Sunday 6 October 2019

A few words about the future

For more than two decades now I’ve been patiently documenting the British Horror Revival. What started out as an interesting collection of distinctively social realist horror films has blossomed and expanded and kept on expanding. So that the comparatively short period covered by my post-2000 British horror masterlist now accounts for about 80% of all UK horror films ever made.

This is insane, clearly. It’s like letting other people write about the Premier League while I write about every other football club in Britain, right down to Sunday morning amateur teams.

I have already written one book, Urban Terrors, covering the British Horror Revival from its late 1990s origins up to the singularity of Mum and Dad, the first UK film released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD and on VOD. Over the next few years I will be publishing my magnum opus: a complete catalogue of every British horror movie 2000-2019. About 1,050 films spread over three volumes, with a fourth collecting together 300+ incomplete/unreleased features.

I’m ten films away from completing Volume 1 (Volumes 2 and 3 are also mostly complete). I expect to produce that next year. Presumably self-published, unless anyone wants to make me an offer.

Next year. 2020. A new decade.

Here’s the thing. I really don’t want to keep on doing this for another ten years. I’m 51 now. I have other half-written books I want to finish before I die. I have other films I want to watch.

My masterlist will close for good on 31 December 2019. Obviously I will still be discovering films and releases which precede that date for many months to come, filling in gaps and revising data. But any film released on 1 January 2020 or later is outside my remit. I want my life back.

This is where you come in. I’ve spent all this time cataloguing and reviewing these films because Somebody Had To Do It. Unless someone takes the trouble to document these films when they appear, they will be lost to researchers forever. (You can’t rely on the IMDB. Plenty of the films on my list aren’t on the IMDB and many others have incorrect data.)

So this is an open invitation. If anyone wants to take up the mantle of British horror film historian for the next decade, you are very, very welcome. The post is about to become vacant and I would love to see it filled.

It would be up to you what criteria you establish for inclusion on your masterlist; I’m not going to prescribe anything like that. But I will say that this is a big job which requires constant prowling and digging around all corners of the web. You can’t just set up an alert and wait for things to come to you. These films can get released in any medium in any territory. This is a job for someone obsessive who loves looking for stuff and eventually finding it. It can be tedious, but it can also be very rewarding.

Perhaps a group of you want to do this. Perhaps two or more people will take on the gig separately and compete to see who can unearth the information first. I really don’t mind. It’s not up to me. I can give you nothing but my blessing.

But I do hope that someone will take on this mantle. Because otherwise, the recorded history of British horror cinema, from the silent era through the golden age of Hammer and Amicus, and then into the boom years of the early 21st century will suddenly lurch to a halt in 2020. Film historians of the future will have an impossible job trying to find this stuff if no-one records it at the time. What they’ll be left with is an unrepresentative handful of high-profile releases that won’t in any way reflect the actual state of the genre.

And that would be a real shame.


  1. Glad you've been doing this, look forward to seeing your books and big good luck for the future!

  2. I accept your challenge MJ. I think. I've covered quite a few UK independent titles on my own site, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to cover all the releases - according to imdb there are 862 either completed, in progress or announced! Are you copyrighting the term 'British Horror Revival' as it would be good to have some continuity of purpose?

    1. Thank you - and the best of British luck to you! Remember that the IMDb is very unreliable: some of those films don't exist, even ones that it lists as 'completed' and 'released'. You need to cross-check everything with other sources if you're aiming for an accurate list (and keep an eye out for things not on IMDb). My maxim is: the IMDb should usually be the first place you look for info about a film, it should never be the last place.

      It's worth regularly checking Amazon - in all its national variants. I also find CastingCallPro, Spotlight and StarNow useful resources that often lead to previously unknown movies when checking what a particular actor has worked on.

      I have no copyright on 'British Horror Revival' although obviousy I do still post occasional reviews here and use a shortened form for my Twitter account. So you're free to use it as a term but if you're going to give a brand to your post-2019 research project, maybe you could go with something like British Horror Boom. I think we're way past the revival stage!

      Email me and I'll send you over my spreadsheets of released; completed and screened but not released; and started but not completed films. Then you can pick up where I left off (suggest you start by checking for anything released in the last 4.5 months!). As I say above, you're welcome to set your own criteria etc - I just offer my data as a resource and jumping off point.

      Best, MJS

      You'll find it extremely rewarding. But you might also want to start thinking about the next runner in the relay team around 2029...

    2. Ha ha. The rune that can't be passed! Think I need to build up my contact list a bit more as well so people know to forward me links etc. Yep totally get the imdb issue - in fact I've just been asked to cover a film which screened at Southend this year which has bypassed the site altogether. Sure I'll drop you a line MJ - thanks in advance for any help. I'll not be starting any new site up but will tag relevant posts with something pithy so the BHF ones can be easily identified and gathered together as required. Rest easy sir and best of luck with whatever you have up your sleeve (s).