In A History of Horror (BBC Four, Monday at 9pm) Mark Gatiss explores the “three greatest eras” of horror films drawing on his own passion for the genre and favourite films to chronicle cinema’s attempts to scare us out of our seats.
The series opens with Frankenstein Goes To Hollywood which covers Hollywood movies of the twenties, thirties and forties including classics such as Lon Chaney’s 1925 Phantom Of The Opera, and 1931’s Dracula and Frankenstein as well as the controversial Freaks.
This opening episode contains real treats for viewers including the sight of Chaney’s head cast, used by the actor to design his make-up, as well as the original bat prop from Dracula.
The remaining two instalments – Home Counties Horror and The American Scream – respectively cover the UK film industry’s contribution to cinema horror and more modern American movies.
Rather then just recount the history of each era Gatiss looks at his pick of movies in detail, sharing the story behind their production and their cultural impact and reasons for longevity.
Along the way he talks to key horror movie figures including David Warner and director John Carpenter as well actress Gloria Stuart, who passed away last month, and Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara.
The series easily passes the seenit.co.uk test of being presented by someone with genuine knowledge and passion and Gatiss’s obvious fascination for the subject matter is hypnotically captivating.
Set your digital recorder to series link!
BBC Four, Mondays at 9pm from 11th October
Twitter users – follow @seenituk for more comment, news and observations.