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New Folk Horror in British and American Cinema

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 2


New Folk Horror in British Cinema (J.-F. Baillon)

This seminar will offer a critical examination of the resurgence of “folk horror cinema” in British Cinema since the 2000s. Based on cultural references involving neo-pagan cults, witchcraft and a largely fantasised rewriting of the national past in terms of pre-Christian heritage, this profoundly ambiguous tradition has variously been re-appropriated by feminist as well as masculinist discourses and has given rise to a range of aesthetic propositions, from exploitation cinema to “elevated horror”. 


New Folk Horror in American Cinema (C. Chambost)

From times immemorial, superstitions have been at the origins of horrific folk tales taking place in the wilderness or in rural areas and which were told either to restrict people’s freedom, or to entertain them in some spellbinding manner. 
This course analyzes how British and American horror cinemas have both developed a subgenre based on stories that resort to some folklore deeply engrained in a country’s traditions. Using recurring themes like religion, hostile landscapes, supernatural creatures, these films rely on Man’s deepest fears, and they may also be a means for some artists to criticize the human tendency to act in some superstitious and harmful ways.

The course will study British then American folk horror films, pinpointing the specificities of both cinemas

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Contrôle des connaissances

  • Régime général : Each student will have to prepare an oral presentation on a film that can be considered as an example of folk horror cinema.
  • Régime spécial : A written paper will replace the oral presentation.
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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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New Folk Horror in British Cinema (J.-F. Baillon)


  • 1957 Curse of the Demon (dir. Jacques Tourneur)
  • 1961 The Innocents (dir. Jack Clayton)
  • 1964 Witchcraft (dir. Don Sharp); Night of the Eagle (dir. Sidney Hayers)
  • 1966 The Witches (dir. Cyril Frankel); Eye of the Devil (dir. J. Lee Thompson)
  • 1968 Witchfinder General (dir. Michael Reeves); The Devil Rides Out (dir. Terence Fisher)
  • 1970 The Ballad of Tam Lin (dir. Roddy McDowall); Cry of the Banshee (dir. Gordon Hessler)
  • 1971 The Blood on Satan’s Claw (dir. Piers Haggard)
  • 1972 Demons of the Mind (dir. Peter Sykes)
  • 1973 The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy)
  • 1974 Penda’s Fen (Alan Clarke, tv)
  • 2009 Wake Wood (dir. David Keating)
  • 2011 Kill List (dir. Ben Wheatley)
  • 2013 A Field in England (dir. Ben Wheatley); The Borderlands (dir. Elliot Goldner)
  • 2014 The Falling (dir. Carol Morley); The Quiet Ones (dir. John Pogue)
  • 2015 The Witch (dir. Robert Eggers)
  • 2017 The Ritual (dir. David Bruckner)
  • 2019 Fanny Lye Deliver’d (Thomas Clay)
  • 2022 The Witchfinder (tv series)

Primary Sources 

  • Blackwood, Algernon, Ancient Sorceries and Other Tales, ed. by S. T. Joshi, London, Penguin, 2002.
  • Lee, Vernon, Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales, ed. by Catherine Maxwell and Patricia Pulham, 
    Peterborough, Broadview Press, 2006.
  • Machen, Arthur, The Great God Pan, ed. by Aaron Worth, Oxford, 2019.

Secondary Sources 

  • Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities, London and New York, Verso, 1991 (1983)
  • Federici, Silvia, Caliban and the Witch. Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation, London, Penguin 
    Books, 2021 (2004)
  • Frazer, James George, The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion, a new abridgement, Oxford 
    University Press, 2009.
  • Halligan, Benjamin, Michael Reeves, Manchester UP, 2003.
  • Hobsbawm, Eric & Terence Ranger, eds, The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge UP, 2006 (1983)
  • Hutchings, Peter, Terence Fisher, Manchester, Manchester UP, 2002
  • Hutchings, Peter, The Horror Film, London, Longman, 2004.
  • Hutchings, Peter, Hammer and Beyond : The British Horror Film, Manchester, Manchester UP, 2021
  • Hutton, Ronald, The Stations of the Sun : A History of the Ritual Year in England, Oxford, OUP, 1996
  • Hutton, Ronald, The Rise and Fall of Merry England : The Ritual Year 1400-1700, Oxford, OUP, 1996
  • Krzywinska, Tanya, ‘Lurking beneath the skin : British pagan landscapes in popular cinema’, Robert 
    Fish, ed, Cinematic Countrysides, Manchester, Manchester UP, 2007
  • Newland, Paul, Don’t Look Now : British Cinema in the 1970s, London, Intellect, 2010.
  • Newland, Paul, ed., British Rural Landscapes on Film, Manchester, Manchester UP, 2016.
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich, La Naissance de la tragédie, Paris, GF Flammarion, 2015 (1872)
  • Otto, Rudolf, Le sacré, Paris, Payot, 1995.
  • Peirse, Alison, ed., Women Make Horror : Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre, New Brunswick, Camden, 
    and Newark, New jersey, and London, Rutgers UP, 2020
  • Pirie, David, A New Heritage of Horror. The English Gothic Cinema, London I. B. Tauris, 2007.
  • Thomas, Keith, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Penguin, 1980 (1971).


New Folk Horror in American Cinema (C. Chambost)

Recommended reading

  • Allbright, Brian, Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990. McFarland, 2008.
  • Blake, Linnie. The Wounds of a Nation: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma, and National Identity. 
    Manchester Univ Press, 2008.
  • Fry, Carol L. Cinema of the Occult: New Age, Satanism, Wicca, and Spiritualism in Film.Lehigh 
    Univ Press, 2008.
  • Gambin, Lee. Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film. Midnight Marquee 
    Press, 2012.
  • Ingham, Howard David. We Don’t Go Back: a Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror. Room 207 Press, 
  • Murphy, Bernice M. The Rural Gothic in American Popular Culture: Backwoods Horror and Terror 
    in the Wilderness. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
  • Simmons, David. American Horror Fiction and Class: from Poe to Twilight. Palgrave Macmillan, 
  • Scovell, Adam. Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange. Auteur, 2017.
  • Sisco King, Claire. Washed in Blood: Male Sacrifice, Trauma, and the Cinema. Rutgers Univ Press, 
  • Smith Andrew & William Hughes, Eds. EcoGothic. Manchester Univ Press, 2013.
  • Wright, Melanie J. Religion and Film: an Introduction. I.B. Tauris, 2007
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