• Mind the Doors! Locating folk horror within the cinematic London Underground

    David Evans-Powell (see profile)
    Motion pictures, Folklore--Study and teaching, Horror, Horror films, Landscapes
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Folk Horror in the 21st Century
    Conf. Org.:
    Falmouth University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Falmouth, UK
    Conf. Date:
    5 September 2019
    Folk horror, Cinema, Film, Film studies, Folklore studies, Horror cinema, Landscape
    Permanent URL:
    Nowhere in the urban landscape is folk horror’s encroachment into the civilised space more pronounced than in the subterranean realms of our underground transit systems. These are familiar and everyday spaces, critical to the functions of urban space. They represent the ingenuity of civilisation, violently and intrusively reshaping inaccessible and hostile terrain for our use. However, despite their centrality to our lives, they remain uncanny and untrustworthy spaces. They are analogous to that other great liminal space – the countryside – in that they illustrate the limitations and vulnerabilities of contemporary, urban society, and suggest this society is built upon ancient landscapes stained by folkloric heritage in which the past is malignant and lurking just out of sight. The London Underground is, in particular, characterised as “a space which is past and future, contemporary and archaic” , a gateway between the modern and urban, and the ancient and folkloric. Even when depicted outside the horror genre, for example in Sliding Doors (1998, Peter Howitt) and Passport to Pimlico (1949, Henry Cornelius), the Underground is still identified as a site for spatial and temporal transgression. Through a consideration of both the more traditionally rural folk horror texts and some initial forays into an examination of urban folk horror, this paper will explore the cinematic London Underground as a folk horrific space principally by considering two horror films in which the Tube plays a vital role: Death Line (1972, Gary Sherman) and Creep (2004, Christopher Smith).
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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