is there a name or a phrase for or anything much written about that distinctly British CREEPY VIBE prevalent in TV shows and movies of the '60s/'70s? (e.g. The Prisoner, Sapphire and Steel, Baker-era

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Was looking up this clip (embedding disabled) for the May Day thread and struck by the similarity in tone between a bunch of these things. Some Avengers episodes share it too, tho they're more on the light-hearted end of it. Maybe sort of the British equivalent to Rod Serling's shtick? But seems very particular to its era -- characterized by spartan production values (which are generally made a virtue of), often a surface sense of middle-class normalcy masking something sinister, and also often a hidden authoritarian and/or supernatural power.

In rewatching some of these things in recent years -- Sapphire and Steel most recently -- I'm surprised by how scary they can be. I was pretty much terrified by S&S and some Dr. Who episodes as a kid, but they still seem pretty creepy to me. Because it's about this pervasive vibe of dread and things-not-being-right, more than overt shocks or scares. And is obviously tied to political/cultural issues of the time.

Anyway. Just curious if there's ever been a good article about it or study of it or anything. Or a name for it. I think I'm going to start calling the feeling it induces "the Uncle Tom Cobleys."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlOSZXxdK8g

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:17 (eight years ago) link

Oops, over-ran the thread title. Meant to say Baker-era Dr. Who, obv.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:17 (eight years ago) link

In rewatching some of these things in recent years -- Sapphire and Steel most recently -- I'm surprised by how scary they can be. I was pretty much terrified by S&S and some Dr. Who episodes as a kid, but they still seem pretty creepy to me. Because it's about this pervasive vibe of dread and things-not-being-right, more than overt shocks or scares.

The uncanny or unheimlich?

emil.y, Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:27 (eight years ago) link

It overlaps with a lot of the stuff Ghost Box records are doing. There's a sense that, even if it's not referred to explicitly, there's something elemental and folkloric hidden just beneath the surface of a lot of sixties and seventies television. It's much scarier than effects-heavy horror. Nigel Kneale was the master at exploiting it but Brian Clemens was very good too.

I've seen some good BFI pieces about individual shows but i've not come across a comprehensive overview or name given to the wider concept.

I LOVE BELARUS (ShariVari), Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:36 (eight years ago) link

Well, I was thinking of referencing the hauntology phenomenon, but I think the OP is attempting more to consider what the similarity was at the time rather than in modern reception theory. So I'd place it more in the general tradition of the uncanny myself.

emil.y, Sunday, 1 May 2011 14:39 (eight years ago) link

The folkloric element is interesting. Obviously The Wicker Man makes that explicit, but some S&S episodes have it (the first one especially, with the nursery rhymes).

And it definitely is a form of uncanniness, but it has what seem to me (from the outside) like specifically British parameters and forms of expression. I can't think of American movies or shows with quite the same feeling -- I think because it so often draws on British history and the subversion or inversion of British cultural norms.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 15:43 (eight years ago) link

emil.y otm, it's unheimlich/uncanny

think it has a lot to do with the style of these shows, the location work, on 'the prisoner' in particular -- and that wasn't a spartan production

lloyd banks knew my father (history mayne), Sunday, 1 May 2011 15:57 (eight years ago) link

Well, much like hauntology, the uncanny often manifests itself in ways which are quite parochial, surely? Not wanting to get all Theory 101 but the 'unheimlich' stemming from 'unhomely' is a fair indicator. That sense of danger must arise from something known but transfigure it into the unknowable. Also, I guess, consider the Uncanny Valley - those figures that most closely resemble the human are the most fearful. Which is a long way of saying that British uncanny will by definition be different from the American uncanny, for our homeliness is different to yours. How that affects your reception is unknowable to me, being from the country under discussion.

But I do agree that there is more to these pieces than just a hand-waving 'oh, it's uncanny'. How to describe it further I'm unsure.

(that took me longer to write than it should have, being a 6-minute xpost)

emil.y, Sunday, 1 May 2011 16:04 (eight years ago) link

1981 version of Day of the Triffids fits in here I think

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 16:11 (eight years ago) link

And I suppose by extension the whole "cosy catastrophe" genre.

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 16:12 (eight years ago) link

Ha, maybe John Wyndham is a sort of patron saint of this. I was thinking of Village of the Damned as an early example.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 16:33 (eight years ago) link

(which of course has lots of similarities to Invasion of the Body Snatchers -- comparing the two would probably point up some nice differences in postwar British and American anxieties.)

