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The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies London unveils Spring 2018 classes

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After closing out the autumn season with their sold-out Yuletide Terror class with instructors Stephen Thrower and Derek Johnston examining Christmas horror in its myriad cultural forms, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies returns in January 2018 for another semester of classes on horror topics both iconic and arcane.

They begin on January 18th with Howard David Ingham’s Powers of Attraction, which looks at folk horror in the 1970s and the significance of its resurgence today; on February 15th their “Live From Miskatonic” series returns with horror fiction legend Ramsey Campbell live in conversation with prolific author and editor Stephen Jones; March 15th Stacey Abbott, co-author of TV Horror: The Dark Side of the Small Screen (2012), investigates the history and influence of Richard Matheson’s seminal text I Am Legend (1954), including his own censor-rejected script; on April 19th they switch gears to the practical with Watchmaker Films’ Mark Rance, who discusses the complex material, theoretical and subjective issues involved in digital restoration, using his work on F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) as a case study. And as we head into summer on May 17th, theyclose out the semester with a class Ian Cooper’s No Sense Makes Sense, focused on that infamous August of 1969, and the many films that exploited the crimes of the Manson Family and other cults that emerged from that revolutionary period, as well as examining the renewed fascination with cults in the 21st century. Full details on all classes and instructors follow below.

Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international organization that was founded by film writer/programmer Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010 and now has branches in London and New York. Miskatonic London operates under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Josh Saco.

All classes take place at the historic Horse Hospital, the heart of the city’s underground culture. Registration for the full fall semester is £45 (includes Miskatonic student card) and individual class tickets are £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concessions. Details here.

FULL CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:
January 18: POWERS OF ATTRACTION: FOLK HORROR IN ITS CULTURAL CONTEXT
Instructor: Howard David Ingham
British “folk horror” was in many ways a phenomenon of the 1970s, but it has seen a massive revival of popularity in the last decade. What caused it to grow in the fields, forests and furrows of the 1970s and early 1980s? And why has it come back with such a vengeance?
In Secret Powers of Attraction, Howard David Ingham gives a broad overview of British folk horror in its time and space, and how popular interest in the occult creates the conditions for it to become a force in our collective imagination.
Howard’s overview of British folk horror is the starting point for an exploration into the cultural atmosphere of the 1970s and the present. If horror is a reaction to our culture, folk horror holds a mirror up to the concerns of the day. The politics and popular culture of both eras give ample space for folk horror to grow. Howard looks at period ephemera and cultural concerns of the time, drawing parallels with the present day. The Wicker Man and Ghost Stories for Christmas sprang from a world of TV astrologers and spiritualists in the national news, the National Front and the Three-Day Week; The Witch, Without Name and the films of Ben Wheatley come from the same milieu that brought us #witchesofinstagram, the return of the far right and Brexit. Secret Powers of Attraction explores how a world where the uncanny has become normal reflects itself in the horror genre, just as it did decades ago.
Secret Powers of Attraction begins with a look at the central filmic texts of the Folk Horror movement: Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man, explores folk horror in the British TV play (including classics such as Robin Redbreast, the Exorcism, and The Stone Tape) and examines how folk horror tropes invaded popular TV, from Doctor Who to Robin of Sherwood. Finally, bringing the story into the present, Howard will look at the folk horror renaissance, including the films of Ben Wheatley and Peter Strickland, the rise of independent folk horror and the unexpected places it appears in popular culture right now.
About the Instructor:
Howard David Ingham is a writer and educator. He lives in Swansea. Between 2005 and 2012 his work appeared in more than forty publications for White Wolf Games Studio. He writes games, fiction and books, and keeps a regular blog about film and culture at Room207Press.com. His book We Don’t Go Back: a Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror is due for release in 2018.

