Sometimes, with the way modern horror can excel in the blood 'n' guts theatrics that those new to horror love, I wonder sometimes if many of them are missing out on joy of exploring the routes of the genre, the little lanes and byways and odd paths that all lead to where we are now.
I'm no expert. To be honest, I'm in many ways as new to it as anyone else. I've always loved horror, but growing up in a church-based house (that's not a criticism by the way, just a fact) there wasn't much scope for me bagging a stack of classic darkness and hiding up in my room for most of my teen years. And anyway, I didn't have/wasn't allowed a TV in my room, so there we go.
One thing I've come to love about horror more than anything is atmosphere. It's not so about the severed heads or the machines of torture or the blood-letting or the number of victims. For me, it's that almost comforting sense of being in the room with the creative genius of someone who's clever enough to have me so wrapped up with what's going on, that the world seems to just drift away, and all that's left is me, in a dark room, grinning like a fool, as the the movie sucks me in.
A horror movie doesn't need to have an 18 certificate. Why should it? Fear isn't simply about worrying if you're going to get your head bitten off or find yourself inside a brazen bull. It's about other things, too. Like seeing normality twisted, a shadow where a shadow just shouldn't be, asking questions no one else dare ponder, dealing with darker issues, thinking about forces we either do not believe in or do not understand, and - why not? - a castle on a windswept hill as a horse drawn carriage races towards it. Without a driver.
I did a school visit a few months ago and a lad, probably no older than fourteen, sat down to have me sign his book. Once that was out of the way, all he wanted to do was talk about horror. And his starting gambit wasn't, "I've seen all the SAW movies", it was, "I'm in to all the classics. Old stuff. 70s. I love Psycho and Friday 13th." I nearly jumped out of my seat in joy. For the next ten minutes, I nattered along with someone who didn't "love horror" because he was into all the gory stuff, but someone who understood it, was learning all about it, digging deeper, searching between the lines to find out where horror was from.
And so to Bava. It's a Friday night and I've put on Black Sabbath (also known as I Tre Volti Della Paura - The Three Faces of Fear). It's three movies in one. It's only a 15 certificate. It's dark and twisted. It's clever. It's shocking. It's subtitled. It's beautifully filmed. It leeks atmosphere into the room so thick you have to wade through it to go to bed.
And so wish I'd seen this when I was 15...
The Generation Dead Series
7 months ago