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 16:35 (eight years ago) link

understand that you guys are talking about british television and culture, but i recently watched a few episodes of the invaders, an american television series from '67/'68 and was struck by the by its pervasive, unheimlich creep. it functioned mostly like a western and seemed to concern one man's attempts to uncover and spread awareness of a secretive alien invasion. an example of post-mccarthyite cold war paranoia taken to psychedelic extremes, old-fashioned in its small town good guy stoicism, but set adrift in an unknowable and morally ambiguous dream world. dug it quite a bit.

that said, it lacks the weirdly mythic/folkloric resonance that seems present in (for instance) the prisoner, the sense that everything you're seeing is an occult parable of a particularly sinister sort.

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Sunday, 1 May 2011 17:57 (eight years ago) link

Which is a long way of saying that British uncanny will by definition be different from the American uncanny, for our homeliness is different to yours. How that affects your reception is unknowable to me, being from the country under discussion.

Yeah, that's an interesting question. I'm a huge fan of this kind of stuff and immediately knew what the OP was talking about. But I always chalked it up to anglophilia + '70s-philia + radiophonic workshop fandom. But maybe there's something deeper to it that makes it a uniquely British sort of expression and yet for some reason doesn't affect the reception for some Americans.

Part of it may be some kind of weird axis of synergy between cosiness, creepiness, and low production values, where the sort of rough, homemade feel enhances both the cosiness and the creepiness. American TV shows and movies of the era explore some of the same territory but usually in a much slicker way.

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 18:13 (eight years ago) link

Just like WK, I'm a huge fan of this as well and thought 'hauntology' immediately (in its un-'lol'-ed, original version, it seems to be made fun of recently, or not taken seriously anymore?).

I do think it goes beyond a mere fondness for sci-fi/occult/bbc radiophonic workshop et al. As a non-English person (though living with an English woman) I've always been attracted to the particular atmosphere of those tv shows and movies (The Witchfinder General, Wicker Man, the superb Stone Tape series etc) and the creepiness for me definitely lies in that in the English shows/movies (part of) the source of the eeriness is left undefined and unexplained. American counterparts have always seemed to rely more on explaining, polishing, rounding off a story nicely.

Image-wise England is way more gritty and raw, too. The landscape and the age-old history it encapsules seeps through any story you set there, whether it's one meant to have that certain 'creepy vibe' or not. It cannot be denied, even if it's not on the surface, it is there. Which is what I endlessly adore about England, too.

RIP Brodie, aspiring bellhop boy, 4 months old (Le Bateau Ivre), Sunday, 1 May 2011 18:30 (eight years ago) link

Maybe one difference in American and British manifestations is that U.S. paranoia seems to be always about malignant outside forces (invasion of the body snatchers, invaders, etc) where in the U.K. iterations it's often something already-present but hidden or forgotten.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 18:47 (eight years ago) link

I love this stuff, but analyzing what I like about it and why in excruciating detail doesn't make me (personally) like it any more. It's part costume party, part ghosts, part human ritual trying in vain to control our violent natural environment and the rest may have something to do with the general aesthetic of the 60s/70s big hair/boobs + gunne sax dresses.

See also:

http://images.etsy.com/all_images/b/b9b/fb5/il_430xN.20355567.jpg

deez m'uts (La Lechera), Sunday, 1 May 2011 18:55 (eight years ago) link

(interesting that the U.S. doesn't have more of a tradition of ancient-Indian-curse stories --Poltergeist aside I guess. Wonder if that storyline's just too uncomfortable for the culture to handle)

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 18:57 (eight years ago) link

...U.S. paranoia seems to be always about malignant outside forces (invasion of the body snatchers, invaders, etc) where in the U.K. iterations it's often something already-present but hidden or forgotten.

OTM, especially the "or forgotten" bit

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Sunday, 1 May 2011 19:11 (eight years ago) link

while i'm OTM-ing, also to le bateau for the similar/different point about landscape and history. american popular imagination, especially during the 60s & 70s when the imprint of the western was still so clear in everything, demands that landscape be seen as devoid as history, as "nature," the undiscovered country. this makes humans and their social spaces a sort of flotsam bobbing around on the surface of landscape, not really woven into it. humans are either with or against nature, but nature's aims are hardly secret.

