numerous cultural and historical subjects with which it overlaps.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leftjab

    This felt like a missed opportunity to me. I love the idea of Folk Horror, and love pretty much all of the movies involved in the text (from the "unholy three" to the contemporaries - The Witch, A Field In England, Kill List), but somehow I still wasn't totally jazzed by the book. The author mixed personal experience with his analysis which can work well - see Kier-La Janisse's House of Psychotic Women for a GREAT, albeit much different, instance of this - but didn't do much for me here. I wasn' This felt like a missed opportunity to me. I love the idea of Folk Horror, and love pretty much all of the movies involved in the text (from the "unholy three" to the contemporaries - The Witch, A Field In England, Kill List), but somehow I still wasn't totally jazzed by the book. The author mixed personal experience with his analysis which can work well - see Kier-La Janisse's House of Psychotic Women for a GREAT, albeit much different, instance of this - but didn't do much for me here. I wasn't crazy about the recaps of the film/show plotlines within the body of the text either. That can also be used well - I worship at the ground of Peter Nicholls' Fantastic Films which does a very similar thing as well. Full confession - I am not from the UK, so the in-depth analysis of the PIF and all of the weird BBC shows from the 70s is pretty much totally lost on me. Also, I LOVE Ghost Box records and anything related to "hauntology" music and theory. Felt there was much more to be mined for its relation to "folk horror" here as well - Caretaker, Boards of Canada, Moon Wiring Club, etc. At least more of a dive into at least one of the albums. (Belbury Poly's The Willows is a good one for that, or MWC's A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding.) And another confession/wanting of the book - so much of what the author is discussing is visual. I know getting the rights to stills of the hundreds of films and shows changes the scope/budget of the book but man, I would love to have had those integrated into the text - even if just a few. In a perfect world, this would be of the coffee-table size with nice big color stills of all of these works. I'm torn, because I like the subject so much and just felt wanting with the execution. I would watch the author speak on the subject in a lecture setting, for what that's worth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Wiggins

    Folk horror is a somewhat ambiguous sub-genre of the the horror film. What Adam Scovell does in this book is introduce the reader to it. He tries to give some form and structure to what is clearly a viable category, although it has been only loosely recognized before. Although the treatment is somewhat technical, and definitely oriented toward British culture, this book contains a lot of information and largely succeeds in delineating what folk horror actually seems to be. Scovell mostly focuses Folk horror is a somewhat ambiguous sub-genre of the the horror film. What Adam Scovell does in this book is introduce the reader to it. He tries to give some form and structure to what is clearly a viable category, although it has been only loosely recognized before. Although the treatment is somewhat technical, and definitely oriented toward British culture, this book contains a lot of information and largely succeeds in delineating what folk horror actually seems to be. Scovell mostly focuses on the landscape aspect of it. Haunted territory is certainly a major part of the premise, whether the ghosts are actual spirits or the work of human selfish pursuits. A very wide swath of films constitute the main body of the book, but quite a few British television programs are also included. This can leave the reader a little disoriented if s/he isn’t up-to-date on all the UK offerings. As I note in my blog post on the book (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World) Scovell doesn’t ignore other examples of folk horror. He does discuss some American films, but clearly the genre itself is largely the result of it’s British roots. This study is a very useful reference for those who want to understand with a bit more precision what folk horror is, but also will appeal those who understand that horror is often quite a sophisticated form of expression.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I now have a massive new list of movies to watch and books to read related to this great book, and I’m not complaining. I already had a passing knowledge of this emerging genre, and now I realise how far I have to go!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Constance

    A narrative breakdown follows. Just kidding. This book has no narrative. But you will be reading those words a LOT should you decide to read this. There are many film synopses in here, and all save one are preceded by those words. I have mixed feeling about this book. The first chapters do an excellent job laying out what is meant by folk horror with discussions of three seminal films that define the genre: Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973). A narrative breakdown follows. Just kidding. This book has no narrative. But you will be reading those words a LOT should you decide to read this. There are many film synopses in here, and all save one are preceded by those words. I have mixed feeling about this book. The first chapters do an excellent job laying out what is meant by folk horror with discussions of three seminal films that define the genre: Witchfinder General (1968), The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971), and The Wicker Man (1973). Subsequent chapters don't add a lot beyond highlighting the genre's incredible popularity - especially on British television - in its heyday (the 1970s) and its recent revival which the author sees as nostalgic. Concepts are often supported by throwing dozens of relatively obscure film titles at the page as "somewhat flawed" examples. I was able to find quite a few of these British T.V. movies on YouTube, so I'm looking forward to watching them, but for now it made some pretty drab reading. (Unless you like reading paragraphs full of lists of titles.) I did learn this fun fact. British kids of the 1970s (and later, I'm sure) grew up watching Public Information Films (PIFs) on television that were kind of like mini horror films where all the victims were children. The author places them within - or maybe adjacent to - what he calls the folk horror chain. This may be hard to imagine for American readers, but here's an example of one of the PIFs mentioned in this book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAQZa...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Exceeded my initial low expectations I had for this but it still fell short for me by falling into some of the typical tropes of academia. I was glad to see thoughtful analysis on numerous non-horror films like Peckinpah's Straw Dogs and the criminally underrated Wake in Fright and their parallels to seminal folk horror films. Scovell often has to condemn and comment on certain films from time to time throughout the book which served as a great irritant to me as I think most people who watch a f Exceeded my initial low expectations I had for this but it still fell short for me by falling into some of the typical tropes of academia. I was glad to see thoughtful analysis on numerous non-horror films like Peckinpah's Straw Dogs and the criminally underrated Wake in Fright and their parallels to seminal folk horror films. Scovell often has to condemn and comment on certain films from time to time throughout the book which served as a great irritant to me as I think most people who watch a film like Rawhead Rex aren't doing so in search of uncharted intellectual territory. I was pleased that Ken Russell's The Devils was mentioned as well as Pete Walkers Frightmare (a personal favorite) but was underwhelmed with the lack of attention given to them. I also wondered why no Italian films were mentioned as certain Amando de Ossorio and Joe D'Amato films should fit the criteria of folk horror and wonder if they were deemed as intellectually inferior to most of the other films mentioned in this book. I did learn a fair amount as I had no knowledge of any of the British TV shows like The Owl Service and was unaware of Alan Clarke's Penda's Fen. Still a worthy of a read for well versed horror/film fans or neophytes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andy Paciorek

