Folk Horror

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Folk Horror

jul. 25, 2020, 8:58pm

The term folk horror seems to have been coined, very possibly by director Piers Haggard, to describe the 1971 film The Blood on Satan's Claw. Retrospectively, in cinema two roughly contemporary films have been classed as folk horror to create a core set of texts that exemplify the themes of folk horror. The films are of course Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man.

Over roughly the last decade new films have been released that were immediately recognised as having similarities to the canonical three - Kill List, A Field in England, for example and were more or less immediately classified as folk horror.

(I should say that in these initial thoughts I'm going to stick to works set in Britain, or rather in England, Wales, Scotland.)

"Folk horror" is now applied to works in other media - novels, short stories, even music (neo-folk), and applied to works from the past. There's a strong overlap with the "creepy 1970s childhood" strand of Hauntology. The YA fantasy novels of Alan Garner are obvious candidates, Public Information Films (over version of PSAs) about the dangers of electricity substations or playing in treacherous stretches of water maybe less so. As folk horror expands its boundaries across time, space, and media, it looks to be on its way to becoming as amorphous and impossible to pin down as "the Gothic" itself.

Even so, I have found myself disagreeing with comments I've seen online and on podcasts (particularly the podcasts).

So, what did they say, and why do I think they're wrong?

The discussions/explications of folk horror talk about the British (by which they clearly mean only the English) countryside and its uniquely violent and dreadful history. Oh, the horror stored up in the gnarled old oaks, in the stones of the ruined abbeys, and so on.

That doesn't really hold water, though, because if folk horror is uniquely British - that point can be argued, but if you grant it for now - then wouldn't it follow that Britain's history would have to be uniquely bloody? And that isn't true. Further, most of the world has had more recent terrible histories.

Shouldn't that mean there would be a stronger impetus for folk horror to develop more strongly just about everywhere else ?

One answer might be that folk horror is actually a rather comforting thing, because there's no actual trauma anymore (to actual living people I mean, not to some supposed spirit of the nation or whatever).

Or folk horror derives from an estrangement from the countryside, even from the natural world. There might be something in this. A lot of traditions and practices where swept away in the industrial revolution. The factories were put up in the middle of towns, or new towns grew up around them, and people moved from the country to the town to work in the factories. There were famines and food riots 1811-1813. There had been poor harvests but also the system where people had been able to support themselves with small plots and kitchen gardens was breaking down (under pressure from landowners, mill owners, etc., I gather, who wanted the new workforce to depend on them for their sustenance.)

So actually it may come down to specific historical and political circumstances. I have had the benefit of my French friend's perspective on the current state of UK, or I should say English*, society. To paraphrase - "Where are your local customs, your regional foods, why don't you have a proper bourgeoisie", (compared to Alsace, no one wants to be a craftsman or grow stuff...if you have a business the thing to do is sell it, move up in the world and live off your other words becoming a rentier.)

* Maybe I should localise it even more, to Southern England. We attended the Thought Bubble comic convention in Harrogate last year (my first for something like 30 years!). Harrogate was much more what she thought a properly functioning town should be.

I've written a lot and it was only meant to be initial thoughts. Please feel free to expand on it, open it up beyond the bounds I set myself, or disagree with anything I've written please do.

I'll just add a few notes/headings...

I think you can see why I left Ireland out of this initial thought-dump.

I didn't mention religion. Britain's one of the world's more secular societies (certainly compared to the US). A factor?

Folk horror doesn't have to be supernatural. Neither The Wicker Man nor Witchfinder General have actual supernatural events or entities.

With recent non-British films like Midsummer and The Witch (or VVitch) being classed as folk horror, and older works now being so described or reclassified (Viy), is there any point in treating it as a peculiarly British thing? (well, I could try to make a case for its specific politico-economic causes). Is it now just another name for rural horror with a spooky tinge?

jul. 25, 2020, 9:16pm

It does have to be at least spookily-tinged or inflected, doesn't it? You wouldn't call, say an Australian Outback noir, or Deliverance, folk horror?

The "folk" is key here; I think. Folk horror and rural horror shouldn't be used interchangeably.'s not what rural folk do to city's something about the folk themselves, or their history? (you can see how this can potentially go off in nasty ethnographic-nationalist lines).

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 6:33am

I see you did not sleep much last night. :-)

Your thoughts have interested me. Like yourself I have noticed the rise in the term "folk horror". My horror reading, film watching, etc... is not as in depth or broad as your own, so when I have come across the term I have quietly inferred my own interpretation of its meaning. My cornerstone of reference would be "The Wicker Man" and when you mentioned it as a prime exemplar of the genre/sub-genre I felt I was not wandering too far off the beaten track, even if the track has only been beaten since the 70s, one of my more formative decades.

My interpretation is not a million miles from yours, but I would probably have relaxed the geographical limitation. I think English folklore with spooky tinges fits perfectly into the category folk horror. While most of the references I see to folk horror tend to be around English rural folklore I still feel there is a more generic meaning in folk horror that would apply to tales based in local folklore in other countries.

At the same time, I would, like yourself, exclude elements of Irish mythology from folk horror, but there would be witchcraft stories set in Ireland (of which I cannot think at the moment) that would be more folk horror than Irish myth related. I know, I have probably just contradicted myself with no empirical evidence in either direction. All I can think of now is the activities of a white witch friend whose activities would have had no relationship to fairies or leprechauns or the Dé Danann. They were more to do with dead crows and broken egg shells in the corners of fields, etc...

The type of thing in Irish folklore and traditions that I think would fit right into folk horror would activities like Mummers' parade. It has nothing to do with what people think of as typical Irish mythology but it is more of the Earth; is related to rural life and living off the land, both nutritionally and spiritually.

The traditions of some Scandinavian and Germanic countries, in which people dress up in animal costumes and perform mid-summer, mid-winter rites, would, in my interpretation fit well in the category of folk horror.

A US novel that springs to mind as an attempt at folk horror, would be The Ceremonies, despite its Cthulhu theme.

In recent years I have thought the following books could be considered folk horror and would be interested in your view on this.

Juliet E. McKenna's Green Man's Heir & Green Man's Foe,

Paul Cornell's Witches of Lychford series,

Ken MacLeod's Selkie Summer.

Thank you for starting this discussion. I look forward to learning more from the posts here.

jul. 26, 2020, 5:12am

When I think of "Folk" I think of origin. Things like oral tradition, shared stories, etc. In literature as I learned it, folk lore and folk tales (as opposed to fairy tales, etc.) were passed by tradition or custom, and have long since outlived their original creator, if there was one.

Most of what I've encountered would be British-esque but is usually called just "Celt." Maybe that has to do with the mix between Ireland, Scotland, etc., and where it might expand into continental Europe (I'm not so sure of my European migration history).

If I were to define folk horror, I'd say it falls in with the category of folk lore and folk tales in that it has a long (lost) history, and carries as assumed element of truth. Folk remedies for instance, often do work but because of a science not known at the time.

Another, more modern idea of folk might be things learned and passed through the general populace, without science or authority's say-so. Something similar in character to an urban legend or creepy pasta. The significant part is the element of horror.

These would be my thoughts. To leave Britain behind, I think ripe places for some Canadian folk horror would be in the old and abandoned farms and homesteads. There's a 2008 horror movie (horror western on IMDB) called The Burrowers. I think it might fall into the category of films mentioned above, if one fades out the directness of some of it. Creatures underground that appear to settlers because of their activities on the new North American plains. I could imagine a tale of such creatures around the old farms and homesteads, which might well have debris and such buried into the earth over time. Fence pieces, wire, old metal, etc. Not exactly safe.

I think an example I can come up with for folk horror over here would be the Native Americans and their legends, especially the Wendigo. I've seen people often commenting that these legends etc. should be used so liberally in fiction, or by people that aren't Native American.

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 5:15am

A last thought, but what about The Lottery by Shirley Jackson? Something to consider.

jul. 26, 2020, 8:11am

Reading this thread, I realise that I have a (vague) conception of folk horror that I can't honestly say is based on anything much. It goes something like this:

Putting aside for the moment whether I mean British or English (really not sure about that), there's a sort of cosiness, almost a 'twee' strand to some aspects of folk culture: think morris dancing and well dressing and so forth, even carol-singing. It's comfortable; that's the point. So the film-maker or whoever can assume something anything but comfortable underlying that, the horror coming, at least partly, from the extreme and apparently anachronistic contrast. It's the same principle as the Miss Marple novel or Midsummer Murders telly series, but taken many degrees further.

Having written that, I'm wondering if folk horror really comes from folk culture at all, or actually has its basis in the fiction/TV/cinema construct of the English village that grew up in the 20thC, probably as a reaction to the increasing urbanisation of society plus the increasing homogenisation of society brought about by that same media.

And that's thrown up more thoughts ... a much more complex subject than I thought when I started this post ... I'm realising I could have written a completely different post ... oh dear!

jul. 26, 2020, 8:15am

>6 alaudacorax:

Sorry I started that post. I now know a lot less about the subject than I did half an hour ago ...

jul. 26, 2020, 9:02am

>7 alaudacorax:

You are learning. That is progress.


The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

jul. 26, 2020, 9:20am

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 10:16am

>4 WeeTurtle: When I think of "Folk" I think of origin.

I see that viewpoint, so not rejecting it. My first take is different, though: when I think of Folk I mean in contrast to Industrial Scientific. So the accumulated understanding of what there is, how it works, and what to do, separate from the (now-dominant) scientific rational explanation of it. Underlying a Folk understanding would be a sense of the sacred, and living, wholly apart from whatever mechanics may account for something.

This thread is my first encounter with the term Folk Horror yet somehow I immediately recognised it. In addition to Wicker Man or Midsommar, neither of which I've seen, I thought also of Picnic at Hanging Rock -- another which could be understood as containing no supernatural elements.

I also thought of the so-called apocalyptic folk subgenre of popular music, there is to my ear a strand of horror in works by Current 93, Nurse With Wound, Death in June, Sol Invictus ... and many others (but not all) distributed via World Serpent.

All of this extends the geography or cultural reference beyond the British Isles and especially (for the artists I've encountered) into Eastern Europe, Goth's old stomping grounds.

jul. 26, 2020, 11:06am

To me folk horror revolves around some folk legend/myth/superstition etc. so obviously it can't be uniquely British (or Italian or Haitian etc.), because everyone's folklore contains elements and figures of horror, the supernatural etc.

Eastern European vampires and werewolves, Caribbean demons and zombies etc. would all to me represent "folk horror".

>6 alaudacorax:

Having written that, I'm wondering if folk horror really comes from folk culture at all, or actually has its basis in the fiction/TV/cinema construct of the English village that grew up in the 20thC

I think there is actually a very important point here for understanding what is "different" about British/English folk horror and why it might seem unique to some. It has, I think, received unique artistic treatment and attention, so that by now there is a mass of inter-referential stuff (films, books etc.) reinforcing a certain "myth" about the English countryside (druidic remnants, witchcraft, magical objects and spaces, pre-Christian villages etc.)

I can't think of another similar example in other countries. Oh--actually I can--Japan. But Japan is still a little "remote" to us Westwardians. Anyway, that, I think, is another example of cultural assimilation and presentation of folk horror in ways that make certain stories, tropes etc. proliferate always further and inter-connect via film, anime, manga...

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 3:40pm

Lola speaks if Japanese folklore, and there is no better illustration of it other than Yōkai (妖怪, ghost, phantom, strange apparition) :

My spouse showed me examples of, including the more well known A kappa (河童, river-child):

Lesser known, like the smoky fabric, Enenra :

Or Ittan-Momen – The Evil Cloth :

And she explained that they've literally hundreds of type of Yōkai---- she qualified by saying that for many Japanese, the Yōkai can be helpful and will take side against evil, as well as being examples of it.... if that makes sense.

jul. 26, 2020, 3:31pm

>12 benbrainard8:

Yes--I read a little about it here recently, very interesting:

An Introduction to Yōkai Culture: Monsters, Ghosts, and Outsiders in Japanese History

Anyway--it seems to me, as far as I can tell, that these figures and tales etc. are enmeshed in Japanese popular culture in a way that is similar to the British (English) folk horror, whereas I don't think it's true for other countries, at least when it comes to mass entertainment. Just my impressions...

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 3:45pm

>3 pgmcc:

I was thinking about Ireland's recent political past. My point that England/Scotland/Wales has had an unusually placid recent history - on its home soil - sadly doesn't apply to The Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.

The point about different countries having their own folklore is one to take on board, of course. With the caveat that the distinct regions are as likely to sit within a country (e.g. Cornwall?) or straddle national borders (Alsace, for sure).

It's striking that the supernatural elements in the canonical three films don't actually come from the folk culture at all:
Witchfinder General - Kramer and Sprenger's The Hammer of Witches was the Witchfinder's handbook - so, two German Dominicans.
The Wicker Man - A synthetic pagan religion created by Lord Summerisle's father (or grandfather?).
The Blood on Satan's Claw- in the world of the film, this is literally an evil coming out of the soil but the mythology is all made up.

