Thursday, 25 October 2012
Halloween TV: Trick or Treats
Michael Moran tunes in for the best of the week’s spooky TV
By Michael MoranHalloween is a peculiar idea. When I was young, and writing my assessments of the black-andwhite programmes of the day with a quill pen, Halloween was something that happened in American comics. Now a whole industry has sprung up to furnish today's young TV columnists with terrifying costumes and pumpkincarving tools. But we're too sensible for all that. If we're to have seasonal frights at all, we'll take them with a generous dollop of thoughtful analysis.
Frankenstein: A Modern Myth (Wednesday, 11pm on Channel 4) is an exploration of the classic tale starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film may be centred around Danny Boyle's lauded stage production at the National Theatre but it's stitched together like, well... Frankenstein's monster. There's some genuinely interesting stuff about Mary Shelley and her role in the Enlightenment and the fi rst flickerings of modern feminism.
It includes a wealth of archive material from the innumerable film productions based on the story. And inexplicably, there are a lot of clips of the Rolling Stones. What they're there for is anybody's guess but the whole film gallops along at such a clip, no one could possibly be bored.
Mark Gatiss is appealing to a narrower audience with his Horror Europa (Tuesday, 9pm on BBC Four). Essentially, he's made this love letter to European horror films for his own satisfaction, and if anyone else likes it, that's a bonus. It gets off to a slightly rocky start by showing its most awkward interview first but nevertheless I think many viewers will really enjoy it. Certainly any student of cinema will relish the interviews with luminaries of the genre. Even casual cineastes will have fun spotting all those shots from German Expressionist classics that have been cribbed by modern directors. And anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s will get a Proustian thrill from seeing snippets of terribly acted vintage spine-chillers, which seemed terribly dangerous and thrilling at the time.
They seem quite mild now, though. For truly state-of-the-art frights, try American Horror Story: Asylum (Tuesday, 10pm on FX). It's the second series of this glossy, big-budget spook show, but don't be worried if you missed Series 1. Although some of the impressive cast has been retained, this is an entirely new story with altogether new characters.
It's utterly preposterous, of course. This is real kitchen-sink writing, with a haunted asylum, a mad scientist, a somewhat loopy nun and even a few alien abductions to stretch your credulity. But, if you can tolerate the silliness of the premise, it is rather fun. And with a stellar cast including Jessica Lange, Chloë Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes and James Cromwell, you could hardly lump American horror story with the amateurish shockers of the 1960s.
You may be a little too grownup to go door-to-door begging for sweets, but there's still a varied pick and mix of Halloween fun for you to enjoy this week.
Daily tip from the lady archive
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