February 15: LIVE FROM MISKATONIC: RAMSEY CAMPBELL IN CONVERSATION WITH STEPHEN JONES
Instructors: Ramsey Campbell and Stephen Jones
The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes RAMSEY CAMPBELL as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. An author, editor and critic, he has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association and the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild, while in 2015 he was presented with an Honorary Fellowship by John Moores University, Liverpool, for “outstanding services to literature”.
Initially influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he published his first short story in 1962 and his first collection two years later, both with August Derleth’s famed Arkham House imprint. Since then he has published literally hundreds of short stories and novellas, and more than thirty-five novels, from The Doll Who Ate His MotherThe Face That Must Die and The Hungry Moon, to more recent titles such as Thirteen Days by Sunset BeachThe Searching Dead and Born to the Dark. Campbell has also novelised such movies asBride of FrankensteinDracula’s DaughterThe Wolf Man and Solomon Kane, and PS Publishing recently issued Ramsey Campbell’s Limericks of the Alarming and Phantasmal, which was illustrated by Pete Von Sholly and covered the entire history of horror fiction.
For this exclusive event, Ramsey Campbell will discuss his life, his career and his ideology with his friend and colleague, award-winning editor and writer STEPHEN JONES, as well as giving advice to would-be writers on the current state of horror publishing. The evening will end with a Q&A session with the audience. This is an opportunity no horror fan can afford to miss—an informal discussion with one of the giants of the genre, with more than half-a-century of writing experience to draw upon, about the state of modern fiction and film. Don’t miss it!
About the Instructors: 
Ramsey Campbell lives on Merseyside with his wife Jenny. His pleasures include classical music, good food and wine, and whatever’s in that pipe. His web site is at www.ramseycampbell.com.
Stephen Jones lives in London. One of Britain’s most acclaimed horror and dark fantasy writers and editors, he has more than 145 books to his credit. You can visit his web site at www.stephenjoneseditor.com.

March 15: THE LEGACY OF RICHARD MATHESON’S ‘I AM LEGEND’
Instructor: Stacey Abbott
Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend (1954) is a recognized classic of science fiction and horror. It has been adapted many times in films such as The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007). In 1958, Matheson wrote a script adapting the novel for Hammer Studios, but it was never filmed. The script was rejected by both the MPAA and the BBFC. In 1968, George Romero directed Night of the Living Dead, a film he admitted was inspired by Matheson’s novel, and this was the film that Matheson felt was most faithful to the themes of his book.
Through an analysis of a selection of official and unofficial adaptations of the novel, including Matheson’s own script, this lecture by Stacey Abbott considers how this text marks a key transformative moment within the evolution of the horror genre on film. It will consider how the novel reimagined the vampire film through the lens of science fiction and how Matheson’s adaptation for Hammer offered a new, more brutal and modern approach to horror than the studio’s Gothic adaptations of The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). Abbott will discuss how the script confounded the censors in its approach to horror, signaling a cultural resistance to the modernization of the genre and a growing tension between filmmakers and arbiters of cinematic taste.  Finally, in this lecture Abbott will demonstrate not only how I Am Legend influenced Romero’s work, representing a key bridge between classic and new horror, but also continues to influence twenty-first century filmmakers, particularly in the development of the vampire and zombie genres.
About the Instructor:
Stacey Abbott is Reader in Film and Television Studies at the University of Roehampton. She is the author of Celluloid Vampires (2007), Undead Apocalypse: Vampires and Zombies in the 21st Century (2016), and co-author, with Lorna Jowett, of TV Horror: The Dark Side of the Small Screen (2012).

April 19: A RESTORATION OF ‘NOSFERATU’ (1922)
Instructor: Mark Rance
This show-and-tell lecture will illustrate many of the issues encountered and (with varying degrees of success) resolved in a digital restoration of Murnau’s NOSFERATU. We will begin with a description of the original production and the technology used to make the film. The film’s own troubled history complicated the film’s physical reconstruction, and that impacted the digital restoration. The reconstructed master print was made from many disparate elements, as a single negative was simply not available. We will examine many scenes and shots in a side-by-side comparison of the unrestored reconstructed print and the digitally restored version of the same material. As we do, this talk will investigate many of the problems faced by any restoration team when not all the original elements are available. We will examine the use of VFX tools, grain management, tinting processes and photo-chemical to digital translation issues when restoring motion pictures.
This talk will primarily explore the complex and subjective issues currently floating around in many analog-versus-digital discussions of film and how those opinions can influence the determination of what the restored version should look like if the goal is to replicate the original projected image at the time of first release. Can digital restorations generate valid preservation copies of photo-chemical materials? Let’s find out.
About the Instructor: 
Mark Rance is a documentary filmmaker who for many years was a producer at The Criterion Collection before forming his own company in Los Angeles and producing DVDs and Blu-rays for the Hollywood studios. His titles include THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, HARD EIGHT (aka SYDNEY), BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA, SEVEN, I,ROBOT, THE PRESTIGE, RESERVOIR DOGS and THE DARK KNIGHT. He moved to London in 2004 and established Watchmaker Films to restore and distribute lost independent films. Those restorations include Eagle Pennell’s THE WHOLE SHOOTIN’ MATCH and LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO; Tobe Hooper’s first feature, EGGSHELLS; and Jack Hazan’s A BIGGER SPLASH.