I'll have to get hold of those books. I hadn't heard of them before and only know Paul Cornell (by know, I mean I spoke to him for 10 minutes at Thought Bubble last year, and reminded him our paths had crossed briefly in 80s Doctor Who fandom (full disclosure - he didn't remember me at all but did remember my sister!)).

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 4:08pm

>4 WeeTurtle:

You've introduced a complication that I sidestepped yesterday. In a country that was relatively recently colonised/settled/saw large movements of people, would a horror based on the culture of earlier inhabitants be different from horror based on "the old ways" reasserting themselves in South Wales (Arthur Machen country) or any green bit on a Google map of the UK?

That feels like a separate thing to me, and has been exemplified, in a dumbed-down and way, by the "it was built on a Native American Burial Ground" trope. I acknowledge it's at least as insensitive, if not downright insulting, as the use of figures such as the Wendigo in horror fiction.

Glancing back at the canonical three (I'm going to stick to calling them that, it's easier), only The Wicker Man fits the theme of the hapless outsider travelling to "a bad place".

I am not arguing that the whole sub-genre should be defined by those three films...but they are the only sure touchstones. Everything else, older films, new films, films from different countries, anything in other media, still seem to be up for discussion.

Thank you for the film suggestion. I'll see if I can access it somewhere.

>5 WeeTurtle:

Indeed, and arguably related to The Wicker Man in theme. But it does again raise the question of whether the folk horror has to derive from actual cultural practices or can it be invented for the purposes of the story?

jul. 26, 2020, 4:57pm

>6 alaudacorax:

there's a sort of cosiness, almost a 'twee' strand to some aspects of folk culture: think morris dancing and well dressing and so forth, even carol-singing. It's comfortable; that's the point. So the film-maker or whoever can assume something anything but comfortable underlying that, the horror coming, at least partly, from the extreme and apparently anachronistic contrast. It's the same principle as the Miss Marple novel or Midsummer Murders telly series, but taken many degrees further

The "Unheimlich" aspect - weird, uncanny, but a direct translation would be "unhomely" - the familiar made strange. That would be the attraction for the scary '70s childhood Hauntology crowd (yes, I admit I did immediately think of the Morris dancers (under the control of The Master disguised as a Dennis Wheatley-style Satanist Vicar) in the 1971 Doctor Who story The Daemons).

On the other hand, my friend from Alsace says we don't have a folk culture any more, that the connection was severed - first as an effect of industrialisation and then deliberately i the early 19th centuries. We - the people of Berkshire, England so I can speak fro first-hand experience, don't have a regional cuisine, particular crops we are known for, or handicrafts. People don't dress in a special costume to get married - all of which you can say for places such as Barr, Obernai, etc.

What we have are rare isolated survivals like the Obby Oss in Padstow or reconstructions like folk music (with that hand-to-the-ear bleating delivery ...what part of the country does that come from, or is supposed to come from, anyway?)

So...the argument would then be, I think, that the folk culture is already strange to us because we are literally estranged from it. So we can make up stories about it, imagine ourselves as the outsider encountering "our own" culture.

Which does potentially leave a gap for notions of ethnographic-nationalism to creep in. I know a few weird/pagan/folk sites and zines I've looked at have had to essentially say "no fascists welcome here" because they've been attracted to folk (=Volk), native soil, and cultural purity.

>3 pgmcc:

Sorry, I missed out on replying to part of your post. Yes, and I think the Germanic and Scandinavian traditions you mentioned would be in the same category as the Alsace traditions I talked about - a living tradition and seen as normal by the people performing them.

jul. 26, 2020, 5:35pm

>11 LolaWalser:
>12 benbrainard8:

Just before moving to the UK my friend from Alsace had been living in Osaka. She really appreciated and loved the culture and living there and naturally we've chatted about it a lot. Her impression was that they were still in touch with their culture in a way that was closer to Alsace than to Berkshire - to be hyper-local about it again. Certainly when you hear that there are ceremonies held for the spirits of euthanised lab animals every year it sounds like it's still a living tradition.

jul. 26, 2020, 6:03pm

I'm probably writing this too soon because I'm a bit hazy on Witchfinder General---long, long time since I've seen it, and my memory is of finding it rather unpleasant (which is probably why I've never seen it since). However, I've just re-watched The Blood on Satan's Claw and I've seen The Wicker Man several times and know it quite well.

I have to admit I'm finding the folk horror concept getting more nebulous. To start with, I don't find much in common for these three films other than they're set in rural Britain. I'm struggling to see what unites them and marks them out as a different genre (or sub-genre or whatever). Is it simply that they're set in rural Britain?

It seems a pretty broad brush and, going by these, I could class a lot of Machen, Blackwood, E. F. Benson as folk-horror. I could even extend it to some of Lovecraft's rural New England-set stuff (I've often wondered if contemporary country people of the area found it offensive---I imagine HPL assumed they didn't read).

jul. 26, 2020, 6:09pm

>10 elenchus:
>11 LolaWalser:

What spurred to to begin this thread was the silly comments in that podcast about Britain's uniquely dark past, coupled with my friend's observations on my, and my fellow Briton's, estrangement from any traditional culture. That's why I was coming at the question of "what is folk horror?" from a narrow Britain-centric angle. initially at least.

I have actually read a book on folk horror that I'd heartily recommend for its insights, We Don't Go Back by Howard David Ingham. I hadn't exactly forgotten, so much as chose to ignore, his book when I was thinking through the question last night. (I should add that it's subtitled "a watcher's guide to folk horror" and is only concerned with film and television.)

Looking through it now, he does of course open it up beyond Britain's shores. He credits Mark Gatiss with selecting "the canonical three" films (and notes that they seem to have more in common with each other than with the other works that "attract the attention of the folk horror enthusiast").

He also quotes a working definition of folk horror from Adam Scovell: "folk horror has a sense of place, and the story is influenced heavily by its location; and this place, which is evocative in its own right, is isolated.; the isolation leads to a skewed moral compass, or unusual beliefs, and the combination of all three of these - isolation, landscape and weird morality - leads to a summoning, or a happening. This is a Folk Horror Chain, and it's the most useful metric of what is, frankly, not an easy genre to define."

By a strange coincidence Adam Scovell's last novel was set in the Alsatian capital of Strasbourg!

Ingham proposes adding a fourth film to the canonical three, the M. R. James adaptation Night of the Demon (US title Curse of the Demon). It's still a UK film (albeit with an American producer and star and an ex-pat French director in Jacques Tourneur) but from 10-15 years earlier. Given the upheavals between 1957 and 1968-73 it's clearly from a different time and sensibility.

He does include Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (and in a footnote is complementary about the recent Australian mini-series).

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 7:08pm

>18 alaudacorax:

Yes, I don't disagree. In fact there's a folk horror anthology on Kickstarter (it's fully funded so it will be published) and an E. F. Benson tale is included.

I could find the proposed contents and that would give us some actual folk horror stories - caveated of course that it's not the authors' own designation, and its applied long long after the stories were written.

Meanwhile, since I have Mr Ingham's book to hand I could list a few more works from there.

After the canonical three (four) there's a chapter of British television. This is all also squarely in the Hauntology camp:

Against the Crowd: Murrain (1975)
Beasts: Baby (1976)

Play for Today: Robin Redbreast (1970)

Play for Today: Penda's Fen (1974)

Play for Today: A Photograph (1977)

Play for Today: Red Shift (1978)

Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968)

Ghost Stories for Christmas (1971-1978)

Dead of Night: the Exorcism (1972)

The Stone Tape (1972)

Casting the Runes (1979)

North America is probably badly served for DVD copies of these programmes. All but one ("A Photograph") has been released on DVD in the UK ("Murrain" is an extra on the Beasts box set). "A Photograph" has been announced on a Play for today set scheduled for release from the British Film Institute later this year.

It's worth checking YouTube but bear in mind that none of these are out of copyright, so if it's there it shouldn't be and may disappear at any time.

Edited - corrected "ant time" to "any time". I don't know what "ant time" might be!

jul. 26, 2020, 6:46pm

>19 housefulofpaper: - ... "folk horror has a sense of place, and the story is influenced heavily by its location; and this place, which is evocative in its own right, is isolated.; the isolation leads to a skewed moral compass, or unusual beliefs, and the combination of all three of these - isolation, landscape and weird morality - leads to a summoning, or a happening. This is a Folk Horror Chain, and it's the most useful metric of what is, frankly, not an easy genre to define."

But was Scovell seeing that as typically British? That seems to me to be a pretty universal strand in horror cinema.

Whatever folk horror may or may not be, I don't see how Night of the Demon can come into it. It's always struck me as a pretty urban story and my instinct is to see urban and folk horror as incompatible.

jul. 26, 2020, 7:02pm

>20 housefulofpaper:

Okay, that list has given me a lot of food for thought. I'm even more confused, now. I think I'm going to have to get that damned book. Housefulofpaper strikes again!

jul. 26, 2020, 8:22pm

What about that Children of the Stones series, and Owl Service?

I remember we discussed a lot of these before.

I too would like Ingham's book although I've only glanced at Scovell's so far (story of my reading life...)

jul. 26, 2020, 9:06pm

>21 alaudacorax:

But was Scovell seeing that as typically British? In a word, no.

I think what's happened is (1) Piers Haggard hits on the term "folk horror" to describe The Blood on Satan's Claw. Mark Gatiss popularises the term about 10 years ago in his documentary about British horror films. People latch onto it, as elenchus noted it chimes with movements in underground/alternative culture - neofolk (I hadn't encountered the term apocalyptic folk until today), neopaganism, whatever was in the air that bought me to immersing myself in old horror films and Edwardian weird fiction.

And it caught people's fancy I guess, and they started looking around and finding points of similarity with things they liked, and that means those things are folk horror, too.

All the same, I think there's still some value in looking at the British version and asking if it's uniquely different from other types. If so, is it because - as I think Lola's suggesting - having an Empire at the end of the 19th century gave it cultural hegemony and it spread everywhere and either drowned out other voices are made them seem less real and/or less relevant.

I think the bricolage or cut-up movie Arcadia - is there a proper name for narrative films made up of bits of other films? - has more than a hint of those anxieties or estrangements, although the very form of the film means any message is delivered obliquely.

>23 LolaWalser:

Oh yes.

Skipping ahead to chapter 5, heading "Happy Day:Folk horror for children"

The Owl Service (1969)
Children of the Stones (1977)
The Moon Stallion (1978)
Watership Down (1979)
Moondial (1988)
Century Falls (1993)
Bagpuss (1974)

and Chapter 6, "When Heroes Visit"
Doctor Who's Folk Horror Adventures
Robin of Sherwood (1984-1986)

"Happy Day" is from Children of the Stones, it's the villagers' sinister habitual greeting (the equivalent of "be seeing you",the villagers' habitual sinister farewell in The Prisoner).

And now your thinking "Bagpuss"?...well, the essay is a very personal meditation about growing up in the world where Bagpuss debuted. The time and place where Bagpuss and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre could both be made and, wildly different as they are, the commonalities are there (they both arguably meet Scovall's definition and both are products of the '70s and couldn't have been made in that way at any other time.

jul. 26, 2020, 9:12pm

I was adding some heavy metal today--has anyone looked into the connections between "folk horror" and it? (Of course someone has...) Strikes me that that whole scene arose co-incidentally...

jul. 26, 2020, 9:38pm

>25 LolaWalser:

That's Mapledurham House. It's somewhere off to the left, away beyond the edge of this photo.
About ten miles ahead and to the right, in the Oxfordshire countryside, is the location for The Blood on Satan's Claw.
Less than 10 minutes' walk behind us is the site of David Mitchell's Slade House.

A triple spooky coincidence! Goodnight!

- Puts

Editat: jul. 26, 2020, 10:08pm

>24 housefulofpaper:

having an Empire at the end of the 19th century gave it cultural hegemony and it spread everywhere and either drowned out other voices are made them seem less real and/or less relevant.

I wasn't thinking quite along those lines but I think you've hit on something in the first part--that the popularity of "folk horror", après and avant la lettre, in British/English culture pretty much created a domestic industry in that field where foreign product could not compete--at any rate, wasn't "necessary". I'm not sure this means something stops being made or existing or being important elsewhere, though. Italy, for instance, has its "gialli" and "fumetti", which are emblematic as "national" genres, but other countries made slasher movies and wrote comic strips too.

As for relevance, I don't see much of British influence anywhere in the postwar culture of the Continent. American cultural imperialism is a real factor, IMO, so insofar Americans have taken from the Brits, one could perhaps claim some roundabout contact. But not, I think, in the sense that the movies and television discussed here would have been part of non-English language culture or experience.

Remember that Italy and Germany made their own Westerns (action stars "Bud Spencer" and "Terence Hill" were not, pseudonyms notwithstanding, Anglo), horror movies etc. The local industries were competing with Hollywood and American TV, not the Brits.

Was Doctor Who, for example, shown anywhere outside the English-speaking world in the 1960s-1980s? Conversely, there are many German or French etc. TV series that were being busily dubbed and distributed across the Continent, but that the Brits probably never heard of.

jul. 26, 2020, 9:48pm

jul. 26, 2020, 10:04pm

I need to correct what I said in >27 LolaWalser: about not seeing British/English influence anywhere postwar in Europe, was thinking too narrowly of film/TV--of course there is the music, even if people wouldn't always know whether they were listening to the Brits or Americans or etc.

jul. 28, 2020, 9:11pm

>27 LolaWalser:

My example might be specifically British. Remember in the documentary Silent Britain, how that movie magazine consistently dumped on the home-grown product in favour of Hollywood. Do Italians feel a bit shame-faced about their westerns? I bet they don't.