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Sunday, 1 May 2011 19:17 (eight years ago) link

there was also a kind of creepy sub genre for kids in which you could include say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xez4o1ujOPI

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFUQpCqwCOU

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoazQwVyzCs

and even

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmF97aDwIM

all terrifying to me at pre teen age. especially The Book Tower.brrr.

piscesx, Sunday, 1 May 2011 20:32 (eight years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLpcr7KTi9I

Children of the Stones: Like The Wicker Man, but with ancient stone circles... for kids.

Hippocratic Oaf (DavidM), Sunday, 1 May 2011 20:56 (eight years ago) link

Image-wise England is way more gritty and raw, too. The landscape and the age-old history it encapsules seeps through any story you set there,

True, which also has a lot to do with the vast bulk of '60s and '70s American film and TV being shot in LA. There's definitely a sort of "sickness beneath the sunshine" vibe to some Hollywood productions that England can never hope to capture. Maybe more American horror would have had a gloomy pagan Lovecraftian feeling if the industry were centered in Boston. Cronenberg may have come the closest to capturing that English feeling in some of his '70s work, since Canada is a lot greyer.

(interesting that the U.S. doesn't have more of a tradition of ancient-Indian-curse stories --Poltergeist aside I guess. Wonder if that storyline's just too uncomfortable for the culture to handle)

Really? The ancient indian curse seems like such a cliche that it would be impossible to list how many times it was used. But again to the question of geography and architecture, there's something fundamentally different about it due to the lack of permanent native american architecture in the midst of big American cities and suburbs. It's one thing to have some Indian artifact or the land beneath your development be haunted, but it's not quite the same as your local church or pub, or entire village being taken over by a lurking evil.

So, lots of ancient architecture with pagan historical connections within easy filming distance of London, plus wartime experiences of actual invasion combined to create a fertile ground for exploring all sorts of themes of invasion and corruption from both outside and in.

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:10 (eight years ago) link

As a kid, The Omega Factor used to scare the living shit out of me. My friends and I used to reference bits of it out and it was shorthand for the shitting-your-pants-scary-creeping-through-derelict-house adventures we would occasionally have. Because this was only broadcast in Scotland (to my knowledge) not many people remembered it. A few years ago it came out on DVD and I snapped it up, of course it wasn't a tenth as scary, and it's so damn *slow* and everything in the sets seem to be different shades of brown, but it's still faintly eerie.

Seems like the filter of childhood remeniscence contributes to this feeling, it's always retropective but it's very attractive, for instance when I see those Ghost box covers that Julian House designs I get such a strong notion of school textbooks and suchlike from my own past.

Anyhoo, check out the titles and the relentlessly brown colourscheme

http://youtu.be/HPXgQv6pwss

the crap gig in the sky (MaresNest), Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:40 (eight years ago) link

it's in my wish list, they def broadcast it in England too

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:42 (eight years ago) link

imo a good part of the creepiness is yr exposure to it a certain point in childhood/young adulthood - the supernatural is a metaphor for the not-quite-fathomed mysteries of sex and mortality that are nagging away in yr head at that point in life. of course those mysteries never quite get fathomed which means that creepiness is always going to hang around

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:45 (eight years ago) link

there's some old good k-punk posts limning this stuff, aren't they? or maybe it was just a long parenthesis whilst talking about the Fall again. but mentioned the stone tape and the later quatermass.

one wonders if you could include: those creepy public info spots ('apaches' etc); the wicker man; i had a third, but i have forgotten whilst writing this sentence. m.r. james? enh.

thomp, Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:55 (eight years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xur13R23Qlk

In a similar vein: never saw the second half of this because my dad sent me to bed on account of it being "a right load of old rubbish". He may well have been right but apparently thanks to the magic of Youtube i can find out.

xp I think the stories of M.R. James play into this but the production values on the stories they filmed make them not quite the same thing maybe?

