The British horror renaissanceby Mighty_Emperor | created - 26 Aug 2012 | updated - 1 month ago | Public
Inspired by this piece from the Garudian:
Interest in homegrown horror was rekindled by Danny Boyle's film 28 Days Later in 2002 and grew with the success of Shaun of the Dead, Neil Marshall's The Descent and Christopher Smith's two films Creep and Severance.
So this list deals with the last decade (and counting) revival in the fortunes of the British horror movie (you can monitor new releases here, and there is one for short films), I'm sure the creative people were out there but it was 28 Days Later than got the purse strings loosened. Defining "British" is always going to be subjective, Hammer, for example, made a return in 2007 but some of the films they've produced have been co-productions filmed abroad (like Let Me In), but we'll include them as this this list is partly to show the strength of the British film industry when it comes to horror films. For that reason I will also include movies filmed in the UK as it all helps bolster the home-grown efforts (like World War Z).
Of course, that isn't to say that all these films are great, some of them are awful, but the level of quality is higher than I've found on most of my other lists.
Also making 2002 a cut-off is pretty arbitrary as it includes Dog Soldiers and Deathwatch that can't have benefited much from the 28 Days Later effect, and it excludes many interesting films that pre-date it, like The Bunker and Lighthouse, but it is still a good line in the sand if we want to look at recent British horror films and it does seem to be a genuine phenomena.
See also: Contagious violence, it shouldn't be a surprise, given the film that kickstarted everything that a lot of the films here also feature over there but the sub-genre (and zombie films) are easy to do with simple make-up and effects, and there is also an explosion in them in general. Also hoodie horror films feature strongly as a reflection of modern concerns. In addition there are quite a few films that fit into the backwoods horror and folk horror, both of which are undergoing a resurgence too (both of which can also be done on a limited budget). In fact, in most sub-genres I've been tracking, a big hit film has combined with improved distribution and cheaper technology to give a spike in the number of films produced.
Links: British horror revival blog from MJ Simpson, the co-founder of SFX magazine and the author of the upcoming book Urban Terrors: New British Horror Cinema 1997-2008, a guide to the 114 key films of that period. I only found it part-way through making the list but it has proved invaluable for filling in the gaps here (it also helped confirm I was on the right lines with the list name), so if you like this list follow his blog and be sure to pick up his book (if it goes well there is chance of a sequel - there are clearly going to be more films in the few years after 2008 than in the decade before). He has also provided round-ups of the releases in 2010 and 2011, noting that in 2001 there were 3 British horror films but in 2010 there were 48 (the 2010 round-up only includes 32 because he discovered more afterwards) and in 2011 there were 41 (not counting further revisions), my count below is different but the proportions are similar. There were more again in 2012, 14 of them zombie films, more than one a month and more than the annual total for most years (in fact so many I made a list for British zombie films). Which does flag up that something is going on here. Frightfest is also worth keeping an eye on, it is the UK's leading horror film festival (I have yet to attend but I will one day) with a strong focus on British movies and, even if you can't make it, because it is run in conjunction Film4, they run a week's worth of films and interviews on their TV channel (it is where I first heard about Kill List, for example).
The count: I have gone through and counted all the full length British horror films and put them into a spreadsheet and graph.
Which really does show an upwards trend, from less than one a month to one ever 3 days, just in the noughties - rapidly passing the levels of the boom period for British horror: the 60s and 70s. If you look back further you'll see that horror film production in the 90s were often down to similar levels to the early 50s when we were shaking off the effects of a world war (the chilling effect of the video nasty era? after all hardline BBFC chief James Ferman retired in 1999 and it was only then that a lot of the banned movies started to be passed uncut). A really impressive upswing , although it makes it impossible to keep up with all of them even if you wanted to. However, the number do suggest the renaissance was under way before 28DL, even if the success of films like it (Shaun of the Dead, etc.) have inspired film-makers and made financiers take British horror films seriously, helping to build momentum. I'd also flag up my comments above, as the growth in some horror sub-genres parallels what we see here, suggesting that the ease of film-making and distribution now means there will be more films but there is also clear evidence for successful films have an important effect on the types of films being made (the best example of zombie films - the first 3 Romero films created a spike in zombie movies with a lag of a year or two - I have rather a fine graph to prove my point).
I did also stumble across this piece about horror fiction and Tory governments:
A cursory glance at the points where horror fiction did enjoy periods of resurgence do tend to follow an upward graph with Tory fortunes.
