Day #37/365: Folk Horror Review and a wander through a green and not always pleasant land
Trails and Influences:
Electronic Ether. Case #2/52.
Now, I have to admit I’m actually a bit of a wuss where the horror genre is concerned: I’m too easily unsettled and gore leaves me repulsed/cold/I don’t really see the point of it.
However, I do make an exception for certain areas of what has become known as folk horror. Although it still can give me the heebie jeebies so I tread carefully and occasionally.
Folk horror? What’s that? Well, it’s generally applied to a film/tv/literary/cultural horror genre that often concerns itself with folklore and/or is set in and around rural areas/intrigues; drawing from the wald rather than the city.
To a degree, at least filmically, it could be said to largely start with a quite small set of films: there’s kind of an accepted canonic trio which takes in The Wicker Man at the top, followed by The Witchfinder General and Blood On Satans Claw (not necessarily always pleasant films, particularly the last two… though sometimes I forget that The Wicker Man isn’t a jolly folkloric singalong of a film but actually something much more, well, horrific).
Interestingly, this small group of films all sprung into existence in the early 1970s, a time when things folkloric/folk music/rustic experienced an upsurge of interest in the UK: possibly in reaction to and escape from the political, social and economic turmoil the country was experiencing at the time (industrial unrest, ineffectual government, high inflation, the final fading of empire dreams, internal insurrection and so on).
Anyway, a place I periodically return to in the electronic ether is Folk Horror Review, a site which concerns itself with goings on in the, well, folk horror genre. It’s not updated all that often, which I quite like as it gives it a more curated sense than some of the internet and it feels like a treat when there is a new post on it.
(There are loads of films which could be deemed folk horror which are often just quite nasty exploitation numbers – a group of tourists/outsiders move into/visit a rural setting, they don’t understand the old ways they come across and meet a grisly end via various supernatural/pagan forces seems to be the plot of most of them – but this blog doesn’t really overly concern itself with such things. It’s more interested in the odd and the otherly albion… hauntological, eldritch, intriguing and a touch cerebral rather than blood splattered I guess.)
So, at Folk Horror Review there are posts on The Wicker Man (of course) and it’s possible forebear Robin Redbreast, ghostly scribe Arthur Machen, the contemporary psychedelia (?) of A Field In England, Strange Attractor/Texte und Töne’s lovely The Twilight Language Of Nigel Kneale book, The Stone Tape, various BBC Ghost Stories For Christmas, Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, Children Of The Stones, Psychomania (Nicky Henson in a 1970s UK zombie-motorbike-riding film… sign me up), Alistair Siddon’s In The Dark Half and interconnected items such as the compilation album that accompanies Rob Young’s Electric Eden, Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief and Dear from Cold Springs dark folk britannica album series, the BFIs DVD release of film recordings of folk customs and ancient rural games Here’s A Health To The Barley Mow and A Fiend In The Furrows – an academic conference which explored folk horror in it’s various forms.
Basically, in part it’s not too dissimilar to some of the paths that A Year In The Country follows and as a site it creeps through the briars and undergrowth of a not always so idyllic rural landscape.
Wander through the glens here: Folk Horror Review
A Fiend In The Furrows here.
Cold Springs John Barleycorn Reborn CD series here.