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 21:58 (eight years ago) link

xpost - sorry -

oh, my original third was dennis potter

op: 'characterized by spartan production values (which are generally made a virtue of)'

i was just trying to work out whether you could draw a line around the era being talked about in terms of whether the bbc was using video or film but i don't think it quite works

but i think mb. the organising principle is that (if we accept for the moment that a lot of the effect of horror -- well, of this sort of creepiness -- is the whole unheimlich palimpsest thing, the idea that this stuff underwrites quotidian experience) this is a period where people in tv are starting to know how the conventions of tv drama have settled down, and are willing to game them -- tho not to the level of, say, the totally silly baker stories with the candy monster, or of 'ghostwatch'

so the formal characteristics of this particular vibe are on some level identical to their thematic ones, is what lends it its odd power

however i am mostly familiar with this stuff at second hand so i may well be talking out of my arse here

thomp, Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:01 (eight years ago) link

I've mentioned this before on other threads, but the Open University mnemonic is my all time pant crapping childhood memory and for what reason I still don't know.

the crap gig in the sky (MaresNest), Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:01 (eight years ago) link

The flatness of 70's video cameras goes a long way towards the vibe imho.

the crap gig in the sky (MaresNest), Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:02 (eight years ago) link

yeah I thought about Potter, particularly Blue Remembered Hills. Altho he is arguably working in a less explicitly supernatural way - even in something like Brimstone and Treacle - i think he is exploiting similar themes of the uncanny. Rather than Invasion, which the UK didn't really experience during WWII, I wonder how many of the writers were expressing anxieties about displacement, and specifically the displacement of city kids evacuated to a sinister-seeming countryside during the war. as well as the rearrangement of the cities caused by bombing etc.

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:08 (eight years ago) link

and I suddenly remember Penda's Fen which again is a deal better than the campier end of this stuff but rocks the England's Ancient Evil line to brilliant effect. No DVD apparently and i seem to have agonisingly lost my avi of it but copies are out there i think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m5To7_kzvs

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:20 (eight years ago) link

and a quick wiki search reveals that it was written by the guy who wrote Artemis 81 and the adaptation of James' "The Ash Tree" so duh

bell hops (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:22 (eight years ago) link

i was just trying to work out whether you could draw a line around the era being talked about in terms of whether the bbc was using video or film but i don't think it quite works

Well, a huge part of this aesthetic for me is the use of video for interiors and film for exteriors. When I saw Doctor Who on PBS as a kid that was one of the most immediately jarring and almost distancing elements for me. I obviously didn't know technically why it was happening but I remember that distinct feeling that parts of it felt like some kind of old educational documentary and other parts felt like a really bad public access TV show.

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:28 (eight years ago) link

Or actually, a soap opera is a better point of reference for that weird live video look.

wk, Sunday, 1 May 2011 22:30 (eight years ago) link

If you want something scary from the 1970s, you can't beat public service information films. This still gives me the creeps, 38 years after seeing it for the first time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg6IVUvVsAs

Cluster the boots (Billy Dods), Sunday, 1 May 2011 23:05 (eight years ago) link

I wonder how many of the writers were expressing anxieties about displacement, and specifically the displacement of city kids evacuated to a sinister-seeming countryside during the war. as well as the rearrangement of the cities caused by bombing etc.

Interesting idea. One thing that strikes me is the sinister sort of cuts both ways -- you get this sense of lurking pagan forces, but also the idea that "normal," middle-class postwar life is fundamentally hollow, covering over all this other stuff. Which is just normal suburban anxiety in a way, but takes a different form in a country and culture with so much history (as opposed to American suburban anxiety, where the suburbs are hollow because there's nothing underneath, no history, no anything -- or if there is, it's something recent and specific, like the Amityville Horror).

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 23:12 (eight years ago) link

This still gives me the creeps, 38 years after seeing it for the first time.

Jeez, yeah.

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 1 May 2011 23:14 (eight years ago) link

but takes a different form in a country and culture with so much history (as opposed to American suburban anxiety, where the suburbs are hollow because there's nothing underneath, no history, no anything -- or if there is, it's something recent and specific, like the Amityville Horror).

yeah, that's what i was getting at earlier. occurred to me when thinking about the 70s-era US boom in occult-themed horror - for example, the brotherhood of satan, which i watched just a few days ago. it's set in a small, isolated town that seems to be collapsing in an orgy of unmotivated violence. turns out that a secret satanic coven is behind things, no surprise, but you never get the sense that the looming evil, however ancient the forces it might draw on, has any real history or deep connection to place. it seems, in fact, more like a foreign invader - or a commie/druggie plot from within, not to put too fine a point on it...

rosemary's baby, perhaps because it was directed by an "old world" european, positively reeks of occult history, but here even history becomes a sort of threat from without. the movie consequently seems like a battle between a placeless and superstitious anciency and the ostensibly rational modern world. to pare it down even further: between corrupt wisdom and innocent naivete, age and youth, europe and america.