Now, after two years of government by coalition of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, horror is on the rise again.
So we can see a big spike in British horror films after 2010 (a jump of 50%) but there is usually a lag of a few years between inspiration and realisation, plus the Thatcher/Major years (1979-1997) saw a real dip in output between high points of the 60s/70s and the current upswing. So I'm not buying this when it comes to films, and if we are talking about fiction then... show me your numbers - I've shown you mine after all.
Caveats: There could be a recentist bias to an internet movie data base but IMDB has been going since 1990, so you'd imagine that'd be smoothed out by now and the British horror film industry isn't that large, but does attract a lot of rabid fans, so you'd imagine it'd be difficult for too many films to fall through the gaps. The opposite might also be a problem - there might be a bias against more recent movies as it can take a while for information to trickle through. However, this seems to largely apply to tagging and working out what sub-genres films fit into which are user added features and can be a bit arbitrary and subjective, while the location of production company is going to be a well-defined fact and much more likely to be properly registered here when the film is added (I have found a couple of examples so far when compiling this list, but not many). So I suspect neither is so serious to make a mockery of the numbers, as is a big enough sample that a few films won't make any difference (famous last words, I'm sure). One factor I do think might have an impact on the current year peak is that I've already seen some unreleased films shifted back to the following year or just whenever. So I expect the patter of each year is the peak will grow, as the full slate of films in production becomes clear, and then it will drop a bit as some get rescheduled or disappear into development hell, never to be seen again. Which means the current year is always going to be provisional until we reach the end and perhaps do a little tidy up too, so there might be a drop off of a dozen or so, but that might be compensated for after the inclusion of some films that might not get listed here until they're released.
Other films: There are some adult films that I'm wary of listing as they seem to cause problems for the list: Cathula 2: Vampires of Sex.
Length: Sorry it is a long list and this might be a little off-putting but you can use the filters to break it down if you don't want to browse through all the pages (even if I recommend you do it at least once). So you can, for example, rank only the feature films by quality if you were perhaps looking some of the better movies on the list to watch (even then you should do your homework, because some obscure films don't have many votes which can lead to people gaming the system).
Videos: I've tried to provide links to online videos of films where they appear to be official, if you want me to add a video or remove/swap a link then leave a note in the comments.
Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off and replaced it with a thread on the message board.
- Instant Watch Options
- Movies or TV
- IMDb Rating
- In Theaters
- On TV
- Release Year
1. 28 Days Later... (2002)
R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Votes: 326,606 | Gross: $45.06M
The film that kicked everything up a notch. Not only did it help generally boost the British horror industry and really boost the profile of the fast "zombie", it is on of the first British contagious violence films (beaten to the punch by 1986's Nightmare Weekend and 2001's Dead Creatures, but it wouldn't be the last as similar British films are now in double figures.
3. Resident Evil (2002)
R | 100 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
A special military unit fights a powerful, out-of-control supercomputer and hundreds of scientists who have mutated into flesh-eating creatures after a laboratory accident.
Votes: 219,983 | Gross: $40.12M
Not an obvious one but it is a a British/French/American/German co-production mainly filmed in Germany, so it gets in on a technicality.
4. Deathwatch (2002)
R | 94 min | Drama, Horror, War
In the middle of World War I, nine British soldiers caught behind enemy lines seek refuge in a complex network of German trenches. What they soon discover is that they aren't alone - and it isn't a German soldier that's hunting them down.
6. Black Plague (2002 Video)
R | 115 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
In 1348, with the horrors of the Black Death haunting Europe, English soldiers return home from war with a French nobleman as hostage. When people in their home village soon after begin to ... See full summary »
7. Fallen Angels (2002)
R | 97 min | Horror, Thriller
Abandoned and filled with a mysterious past, Holy Angel School for Girls is about to reveal its secrets of betrayal, jealousy, and vengeance. Rumours of haunting, paired with the desire to ... See full summary »
8. Alone (2002)
R | 88 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Experience the fear as you're sucked into the disturbed mind of Alex. Tormented by harrowing voices of the past Alex searches for the one girl who can silence the horror of a tortured soul.... See full summary »
83 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Rock star Roddy Usher's wife is murdered and Rod is sent to a lunatic asylum in this gothic-comedy-horror-musical.