The English, I think can be demonstrated, feel culturally inferior and superior to America at one and the same time. I was thinking about trying to find examples in film or television, but just look on YouTube. There's whole industry of "reaction videos" - someone watches a music video or a television programme or a clip of a stand-up, and makes occasional comments (enough to avoid a copyright strike, with luck) and a summing up at the end. Saw one by accident and now they're recommended by the dozen, of course. But look at the ones where an American is reacting to English comedy, and look at the comments... they're all "we're the best, no one is funnier, more daring, more acute" but also "please acknowledge us, please validate us". Does a bit of me feel the same? Yes, like Professor Quarermass learning he's part Martian, I do feel that pull. America colonised my imagination at a young age. to be fair, Marvel Comics, the Apollo missions and Walt Disney is a pretty strong narcotic for a five year old.

As for relevance, I don't see much of British influence anywhere in the postwar culture of the Continent. No, there isn't. That's been brought home to me over the last three years. Some examples from my French/German friends:
Not knowing any British composers. Mentioned Britten and Peter Grimes. Cleared up a minor mystery for them, they had seem it advertised in London and assumed it was the English translation of Peer Gynt.
No, no one knows any contemporary British poets, no not even going back to the last century. Oh wait there is one everyone knows, toy must be able to guess - no, my brains are on strike. Auden, Four Weddings and a Funeral, "Stop all the clocks". Ah, right, I said,. In translation I suppose? - Yes and really really well done. In fact when I read the original I didn't think it was as good.

Was Doctor Who, for example, shown anywhere outside the English-speaking world in the 1960s-1980s? - Yes! some national pride can be clawed back :)

All those episodes where the videotape was wiped, but we still have them in some shape or form, retrieved from black and white telecine film versions sold to Commonwealth countries, mainly, And the Jon Pertwee episodes converted to NTSC standard for PBS in the States.

Also, sitcom formats. Very successful, even you could say culturally important, US shows, were adaptations of British sitcoms. But America didn't buy the original shows (examples off the top of my head: Steptoe and Son = Sandford and Son; Till Death Us Do Part = All in the Family; Please Sir!= Welcome Back Kotter. The last probably only culturally relevant for giving John Travolta his big break).

Conversely, there are many German or French etc. TV series that were being busily dubbed and distributed across the Continent, but that the Brits probably never heard of.

This is true. I feel sure that a big part is a prejudice against dubbing and post-synched dialogue. If you're used to the sound being recorded live, the loose synchronisation makes the film just seem less professional. And on the "arty" side, you're supposed to take it with subtitles - wholemeal and without sugar, as it were.

In the late '80s to the early-mid nineties, the commercial ITV networks were permitted to broadcast all night (I think they were restricted by the authorities to something stupid like 10 hours a day before that). There was some strange and occasionally wonderful stuff used to fill the schedules. If I had been able to function without sleep I believe I could have watched episodes of Derrick and The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Trickster. But I suppose the very fact I've remembered these names from thirty year old TV schedules means that they were an anomaly.

>29 LolaWalser:

That's an interesting point. The early British rock 'n' rollers were aiming to sound authentically American, a counterfeit really. I've read that when they achieved a unique distinctive sound it was an accident because they hadn't learned the "right" way to play "like an American". But the influence of British acts in the 60s to the early 80s (Beatles to Liveaid?) is too big not to allow them their due for creating a big part of our popular culture. That said, if so much of it is done by slipping into an American persona - singing in an American accent, lyrics often unselfconsciously referencing American culture - isn't that an example of America's cultural hegemony? (As an aside, I have to wonder if Americans notice that British singers usually sing in an American accent; and if they don't, is it because the voice sounds accentless, or does it sound a bit "off"?)

jul. 29, 2020, 2:24pm

All those episodes where the videotape was wiped, but we still have them in some shape or form, retrieved from black and white telecine film versions sold to Commonwealth countries, mainly, And the Jon Pertwee episodes converted to NTSC standard for PBS in the States.

Err, right, I know, but I was asking about outside the English-speaking world. :)

I'm surprised that British literature would be that obscure to Europeans although when it comes to individual encounters I suppose it's always possible that age, background, the type of education play a major role. (My niece's and nephew's generation seems to me to be criminally under-educated but don't mention this to their parents...)

However, I admit I was thinking mostly about film and television, which, as far as I know, were the medium most jealously guarded/contested pretty much everywhere.

Dubbing is an abomination, but I don't believe the Anglo resistance to reading subtitles is a mark of some inherent increased sensitivity to them compared to every other language group. I think this resistance is simply due to the lack of habit--and of course the habit is missing for several reasons, rampant cultural chauvinism, and foreign products having been/being kept out of the Anglo markets.

Present company excluded!!--I hope it's okay to share these impressions freely--but to my eyes the Brits (in particular, although it's occasionally visible in Americans too) all too often present a disconcerting mix of arrogance and provincial insularity. The arrogance is typically thinly masked by a tradition of insincerely self-deprecating umming and hawing, and the provincialism is actually defended as a shining virtue. The darker side of that coin, of course, is the tradition of anti-European xenophobia and racism. What could possibly those Continental members of inferior races/ethnicities/cultures produce to match the British/English thing etc.

It struck me already as a teen, avidly reading in multiple literatures, how set apart the Brits/English were in their vocal disparagement of Europeans, whereas I can't think of a single reverse example. On the contrary, anglophilia or at least a sympathy for things British/English was common in Continental authors. I have never, in a book by a European author, come across figures of British characters depicted with such hostility and sneering contempt as usually accompanied the European characters in British books.

Again, this is just a generalisation and therefore deeply unjust to many individuals; but it does, I think, denote something in culture that impinges on everyone's life. And would explain how, with that basis, there is little room for a truly respectful consideration of other cultures, let alone partaking in them.

jul. 29, 2020, 2:32pm

>30 housefulofpaper:

But the influence of British acts in the 60s to the early 80s (Beatles to Liveaid?) is too big not to allow them their due for creating a big part of our popular culture.

Considerably bigger than just the Beatles! (Who, as we all know, are bigger than Jesus. ;))

As I was adding the non-classical, non-jazz portion of my music it really struck me how large a part is taken by British performers, from the sixties rock'n'roll to later punk, metal, new wave and all sort of oddities like Coil, Psychic TV etc.

Forget Britten, when it comes to music, this is the field where you want to check your European friends.

jul. 29, 2020, 4:27pm

I've been lurking on this thread for a bit, but I haven't had anything to contribute until now, so I apologize if my comment feels abrupt. But I've both felt and actually been excluded from enough over the years due to ASD that I do feel the need to speak up on this, because it's exactly the sort of seemingly innocuous opinion that keeps some members of the disability community feeling excluded from spaces like this excellent group, and it's often, as I assume it is in this case, completely unintentional.

Dubbing is an abomination

>31 LolaWalser: I wouldn't say that dubbing is an abomination. It's an accommodation, the absence of which would render foreign programming inaccessible to entire segments of the population. Not everyone can read quickly enough for subtitles. I have two friends with dyslexia who have a very difficult time following subtitles in foreign programming without the aid of dubbed dialogue. One of those friends is watching a show that doesn't have a dub right now, and she often has to pause, rewind, and watch episodes multiple times to get everything. Which would be a bit much to ask of people when it comes to every single foreign film or show they want to watch. It's an access barrier.

And that's setting aside people with low or no vision, for whom a foreign show with no dub would of course be completely inaccessible.

I prefer subtitles, myself, since I find they usually feel more accurate - the subtitles for Israeli programming, at least, sound much more like how actual Israelis speak English, in my experience, than the dub, which sounds more like how Americans speak English - but find myself needing to use the English dub for most programs on both Netflix and Amazon because the captioning is so bad entire lines and exchanges are missing, or flash on and off the screen too quickly to read. I almost always default to using both, and accepting the stilted, lower quality voice-acting inherent in the dub as a necessary sacrifice for comprehensibility.

Often, the differences between the sub and the dub themselves add extra meaning and food for thought, as well, which is a bit of a bonus.

Anyway, I apologize for jumping down your throat somewhat, especially since this whole conversation is so interesting, and I don't want to upset any of you, but I felt that I had to say something.

jul. 29, 2020, 5:20pm

>33 Julie_in_the_Library:

Not at all, thanks for bringing up that point. It's good to be reminded of how much we can take for granted.

So, there's a bright side to dubbing after all. :)

jul. 29, 2020, 6:32pm

>31 LolaWalser:

Re. Doctor Who. The series was sold outside the English-speaking world. The Wikipedia article about missing episodes (and recovered episodes), link below, doesn't say whether or not the stories sold overseas were dubbed into the local languages or not. From the recovery perspective only the visuals matter because miraculously we have the audio for every story (the miracle being 3 or 4 people who recorded them off-air to reel-to-reel tape in the '60s, and then kept the recordings safe until they could be digitally cleaned up to something near their original quality).

There's a table about half-way down that lists all the countries that episodes were sold to in the '60s. It's not a definitive list of countries where the series was shown because on the one hand a note says some purchasers decided not to broadcast, while on the other countries who purchased stories that exist in the BBC archive aren't on the table (the article mentions elsewhere that Germany bought series 22 to 26 (that's the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy years) and they were dubbed into German.

I do know that the episode recovered from UAE was dubbed into Arabic, because it was included as an extra on the DVD.

I didn't see any evidence of British culture in French comic shops, but of course even the American super hero comics are quarantined off in a corner! Still, not even a lone Judge Dredd or Rupert Bear.

I didn't see very much British literature (in translation) in their bookshops. The one - very impressive - bookshop I visited in Germany had more including some surprisingly obscure titles - How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the F.A. Cup by J. L. Carr, for example.

I was surprised by your views on dubbing but only because I'd been led to believe it was standard on the continent, or in France and Germany in any event. Watching a dubbed film is easier than processing subtitles, unless the dub is awful, but it does take you further from the original work. Not just because the words are translated. Listening to dubs of Anglophone films (thanks YouTube) shows how the performance is pitched to the "foreign" audience (not just Luke Skywalker speaking French, but a French Luke Skywalker, for example).

>32 LolaWalser:

True, but it's '90s dance music that I don't know about!

jul. 29, 2020, 7:15pm

>35 housefulofpaper:

Oh no, I'm a sworn hater of dubbing (although I'll always remember from now on that some people depend on it), to me it absolutely kills the actor's performance and, well, ruins the whole thing really. But then, I grew up almost entirely without watching TV and that's where the practice is most widespread.

it's '90s dance music that I don't know about!

Bah, you're not missing anything, it's rubbish. :)

jul. 29, 2020, 7:46pm

>35 housefulofpaper: I actually did see one bit of British culture in a Paris comic shop back in 2013: a replica One Ring necklace. Though it was based on the film prop, and the films were American-made, so I'm not entirely sure that counts...

>36 LolaWalser: I absolutely agree that it ruins the performance. I don't think it has to, though. If they hired actual voice-actors who speak the language something is being dubbed into as a first language to do it instead of whoever is doing it now, it would almost certainly be better.

Editat: jul. 29, 2020, 9:22pm

Heh, I'm enjoying this thread quite a bit.

My wife, who is from Osaka, told me just last night that she'd watch the American television show "Bewitched", but that because of the Japanese dubbing (yes, Japanese over English), whenever the wife spoke to her husband it sounded like she was calling him "DARLING."

When the husband's name in the show was "DARRIN".

My wife says that for longest time after viewing that show, she assumed that all American wives called their husbands "DARLING".

So sometimes, voiceover for T.V. or movies can be problematic, though I certainly understand where it's sometimes needed, too.

I myself prefer subtitled movies/shows.

Sometimes, when watching a BBC show, I'll have to use subtitles, like when I recently watched the 2017 BBC show "Bodyguard", on Netflix

And when living in Japan, I'd watch a movie--- say a German movie that had Japanese subtitles---and suffering my poor Japanese language skills to try to understand the German, which I know nothing of linguistically...

A few of our favorite British shows & movies are the "baking ones" as we lovingly call them, and old Monty Python movies, like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) but again, subtitles are needed, she says "British" accents are so difficult for her...and she says Irish and Scottish accents are particularly difficult.

The world is a wonderful and complex place, isn't it?

jul. 29, 2020, 10:55pm

>36 LolaWalser: The quality of dubbing varies enormously from country to country. Spain is notorious for bad dubbing. Germany is amazingly good.

29 years ago (I remember precisely as my daughter was 6 years old and is now 35) we took the family to Germany for a holiday. The week before we left we saw an episode of "All Creatures Great and Small"* on one of the UK channels. During our first week in Germany we saw the same episode dubbed with German. It was impossible to say the actors did not speak German in the making of the episode. The dubbing was so good I found it hard to believe it had been dubbed.

In general I agree with you about dubbing being poor ans distracting but I was amazed at the quality of dubbing in Germany.