May 17: NO SENSE MAKES SENSE: GURUS, CULTS, MURDER AND MOVIES
Instructor: Ian Cooper
There had been mass murderers before, and there have been since, but Manson is an enduring symbol of unfathomable evil. He transformed seemingly peaceful hippies—sons and daughters of the middle class—into heartless killers. Then he set them loose in Los Angeles’s most privileged neighborhoods – LA Weekly (2009)
You honestly have to wonder – what would low-rent exploitation producers have done in the early 70s without Charles Manson? – Trash Film Guru (2013)
This class will examine the rise of alternative religious movements/cults in California in the 1960s and 70s which spawned an ongoing sub-genre of the horror film. The focus will be on the Manson Family, not only the most notorious of these groups but also the one with the greatest cultural impact. This is due to a number of factors including the nightmarish, random violence, the involvement of a number of high-profile artists and celebrities, from Roman Polanski and Dennis Wilson through to Dennis Hopper and Angela Lansbury and the dark glamor of Manson himself, quotable, photogenic and always willing to play up for the cameras.
The Family story has been reworked in a dizzying variety of contexts, from true crime mini-series (Helter Skelter [1976]) to Claymation satire (Like Freaky, Die Freaky [2006]) and even as hardcore porn (Manson XXX [2015]) while Charlie himself has been variously cast as revolutionary, white supremacist, Satanist and vampire. The Manson story contains a number of highly-exploitable elements, from sexual and chemical excess through to horrific and inexplicable violence and it can also be slanted in a variety of ways, a warning against false prophets, an indictment of the counter-culture, a slice of anti-drug propaganda or simply gruesome spectacle.
As well as a focus on the first wave of Mansonsploitation, low-budget independents such as The Other Side of Madness (1971) and Sweet Savior (1971), there will be a consideration of the Family references in an eclectic collection of films including the work of John Waters (Multiple Maniacs [1970] and Russ Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls [1970]), the British period gothic tradition (Blood on Satan´s Claw [1970]), no-budget labours of love such as Manson Family Movies (1984) and Jim Van Bebber´s The Manson Family (2003). This will lead on to an examination of other cults including The People´s Temple and the mass suicide at Jonestown, an event reworked as glossy TV mini-series (Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones [1980), low-budget exploitation (Guyana: Crime of the Century [1979]) and found-footage horror (The Sacrament [2013]).
There will also be a consideration of the renewed fascination with cults in the 21st century. The events of 9/11, like the Tate/LaBianca murders served as a reminder that terrifying violence can strike without warning and internet-inspired ´lone wolf`terror attacks have ensured that fears of brainwashing and mind control are again part of the zeitgeist. This fascination is reflected in films such as The Strangers (2008) and The Invitation (2015) and TV shows such as Aquarius (2015 – 16) and American Horror Story:Cult (2017).
About the Instructor:
Ian Cooper is an author and screenwriter. His books include Devil´s Advocates: Witchfinder General (Auteur 2011), Cultographies: Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Wallflower Press 2012) and Frightmares: A History of British Horror (2016). He has also written for edited collections on subjects including early 70s vampire films and the cult appeal of Klaus Kinski. His books, Devil´s Advocates: Frenzy (Auteur) and Family Values: The Manson Family on Film and TV (McFarland) will be published in 2018.
He also has a number of screenplays in various stages of development in the UK and US.

He lives in Germany.

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One Comment

  1. The Cure of Frankenstein, eh? Never heard of that one. Maybe it belongs in a double bill with that other famous Hammer horror typo Hands Off The Ripper?

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