upthread, wk says that, "the ancient indian curse seems like such a cliche that it would be impossible to list how many times it was used," but i'm not so sure about that. it's certainly a familiar device, but i'd hardly say that it's dominated the imaginations of american horror filmmakers over the last 50 years. and films like pet sematary and creepshow 2 (both stephen king adaptations, oddly) have often used the idea of the "indian curse" without any perceptible investment in the significance of history or landscape. poltergeist seems more interesting in this regard, given the political implications and the eventual eradication of suburban property as a sort of penitential sacrifice. then there's the shining, which allows any number of readings, but remains maddeningly vague.

i like the idea of an american horror film in which a presence or purpose coded into the landscape, something that predates european settlement, enacts itself in ways that destablize "ordinary" american life. maybe not because the presence/purpose is evil or aggrieved, but simply because its ends are different. there must be examples of this, but i can't think of any offhand...

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Monday, 2 May 2011 06:33 (eight years ago) link

i dunno. maybe i'm giving pet sematary short shrift. though it's not as direct as poltergeist in its suggestion that american comfort is built on genocide, it does invite similar interpretations. the contemporary nuclear family existing in a state of constant existential peril, threatened from one side by the very things that supply its material comforts (the road with its long-haul trucks), and from the other by a terrifying forest that conceals an explicitly forbidden history, stinking of death.

normal_fantasy-unicorns (contenderizer), Monday, 2 May 2011 06:43 (eight years ago) link

The Dark and Lonely Water, Billy Dods up here is sending shivers down my spine... Perfect example!

RIP Brodie, aspiring bellhop boy, 4 months old (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 2 May 2011 07:50 (eight years ago) link

voiced by donald pleasance too...

koogs, Monday, 2 May 2011 11:29 (eight years ago) link

Even Disney got in on this -- Watcher in the Woods is probably the first movie like this that I saw growing up in Ohio. It was really really scary at the time.

Also, The Shining to thread (re: uh oh burial grounds).

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_D1ZZyTOG7tQ/SureA53-vvI/AAAAAAAAFwU/5eUKUJ9Tg8s/s400/Watcher+in+the+Woods+Lynn-Holly+Johnson+Bette+Davis+Kyle+Richards.jpg

Oh, and speaking of Bette Davis, what about The Dark Secret of Harvest Home?! (The book was really good, too btw)

http://www.go4film.com/thumbs/586ec9539c37d994933f50b051181b96.jpg

deez m'uts (La Lechera), Monday, 2 May 2011 13:15 (eight years ago) link

The cover is pretty cool -- has the same most dreadful sacrifice theme as Wicker Man, only it's set in a quasi Peyton Place sort of atmosphere. The Widow Fortune is sort of like Lord Summerisle, I guess?
http://worldsstrongestlibrarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/harvest-home-208x300.jpg

deez m'uts (La Lechera), Monday, 2 May 2011 13:18 (eight years ago) link

Haha, we own so many of these things. In fact, just watched Penda's Fen again last night for film club. Such a strange and beautiful film.

I think the Britain = internal/forgotten histories/nature and USA = external/eradicated history/urbanity thing is spot on, actually. I want to agree that the Indian burial ground plot is a very common trope but can't think of many more examples than those already mentioned. I guess America does also have the natural spookiness of vast desert landscapes etc but I'm unsure if that's *uncanny* or something different. I guess it's less centred on the homeliness of the small British island and more on exploration of the unknown?

emil.y, Monday, 2 May 2011 13:29 (eight years ago) link

feel like the vibe y'all are talking about got expressed in the US via dystopian future fantasies like phase iv and the like

don't judge a book by its jpg (Edward III), Monday, 2 May 2011 13:44 (eight years ago) link

for some reason equivalent US examples I can think of are TV movies

dark night of the scarecrow
don't be afraid of the dark
crowhaven farm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kgZ-0hTPdM

don't judge a book by its jpg (Edward III), Monday, 2 May 2011 13:48 (eight years ago) link

i still have this thing on my to read pile:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51axkpKDB1L._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

plp will eat itself (NickB), Monday, 13 November 2017 14:04 (one year ago) link

I really REALLY want clean mp3s of the title theme and any of the choral cues from children of the stones. Some of the most striking scoring I’ve ever heard

it is so odd. the whole thing is just marvellous - the beautiful shots above the town in the intro. bbc had so much money and freedom back then.

the bit in the first episode where the old woman appears on the road is scary but also like i was doubled over laughing at it. also when the balding tory landlord bloke just appears in the house as if from nowhere.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Monday, 13 November 2017 14:06 (one year ago) link

Happy days. I think I'm going to watch this again, perfect time of the year too. Must've been ten years. Marvellous series.