*The British TV adaptation of James Herriot's novels about a vet working in Yorkshire. Very popular programme.

Subtitles are the only way I have been able to enjoy French films. I am, however, wary of supporting the claim that sub-titles are great. While I have watched and really enjoyed some French films with subtitles, my French friend has told me I am missing half of what is said as the subtitles he has seen never cover 100% of the dialogue.

jul. 30, 2020, 11:13am

To me talking about the quality of dubbing is beside the point because the practice warps a work of art, period. Of course, there are loads of generic TV trash and bad movies, obscure actors etc. whose "authentic" expression no one would miss terribly, and I recognise that for many people following "the plot" is all it's about. But for anything involving a modicum of artistry, dubbing is a travesty whether done "well" or "badly". Outside the silent cinema, which specifically accommodated this lack, to take away an actor's sound is to kill that actor. At least, it's to never really know that actor, and for many works carried by vocal performance, it's to never know them.

I am, however, wary of supporting the claim that sub-titles are great.

But no one has made that claim here. Nothing short of direct reception can be "great". That said, where I can't follow the language on my own I'll always take subs over dubbing because the original voices express far more than just "words".

(To be clear, these considerations have nothing to do with the question of the special utility of dubbing for some people--of course the more aid can be given, the better. It's noticeable there are increasingly, on DVDs, menus offering audio and visual tracks with aids such as closed captions, descriptions etc. and this is great.)

I hope we can leave off this tangent now and get back to topic? :)

jul. 30, 2020, 1:50pm

>38 benbrainard8: That is a great story about your wife. It happened me when I was speaking to a person from another country and I thought he said one word and it was another. We finally realized what he was saying. I fully understand.

ag. 2, 2020, 2:11am

Hard to remember who I was going to quote or respond to when the thread jumps in size. I've got a couple thoughts on a couple things though.

On Location: I will definitely agree that in folk anything, location matters, and I will also add that the reader/viewers location matters as well. I'm leery of calling any region's folklore unique when compared to any other, unless we're talking the old snowflake comparison. Perhaps this comes from my being a secondary population in North America. North American folklore (and stuff that's called it) revolves around the various First Nations' peoples, if you want to relate it to the land. My family arrived here at various points in history, from the American Revolution to WW2, so it doesn't feel like "my folk" (for lack of a better phrase, I think), but the same can be said of Britain as well. I've got a lot of British and Irish heritage, plus Danish. I know some stories, but they aren't my stories either, really. I think back to reading The Dark is Rising and it's folkloric approach to fantasy, and the figure of Herne the Hunter and his relation to a certain tree around Buckingham Palace grounds, etc.? Something like that? So yes, there's a separation for me because while the history is there, I can't exactly go find that same tree and look at it, or touch it, or become familiar with it in any way but reading or hearing about it.

On the the topic of outsider issues like in The Wickerman (tried to watch it some years ago but found it very boring), and The Lottery makes me think that in today's world, a horror element within folk might be that it's still present. How often are horror stories or themes based around old or ancient things that we forgot about? We're busy learning with out science that we forgot about the fact that we're still standing on the earth, even if there's metal or wood between us and it? There's also the detail that cultural habits and history are likely still influencing us, even if we have a logical explanation for the way we do things. For example, the idea (not sure if it's true) that bowing as a measure of respect came from knighting.

On subbing v. dubbing: Once upon a time my friends and I watched anime a whole lot, and the room was always divided on which one was better. Arguments for subtitles included cultural integrity, script integrity, getting the right mood, or liking the voices better. Arguments for dubbing included not having to read a film, not being able to read a film, feeling more immersed, or liking the voices better. Ultimately, any cartoon from Japan being rare at the time, we took what we could get, even if it meant watching half a series in subtitles, and the other half dubbed.

A detail I learned from those days: Once I happened to pick up a dvd of a Japanese movie I had seen several times, but for some reason it was on two DvDs. I didn't understand this when I had it on 1, and then I realized there was a difference in play times. The subtitled Japanese version was longer by about 5-8 minutes. This was explained in the dubbing section of the making of Disney's "Spirited Away" release. Apparently spoken English doesn't sync with Japanese mouth movements very well, often creating a need for extra words or syllables to be added in so the speaking looks genuine.

And I'm rambling again.

ag. 2, 2020, 3:34am

>42 WeeTurtle:

That's very interesting what you say about dubbing Japanese films. As it happens, 'Spirited Away' is one of my all-time favourite films, but (on my DVD, at least) the dubbed and subtitled versions are noticeably different in tone in places. Quite clearly at least one version must be in some ways other than the Japanese-language original. 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', another all-time favourite, was even worse: there was a difference in tone between dubbed and subtitled, but that was on my old VHS copies---when I watched on DVD I was surprised to meet a different set of subtitles again (or do I mean different dubbing? It's been a couple of years). All these differences make me painfully aware that I can never be sure I'm getting the 'authentic experience', whichever I watch. I have to determine to shut off the mental grumbles and just enjoy what's in front of me at the moment.

... and I have to admit, I do like a good ramble ...

ag. 2, 2020, 6:37am

On the question of a specifically English folk horror: might I say that it's based in a fear that, having 'lost' or 'abandoned' their folk culture, it may resent the fact and take revenge on them? I'm only half joking ...

>6 alaudacorax:
I'm jettisoning that---my subconscious seems to have 90% plucked those ideas out of the aether. I've made a start on Ingham's We Don't Go Back (which is looking like I'm going to thoroughly enjoy it) and I'm going to take the Adam Scovell working definition from >19 housefulofpaper: as a guide, starting point, or whatever.

Editat: ag. 2, 2020, 6:45pm

>42 WeeTurtle:

I wasn't aware of Herne the Hunter until Richard Carpenter added him to the Robin Hood legend in the mid-80s TV series Robin of Sherwood. The locale for the actual legend is Windsor forest, near Windsor Castle (and that isn't self-evident..for instance, Leeds Castle is in Kent). The earliest written reference to him is in The Merry Wives of rather than being a folk memory of Cernunnos or something like that, Shakespeare could have made him up (although, Shakespeare nearly always reworked material already around, didn't he?).

ag. 2, 2020, 9:09pm

>45 housefulofpaper: I don't know really. I only know he's a figure from folklore or myth that I see around a fair amount (Hircine in the Elder Scrolls game series, for example) and he may or may not have to do with the "Wild Hunt," another idea I see around that's often linked with fey and faeries, though that's another pot of stew, so to speak. In The Dark is Rising, a mask that features a mix of several animals (I remember mostly antlers and wolf eyes, or bird eyes in a wolf face) is shown that later becomes Herne's (not sure if that's the name used in that book. There are several) actual head.

King Arthur is involved in the book as well, though not necessarily by that name, either. It's been a while, but I recall that these concepts in the book were definitely not in neat little mythic packages. I think that another detail of Folklore is that it's hardly ever uniform in interpretation. Its very easy to alter or manipulate for current purposes of entertainment.

I forgot a detail on the dubbing thing but it was generally implied I think, that it takes longer in Japanese to say something than it does in English to say (more or less) the same thing. On the flip side, Japanese characters say far more in terms of character and syllable count than English letters do, which makes Haiku writing awkward, or so I've read.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that different subtitles exist as it depends on who's doing them. (An example is My Neighbour Totoro that has two, one by Disney, and one by 20th Century Fox that was picked up from an airline based out of Singapore, I think. It's complicated.) I purchased the DVD of the Akira film when it was re-released and found that the dubbing was very different from the VHS I watched that was created sometime in the 80s. It was marketed as having greater integrity to the original script. I remember (along with my sister) being annoyed with the new dubbing.

I've heard on several occasions that English is very imprecise as a language and that there are many words in other languages that just don't translate well.

ag. 3, 2020, 9:42am

>21 alaudacorax: - Whatever folk horror may or may not be, I don't see how Night of the Demon can come into it. It's always struck me as a pretty urban story and my instinct is to see urban and folk horror as incompatible.

Oops! I got that decidedly wrong. I'd failed to remember the cult that Karswell belonged to and all the connected stuff.

I'm not being very successful with my posts in this thread. Apologies ...

ag. 3, 2020, 5:40pm

>47 alaudacorax:

In your defence, I think, as far as I can remember, the original story is much more urban. It takes place in London's streets, in a it a tram or trolleybus, or a horse-drawn omnibus, in the Reading Room of the British Library, and in a train carriage.

The film opens with a moody shot of Stonehenge, which is probably enough by itself to give it Folk Horror status!

ag. 3, 2020, 6:02pm

>46 WeeTurtle:

I haven't read The Dark is Rising series but I'm aware of it and that an awful lot of that kind of fantasy was around in the 60s/70s and aimed at "older" children ("Young Adult" as a marketing concept not having been invented back then). I wonder if nostalgia among Generation X'ers is another piece in the Folk Horror puzzle, and why it overlaps with the "Scary '70s" Hauntology stuff?

I don't know about the deficiencies of the English language in the matter of translation. I'd picked up the impression that being "the Bastard tongue" with its Norman French vocabulary for the ruling classes stuck on a Germanic base (and a Germanic vocabulary for the ruled) at least provided for nuance in designating class or politesse in speech. But then we've lost basic things like "thou" as an informal alternative to "you" as a form of address (and doesn't that seem odd when bing addressed as "hey, you" will probably result in a fight!).

Editat: ag. 4, 2020, 10:22pm

I've ordered the '3-Disc 40th Anniversary Edition' of The Wicker Man. Now, I may be talking without the knowledge to make such a judgement here, but ...

I read on Wikipedia that Roger Corman was sent a 99-minute version (which means he has seen a longer version than any of us will ever see) '... to make a judgment of how to market the film in the US ...' and he recommended 13 minutes be cut. I am now the possessor of a brand-new prejudice against Roger Corman. Come to think of it, that's not a judgment; it's a prejudice and proud of it.

ag. 4, 2020, 10:26pm

>50 alaudacorax:

Prejudice be damned! That was a directorial rather than marketing recommendation---Corman was being a plonker.

ag. 4, 2020, 10:41pm

And in the meantime, I'm still steeling myself up to rewatch Witchfinder General. Having just read Ingham's account of it in We Don't Go Back has sharpened my memory of it, which hasn't helped. First time round I really disliked it and found it more akin to a slasher than what I think of as genuine horror.

ag. 15, 2020, 5:16am

>52 alaudacorax:

I've just been on Etsy looking for wooden curio boxes. I won't post a link, in case I should be flagged for spamming, but an online search should quickly throw up ... um ... 'Mathew Hopkins Witch Finder relief carved wooden box'? In case anyone's wondering, I am not buying it.

ag. 15, 2020, 7:53am

>54 housefulofpaper:

It doesn't even work as a design for a box's a wrong-way-round woodblock.

ag. 15, 2020, 9:32am

>54 housefulofpaper:

I suppose you could ink the lid for printing sheets to read in a mirror---does that sound vaguely witchy? Perhaps not ...

ag. 15, 2020, 10:01am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

ag. 15, 2020, 2:29pm

>55 alaudacorax:

isn't there a whole school of magical practice where people invent their own ceremonies (if that's the right word).

You've invented the ceremony, you have to buy the box now!

ag. 16, 2020, 6:40am

>57 housefulofpaper:

Ugh! Not that one, for definite.

There are a surprising number of Gothic-themed jewel boxes on Etsy, though. I saw one with a bat flying against a background of Whitby Abbey. There are any number of occult-themed ones---bats, pentacles, goat's heads, etc.

It was only a passing impulse, anyway, and I'm sticking with my old biscuit tins and cardboard boxes for the moment.

ag. 16, 2020, 6:50am

>58 alaudacorax:

And 'altar boxes'. I saw one where the circle of the pentacle was clearly meant to suggest blood that had run a bit.

I often think that youngsters today have it really hard compared to my day---but they obviously have some 'opportunities' that weren't available to me ...

ag. 17, 2020, 12:09am

"isn't there a whole school of magical practice where people invent their own ceremonies"
I read "invert their own ceremonies" a wrong way round wood block might be necessary for that

ag. 17, 2020, 4:14am

>60 Diabolical_DrZ:

Yep---I suppose it would go with the upside down cross and the Lord's Prayer recited backwards ...

Editat: ag. 18, 2020, 9:45am

A puzzlement took hold of me before breakfast this morning:

Reading Ingham's We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror over my wake-up mug of tea: when I got into the bathroom (to use an American euphemism) I was at the chapter on Doctor Who?---demons and witchcraft and strange goings-on in the English countryside---when I got completely derailed.

I heard something running up and down outside. It ran back and fore perhaps half-a-dozen times.

Now, the path under the window is on my property, but when it turns round the corner of the house it's shared with my neighbours and I wasn't really sure which bit the footsteps were coming from, but ...
Instant thought:

My neighbours have a little kid visiting and she's running up and down out there.

Then my brain kicked-in:

It's much too light a footfall for even the tiniest toddler, and much too sure-footed---this thing is running up and down at upwards of 300 beats per minute.
It's a small animal, then?
Nope, I can tell by the rhythm it's running on two feet.
A bird then?
Nope, the only birds I can think of are little birds---ringed plovers or sanderlings on the tideline, or the wagtails you see running around car parks---and this is clearly something a lot bigger---their footfall is a lot faster and they're so light I doubt I'd have heard one of them.

