Posted by Ian
The Royal Mail has just released its latest set of commemorative stamps: a tribute to some of the most groundbreaking and iconic films ever made in Britain:
I’m talking, of course, about the Carry On and Hammer horror films. *What?!* the nation chokes. Groundbreaking?! Iconic, yes, but groundbreaking? Heavens no!
Well yes, actually, I do think both franchises broke new ground in terms of popular cinema. They shaped their own genre, created hugely successful mini-industries in seaside humour and gory suspense, and tapped into elements of the British love for sex and violence with an aplomb (and a very knowing humour) that had never been done before.
They showed that cheap could not only be cheerful but, well, inspirational. There’s a human heart to the Carry On films that time seems unable to chip away. When things go wrong in Carry On land, they’re always by accident or ill-fortune, never through malice or evil. As such the films are, well, an affirmation of the fundamental decency of people. And that’s a quality looked down on by most of the film industry.
The Hammer films, meanwhile, are masterpieces of expertly-contrived, full-on terror fun-rides. Like the Carry Ons, you know what you’re going to get, but that’s precisely the point. You don’t mess with a hit. In terms of production-line, star-encrusted scareathons, they can’t be beaten.
So enough of the snobbery about these British institutions. Let’s own up and admit we love a good Carry On and Hammer horror. Even if you were once a weak man. Because after all, once a week’s enough for any man.