This is worth while imo, doc from BBC Radio4.

Theme song here. "The music was composed by Sidney Sager who used the Ambrosian Singers to chant in accordance with the megalithic rituals referred to in the story."

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 13 November 2017 15:10 (one year ago) link

Children of the Stones an HTV rather than a BBC production.

This (different) BFI list tries to expand - or settle - the folk horror canon a little:

http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/features/where-begin-folk-horror

Ward Fowler, Monday, 13 November 2017 15:21 (one year ago) link

Timely thread revival, we've just been watching Sapphire and Steel this week. Never seen Children of the Stones, I'll have to see if I can find it.

Also reading some of those folk horror links makes me think Twin Peaks fits more easily there than anywhere else, genre-wise.

i always say twin peaks is the first time the US caught up in the folk horror arms race, TP is profoundly FH imo but in a deeply american way

harbinger of failure (Jon not Jon), Monday, 13 November 2017 19:05 (one year ago) link

I never really considered that idea but I think the noir elements are much stronger, particularly in the third season. Strange to think of folk horror noir.

X-Files had a fair amount of country settings.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 13 November 2017 20:07 (one year ago) link

Noir is an urban version of the unheimlich, I reckon

the intentional phallusy (Noodle Vague), Monday, 13 November 2017 20:26 (one year ago) link

Yeah I mean Twin Peaks ultimately comes back to the woods and the trees. Not explicitly pagan, but I think you could make a good case for Weird elements in it.

Twin Peaks obv isn't like UK "folk horror" at all; it's American. I get the enthusiastic instigation to pass it off or file it under English 70s folk/horror/hauntology, or have it relate to it, but it's still miles away. I mean really, the only thing in common is "weird". Which is not enough to make a connection between the two imo. I love TP, love 70s freaky horrorhaunty English series even more, and they circle around each other in some ways, sometimes, but both are very much products of their country of origin; ie inherently different.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 13 November 2017 21:35 (one year ago) link

A lot of olden American folk horror is very close to the British folk horror feel though.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 13 November 2017 21:49 (one year ago) link

xp that's what i was saying. it is deeply american folk horror. pastoral uncanny if you like. it's not like uk folk horror!

harbinger of failure (Jon not Jon), Monday, 13 November 2017 21:53 (one year ago) link

Then I got you! :)

Disagree with Robert Adam Gilmour entirely. They are so far removed from each other aesthetically, roots-wise, storytelling-wise. Everything wise tbh.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 13 November 2017 21:56 (one year ago) link

The Vvitch feels kind of British to me and a lot of 1700s-1800s American ghost stories do too. Maybe I'm mostly thinking of writers from aristocracy who lived a lot like European aristocrats.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 13 November 2017 22:03 (one year ago) link

I guess the aristocratic stuff isn't really folk horror.

Sleepy Hollow is based on European legends.

Trying to think of more old American folk horror but blanking.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 13 November 2017 22:36 (one year ago) link

You're trying too hard. No harm in acknowledging UK and US ghost stories have different origins.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 13 November 2017 22:38 (one year ago) link

I can think of legends like bigfoot, Jersey Devil and stuff like that but not a lot of stories right now.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 13 November 2017 22:54 (one year ago) link

i'm with LBI here I think. wrote a far too lengthy thing upthread on where i think the US and UK traditions go post 19th century (so doesn't include the older stuff you mention, Robert).

I think that some of the creepy folk pastoral horror vibe is a response to a fear of nuclear war and in a wider sense of military science. the return to primitivism, or a resurgence of primitavist power that stone circles imply is - well one reading of it is - the implication of society having to start again from scratch.

that's very present in the last quatermass with its stone circles, decayed society, and movement of people trying to unlearn words because that's where the bad stuff started creeping in. you see a bit of it in penda's fen. as well, with the porton down references.

a related reading is of course that there was a strong stranding in 60s and 70s counterculture of being at one with nature, through crafting and cultivating, and not abusing it with technology.

in other words these are very late forms of romanticism.

there's also the whole chariots of the gods reading of alien or mystical power and knowledge present in the henges and circles and ley lines of britain.

teasing out these strands would require some time and care - does stone circle/science/alien stuff share the same influences as the malign pastoral folk of the wicker man to take one example.

