The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
For decades the study of British horror cinema lay in an arid literary wasteland. During the period of the British horror films greatest commercial success (which can be put at 1957-76) just a single dedicated volume was published. This was David Pirie’s landmark polemical A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema 1946 - 1972. Pirie’s was a solitary voice in an empty ocean. Ironically when the second edition of this book was published in 2007 it largely got overlooked in a market overcrowded with yet more substandard books on Hammer Film Productions. British horror had been sustained through the 1980’s and first half of the 1990’s by genre specific magazines and fan publications (the best of which still remains Little Shoppe of Horrors) before a relative deluge of material flooded the market. Much of it was of poor quality, for example of the huge number of books dedicated to Hammer, I consider only five of value. The increasing popularity of horror cinema on undergraduate degree courses, and the continued ascendancy of the study of cult film has enabled publishers to take advantage. But the question still remains; where to begin? This guide is intended to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to offer the best overall library of books for the appreciation of British horror. There are over one hundred books on the subject, this guide reduces that number to fifteen. This will probably be a contentious selection, but I hope it helps people to make informed decisions, that will also hopefully save them a few pounds or dollars.