Tuesday, 12 January 2021

England's Screaming

England's Screaming - PS Publishing
Sean Hogan
PS Publishing

What connects Duc de Richleau (The Devil Rides Out), Julian Karswell (Night Of The Demon), and Damien Thorn (The Omen)? Carol Ledoux (Repulsion) and Dr. Channard (Hellbound: Hellraiser II)? Jo Gilkes (Beasts) and Angel Blake (Blood On Satan's Claw)? How is Karswell linked to Hugo Fitch (Dead Of Night) and Emily Underwood (From Beyond The Grave)? What connects Dorothy Yates (Frightmare) to the deaths at Russell Square (Death Line)? How and why does Damien Thorn know Julia Cotton (Hellraiser)?
It s a common thread of Film Criticism to note the influences and precursors of one film to another, especially in relation to genre: by definition, genre films are connected by a frame. What then if the characters could see each other? What if they existed not only as fictional characters in our world, but in a single chronology of their own? What if they could talk to each other, know each other, love and hate each other?
Who would align with whom, and what might we discover about how influences breed? What might we then learn about the warp and weft of our beloved genre and the patterns that are woven through it?

It's such a neat idea it's a wonder it hasn't been done before.  Crossovers and shared worlds have obviously been a thing for a long while - Philip Jose Farmer's 'Wold Newton' books, Kim Newman's 'Anno Dracula' & ' Diogenes Club' books and Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' - but this is the first - at least that I've seen - to find a commonality between the various characters of the golden age of British horror movies.

Hogan here, using 'The Omen' series to provide a sort of underlying narrative, creates a timeline that stretches from 'The Night of the Demon's 'Julian Karswell' and Dennis Wheatley's 'The Duc de Richleau' ('The Devil Rides Out') to 'Philip' in the 2018 movie 'Possum' along the way plucking characters from 'Quatermass', 'The Wicker Man', 'Kill List', 'The Dead of Night', 'The Medusa Touch', 'Hellraiser', 'The Shout', 'Ghostwatch' and many, many more.

Now I'm a sucker for these sort of things, 'League...' is one of my very favourite books, and this is undeniably fun but it is desperately in need of a sturdier armature.  Hogan's loose appropriation and re-jig of 'The Omen' timeline just doesn't really have the narrative depth or the cultural weight to truly hold together what is essentially a series of vignettes.  As a fan of most of the movies and TV shows featured I enjoyed revisiting old favourites and seeing often peripheral characters given new or extra life within these pages and for that I am very happy to recommend it but I do think it would have benefitted from a more cohesive and comprehensive story to hang it's fun core conceit on.

Buy it here - UK / US.

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