11. The Last Great Wilderness (2002)
Not Rated | 95 min | Comedy, Drama
Two men meet up, while travelling north on separate missions. Charlie wants to catch up with the man who has stolen his wife, while Vicente is trying to escape a contract castration. After ... See full summary »
Not listed as a horror film here but there are spooky overtones and some violence - it threatens to go all Kill List on our asses but never does. Worth a watch though.
12. My Little Eye (2002)
R | 95 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
Five people are offered one million dollars to spend six months together in an isolated mansion, with cameras watching their every move.
13. Feardotcom (2002)
R | 101 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller
A New York City detective investigates mysterious deaths occurring 48 hours after users log onto a site named feardotcom.
Votes: 18,015 | Gross: $13.21M
14. Long Time Dead (2002)
R | 94 min | Horror, Thriller
A young Londoner and his friends use a Ouija board to hold a seance, triggering a chain of mysterious deaths that may be caused by an otherworldly force.
16. The Forgotten Ground (2002)
50 min | Horror
In 1878 a whole township were murdered by a neighboring town. Their bodies were buried in what's known as 'The Forgotten Ground'. Only the spilt blood of a virgin could bring them back to seek revenge on those who took their lives.
18. Revenge of the Unhappy Campers (2002)
R | 102 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller
At an anger management camp for teenagers, someone is getting rid of the counselors and campers using very sharp instruments. By nighttime only a few are left, but who can they trust when they know one of them is the killer?
19. Until Death (2002)
R | 80 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
Young artist is torn between her male best friend, who's secretly obsessed with her, and her jealous abusive ex who died in a car crash and now apparently haunts her.
The vengeful dead
22. Sentinels of Darkness (2002 Video)
73 min | Horror
Anglo-Greek vampire anthology.
23. The Incredibly Strange People Show (2002 Video)
60 min | Comedy, Horror, Music
An unrelenting, psychotronic rollercoaster ride, revolving around the sedentary existence of Max and Moritz, two oddball males in their late-20's whose lifestyle is a rabid telethon of epic proportions.
60 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
John Strange (Demon hunter and defrocked priest) and Canon Black investigate the mysterious happenings in a hospital ward.
Pilot for the 2002 series.
27. Red Lines (2002)
7 min | Horror, Short
Doug Bradley (PINHEAD from HELLRAISER) stars in a chilling horror short about a school dentention gone horribly wrong.
Watch here on IMDB
28. The Visitor (II) (2002)
11 min | Drama, Short, Fantasy
Gail has seen a ghost in her house on the same date, at the same time, in the same room, for three years in a row. She is certain it is counting down to something terrible. To ease her fears, her husband organises a midnight drinks party for the night the ghost is due to appear again. What happens is more disturbing than anyone could've imagined.
29. My Wrongs 8245-8249 and 117 (2002)
12 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Disaster after disaster, an already frail man descends into madness after his talking dog announces that he is actually his defence lawyer.
Expanded from a segment on Brass Eye.
31. Overture (2002)
43 min | Short, Horror
A woman escapes a captivity of uncertain circumstances, only to bring aspects of her ordeal into her marital life.
32. Sleep (2002)
10 min | Drama, Horror, Short
A businessman is on his way to a conference when he decides to stop at a service station to get some sleep rather than drive on. While drinking coffee he spots Freya, the girl whom was in ... See full summary »
33. Jackanory: The Curse of Karrit Poor (2002 Video)
20 min | Short, Comedy, Horror
Dr. Edmund Chinnery narrates the story of how he and his descendants were cursed to have any animal they touch "meet a dreadful end".
Star: Mark Gatiss
Made for the LoG Christmas Special DVD.
34. The Cicerones (2002)
13 min | Horror, Short
A naïve tourist visits a cathedral to view it's paintings, only to find that it is a portal to a grotesque and disturbing realm of distorted time and reality.
More LoG-related oddity.
35. Magic Hour (2002 TV Short)
29 min | Drama, Short
Information on this is a little thin on the ground but it seems that John Simm plays a diabetic vampire.
39. Chasm (2002)
12 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Short
When Reuben buys a black-market cure for his unusual chest complaint, Jenny is forced to make a terrible sacrifice. Chasm is a black comedy, set in a time when trading body parts has become... See full summary »
42. The Last Horror Movie (2003)
R | 80 min | Horror, Thriller
A serial killer uses a horror video rental to lure his next victim. What begins as a teen slasher transforms into a disturbing journey through the mind of Max Parry, a mild mannered wedding photographer with a taste for human flesh.
