Apparently the tag was coined by Mark Gatiss in 2010, and used to describe a certain genre of very British horror movies that focused on the countryside, its people and its folklore, its legends and superstitions.
The three movies that form the core of the genre are Michael Reeves’ historically accurate nightmare Witchfinder General (1968), Piers Haggard’s delicately-titled The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man (1973). A lot of stuff follows, including some of the things that creeped me out the most when I was a kid, to wit Children of the Stones, a rather scary 1977 occult serial from ITV. It was supposed to be kid’s entertainment, but boy was it the stuff of nightmares.
But hey, even The Persuaders had a folk horror episode!
Now I am usually wary of labels when it comes to fiction – they make for good party games, but obsessing too much about such things often means forgetting about the story.
But there is a folk element in Arthur Machen, of course, and in M.R. James, and even in Lovecraft. The genre has a history, and deep roots, and more than a little pulp blood in its veins. Continue reading