Fizzles, Monday, 13 November 2017 23:01 (one year ago) link

I inclined to think a lot of folk-horror both romanticises feminism and nature cults, and abhors them.

Obv the circles of skyclad (or nearly so) druidic priestesses are motivated by the exploitation market, but a lot of the neopagan literature I came across in the early 90s (it was a short lived relationship, with a coed who bought candles in bulk) is very feminist, very pro- exposure, and deals endlessly with the historical oppression of witches.

Sanpaku, Monday, 13 November 2017 23:26 (one year ago) link

I inclined to think a lot of folk-horror both romanticises feminism and nature cults, and abhors them.

Obv the circles of skyclad (or nearly so) druidic priestesses are motivated by the exploitation market, but a lot of the neopagan literature I came across in the early 90s (it was a short lived relationship, with a coed who bought candles in bulk) is very feminist, very pro- exposure, and deals endlessly with the historical oppression of witches.


completely agree. you see this throughout the micro-genre of “malign pastoral” almost as a defining characteristic - eg wolf solent, machen’s ghost stories, wicker man, some walter de la mare.

earnest innocent very late victorian or edwardian or ewar-woowar young men and clerks (often from the city) encounter edens that are sexually frightening to them, with potent, magical primitivism whose seductive capabilities are alarming and dangerous.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 13:28 (one year ago) link

again one of the reasons penda’s fen is so good is its play with this trope of innocence and sexual awakening through landscape. jocelyn brooke is also v representative in the image of a drawn sword and the dog at clambercrown but i’m back on my hobby horse again and off topic.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 13:30 (one year ago) link

don't know if this ever got linked but there's some interesting stuff in this robert macfarlane piece:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/10/eeriness-english-countryside-robert-macfarlane

plp will eat itself (NickB), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 13:38 (one year ago) link

Fizzles pls ride horse freely itt

harbinger of failure (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 13:46 (one year ago) link

the BBC's film of A View from a Hill should still be on iPlayer for a couple of weeks. it's a good one imo, nicely told.

the intentional phallusy (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 14 November 2017 13:48 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

it has taken me 32 years to see penda's fen. obviously it is the best thing ever made

imago, Monday, 13 May 2019 21:23 (two months ago) link

all the pep talks are the best pep talks in moving picture history

imago, Monday, 13 May 2019 21:24 (two months ago) link

It is grand.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 16 May 2019 10:25 (two months ago) link

so elegant how the protagonist's initially self-denying radicalisation is slowly channeled into something positive and ultimately salvation

imago, Thursday, 16 May 2019 11:07 (two months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Shadows?

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398561/
Anthology series of scary stories for children. 1975 - 1978.

i don't remember this but Talking Pictures TV is currently showing them.

koogs, Monday, 10 June 2019 09:01 (one month ago) link

i watched Robin Redbreast the other day, which was excellent. The subject matter, especially after the Wicker Man (three years later), is highly familiar now, and was in the water then, but execution, script and performances are all really good.

there’s enough opacity about the malign forces to ensure it’s distributed into a generalised sense of unease. (so much about these sorts of sensations feel analogous to a hangover - a hangover in the countryside - why are they looking at me like that? what if the phone line gets cut/network drops out? what does that pebble on the windowsill mean? *oh god a fucking *bird** etc).

particular shout out to central performances metropolitan scriptwriter character, recently split from her partner, and her obtuse, effective, and omniscient cottage housekeeper.

Fizzles, Tuesday, 11 June 2019 06:21 (one month ago) link

Bernard Hepton is particularly good in it.

Rob is an almost perfect cipher of stereotypical masculinity, with his karate and ss obsessions, not equalled until Pex turns up in Paradise Towers.

Elitist cheese photos (aldo), Tuesday, 11 June 2019 13:57 (one month ago) link

not equalled until Pex turns up in Paradise Towers

now that phrase surprised me

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 11 June 2019 14:28 (one month ago) link

For me he's the best character - the Kangs are more than a bit disco dad, the Rezzies are the closest High Rise archetype, but Pex is tremendously well written. He does what he's supposed to do, against a behavioural code that never really existed but everyone of course remembers, and had a proper heroic journey. (The scene where he bends the light to impress Mel is her best scene imo.)