If this list demonstrates anything, it is how wrong the title was.
43. Penetration Angst (2003)
R | 102 min | Comedy, Horror
In the vein of Audition and Hostel. Helen finds herself having intimacy problems with men. Her private parts are devouring all lovers and leaving her with an insatiable thirst for blood. In... See full summary »
44. Octane (2003)
R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
While on a late night road trip home, a woman must save her rebellious teenage daughter who runs off with a bizarre group of blood-letting psychos.
Interesting trippy start but a weak, conventional ending.
45. LD 50 Lethal Dose (2003)
R | 97 min | Horror
Re-formed by a coded message to their web site, a group of animal rights activists set off to free an imprisoned colleague from a terrifying ordeal. Their rescue mission leads them to a ... See full summary »
46. Devil's Harvest (2003)
R | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
It seems innocent enough. Struggling young artist Daniel King is invited by his childhood friend Natasha, back to the coastal village where they grew up. Natasha has even offered him the ... See full summary »
47. The Gathering (2002)
R | 92 min | Horror, Thriller
Amnesiac Cassie Grant has a premonition that someone or something wants the family that's helping her recover dead. She investigates the secrets of the town they live in and uncovers darkness, both human and supernatural.
49. The Dark Hunter (2003)
75 min | Comedy, Horror
A Comedy/Horror feature film about two dysfunctional filmmakers who go out to uncover the truth behind sightings of a black panther in the English countryside
53. Banshee (2003)
60 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller
A girl (Palmer) has a pigs heart flung at her chest by a mumbling old lady (Jackman) on the subway, she thinks she's been cursed. She slowly goes crazy and ends up killing someone. Was she really cursed or was she always crazy?
54. El Chupacabra (2003 Video)
R | 89 min | Adventure, Horror
The world seen through the eyes of two people, the inequities of society exposed and examined in depth in a most surreal manner.
Despite the title, this was filmed in Aberdeen.
57. Night of a Thousand Screams 2 (2003 Video)
R | 89 min | Horror, Thriller
Maggie, the only survivor from the bloodbath is found unconscious in the woods by a group of campers who innocently take her back to the house where it ALL happened!!!
59. Strange (2002– )
60 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
John Strange is an ex-priest who had dedicated his life to hunting down demons and the darker side of the church, a task which some of his former bosses stand in the way of.
61. Jemima: Dating Is Murder (2003)
9 min | Comedy, Short, Horror
Jemima is the story of a woman who is void of any real depth of emotions. Focusing on her relationships we join Jemima at the point of ritual that befalls any man who she thinks view her as nothing more than a sexual object...
62. Dummy (2003)
8 min | Short, Horror
A lonely man responds to magazine advert offering friendship and recieves an unexpected delivery
Watch here on IMDB and on Vimeo
63. The Separation (2003)
9 min | Animation, Short, Horror
The separation of conjoined twins and its extraordinary consequences.
Director: Robert Morgan
64. This Place (2003)
23 min | Short, Horror
Trapped and alone in a world of pure terror, haunted by nightmarish visions, what has he done in 'This Place'.
65. Paw (2003)
10 min | Horror, Mystery, Short
A man and woman discover a severed bear's paw in a park and it unearths dark thoughts and strange perversions.
66. Prey (2003)
18 min | Horror, Short
Master cake decorater and all-round family man, John (Bub) Morris, has a secret. He likes to hunt and stalk his prey. Woman.
Watch on YouTube - not the same length as listed on here
67. Pool Shark (2003)
8 min | Short, Horror
68. Seconds Before Dreamwake (I) (2013)
28 min | Short, Horror
The film follows a woman who unceremoniously dumps her boyfriend in order to date another guy. In a flash of blinding light, the woman is confronted by a ghostly apparition who literally ... See full summary »
Watch on YouTube - not the same length as listed on here
69. The Shoe Collector (2003)
3 min | Short, Horror
70. The Reckoning (I) (2002)
12 min | Short, Horror
73. Break (2003)
8 min | Short, Drama, Horror
From darkness an unknown man arrives at an isolated cabin. On entering he discovers a dormant old man. Leading his guest through the cabins changing structure, the old man promises to cook him a meal he will never forget.