    For all fans and scholars of folk horror and related sub-genres this book is indispensable. Scovell proves himself an excellent writer as the level of research and consideration in this book is impeccable yet it is not at all dry and is a captivating, flowing read for every body interested in the subject matter, not only those involved in academic field studies. Many examples of folk horror are investigated and discussed (as such beware of spoilers for films and Tv plays you may not have seen ye For all fans and scholars of folk horror and related sub-genres this book is indispensable. Scovell proves himself an excellent writer as the level of research and consideration in this book is impeccable yet it is not at all dry and is a captivating, flowing read for every body interested in the subject matter, not only those involved in academic field studies. Many examples of folk horror are investigated and discussed (as such beware of spoilers for films and Tv plays you may not have seen yet) and also their relation to akin subjects such as the Urban Wyrd, Hauntology, Backwoods Horror, Ruralism and Southern Gothic. This book investigates its subject matter with a contagious passion and does extremely well to explain a subject that is nebulous and still evolving. Whilst concentrating mostly on film the book also explores such matter as Public Information Films and the design and music of the Ghost Box label. As well as being a very worthy addition to Auteur's film study publication ouvre it is an essential read for all fans of folk horror and the sinuous other company it keeps.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark Forrest

    This is far more of an academic study of the Folk Horror sub-genre than an analysis of folk horror films in general from the perspective of a fan. However, there is a personal touch which would usually be lacking in a standard academic text as highlighted by a number of anecdotes such as the one which opens the book, where the author meets Robin Hardy the director of The Wicker Man. The author obviously has a great love for the folk horror sub-genre but unfortunately if you don't have that same p This is far more of an academic study of the Folk Horror sub-genre than an analysis of folk horror films in general from the perspective of a fan. However, there is a personal touch which would usually be lacking in a standard academic text as highlighted by a number of anecdotes such as the one which opens the book, where the author meets Robin Hardy the director of The Wicker Man. The author obviously has a great love for the folk horror sub-genre but unfortunately if you don't have that same passion you may find this work will leave you somewhat cold. Certainly 'Blood on Satan's Claw' is a film that I would be hard pushed to repeatedly watch, although many of the TV programmes that are mentioned are certainly worth catching, if at all possible. With any study of a sub-genre you tend to find that material is often shoe-horned in to fit the rules of the sub-genre in question, but here the works do neatly fit into a fairly complex structure / hierarchy. Ultimately though, this book may only be truly successful if read academically or by those with a profound love and attraction to Folk Horror, although having finished the book, I do feel my eyes have been opened to this particular branch of the horror tree as well as particular ideas and concepts raised within this books pages.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Henderson

    Some 30 years ago I was wandering the shelves of the (older, more magical) Forbidden Planet near Tottenham Court Road, chatting to a friend and trying to put my finger on what it was that connected so many seemingly disparate personal favourites among the films, television programmes, books, and other forms of media I had grown up with. There was, I sensed, something about ‘Quatermass and the Pit’, ‘Death Line’, ‘Sapphire & Steel’, certain 'Doctor Who' stories such as ‘The Daemons’, ‘The Stones o Some 30 years ago I was wandering the shelves of the (older, more magical) Forbidden Planet near Tottenham Court Road, chatting to a friend and trying to put my finger on what it was that connected so many seemingly disparate personal favourites among the films, television programmes, books, and other forms of media I had grown up with. There was, I sensed, something about ‘Quatermass and the Pit’, ‘Death Line’, ‘Sapphire & Steel’, certain 'Doctor Who' stories such as ‘The Daemons’, ‘The Stones of Blood’ and ‘The Awakening’, novels such as ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’, stories by M.R. James, and so many others, that could bind them, however loosely, into some form of greater whole. Some connections were obvious, but I felt there should be something deeper. Something that lay beneath the surface – an unseen root system that feeds and gives life to multiple organisms, despite the differing forms they take when they break through the soil. I couldn’t quite grasp it then, but ‘Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange’ has (to borrow a metaphor used by the author) revealed the ley lines that connect this uncanny landscape. I've had that itch for decades. Thanks to Adam Scovell I finally know how to scratch it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I don't have time to read this now (or soon, probably), but it looks fascinating, and I'd love to incorporate it into my literature teaching somehow. See here for a related book. Furthermore, Philip Jenkins has written about it in some articles: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... (mentions Blake's Albion reference) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.c I don't have time to read this now (or soon, probably), but it looks fascinating, and I'd love to incorporate it into my literature teaching somehow. See here for a related book. Furthermore, Philip Jenkins has written about it in some articles: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... (mentions Blake's Albion reference) http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousb...

