The Missing Link Reviews

The BFI Companion To Horror

edited by Kim Newman. Cassell. Softcover. 352 pages. 19.99

The BFI Companion to HorrorIt can be said that the horror genre is perhaps the most contentious when it comes to defining its parameters. Such a listing as this must always be arbitrary, otherwise we could all be here until doomsday in our efforts to be completists.

THE BFI COMPANION TO HORROR is no exception to this ruling. While the book explores the horror medium in film, television, radio, history and folklore, the barriers are frequently trampled underfoot. After all, what makes the horror legacy so appealing is its ability to infiltrate comfortably into all other genres. Even musicals and westerns cannot evade its clutches!

Unfortunately for reasons that are left unexplained there are some curious omissions from this massive reference guide. GODZILLA surely warrented an inclusion as do seperate listings for Universal and the Poverty Row Studios. No surprise to not find horror film regular John George appear, but it is a shock to see that E.E. Clive, animator Willis O'Brien and Una O'Connor notable for her performances in The Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, also failed to be included. I am sure it is possible for anyone to conjure up a list of omissions, but it is only fair to say that there is very little ground in the book that hasn't been covered with only the minimum of faux pas to be found along the way. At risk of sounding superior may I point out that it was Werner Krauss, not Paul Wegener in Paul Leni's Das Wachsfigurenkabinett, where is "The Old Dark House" in Will Hay's Oh! Mr. Porter, and a print of Murnau's Schloss Vogelod has managed to survive.

Despite my obvious nit-picking, a book of this magnitude will soon become dog-eared from overuse, particularly for the superb selection of stills provided by the British Film Institute's own enviable collection. It is most gratifying to finally see the only still seemingly available still of 1928's Sweeny Todd featuring an almost unrecognisable Moore Marriott as the demon barber.

With over thirty contributing writers THE BFI COMPANION TO HORROR will provide both the layman and the film buff with something to sink their fangs into.

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