74. Beating the Dog (2003)
Beating the Dog, follows the attempts of DCI Bob Costigan in his relentless pursuit of the serial killer known as the Dog. As the body count grows, Costigan is forced to use increasingly ... See full summary »
79. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
R | 99 min | Comedy, Horror
A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
Votes: 437,828 | Gross: $13.54M
Again a seriously influential film, not only make the zom-com (Hell the rom-zom-zom) popular but it'd result in dozens of British zombie films when before this we had... what? The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (a Continental production filmed in the UK)? Hammer's Plague of the Zombies, which pre-dates Romero's NotLD that changed the game for zombie films so much. Womaneater, the first British zombie film? The Frozen Dead? I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain? Zombie Toxin? No real classics of the genre there, not until Shaun of the Dead.
80. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
R | 94 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Alice awakes in Raccoon City, only to find it has become infested with zombies and monsters. With the help of Jill Valentine and Carlos Olivera, Alice must find a way out of the city before it is destroyed by a nuclear missile.
Votes: 167,456 | Gross: $51.20M
81. Creep (I) (2004)
R | 85 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Trapped in a London subway station, a woman who's being pursued by a potential attacker heads into the unknown labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city's streets.
83. London Voodoo (2004)
Not Rated | 99 min | Horror, Thriller
When a young man relocates his family from New York to London his wife discovers a new sexuality and power that threatens to tear the family apart. As his wife's behaviour becomes more ... See full summary »
84. Trauma (I) (2004)
R | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
Awaking from a coma to discover his wife has been killed in a car accident, Ben's world may as well have come to an end. A few weeks later, Ben's out of hospital and, attempting to start a ... See full summary »
85. Lovesick: Sick Love (2004)
R | 94 min | Crime, Horror
O'Ryan loves Julia. Julia loves Istvan. Istvan loves Julia. Julia falls in love with O'Ryan. Julia falls out of love and ends up hating O'Ryan. O'Ryan hates Istvan. Istvan hates O'Ryan. O'Ryan hates his mother. His mother hates everyone!
87. Hellbreeder (2004)
R | 85 min | Horror, Mystery
Five years ago Alice saw her son murdered; now every day is consumed with the need to find his killer. In the sleepy town of Ludlow, the arrival of the mysterious stranger Alice suspects to... See full summary »
89. Mindhunters (2004)
R | 106 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery
Trainees in the FBI's psychological profiling program must put their training into practice when they discover a killer in their midst.
Votes: 52,855 | Gross: $4.48M
90. The Eavesdropper (2004)
R | 97 min | Drama, Thriller, Sci-Fi
The secretary Liza Raines becomes deaf after a shooting in a robbery, is evicted and later she is found by the social assistant Grant Kane living in her car. Grant brings Liza to a ... See full summary »
92. Parasite (2004)
R | 93 min | Horror, Action, Sci-Fi
An abandoned oil rig in the middle of the North Sea. Dr. Christine Hansen is charged with the task of testing an experimental cleaning fluid which could revolutionize the oil industry. ... See full summary »
93. Darkhunters (2004)
Not Rated | 83 min | Horror, Mystery
They say the only thing you can depend upon in life is death. Charles Jackson is about to find out that isn't true. Dying is a tricky process and mistakes get made. How many ghost stories ... See full summary »
94. Seed of Chucky (2004)
R | 87 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
Chucky and Tiffany are resurrected by their innocent son, Glen, and hit Hollywood, where a movie depicting the killer dolls' murder spree is underway.
Votes: 32,320 | Gross: $17.08M
A surprise entry.
95. Romasanta (2004)
R | 90 min | Drama, Horror
An uproar is caused when some mutilated cadavers are discovered, giving way to the legend of the "Werewolf of Allariz". A traveling vendor rolls through the forest in his old wagon. A woman... See full summary »
A rather good Spanish/British co-production.
96. Freak Out (2004)
Not Rated | 92 min | Action, Comedy, Horror
Two best friends, Merv Doody (James Heathcote) and Onkey (Dan Palmer), take a hapless escaped mental patient under their wing and attempt to teach him how to become a real serial killer.
Dreadful low budget film that is a great example of friends running around with a camera messing around (and perhaps nerds realising that if they become "directors" then girls will take their tops off for you). One of the few DVDs I have which I feel like burning.
100. The Return of James Battle (2004)
92 min | Adventure, Comedy, Horror
James Bataille escapes from prison to find his fiancée Concia. But on his return, octopussy like aliens come to play bloody spoilsport. After lucky battle James and Concia escape to parallel world.