At the LA Weekly, John Patterson finds that "The Golden Age of British Horror: 1955 – 1975" series offered by Hollywood’s American Cinematheque (and kicking off today) might be a little too quick in gilding itself:
Despite winning notoriety in their time for censor-baiting levels of violence, gore and cleavage exposure, the early Hammer successes â€” "Horror of Dracula" and "Revenge of Frankenstein," which inaugurated the studioâ€™s lucrative practice of plundering Universalâ€™s monster gallery â€” now look like the rickety, bottom-of-the-bill fare they in fact were. Only in such a tame and sexless era of British cinema could they have seemed so distinctive. When the bottom fell out of the second-feature market in the early 1960s, British horror should by rights have died along with it. But distribution deals with American firms kept it artificially alive â€” albeit destined mainly for grindhouses and drive-ins â€” until American money withdrew altogether from the British film industry in the early â€™70s, after which not even Dr. Frankenstein could resuscitate the genre.
Geoffrey Macnab at the Independent and Colm TÃ³ibÃn at the Guardian write more fondly about another British horror film from the era, Jack Clayton‘s 1961 "Turn of the Screw" adaptation "The Innocents," which is getting a theatrical re-release in London. Macnab notes that the film has plenty of admirers:
"I often say it is the best photographed film of mine although it won
no photographic awards," remarks its cinematographer, Freddie Francis,
now 88, whose other credits include such strikingly shot work as "The
French Lieutenant’s Woman" and Martin Scorsese‘s version of "Cape Fear."
The co-writer Truman Capote was equally proud of his contribution,
calling "The Innocents" his "best film script". Pauline Kael described
the film as "the best ghost movie I’ve ever seen". The great French
director FranÃ§ois Truffaut once happened to be eating in the same
restaurant as Clayton. He had never met the English film-maker but had
a waiter carry him over a napkin on which he had scribbled: "’The
Innocents’ is the best English film after Hitchcock goes to America."