A short interview about ghost stories and writing, hosted by Mark Norman of The Folklore Podcast - recorded live at the 2023 UK Ghost Story Festival at the Museum of Making in Derby.
Film (Year) Director:
Don't Look Now (1973) dir. Nicolas Roeg
The Innocents (1961) dir. Jack Clayton
Taxi Driver (1976) dir. Martin Scorsese
The Devils (1971) dir. Ken Russell
Macbeth (1971) dir. Roman Polanski
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) dir. Peter Weir
Apocalypse Now (1979) dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Requiem for a Dream (2000) dir. Darren Aronofsky
The Night of the Hunter (1955) dir. Charles Laughton
Dracula (1958) dir. Terence Fisher
Don't Look Now
1973 United Kingdom, Italy
This film had a profound and visceral effect on me and has been embedded in my psyche ever since. A masterpiece of every aspect of cinematic art.
1961 USA, United Kingdom
The most effective and precise rendition of a ghost story in cinema, with an unforgettable central performance.
The first film where I found myself experiencing an abnormal mind from the inside. Rewards endless rewatching.
1971 USA, United Kingdom
A physical onslaught of a film which changed my idea about organised religion, and history, forever. I have never been the same since. The fact the film has not been released in its intended form is a travesty.
1971 USA, United Kingdom
Polanski achieved at a stroke what my English teachers never had: he made Shakespeare not only intelligible but compelling.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
A film that is not just a mystery, but about the nature of mystery and the inability of human beings to accept the inexplicable. Masterful and eternally resonant.
Far more than a war film or mythic quest, it throws of the shackles off its genre to become a meditation on madness and horror. Unforgettable.
Requiem for a Dream
Simply unrelenting and unapologetic. Funny, disturbing, extreme, challenging - all I ever want from cinema. The fact that some people find it unbearably grim only makes me love it all the more.
The Night of the Hunter
This nightmarish horror with children at the centre, full of classic imagery and a blood and thunder perforamance from Mitchum, always had to be on my list.
1958 United Kingdom
There had to be one Hammer here, and it's this. There is no better scene in the history of horror than the climactic confrontation between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Etched into my mind and absolutely treasured. It never gets old and never fails to get the blood pumping.
I have chosen these films with two strict criteria: That they had to have had a profound effect on me on first viewing. Secondly, that their lasting legacy had to have stayed with me and imbued my own creative life. All the films on the list have done, some directly and massively influencing my writing, while others have provided constant inspiration by their greatness. Thanks for the opportunity to share them.
Close, but no cigar:
A Clockwork Orange
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
The Devil Rides Out
Quatermass and the Pit
Screenwriter and author