In Part Two of Tonight’s Horror Bill, STEPHEN MOSLEY continues the argument why there should be more horror films on television
Joan Collins is cursed by a vertically challenged fellow. She gives birth to an evil baby who puts dead mice in teacups, and pushes old ladies into ponds. That’s the plot of “I Don’t Want to be Born (AKA The Devil Inside Her)” in a nutshell.
I first saw this British 70s horror film as a schoolboy in the 90s (the 1990s, that is) as part of a Friday night double-bill on BBC 1. It was shown as part of “Dr. Terror’s Vault of Horror”.
Dr. Terror was a rubber-faced, bat-eared chap with a lovely speaking voice who introduced double-bills of Classic Horror Films on Friday nights.
The double-bills were always connected by a theme. I remember well, Killer Trees being represented by “The Guardian” and “From Hell it Came” – Vampires by “Vamp” and “Black Sunday” – and Teenage Nuisances by “The Lost Boys” and “I Was A Teenage Werewolf”.
“I Don’t Want to be Born” was paired with another British film “Blood of the Vampire”. The theme, this time, seemed to be Shakespearian Actors Slumming It, as Eileen Atkins played a nun in the former, and Sir Donald Wolfit a grisly scientist in the latter.
I hated school, and I hated Mondays, and I looked forward to these double-bills with mounting glee. They signified that the weekend was here, and the real horrors of school could be forgotten for a day or so.
I suppose I took it for granted back then that a gourmet feast of horror awaited me on the BBC every Friday or Saturday night, offering harmless escapism and an ease of my worries.
In fact, it was a TV tradition going back to the 70s where Friday night double-bills shown throughout the Summer are still remembered fondly, not least by artists such as The League of Gentlemen, who have never been shy of acknowledging their debt to Classic Horror.
The question is: what has happened to this time-honoured tradition? Why are Classic Horror Films no longer shown on the BBC every weekend? Occasionally, BBC 2 might screen something awful like “Crucible of Terror” or “The Haunted House of Horror” on a Friday night . . . but, I tell you, it’s not enough!
I, myself, owe a great debt to TV screenings of horror films throughout my youth. They enchanted my imagination; opened up a world of wonder that existed beyond the grey Yorkshire skies and rain-lashed windows. As a writer of strange tales, and having recently played the monster in a movie, my childhood passions have pretty much shaped my adult life.
A whole generation, weaned on CGI-infested, pointless remakes, are deprived of such wonder. So, Bring Back Classic Horror to the BBC! Bring back Dr. Terror!
Where else are we going to see Joan Collins give birth to a demonic child?
STEPHEN MOSLEY is an actor, writer, and musician. His book of strange tales THE BOY WHO LOVED SIMONE SIMON is out now, and was selected by ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS as one of the 10 Best Books of 2011. He is one half of the music duo COLLINSON TWIN, and he lives in a dungeon near Leeds.