So, I got that far and hit a brick wall. I was completely baffled.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
Now, I am trying not to think of pixies and elves. Honest.

ag. 18, 2020, 7:20pm

>25 LolaWalser:

Heavy Metal and Folk Horror.

Maybe both share in the post 1967 disillusionment with Flower Power and the promise of the '60s generally. Both took advantage of specific conditions in the UK - the loosening of film censorship permitted Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan's Claw to be made; technological improvements and just greater availability of amps, effects pedals etc. made the sound of Heavy Metal possible.

And something else, again specific to the UK (I got this from Bob Stanley's book Yeah Yeah Yeah - when Radio One started in 1967 and the legislation stopped the pirate stations in the North Sea, pop music pretty much immediately lost its rebel allure. There had been acts playing with horror imagery - Screaming Lord Sutch for one - and lots of blues bands that I presume came out of the jazz and folk scenes. But the blues got heavier and the imagery uglier and more confrontational. For all that, Black Sabbath are credited as the origin of Heavy Metal. Without wanting to take anything away from the band as individual creators I have seen the suggestion that the repetitive industrial noise of the factories they were working in (and trying to get away from) fed into the sound they made. A 19th century technology still current and ever-present in the 1960s, and so unromantic, maybe it evokes the English countryside by being its very opposite?

ag. 19, 2020, 5:37am

>63 housefulofpaper:

That's a fascinating 'thread of this thread', if that makes sense? It's not something I've ever given any thought to, but reading your last paragraph I realised it would have been around '67, perhaps '68 that I was losing my interest in pop music in the hit parade/latest single sense.

There was a growing sense then (I mean among my generation) that it was all fake and exploitative, hence the growth of 'progressive' and 'underground' music. Buying a single became almost a mark of shame, and we explored other music via LPs, word of mouth, the sainted John Peel, whose show was practically the only decent window on this stuff and who uniquely managed to 'keep his cred' (non-Brits, there's a Wikipedia page---he became a legend cum national treasure), and the odd jazz programme.

At the same time, as I remember it, horror was my preferred genre at the cinema if I had one, but I really can't remember my circle's attitude towards it---I think, in those days, we tended to share music with male friends and go to the cinema with girlfriends (there's probably an awful lot on social history right there). Now you have me wondering what connections there might have been between the two. Perhaps it just came down to both being, in one of today's buzzwords, 'edgy'.

Memory fades, but I have a sense there was a lot of music around that might have shared some sorts of ambience with what we didn't then know as folk horror; whether I think of folk music like Anne Briggs or Maddy Prior (The Wicker Man music is hovering in the background here) or some of the more way out bands that became 'prog rock'. Long before Stevie Nicks' Rhiannon there were groups writing on folklore-inspired themes, or wicca-inspired or horror-inspired, but I'm damned if I can remember any of that stuff now. It's all just vague memories, but it was definitely there.

Looking at the Wikipedia pages for progressive and underground, there seems to be both a lot left out and a certain amount of rewriting history---so frustrating what I can't remember---I wish I'd had the sense to keep some proper journals when I was young ...

ag. 19, 2020, 6:29am

Going back to We Don't Go Back, it's not putting it too strongly to say that I'm astonished to read that Picnic at Hanging Rock is NOT based on a true story. I saw it not long after its first release, didn't particularly like it and I'm sure believing it was a true story was a main reason why I stuck it out to the end. I feel cheated ...

ag. 20, 2020, 6:58pm

>64 alaudacorax:

I have a sense there was a lot of music around that might have shared some sorts of ambience with what we didn't then know as folk horror

You're right, but I don't know how distinct those songs would have seemed at the time. Not as a genre but as things having a similar spirit and belonging together, somehow.

I was a baby in the late '60s. I do have a sense of this kind of material being around into the '70s but not being able to place it as chart material or old music that could be placed in a particular time and place, like 50's Rock 'n' Roll or 20's Jazz. It unsettled me for that reason (although i have to confess, so did Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon", again I couldn't contextualise it).

I think I ended up having an unfairly disparaging opinion of "folk horror" music as music that school teachers like, or music that television producers think is cool. I guess the theme music to the fly-on-the-wall documentary series The Family would be exhibit A:

The reappraisal and more or less conscious alignment of these works with folk horror seems to have come about in the first decade of tis century (roughly contemporary with modern folk horror films such as Kill List, which may be significant). Looking at my CD collection I have Strange Folk (2006) - a mix of contemporary acts (Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man, Joanna Newson) and stuff going back to the '60s (Barry Dransfield's "The Werewolf", The Incredible String Band); Two collections in the same series, "Gather in the Mushrooms: The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974" and "Early Morning Hush: Notes from the UK Folk Underground 1969-1976" (complied 2004 and 2006) and "Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music" (2012) - that one is a tie-in to the book of the same name Electric Eden by Rob Young.

Covers and track listings for all of then can be found on Discogs.

ag. 20, 2020, 7:13pm

Interesting posts. Made me think about some folk music with a horror tinge to it, not just the ballads about ghosts and murders but even such things as Barbara Allen (to me at least on first hearing it it sounded quite terrifying).

ag. 23, 2020, 8:12am

>1 housefulofpaper:, >44 alaudacorax:, and so on ...

Finished We Don't Go Back earlier.

It was entertaining and I enjoyed it. Leaving aside the folk horror question, he had some interesting things to say about films and film-making in general. He's given me a surprising number of want-to-see films that I'd never previously heard of; at the same time, there are a number I'm probably never going to watch---the poor chap seems to have sat through a surprising number of crap films---I don't think I have his resolve or motivation.

I know a 'genre' is only a way of looking at things, so debating if one exists is a bit of a pointless exercise. I'm still finding the concept of folk horror a bit nebulous, though.

ag. 23, 2020, 6:17pm

Arghh! Just lost a long post because I left the page instead of opening a new tab. I am an IDIOT.

>68 alaudacorax:
I was going to say that Folk Horror, for me, is film/TV because the rural horror/the old ways in the countryside stuff has been a staple of written fiction long? At least 120-130 years. Maybe it has a distinctive tinge post Darwin and post The Golden Bough - that late Victorian insecurity about (English)man's place in the cosmos? But I go alone with the canonical 3 films as the locus of Folk Horror and the look and style and sound (and available actors) in the late '60/early '70s is as big a part of the Folk Horror world as the subject matter.

Where does that leave modern film like Kill List? Well I think Ben Wheatley references (subtly) the older films. Maybe other films unconsciously echo the state of the British film industy of 50 years ago by having similarly low budgets :) I haven't worked this through as a rigorously academic exercise; "I'll know it when I see it".

>67 LolaWalser:
Alfred Deller. It's like a ghost is singing it.

ag. 24, 2020, 5:54am

It's may be worth trying Ctrl + z when you do things like that.

ag. 24, 2020, 6:52am

>69 housefulofpaper:
I got caught so many times with that I started to prepare any potentially long posts in Word and copying & pasting them into LT.

It is really frustrating when it happens and you realise you've done it a mere nanosecond after you have hit the button.

ag. 24, 2020, 10:31am

>69 housefulofpaper:

Thanks for the link--ghostly indeed. I have quite a few recordings with Deller but I've never heard that rendition of Barbara Allen. And such--it's taken at a surprisingly fast tempo.

It's that "young man, young man, I think you're dying" that I find the chilliest...

ag. 24, 2020, 12:04pm

70> What does Ctrl + Z do? New to me. Thanks in advance.

Editat: ag. 25, 2020, 7:31am

>73 mnleona:

Sometimes it recovers a lost page.

... and know now I've written that, I can't engineer a situation in which it works. I know I've used it in the past. Perhaps it was in a different browser or OS. Best forget I ever wrote it ...

Hang on, found a webpage about it

ag. 25, 2020, 9:15am

It would be Cmd + Z for me on my MacBook apparently but a little experimentation yesterday evening didn't seem to result in anything at all.

I find if I try to compose something in Word and then paste it here I get even more tied up in knots, trying to find evidence for a half-baked notion that's just come into my head, going down rabbit holes of other people's posts and blogs and twitter feeds, and the result is not just that I don't write anything but I feel everyone in the world rights better, quicker, more fluidly and cogently than I do.

So I just put my head down and do the best I can here, and inflict iron you all, typos and unclosed brackets and all. Sorry about that.

Thinking back to the cozy aspects of Folk Horror, and its connections to the pastoral end of psychedelia, there's this radio documentary that I remembered when the conversation in The Weird Tradition turned briefly to East Sussex (Worthing specifically, which I guess is not itself an especially esoteric location!):

It may not be a coincidence that the small press which championed Robert Aickman and especially Arthur Machen from the 1990s onwards, and is a mainstay of modern Weird fiction publishing - Tartarus Press - started out in that part of the world (they're now based in Yorkshire). They even published a couple of local history books that are omitted from the official bibliography on their website. I ordered a second-hand copy of Unknown Lewes because I was intrigued to find the title even existed, from this publisher. In fact it is a rather dry, rather typical example of local history but the book is as attractive "retro" as the more usual weird fiction titles (and actually scores over the more recent ones in that the press had access to a greater range of interesting papers in the '90s). And of course the town of Lewes is one that has kept up its own unique celebrations:

set. 24, 2020, 9:33am

Hi all,

I just found out about an online conference this weekend on the rural gothic and horror. A lot of the topics on the schedule look like they'd be of interest to all of you, from what I've seen on this and other threads. A lot of the topics touched on in this conversation, especially, show up on the schedule. The only link I have is the one where you buy the tickets, so that's what I've put in this post, but I have no stake in the conference, financial or otherwise, and do not intend for this to be taken as spam. I just thought some of you might be interested. If this is inappropriate, please let me know.

The times are all UK. If you're in the UK time zone, the Sunday events are obviously a conflict with Erev Yom Kippur, for anyone else Jewish, but if you're in the US the time difference makes most of the Sunday lectures pretty doable, especially if you're not doing all of the cooking. Or are better at planning than I am. :) I'm hoping to get to most of the Sunday stuff, though the Borley Rectory one is pushing it, especially if I procrastinate enough (my best skill!) and sadly the last topic I already know I can't make. And unless you're Shomer Shabbas, (I'm not) you can still do the Saturday lectures regardless.

Here's the link, and I hope at least some of you find it useful:

set. 24, 2020, 10:49am


Unfortunately I will be travelling and won’t be able to “attend”. A shame because it looks fascinating. I recognise some of the names involved.

set. 24, 2020, 10:55am

>76 Julie_in_the_Library:
Very interesting. Thank you for posting.

Editat: set. 26, 2020, 8:31am

>76 Julie_in_the_Library:, >77 housefulsfilmtv:

Not sure I quite understand. Is it that if I don't catch the lectures live I will not be able to catch up later?

Edite to add: I'm interested but I really won't have time over today and tomorrow.

set. 26, 2020, 11:09am

>79 alaudacorax:, It's a live conference, on zoom. According to what I read, if you miss a session and want a recording, you'll need to contact the individual speaker, as recordings are not being provided automatically with the tickets. It's like a regular con, where you attend, but online because of Covid. People are chatting in the chat log and you can ask questions at the end of sessions. I'm going to ask for recordings of the sessions I'm going to miss because of Yom Kippur. I doubt it'll be a problem, but I'd email and ask before spending the money on tickets.

set. 26, 2020, 11:09am

>79 alaudacorax: The next session starts at 11:30 EST, or 4:30 pm UK, by the way. So far, only one session, the one on Sir Walter Scott, has already happened.

oct. 1, 2020, 4:24am

If it's not already listed here, here's a thing I just found:

It gives a brief intro to folk horror and covers some movies like the ones mentioned above, "Wickerman," "Witchfinder General" and "Blood on Satan's Claw." (I only have any familiarity of the first one, and the remake's bee memes.) Here's a couple paragraphs from the article:

"Even with a label, what constitutes folk horror is somewhat subjective. "This is surprisingly tricky, but essentially it's a subgenre of horror media that often deals with landscape, belief, folklore, superstition, and the supernatural in various mixes," said Adam Scovell, filmmaker and author of Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange. It usually portrays clashes of belief systems, but blurs the line between which order is the moral superior: cult or so-called mainstream.

Among fans, the appeal is the what ifs from an inherited past. The nuances of folk horror force us to look in the mirror. The evil is tangible, and usually human. We're rubbernecked with morbid curiosity in the same way we are paradoxically drawn to the scene of a car crash or celebrity scandal. There's death and sex and manipulation and violence. Folk horror tests our moral compass. Do we look or run away?"

It's a take that I think fits. Of course, the article is focused on British film but I imagine the ideas are everywhere, and some American takes are mentioned in movies like "Children of the Corn" and "The Blair Witch Project." It reminds me of films like "Black Death" (oh dear. Sean Bean's dead again.)

