Carry on screaming

[n a new four-part series, horror buff Christopher Frayling traces the shadowy history of four classic stories. Damien Love slips a . \ crucifix in his pocket asks why r Dracula and Frankenstein still "" '* haunt our imagination.

“When / placed my head on the pillow I did not sleep, nor could I he said to think. My imagination. unhidden. possessed and guided me. . . [saw the hideous phantasnt o/a man stretched out. and then . . . show signs o/‘lil'e and stir with an uneasy. half-vital motion. '

Thus in an introduction to the l83l edition of her tnost famous work. Mary Shelley recounts the nightmare she had fifteen years previously. while she and Percy Shelley were in Switzerland as house guests of Lord Byron. whiling away stormy nights with ghost stories and talk of Dr Charles Darwin the nightmare that spawned Frankenstein.

In Nightmare: ’l he Birth ()fHorrot'. Professor Christopher Frayling revisits that night filming for the first time within the walls of the Villa Diodati

‘_ i 0‘" ‘Js‘ _

the Birth Cl llorror: Christopher Frayllng re-llves the nightmare

wrote much of Dracula in a library on the Buchan coast. And Robert Louis Stevenson. like Arthur Conan Doyle. was raised an Edinburgh boy. and his work reeks of the division between the squalid Old Town. and the then very New side of the city. Devout spiritualist Conan Doyle plugged directly into Welsh mythology for his fictional detective's most famous case.

The inclusion of The Houttd Of The Baskervilles seems at first an odd one. There‘s something universal about the other three tales. while Holmes‘ demon-dog is very site specific. Also. in the other cases. the works were to some extent. inspired by specific nightmares their authors had - not so in Conan Doyle‘s case.

‘l wanted to have. as the fourth. werewolves. or

vast majority of people believe themselves familiar with these stories. they have been transformed into things far beyond their original author‘s ken or control. Even recent attempts at getting back to the source texts. such as Francis Coppola's Brant Stoker is Dracula. come bowed beneath the weight of Hollywood tradition.

'Ever since the l960s. l‘ve been trying to persuade my colleagues and young artists and everyone I meet to take horror seriously.‘ says Frayling. ‘lt‘s always been rather marginalised. So. I‘ve always had in mind a mass-audience series explaining where these stories came from. and how they‘ve changed almost beyond all recognition.’

Frayling puts the case that these works represent the greatest. most enduring contribution by British

and the birthing places of three other classic horror tales: Dracula. Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde and The Hound ()f'l'lte Baskeri'illes. Ft'ayling is rector of the

authors of the l9th century to the popular culture of our own time. ‘Everyone goes on about Jane Austen.’ he says. ‘but the real British tradition is telling nasty

some sort of nasty beast.‘ Frayling admits. ‘But the funny thing about the werewolf is that there's no literary text. no one story. And i wanted a best-

selling ferocious beast.‘

Besides. everyone loves a shaggy dog story. Nightmare: Birth Of Horror begins on Tue 1 7 Dec at [0.55pm on BBC 2. The second programme is on Wed I 8 Dec at IO. 45pm.

stories. We‘re brilliant at it particularly the Celtic side of Britain.‘

In the same introduction. Shelley speaks of the influence the Scottish landscape had on her childhood. Bram Stoker. a former ln'sh civil servant.

Royal College of An in London and an ardent Hammer fan. He has published two books on vampires among his numerous titles on the history of popular culture.

The premise of the series is a simple one: while the

which translates the dumb humour of Red Dwarf onto a pirate ship. This is Captain Pugwash with a Liverpool accent and the innuendo that adults imagined in the kids series but was never there. in short, plenty oi seamen jokes.

However, unlike lied Dwarf which had several strong pertormances, the irrepressible Charles pretty much has to run the show. The Carry On influences are betrayed by a character called lord lioger who 30 years ago would have been played by Charles iiawtrey. The timing oi

cows wear clothes, drive a car painted like a Wiseman’s dairy van and are beginning to find their hindiegs in a world human, though they haven’t quite got the hang of money. Daddy bull, Thor, is even asked to stand as a parliamentary candidate by the Conservative party, trying to round up the bovine vote.

The result is something like an Anchor butter ad crossed with The Darling Duds D! May, and indeed, it features Pam Ferris who played Ma larkin, though with the prosthetic

Ema— Five bovines and a bosun

Channel 4 is bringing in the New Year with two high-concept comedies which demonstrate that sitcom doesn’t have to be set in a suburban living room. Well actually, one at them is set in a suburban living room, but the family on the

sets are cows. Called simply Cows, a one-hour special introduces the Johnsons who are due to get their own series later in 1997.

The show was devised by stand-up Eddie Inard and draws on the comedian’s long-standing obsession with anthropomorphic animals. ills

Cows: bringing in the Moo Year

cow head on she could be anybody. it’s all nonsense, of course, but the opportunities tor cow lokes are endless. Naturally the Johnsons all smoke grass - as did the writers, one imagines.

Equally daft is the new Craig Charles vehicle Captain Butler,

transmission suggests Channel 4 hopes audiences will watch in the spirit ot the adult pantomime this resembles. Oh yes it does. (Eddie Gibb)

Cows Is on Wed 1 Jan; Captaln Butler starts on Fri 3 Jan, bear on Channel 4.

The List 13 Dec 1996-9 Jan l997 71