Elitist cheese photos (aldo), Tuesday, 11 June 2019 14:44 (one month ago) link

And Rob/Edgar is the same. He's studied the war because it's the right, manly thing to do of the time and is supposed to feel upset that he couldn't do his part (as the likes of Bernard Hepton presumably did). But despite this he's slightly more interested in the Germans to fulfil the 'girls love a bad boy' trope (and as a sidebar, giving a bit a lie to the punk/greaser 'shock the older generation' notion).

Karate was a desperately exotic and of its time way of keeping fit, which would attract the metropolitan woman to him because she would realise he wasn't just a country bumpkin but up with trends, like her.

Elitist cheese photos (aldo), Tuesday, 11 June 2019 14:50 (one month ago) link

I need to watch both again and compare! Pretty sure I have the Paradise Towers DVD.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Tuesday, 11 June 2019 15:39 (one month ago) link

not sure if this has been mentioned elsewhere but a Robert Holmes science fiction / dark scots island community radio series Aliens in the Mind, from 1977, with Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, is being repeated on Radio 4. Catch up here.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 12 June 2019 21:49 (one month ago) link

If you don't want to wait, or you're not in the UK, the whole thing is here: https://archive.org/details/rhaitm

tbf BBC radio is available globally for free on web or app, and listening to things on non-bootleg send the message that you would like to hear more things like that

quelle sprocket damage (sic), Thursday, 13 June 2019 04:03 (one month ago) link

otoh i couldn’t sleep last night and was able to listen to episode 2 - thx james! (of course, you’re right, sic - and radio 4 extra is their archive mining channel so probably lots of good stuff in there)

Fizzles, Thursday, 13 June 2019 05:26 (one month ago) link

it has taken me 32 years to see penda's fen. obviously it is the best thing ever made

― imago, Monday, May 13, 2019 10:23 PM (one month ago)

Yeah. I loved it from the first time I saw it, but over time it has cemented itself as one of my all-time favourites. I still find new elements to think about whenever I watch it.

emil.y, Thursday, 13 June 2019 19:00 (one month ago) link

I listened to Aliens In The Mind just now (on BBC Sounds like a good citizen) and yeah it's good, a somewhat generic this thread thing but the performances pull it off. Loved the Boys Own vibe. Vincent Price not very convincing as a yank but that just adds to the charm.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 13 June 2019 22:17 (one month ago) link

I listened to /Aliens In The Mind/ just now (on BBC Sounds like a good citizen) and yeah it's good, a somewhat generic this thread thing but the performances pull it off. Loved the Boys Own vibe. Vincent Price not very convincing as a yank but that just adds to the charm.


his accent is so wobbly! i like the element of fundamental fraudulence it implies esp as he’s a friendly goodie. Like you i liked the boy’s own vibe the two adult scientists totally enter into.

Fizzles, Friday, 14 June 2019 06:01 (one month ago) link

i mean its not a masterpiece or anything obv but v enjoyable. as always with these things the soundscape is excellent too. actually that goes for penda’s fen as well. you wonder how much television also lost when it lost deep and inventive radio drama expertise.

Fizzles, Friday, 14 June 2019 06:03 (one month ago) link

Vincent Price not very convincing as a yank

Haven't listened to this yet, but - Vincent Price was American? Do you mean Cushing?

Ward Fowler, Friday, 14 June 2019 07:46 (one month ago) link

Learn something new every day! Don't I feel the fool now.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 14 June 2019 08:16 (one month ago) link

iirc he had a strong Mississippi accent when he started and sort of anglicised as he went on, so it did end up as a kind of unique, ultra-theatrical mid-Atlantic mishmash.

ShariVari, Friday, 14 June 2019 08:25 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I feel like maybe in this he's dropping the mid-Atlantic to seem more american? But I've shown my ineptitude at identifying accents already so shouldn't chance it.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 14 June 2019 09:55 (one month ago) link

i did know he was american but going to double down by saying his voice sounds quite wobbly, but maybe that’s just next to cushing.

Fizzles, Sunday, 16 June 2019 05:54 (one month ago) link

Just spotted the Box of Delights chat upthread. My 4 year-old watched it at Christmas. Not sure if that was a good call or not but he seemed to enjoy it.

kinder, Sunday, 16 June 2019 21:45 (one month ago) link


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