"On a lighter note, screenwriter and director, George Moore, attributes the current folk horror movement to a lack of "myth" in modern culture. "Folk horror reconnects us to a sense of universality and archetype, a sense of something eternal in the landscape and in our psyche that not much art connects with anymore," he told me. "The idea that there's more out there that we see day-to-day also helps comfort those with itchy feet in a world where all the corners of the maps are filled in."

oct. 1, 2020, 8:37am

>82 WeeTurtle:

I really like that last, George Moore paragraph you quoted there. I mentally made a loud 'Yes!'

oct. 1, 2020, 12:22pm

>82 WeeTurtle: One of these days, Sean Bean is going to make it to the end of a spec fic movie or TV show, and we'll all collapse in shock. xD

the evil is tangible, and usually human There's something to be said about the human (and usually innocuous-seeming at first) evil in folk horror and how it might interact with or relate to the concept of the banality of evil, I think. The book that first coined the phrase came out in '63, not long before the folk horror boom of the '70s, and the it's not a new idea that the Holocaust got a lot of people thinking about the sort of evil ordinary people might be capable of.

Gorge Moore, attributes the current folk horror movement to a lack of "myth" in modern culture Coming from a culture that still has plenty of "myth" in it in 2020, this strikes me as off-base. It's certainly not applicable to me. I guess he must mean Christian and culturally Christian atheist culture specifically. That would make more sense, anyway, given who's making the movies (and making up most of the target audience populations, as well). I'd have put the word "majority" in front of "modern culture," but I've got a thing about blanket statements that forget or don't acknowledge the existence of non-Christian minorities. It's a pet peeve of mine.

One thing that really interests me about folk horror is the viewpoint characters. Specifically, their position as members of the mainstream. With the exception of things like Jordan Peele's movies, which it seems generally accepted are deliberately making certain points by flipping narratives and deconstructing tropes, every example of folk horror I've seen discussed has featured members of the setting's majority culture as the viewpoint character entering the isolated setting and experiencing the "happening."

It's never, as far as I can tell, - and I've only just started learning about all of this and haven't actually seen much of anything, so please correct me if I'm wrong, since I'm mostly going off of the discussions in this group and the panels from last weekend's conference, plus some cultural osmosis - a non-white and/or non-Christian person or family that stops for gas in the secretly pagan village, or a Jewish couple who move into the creepy house that screws up the wife's pregnancy, or an immigrant who's the new vet in town who doesn't believe in witches, or what have you.

Despite the existence in England of Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, black, Indian, Arab, Asian, and any number of other types of people that either aren't white, aren't Christian/culturally Christian atheists, or both, the protagonists of these movies all seem to be white Christians or culturally Christian atheists.

It's interesting because that means the viewpoint characters are never people who have, before entering the Weird Village or wherever, been in the position of Outsider before. They've been Insiders their whole lives. Being an Outsider, especially an Outnumbered Outsider surrounded and isolated from anyone else like them, is a completely new and frightening experience for these characters. As opposed to, you know, everyday life, or at least a common experience/feeling. (Still a frightening one, though, a lot of the time, admittedly).

Obviously, much more learned and informed people than me have probably done work on this and come up with much more learned and informed things. But for my part, newbie that I am, I kind of wonder what all of this says about some of the fears that folk horror deals with.

Whether there's anything to the idea that one of the fears being discussed or worked with in these movies is the fear of the majority of finding themselves in a place where they are, and where they are treated like, a minority. And whether that fear comes from an undiscussed and maybe even unacknowledged recognition of the horror in how they (or the majorities of which they are a member) have treated minorities for millennia.

And about the fear that those cultures they've (or their ancestors) wholesale slaughtered or converted and assimilated out of existence might have had some knowledge or tradition that they're going to need someday after all, and now it's too late to get it back because of their own (their own ancestor's) actions.

Sorry for rambling; I just have a lot of thoughts, and not-particularly-well-managed ADHD. : )

oct. 1, 2020, 2:29pm

>84 Julie_in_the_Library:

You've raised a lot of interesting points and I don't think I've seen them discussed much, if it all.

Wee Turtle's post brought me back to the position I was trying to articulate right at the start of this thread, which was focused on the British Isles and whether the horror in Folk Horror stems from an especially sharp alienation from a common Folk culture (due to a combination of the Industrial Revolution and the Class system) that - I have been told - wasn't the case in Continental Europe. Or Japan.

This argument pretty much requires the protagonist (or victim) of a Folk Horror story to be a native, an aboriginal inhabitant of the land, "White British" in Britain, for example. That way the narrative shows him or her confronting a lost or denied aspect of themselves, rather than the narrative being the outsider finding themselves in a Bad Place.

If that distinction was accepted it would argue for separating Folk Horror from the majority of Rural Horror and (maybe) all similar-seeming narratives set in lands colonised by Europeans. Folklore and stories about specific locales can grow us pretty quickly I would imagine, but things would surely be different if other people had been there first?

I'm thinking of the colonisation of the Americas and Australia, Africa, etc. by White Christians.

The transatlantic slave trade brought people to the Americas and Caribbean and their experiences, and their descendants, are different again - and different in the different countries and States or territories within countries: Brazil different from Texas different from Belize different from Trinidad.

There has been large-scale immigration into the States from the late 19th Century onwards, East European Jews maybe having the biggest cultural impact (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby - born Stanley Leiber and Jacob Kurtzberg - were bigger formative influences on me, an English child in the 1970s - than Church or school).

They brought their own beliefs with them, and often they underwent a synthesis (I'm thinking now of the syncretic Afro-Brazilian religions. But ifor another example, if I had read more Isaac Bashevis Singer would I have examples of Jewish folklore transplanted to the US).

But what I am aware of is something like a Weird Tales author tackling Voodoo - then the African Americans are being made the Other - it's not the same thing at all.

Turning back the the UK and taking myself as a typical "White Briton", of course I am not an aboriginal inhabitant. I'm probably Anglo-Norman. I might have some African inheritance from 18th century agricultural workers in Oxfordshire (not slaves, but they wouldn't have been wealthy enough to have a great deal of freedom). So we all have a mixed inheritance. And then, consider: the Normans, those Frenchified Vikings, believed things the Anglo Saxons didn't. The Anglo-Saxons believed in things the Romano-Celts didn't. So the "Old" beliefs change over time. I read recently that the Anglo-Saxons believed in something like vampires (Night-Shadows) but not ghosts. The Romano-Celts believed in ghosts and were big on honouring their ancestors. (oh dear. Is my thesis about to collapse under my feet? Is the Folk Horror not our hidden side but the previous occupants' beliefs? Like ghosts in your house?).

Talking of Othering, of course there is a strain of Imperial Anxiety - things we've done "over there" having repercussions either in the colonised lands or "here at home" - in literature at the height of Empire. The Moonstone and The Sign of Four fictionalise stolen Indian treasure bringing revenge to England. Rudyard Kipling wrote stories of supernatural events in India that the Administrators of the Raj both cannot afford to accept but have to cope with. This is once again not anything like what you were asking after - folk horror with non-White British protagonists - but they weren't being ignored; and perhaps an India-set Kipling story could be rewritten with the Indians as the protagonists such that it would fit my (I repeat, tentative) definition of a Folk Horror.

oct. 1, 2020, 4:27pm

>82 WeeTurtle:

the article is focused on British film but I imagine the ideas are everywhere, and some American takes are mentioned in movies like "Children of the Corn" and "The Blair Witch Project."

And The Texas Chainsaw Massacre... Horror doesn't get folkier than that... :)

>83 alaudacorax:


>84 Julie_in_the_Library:

Not my field, but I get the impression that the idea of the scary monster as the representation of the anxieties about the Other, the cultural, social, political, ethnic, racial etc. outcast, miscast/misbegotten and, significantly, "subaltern" (not just someone who is different to us but inferior and subject to us) is, hmm, everywhere? Don't know if it would qualify as a "widespread theory" or "discovery" or may be/is both.

I kind of wonder what all of this says about some of the fears that folk horror deals with.

Especially given its heyday in the 1960s/1970s. >85 housefulofpaper: Andrew, correct me if I'm wrong, but you prefer to think of it as a uniquely British (or, er, English? sorry, keep forgetting) genre, yes?

So, in that light, it would seem obvious and inevitable to analyse it in the context of the mass emigration into the UK of various racial and ethnic groups that started in the 1950s. I mean among other things, of course. The anxiety about the newcomers translating into an appetite for stories about invasion, foreign monsters who threaten small homogeneous native communities etc.

Btw, isn't the trope of the magical/cursed/uncanny/evil object or person "imported" from the colonies (wittingly or not) frequent at the time? The decommissioned officers returning to idyllic English village... carrying dark secrets and wicked diseases...

oct. 1, 2020, 8:32pm

>86 LolaWalser:
I think initially the term was used solely for British film horrors (The Wicker Man is set on a Scottish island, and not in England, after all) with certain linked themes and sensibilities and aesthetic, but the usage has expanded in all sorts of directions - to all sorts of rural horror, from different countries, different media (TV, novels and short stories) and back in time too - at least as far back as Thomas Hardy's more folkloric tales.

Even so there are still people talking about it as a purely British phenomena - it was the podcast which waffled on about England's (they said England's) uniquely dark history that set me off on thinking about this by annoying me. As I said elsewhere, Britain has seen less conflict on its own land (excluding colonies, protectorates and so on, and of course excluding the island of Ireland - Eire and Northern Ireland) for longer than just about any other country on the planet.

But if that's so, why is folk horror a thing? My friend's questions about where are your local customs, why don't you have any local dishes put me on the scent of a cultural estrangement at the time of the Industrial Revolution. And also, there is a theme of post WW2 alienation or estrangement running through films and documentaries of the same vintage as what I called the canonical Folk Horrors; some of which (e.g. Requiem for a Village) are now being classified as Folk Horror themselves (and were also used in the cut-up or bricolage, or whatever the technique is called, film Arcadia, which tells just that story).

If I'm onto something here, I can't help thinking it would be a shame to loss the specificity of the term and have it as simply a synonym for rural horror, but it does look as if it's too late now.

And I don't think mass immigration into the UK was a driver. Immigration was overwhelmingly into the towns and cities, not the country or even medium-sized market towns. I honestly can't see either the rural folk or incomers as standing in for West Indian or East Asian recent immigrants. If the modern world is threatening the old, it's in the form of new towns, new suburban housing estates (all occupied by white faces), pop music on transistor radios, motorcycle gangs (white, again), teenagers generally (overwhelmingly white), tractors replacing horses.

Quatermass II touches on the new town/old country tension although it's a minor thread in the story and pretty much disappears halfway through.

Even when the term was first coined and new Folk Horror films such as Kill List were being released, and there were East European immigrants to rural areas, which was causing local stresses on services and the media stoked the flames, I don't have any sense of a connection.

isn't the trope of the magical/cursed/uncanny/evil object or person "imported" from the colonies (wittingly or not) frequent at the time? The decommissioned officers returning to idyllic English village... carrying dark secrets and wicked diseases... what complicates the picture is how popular Victorian and Edwardian stories were in the '60s. This trope is really a thing from that time - stories like The Moonstone as I noted earlier..."The Monkey's Paw", several Holmes stories ("The Man With the Twisted Lip", "The Blanched Soldier"). On the cinema screen, that era was Hammer's staked-out territory (no, I didn't mean to do a bad pun, sorry), you had Music Hall revivalists, and Oliver!, Rock 'n' Roller Tommy Steele was put into a celluloid collar for his film career (Half a Sixpence, etc.). And there were at least as many costume dramas and Victorian detectives on TV. So that could just have been imported with the rest of the Victoriana. No it doesn't feel like it was a "hot button" topic or it touched a nerve at the time. i think that it was more comforting, if anything.

Editat: oct. 1, 2020, 9:16pm

>87 housefulofpaper:

Immigration was overwhelmingly into the towns and cities, not the country or even medium-sized market towns. I honestly can't see either the rural folk or incomers as standing in for West Indian or East Asian recent immigrants.

Oh, I meant the metaphor where the "village" becomes a stand-in for Britain/England i.e. the white "home", the newcomers (i.e. fears of the newcomers, anxiety etc.) would be represented by the monsters (indirectly, subconsciously, probably, not quite literally).

The films are an urban production but would (I suppose) project urban fears onto the countryside. (The countryside because it's "simple", "pure", and "primal"--the site of the "pure" race line and a homogeneous community, repository of tradition etc.)

Yes, the evil "carry-over" from the colonies is an old classic... I wonder if anyone compared such stories between the colonial and post-colonial period?

I just got the set of The Jewel in the Crown, which I haven't seen since it first aired, so it's been on my mind.

oct. 2, 2020, 6:41am

I've just spent an hour or more on a post that got out of my control and eventually came close to a 2,000-word essay. So I scrapped that ...

I'd like to make a point, though, about changing mindsets. I find it difficult to know how to deal with such things.

Thinking about the points >84 Julie_in_the_Library: makes: in the UK popular sensibility, sensitivity to such things has grown exponentionally in my lifetime from an extremely low level. The three films in the OP were made in a very different world with which we've almost lost touch. In a nutshell, the dominant culture thought in terms of the dominant culture. The non-white and non-Christian weren't deliberately excluded---they weren't given any thought at all. As an aside, even the non-English weren't given much thought---The Wickerman's Summer Isle is really an English village, emphasised by some of the accents and the singing of the supposedly oldest English folk song Sumer is acumen in. I suspect Scotland only appears because of England's sad lack of suitable islands; it wasn't significant (though there was the bonus that Scotland, in the popular, non-Scottish mind, at least, was noted for the kind of strict Protestant sect to which Howie might have belonged).

