When I left England in 2009 to live in the Czech Republic, I was totally done with the whole thing. I was broke, had no career prospects, and hated the lifestyle. If it wasn’t for family and a few close friends, I would have gladly never set foot on the island again. That disillusionment might have lasted forever if it wasn’t for folk horror, which, in a strange way, helped me reconnect with my home country. It was the BBC’s wonderfully chilling adaptation of “A Warning to the Curious” that really got me into it. Based on the ghost story by M.R. James, many scenes were filmed in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk Coast, not far from where I grew up. That really gave me a jolt of recognition; I love the county’s desolate beaches and big open skies, and I was suddenly filled with affection and longing for England for the first time in a very long while. As I dug further into British folk horror, I got more of the same sensation: These were films that I could feel in my bones.
The core texts of the folk horror canon are three films that have become known as the “Unholy Trinity:” Michael Reeves’s “Witchfinder General,” Piers Haggard’s “The Blood on Satan’s Claw,” and Robin Hardy’s “The Wicker Man.” The middle film of this unofficial trilogy, whose director sadly passed away this week aged 83, is by far the lesser known. Haggard’s insidious tale of ancient evil ravaging a small rural community bombed on its first release and might have been forgotten altogether, but over 50 years later it is now cherished as one of the cornerstones of the entire folk horror genre… read more >