  14. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Murray

    This book, which manages to tread the tightrope between accessibility and academic rigour, has a very specific focus and is all the better because of it. Reading it was a fun way to get a list of TV and films to watch, but also allowed me to think about the way in which hauntology, urban wyrd, occultism, classism and misogyny relate to the genre of folk horror. Fascinating stuff! Minor caveat: breakdowns of narrative plot break up the flow of the chapters, and often the details of said plots are This book, which manages to tread the tightrope between accessibility and academic rigour, has a very specific focus and is all the better because of it. Reading it was a fun way to get a list of TV and films to watch, but also allowed me to think about the way in which hauntology, urban wyrd, occultism, classism and misogyny relate to the genre of folk horror. Fascinating stuff! Minor caveat: breakdowns of narrative plot break up the flow of the chapters, and often the details of said plots are not necessary for the subsequent analysis. A description of the film or TV program (along with its main points of interest), embedded within the writing, would have been more to my taste.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Parkinson

    Excellent exploration of that particularly British strand of horror fiction and films instigated by MR James and extended via what Scovell identifies as the key Folk Horror trilogy of The Wicker Man, Blood on Satans Claw and Witchfinder General. The book makes connections with european products of folk horror tradition, updates the landscape with Hauntological perspectives and their reflection of 70s themes and makes good efforts to align the work of more independent creators like Patrick Keille Excellent exploration of that particularly British strand of horror fiction and films instigated by MR James and extended via what Scovell identifies as the key Folk Horror trilogy of The Wicker Man, Blood on Satans Claw and Witchfinder General. The book makes connections with european products of folk horror tradition, updates the landscape with Hauntological perspectives and their reflection of 70s themes and makes good efforts to align the work of more independent creators like Patrick Keiller toward a useful map of the practice. Good references leave the reader with fresh directions to pursue, and i have already explored new strands identified within this work. Good stuff.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Piña

    Es un acercamiento bastante interesante al tema, aunque hay muchos puntos que creo que quedaron muy superficiales, especialmente considerando que el tema "folk" implica una variedad de culturas y perspectivas, que ni siquiera fueron mencionados como lectura aparte. Es un acercamiento bastante interesante al tema, aunque hay muchos puntos que creo que quedaron muy superficiales, especialmente considerando que el tema "folk" implica una variedad de culturas y perspectivas, que ni siquiera fueron mencionados como lectura aparte.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Slmstanley

    Academic study of British folk-horror films; irresistible to those of us weaned on the folk-horror cinema of the 1970s. Not a quick read, but a thoughtful one - it will make you want to watch all of the classics with fresh eyes. :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Great overview of folk horror. A bit long-winded at times, but a good introduction nonetheless.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    3.5 but 4 for goodreads.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Cooper

    Found myself gravitating toward folk horror for years and years. Never quite knew its name, or even how to fully conceptualise it - but it seems, since 20oo-something, to have crystallised into something worth dissecting, analysing, synthesizing and publishing, and many thanks for that Mr Scovell. I did write to him and suggest looking into the Tim and the Hidden People books, as I peg them as the start of this whole affair for me: what kind of junior school teaches its infants ABCs using stone Found myself gravitating toward folk horror for years and years. Never quite knew its name, or even how to fully conceptualise it - but it seems, since 20oo-something, to have crystallised into something worth dissecting, analysing, synthesizing and publishing, and many thanks for that Mr Scovell. I did write to him and suggest looking into the Tim and the Hidden People books, as I peg them as the start of this whole affair for me: what kind of junior school teaches its infants ABCs using stone circles and stump men? Again, Mr Scovell, check it out. You will uncover nothing less than literary pagan indoctrination. This is a solid, well-researched book and, in my cultural identity crisis, I discovered something unique and precious and very English indeed. It seems that we are not the tea-drinking, bowler hat-wearing, polite, jolly hockey-sticks people we think we are, but are dark, shattered folk, haunted by the ancient furrows of our past, our dark psyches warping the contours of our future... but with a wonderful sense of humour.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Valerio Spisani

  22. 5 out of 5

    Essie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Darren Charles

  24. 4 out of 5

    A_Place_In The_Orchard

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gary Budden

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  28. 4 out of 5

    libraryfacts

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Clifford

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rickster Locuson

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