The basis seems to be (and I know I'm repeating myself) that an ideal society goes 'horribly' wrong, and that that ideal society, in the shared mindset of the film-makers and their potential audience(s), is the stereotypical, and perhaps always fictitious, English village of Christian-cultured and definitely white Anglo-Saxon peasants and Norman-English gentry.

That leaves me with lots of knotty questions. How do I deal with that? How am I supposed to deal with that? I know that the exclusivity comes from insensitivity rather than conscious racism (using the word as a catch-all). At the same time, I know that the insensitivity comes from unconscious racism. I don't know if it matters in terms of the actual films themselves---or how much or how little it matters if it does. I'm conscious that one can find racism in almost anything if one wants; but that is because it was woven into the fabric of the culture---it's not that it isn't really there. In discussions, when should I deal with it or not deal with it? To complicate things, I'm aware that the templates made in those times are still with us; and the racism---especially unsconscious---is still with us. It's like when I walk over a bog and feel the ground moving and quaking beneath my feet ...

oct. 2, 2020, 4:50pm

>89 alaudacorax:

I think I get what you're saying, overall, and perhaps "racism" is a bit too heavy a term to use (or over-determined, given our contemporary context). Maybe if "otherism" were a word, it could do some work instead.

I think the difficulty is that homogeneous groups of people (homogeneous relative to skin colour) don't think of themselves as having "race" at all, so racism seems to them either an "invented" problem (we have no racism because there is no other race here but ours), or they rationalise it as a natural response to the Other (everyone's racist).

oct. 3, 2020, 8:03am

>90 LolaWalser: - ... or they rationalise it as a natural response to the Other (everyone's racist).

And that's yet another place where I feel myself getting onto quaky ground ...

Editat: oct. 4, 2020, 3:29pm

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm greatly enjoying this thread, though have to confess that I'm bit lost----

But some sections remind & inform me---- I asked my spouse if she found cinematic version of "The Exorcist" to be scary. She grinned, and said, "absolutely not"...then she said, "do you know percentage of Christians in Japan" (she's from Osaka)?". I tried to guess, then she laughed and said "less than 1%, so those type of movies don't really do anything for us. But we love ghosts movies, and better yet, ghosts movies where someone was wronged or died horrible death. Or anything where vengeance is left unresolved (RINGU)"...

And just watched French-Belgian drama called Zone Blanche, which had supernatural/folklore that I simply don't understand:

I'd like to know if anyone has watched this show, and if so, impressions and a lot of explanation needed, help!

oct. 4, 2020, 7:03pm

>92 benbrainard8:

Didn't know about it until your post and having seen the trailer... I'll look around for it. Now, it does look styled too "American" for a French series, and that could be a turn off, but if the plots are interesting enough...

What sort of explanations do you have in mind, does it concern the story line or something about the production or...?

Editat: oct. 4, 2020, 9:18pm

the show has a creature that I've never heard of:

"Cernunnos: You see, what really sets 'Black Spot' apart is the fabled existence of Cernunnos, the Horned One, a deity once worshipped by the Gauls. While very little is known about him due to the absence of written Gaulish literature, Cernunnos is thought to have been a god of animals and nature."

This is first time I've ever heard or seen anything that has this type of mythological/supernatural creature. I've been trying to understand, because some things online say it's of Celtic origin. Others have different explanations.

Not sure if this show is aimed only at American audiences. Netflix says it's a French-Belgian production and there are currently two season being show, with a third in production.

Show is completely in French so I use sub-titles. Some American viewers do draw comparison to Twin Peaks, as far as the way it looks, it's atmosphere.

oct. 4, 2020, 9:32pm

Ack, spoilers! :)

Will have to get back to you when I get a chance to see it, then.

Yes, I immediately thought of Twin Peaks, and X-Files etc. I watched the short French trailer below on your link, maybe there are different ones... the editing, the atmosphere, and the prominence of guns and how people handled them all seemed "American" to me.

It's not just marketing to the Americans--so much European TV has been Americanised that the domestic audiences expect it too.

oct. 4, 2020, 10:17pm

I have just lost a long comment and it might have been my fault. Did I forget to post it before I went back to my home page? How foolish of me.

Anyway, just seen >94 benbrainard8:. for what it's worth, I knew that Cernunnos was a god of the Celts. I'm pretty sure he was used in the Sláine comic strip in 2000 A.D., and that may have been where I first learned of him.

The Gauls were a Celtic people, so there's no contradiction there (I wasn't sure if that is what you were suggesting or what just fallen down a few anthropological Internet rabbit holes).

There's been a strand of Scandinavian and European television (subtitled) on BBC4 on Saturday nights for several years (mostly crime dramas). Yes technically and aesthetically they do all look very similar. They're all using the same technology I think (HD video with a "filmised" look) which would work to homogenise things, I'd imagine.

I haven't seen the programme because I won't pay for a streaming service and the DVD doesn't have English subtitles.

oct. 5, 2020, 6:29am

>92 benbrainard8:
I asked my spouse if she found cinematic version of "The Exorcist" to be scary.

I did not find "The Exorcist" film scary, but did find the book frightening.

Lafcadio Hearn's translations of Japanese ghost stories have always interested me.

oct. 6, 2020, 8:33am

>92 benbrainard8: ... though have to confess that I'm bit lost ...

Ha! Me to! Been trying to get my head round the concept of folk horror at least since Andrew wrote the OP. Like the chap in the legends who keeps changing his appearance when you try to wrestle him.

oct. 6, 2020, 11:39am

Thank you all so much, I'm thankful for the information.

I've been not writing much recently only because all the shows I've been streaming on Netflix are 1) Scandinavian 2) French/Belgian and 3) don't really fall into what I'd call Gothic/Goth. Though these shows are interesting to me:

Borderliner (Norwegian: Grenseland)
Bordertown (Finland)
Zone Blanche
The Vahalla Murders (Iceland)
Unit 42 (French/Belgian, original title: Unité 42)

And my reading now is James A. Baldwin, 3-5 books, so my Goth/Horror books are in queue.

But great enjoying all your posts, in this and other threads. Cheers from NW/near Seattle.

oct. 7, 2020, 11:15am

I watched The Bells of Astercote on YouTube a week or so ago. I quite enjoyed it, and I was glad to find that it wasn't frightening.

(I'm not one to enjoy being scared in general. The fact that it's frightening is actually my least favorite thing about Stranger Things. I like the story and the characters, not the fear. And now that I live alone, I'm more averse to it than ever. I dont even watch Criminal Minds these days. Especially since real life right now is now frightening enough, thank you very much. If I want to be scared, I'll put on the news).

I really liked the little conversation about the kids' lack of accents. Their father is from Wales, but they were raised in London. It's just a tiny conversation, completely unremarked upon in the rest of the story, but it's such a telling detail. They are, in the context of this film and in the eyes of the villagers, not just outsiders or estate people or city kids, but also effectively divorced from and being raised without their cultural/ethnic identity, and the folkways that go with it. In that way, they represent the invading forces of modernity better than anyone else could.

I also liked how the supernatural element was handled, specifically that it was never really a threat, real or not, and that therefore whether or not it was real was also completely unimportant. The boy character was right about that. The Bubonic Plague didn't pose that much of a threat by the time this is set. People actually can and do still get it on occasion, but now it's treatable. Whether or not removing the chalice actually brought about a resurgence of Plague doesn't really matter to the story, and as such, the question goes unanswered. The people's reactions to the perceived threat was the true danger the entire time.

I am inclined to believe it is true, in the context of the story, though. Because unless the villagers' definition of the danger the chalice protects them from is incredibly narrow - the death of literally the entire village or the Bubonic Plague specifically - one assumes they would have lost faith in its protection sometime around losing a huge portion of a generation of village boys on the fronts of WWI, or a chunk of the villagers to the Spanish Flu the returning soldiers brought back with them. And they didn't seem that literal to me.

My only issue was that I had some trouble parsing the dialogue but the automated subtitles were so bad they did more harm than good, and I turned them back off again. Still, I got enough to enjoy the story.

oct. 7, 2020, 8:12pm

I'm very much afraid this will only serve to confuse matters further...

If you for Folk Horror online you bump up against a lot of stuff which seems to be "what people who are interested in Folk Horror are also interested in", but which also overlap as in a Venn diagram, or bleed into one another.

The first two images below are the front and back covers of an LP from the "Hauntological" record label Ghost Box. The design evokes the kind of record produced for schools in the '60s and '70s - maybe for music lessons or some kind of dance/physical exercise regime. The subject, a mixture of nature essay and memoir by Justin Hopper and neo-folk and BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style musical accompaniment and interludes, sits comfortably within both the "scary 1970s" and the '70s post-hippie-ish back to the land ethos. I do wonder if a lot of this is simply nostalgia?

Inevitably I've bought some of the "stuff" I found online. Here are some small press magazines. Hellebore actually declares itself as "a collection of writings and essays devoted to folk horror and the themes that inspire it: folklore, myth, history, archaeology, psychogeography and the occult" (does that list help in getting our heads around the subject, at all?).

In truth, the other two titles cover the same ground with different emphases. Rituals and Declarations is probably the most overtly political title - from a left-wing and culturally inclusive angle. All the titles reject a narrow Nationalist approach to the subject.

I didn't find The Exorcist frightening but by the time I got around to watching it, I'd read and heard so much about it pretty much all its shocks and surprises "weren't", so to speak. I imagine I would have been pretty shaken if I'd been able to watch it in a cinema in 1973. I watched Exorcist III and the reconstruction of the original cut, Legion recently. Very good films but both had problematic endings. The original too "cerebral" and low key, the released version too much of an effects extravaganza - and not scary.

Exorcist II - I've got it on DVD but I've only watched it once. What went wrong? I imagine the producers thought they were getting the director of Deliverance but they got the director of Zardoz instead. A forgivable error since they are both the same man :) (oh, and Boorman deliberately moved away from a strict Catholic theology underpinning the world of his film, when that focus was the strength of the first film).

I'll have to read the book version of The Exorcist and we'll see what effect it has on me.

I've remarked before that many of M. R. James's ghost stories (other people remarked on it before me, of course) don't seem very Christian but are more like Japanese tales of vengeful lost souls and malevolent demons. It's odd some he was a devout Christian himself (maybe that's why he found the ideas behind them so troubling?)

I'm a bit behind with my Folk Horror viewing. I'll catch up with The Bells of Astercote (I noticed a YouTuber had put it in a "Folk Horror" playlist that stretched the term beyond any descriptive use, but the first upload was an old 1970s public information film about the Ridgeway (a prehistoric track running across the Chilterns in Southern England) - simultaneously nostalgia for the '70s, and looking back through "deep time", in a kind of double focus.

oct. 8, 2020, 4:25am

>101 housefulofpaper:
After reading the novel of The Exorcist and watching the film, in the cinema in 1973, I read the book below. I found it fascinating. It included the selection of Tubular Bells as the music for the film, and described how the policeman character in the book was too big for a film length story, so it was not included in the film but used as the basis for the TV detective show, Columbo.

oct. 8, 2020, 2:16pm

>96 housefulofpaper: Going from the learned to the ridiculous, Cernunnos, spelled Kernunnos, was in a few episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (you know, with Kevin Sorbo). Season 5, I think.

oct. 11, 2020, 5:41am

>103 robertajl:

Rarely watched it ... too busy ogling Xena and Gabrielle ...

oct. 11, 2020, 5:47am

>104 alaudacorax:

Hah! Just remembered some years back mentioning Xena in a LibraryThing thread---and getting a right telling-off from some user for watching rubbish TV. Can't remember her name, now, but she seemed almost offended (and a bit rude). As I remember, she wasn't even someone I regularly conversed with.

oct. 11, 2020, 7:28am

>105 alaudacorax: I wonder what she would have made of Red Sonja.

oct. 11, 2020, 9:45pm

>106 pgmcc:

Dread to think ...

nov. 4, 2020, 12:15pm

There's going to be another virtual Rural Gothic conference on November 21 and November 22, this time with a focus on Women in Folk Horror.

The speaker schedule is as follows:

Saturday 21
KIT WHITFIELD, Author: Pregnancy in Folk Horror
ICY SEDGWICK, Folklorist: The female medium in British Horror Cinema
SASHA WILSON, Playwright and actor: The naked body in Folk Horror
MONTILEE STORMER: Author: Feminism, Folk Horror and Nuns
KIER-LA JANISSE, Director of "Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror": In conversation

Sunday 22
SARAH CROWTHER, Horror expert: Folk horror through Suspiria
TRACEY NORMAN, Historian and author: Plants, Poultices and Persecution
PEG ALOI, Film and TV Critic: Women’s Mysteries in Harvest Home
MAGGS VIBO, Poet: Wives, Witches and Warriors from Virginia
WHAT SLEEPS BENEATH, Horror Collective: Domestic Magic and Ritual Objects

Tickets are £10, available here.

