Wales; for many, that little bit on the lefthand side of England, home to some 3 million people (that’s about the same amount of people that live in the state of Iowa) famous for singing, rugby (which to be fair was invented in England, but we just care more), sheep, rain, coal and ummmm that’s about it (and there’s me of course, but I wouldn’t say I’m famous, save for in my mum’s eyes). Wales then isn’t an obvious choice when considering a nation’s impact on the horror genre. But don’t count your sheep before you have sex with them (It’s an old saying). Join Deadly Movies to celebrate this year’s St David’s Day with a salute to Wales’s greatest contributions to our beloved genre (in no particular order btw):
Wales (0 – Present): Yes the country Wales, I’m listing the country as a great contributor.., mainly because this is a Top 5 and I came up with 4 and didn’t have the ego-balls to list my own blog (now based in Vancouver Canada). To be fair Wales has either played location or been the location to some absolute classic Horror titles, including: The Old Dark House (1932 – setting), The Wolf Man (1941 – setting), Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943 – setting), Three Weird Sisters (1948 – setting), Whispers of Fear (1976 – Setting), An American Werewolf In London (1981 – location), and The Keep (1983 – location). That’s pretty respectable right? I tell you what, if you can name seven better horror films set or shot in Iowa I’ll concede this point.
Ivor Novello (1893 – 1951): Yes that Ivor Novello, as in The Ivor Novello Awards. A man who started life with the much more recognisably Welsh name of David Ivor Davies. Novello, one of the biggest matinee idols of the silent era, left one huge footprint in the horror genre, that of the mysterious and ambiguous lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jack The ripper inspired silent flick The Lodger (1926). The film originally called for an open ending whereby audiences wouldn’t know whether Novello was or wasn’t the murderer, a bold move that caused the studio to demanded that the film conclude with Novello’s innocence. Hitchcock obliged but managed some lingering doubt by never revealing the identity of the assailant. Never the less, the impact of Novello’s performance and Hitchcock’s direction would pave the way for you know who and what.., Norman Bates and Psycho (1960). As Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto put it, it’s “the first time Hitchcock.., revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder“.
Anthony Hopkins: My dad always describes Anthony Hopkins’ unforgettable voice as the Welsh equivalent of Sean Connery’s Scottish accent, and I think that sums it up rather nicely. Hopkins has appeared in many a rememberable horror movie including 1978’s wonderful Magic. But he will forever be remembered for his Oscar winning turn as Hannibal Lector in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs and subsequent sequels Hannibal and Red Dragon. Forever an indisputable icon of horror.
Christian Bale: To be the first man to ever play Batman in three consecutive movies is quite some claim to fame, and he happens to be a Welshman. Granted you’d never know as he changes his accent as often as his socks. But if Bale’s screaming, grunting, growling Batman isn’t horror enough for you, then his cult turn as Patrick Bateman in 1999’s American Psycho bloody well will be.
Arthur Machen (author, 1863 – 1947): I’ll admit I’m struggling at this point. BUT.., this Welsh guy who I had never heard of wrote a book which I had also never heard of until now.., The Great God Pan. Said novel is lorded over by horror overlords H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King who, have sighted this work as instrumental to their own creations (and we all know the impact they have had on horror). Indeed, King went as far as to say that “The Great God Pan, is one of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language” . If It’s good enough for them.., and so on.
Honourable mentions to Marc Evans (director of My Little Eye – 2002), Richard Burton for getting through The Excorcist 2: The Heretic (1977), and Catherine Zeta-Jones because she’s so hot, but still, The Haunting remake (1999) was shit.