The last conference was held in UK time, and I assume this one will be as well, but speaking as someone living in EST, the times for the last one were actually quite convenient for me. More so than the local UK times would have been, to be honest.

I want to go, but I'm hesitant to buy my tickets yet because if I'm too far behind on my NaNo project that weekend I may not be able to, and the tickets are nonrefundable. I'll probably make my final decision this weekend.

I am leaning toward just buying the tickets regardless of where I am by this weekend, and trying to write a little during if I'm super behind when the time comes, because the last one was so much fun that I'd really regret missing this one.

Sorry I've been absent for a while. I miss chatting with you guys. The aforementioned NaNo project has been sucking up a lot of my time.

Hope to see some of you at the conference.

nov. 5, 2020, 5:49am

>108 Julie_in_the_Library:

I'm so easily distracted. Just fruitlessly lost at least a half-hour online trying to figure out how the lady came to be forenamed 'Icy' ...

nov. 5, 2020, 4:02pm

It's a constant puzzlement to me, the things that turn up in my YouTube suggestions ... and why.

Anyway, is anyone familiar with a band called 'Heilung'? You're wondering why I'm not posting in the 'Gothic music?' thread ... well, I think you'll see how they fit here if you watch them. I can imagine being rather worried if I came across this lot in forest clearing by moon- and firelight.

I've been finding them quite hypnotic, though. Then I realised I've seen some of their clothing in archaeology reports ...

Have a look at their Wikipedia page,, then watch, or There's one where they sacrifice a virgin, too---forgot about that one. No doubt it'll show up in your suggestions if you watch one or two ...

nov. 6, 2020, 5:45pm

>108 Julie_in_the_Library:
Many thanks for that! I've just booked my ticket.

nov. 6, 2020, 6:36pm

>110 alaudacorax:
I'm afraid the male vocalist on the second song you linked to just make me think of Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen...

I have a couple of CDs from the '90s of slightly rocked up early music that is a bit like this. Also the band Goat (although they use conventional instruments). This track was used as the theme music for the first season of the Crime Town podcast, all about H. P. Lovecraft's beloved Providence, RI. Turns out it was a massive Mob town!

nov. 7, 2020, 4:13am

>112 housefulofpaper:

Damn! Now you've reminded me of my new(ish) neighbour. It's an increasing irritation to me that she insists on calling me Dave, seemingly completely oblivious to my increasingly loud and snappish interjections of 'Paul!'

nov. 7, 2020, 4:20am

>112 housefulofpaper:

I understand your use of the exclamation mark---I'd been picturing Providence (on no evidence whatsoever) as a stifling expanse of WASP gentility.

nov. 15, 2020, 10:16am

I just bought my ticket for the conference. Looking forward to seeing some of you there. I'm glad you found the information useful.

I also bought a ticket for the December 5th lecture on PTSD in Folk Horror. That one looks really interesting, too. Plus, they specifically reference Buffy in the description, which is right up my ally!

des. 13, 2020, 6:10pm

>115 Julie_in_the_Library:
There was a mix-up and I didn't get notification of the conference. I think I can still watch the lectures on Youtube but, to my regret, I've been too busy to make the attempt as yet.

des. 13, 2020, 10:21pm

>116 housefulofpaper: I hope you enjoy the video, and I hope to see you at the one in February. (Not available yet, but the theme will be Queer themes in folk horror.) I don't know if I'm doing the Christmas one yet.

gen. 4, 10:22am

Tickets are now available for the Rural Gothic con focusing on queer themes!

Times are not listed yet, but past conferences have run from 10 am est to about 6 pm est or so, with a long break at dinner time in the UK that falls around lunch time here on east coast time US.

The schedule of speakers isn't out yet, though I imagine it will be soon. I've enjoyed the two conferences I've already attended enough to buy my ticket without seeing the schedule first, but if you want to wait, the schedule should eventually be posted at the link for the tickets that I'm including here. Tickets are £10. I'm not sure exactly what that comes out to in US dollars, but it's something around $12, I think.

I'll reiterate just to be safe that I am not affiliated with the con or The Folklore Podcast in any way, and do not benefit monetarily from any of you buying tickets.

I do benefit socially from you guys attending, in that I get to interact with you and talk about shared interests at the con, and recommending things that people end up enjoying gives me a great feeling inside, but those are the only benefits on my end ;).

I hope to see you guys there!

Link to buy tickets

gen. 7, 7:44pm

>118 Julie_in_the_Library:

Thank you for the link. I have to confess to still having most of the last conference talks to catch up with. The Folklore podcast itself, is something I've been listening to during my working day.

Editat: gen. 22, 7:21pm

Just finished The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror.

Admittedly it's taken me since the beginning of November, but I have to say it's rather a slim volume—nine stories seems nearer a monthly magazine than an anthology. Having said that, the Kindle edition only cost me £3 and a few pence, so perhaps that's unfair.

Each one of the stories kept me absorbed, though there were a couple I felt failed just a little. The final one, for instance, seemed to me to have a serious kink in its plotline that went beyond a twist in the tail and rather lost the story's hold. I've forgotten the name of one other where I wasn't sure whether the author intended free indirect speech or was simply losing control of his or her English. Talking about free indirect speech and twists in the tail, there was one rather neat story where I gradually decided I didn't like the tone of the narrator, only to find, at the end, that that was sort of the point ... clever ...

On the whole, I thought the standard quite high and fairly original. The heart of folk horror is a sort of perversion of the nostalgia for an earlier, more rural way of life, and these stories pervert it quite satisfyingly.

I'll just finish with a shout out for Stephanie Ellis's 'The Way of the Mother'. Thinking back over the anthology, it's the one most insistent in memory. Perhaps echoing back to Machin?* I was impressed. A writer I shall look into.

*ETA - Just to clarify, I meant that the writer, not the story, perhaps echoed back to Machin—I wasn't hinting at plagiarism.

gen. 23, 12:49pm

>120 alaudacorax: "The heart of folk horror is a sort of perversion of the nostalgia for an earlier, more rural way of life"

I find that really interesting, because "perverted" implies that that type of nostalgia was, at some point, pure and safe - unperverted, so to speak, or that it can be.

Whereas I've always viewed that sort of nostalgia for the "simpler past" as inherently dangerous and twisted even in its "pure," (non-horror connected), normal form.

When I've encountered that type of sentiment - the nostalgia for the simpler or more rural past (always in an idealized form that never, in reality, existed in the first place) - in fiction, in political thinking, and elsewhere, what lies beneath the surface 99.99% of the time is white supremacy. You often don't have to dig that far beneath the surface to see it, either.

Maybe that theme is more obvious to those of us who are targets of white supremacy than it is to people who are not, but nostalgia for the "good old days" always reads as threatening to me.

gen. 23, 2:11pm

>121 Julie_in_the_Library:

Yes ... perhaps I should have put 'mythical' in front of 'earlier, more rural way of life'. That kind of nostalgia was an essentially middle- and upper-class construct with very little basis in the reality of what it was purportedly looking back to, and everything to do with those classes' contemporary fears and insecurities. And so, I suppose, it was always really ripe for perverting. I suspect that you could make a good case that folk horror has been around as long as has been the nostalgia, suggesting that some writers, at least, were always aware of the hypocrisy of the latter.

gen. 23, 2:19pm

>123 alaudacorax:

Oddly enough, as far as my reading goes modern folk horror still treats overwhelmingly of white people (not knowledgeable enough to speak for the screen). I'd like to think that these days it's not so much from subconscious racism as from a nervousness of tackling a sensitive subject, but I don't know that I could prove that. And there's always the possibility that my reading of the modern stuff is not yet wide enough ...

gen. 23, 3:45pm

It's always lurking in the background, the blood and soil stuff, the Volk. It's something I was aware of when my interest shifted almost exclusively from science fiction to history, Western literature - the sense that the past, unlike the imagined future*, is muddied with the footprints of many who have gone before, many of them having very unsavoury ideas, to put it mildly.

* with a more sophisticated perspective than I had in my teens I can see the fight wing, colonialist, and libertarian strains in a lot of classic Science Fiction. I was being exposed the the New Wave stuff at the same time as I was reading that, all marketed within the same Chriss Foss art-style paperback covers.

I have to admit to a "fundamentalist" streak in my thinking, in the sense of wanting to go back to the source, the very beginnings of things. That was no doubt why I wanted to visit Stonehenge for my 8th birthday! But I hope I'm wary enough to avoid that cast of mind leading me down the wrong intellectual path. Remembering the the British Isles was made uninhabitable by the last Ice Age, and no-one here can claim not to be descended from immigrants, is a good anchor for thoughts of culture and Nationhood and so forth.

gen. 23, 4:04pm

>122 alaudacorax: "That kind of nostalgia was an essentially middle- and upper-class construct with very little basis in the reality of what it was purportedly looking back to, and everything to do with those classes' contemporary fears and insecurities. And so, I suppose, it was always really ripe for perverting."

My point is that that type of nostalgia is always perverted from the start. There is no pure, safe, unperverted form, because that type of nostalgia has white supremacy in its roots from inception.

>123 alaudacorax: "Oddly enough, as far as my reading goes modern folk horror still treats overwhelmingly of white people"

I'm not widely read enough in folk horror to speak to that. You may very well be correct.

Though, obviously, the question of who is or is not white is not nearly as simple as a lot of people think, and depends a lot on context. A white supremacist, for instance, would not consider me white, despite the fact that I have a variation of the "right" skin tone, because I'm Jewish, and they don't consider Jews to be white.

There's also the idea that crafting a narrative absent of anyone not white is itself racist, but that's a different discussion.

I wasn't saying that folk horror is racist or antisemitic or based in white supremacy.

I was pointing out that for me, the nostalgia for the idealized simple past is not a nice thing that folk horror perverts, because it is always, in any genre and in any form, threatening and twisted already. An unperverted form does not and cannot exist.

Take any** depiction of that idealized past, or any work expressing a longing or nostalgia for it, and dig even a little and in my experience, you'll find antisemitism and white supremacy* or some other form of bigotry nearly every single time.

*antisemitism is, in fact, a central part of white supremacy, such that you cannot have white supremacy without the antisemitism. You can have racism without antisemitism, of course, and there are, of course, individual racist Jews. But white supremacy has antisemitism baked into the concept.

**I'm speaking about what we usually consider the "western world," including eastern Europe and Russia. I don't know nearly enough to speak to anything else.

gen. 24, 11:07am

>125 Julie_in_the_Library:

There is no pure, safe, unperverted form ...
... everything to do with those classes' contemporary fears and insecurities.

We are pretty much agreeing.

I was writing there in terms of British culture (because it's what I know the most about) and seeing the 'nostalgia' arising in the days of empire. The 'contemporary fears and insecurities' I referred to are widely considered as being focussed on the subject peoples of that empire, hence the 'olde English' rural idyll that grew up was all-white. The US obviously has its parallel.

I should point out that the 'contemporary fears and insecurities' also related to the white working classes. I grew up in the 'fifties reading literature where the working classes hardly existed and tended to be suspect if they did appear. The class prejudice in a lot of British children's literature of the first half of the 20thC can be quite startling to 21stC reading.

Also, it's difficult to disentangle such racism and classism from a lot of stuff we'd now call folk horror. It would be wrong to see folk horror as some sort of satire, by politically aware writers, of 'cosy' writing (though you can find notes of satire here and there); when you look carefully they are both tainted the same way.

And these things last. We are all products of the cultures we grew up in. We can become intellectually aware, but that is working against a lot of ingrained instinct. I suspect real change will take generations of peoples being aware and handing that on as best they can.

In the meantime, are we to reject generations of quality writing where the authors were almost certainly unaware of the inherent racism and classism and where, indeed, such things exist in omission rather than appearance?

gen. 24, 3:07pm

>126 alaudacorax: "In the meantime, are we to reject generations of quality writing where the authors were almost certainly unaware of the inherent racism and classism and where, indeed, such things exist in omission rather than appearance?"

I would say no. And not just because it would leave us with very little to read. ;)

This trend of "canceling" art and literature because of uncomfortable or offensive content (or creators) drives me insane. I hate it. And it's dangerous.

I dealt with the "but is it okay to listen to Ride of the Valkyries" question back when I was in elementary or middle school. It's a concern that comes up early in minority households.

I came to terms a long time ago with the idea that art and literature from the past always includes uncomfortable sentiments, to say the least, and that doesn't mean we can't still engage and enjoy it.

I also don't think that any work is all one thing, with a few exceptions on the extreme end of the scale. As long as we go in aware and with our eyes open, there's plenty of value to be had in reading things from the past, including entertainment value, which is itself a worthy end goal that needs no further justification.

My original comment was mostly meant simply to express my bemusement at seeing the idea of perverting the nostalgia for a simpler past, which struck me as an ironic concept, given the dark undertone nostalgia-based content has had when I've encountered it.

It was meant as a sort of comment on how differently something can read or feel depending on where you're coming from.

gen. 25, 6:28am

>127 Julie_in_the_Library:

With you all the way, there. Nothing I can add.

feb. 1, 2:07pm

The speaker and topic lineup for this weekend's Rural Gothic: Queer Horror virtual con is up, for anyone who is interested or deciding if they want to buy a ticket: