A History Of Horror With Mark Gatiss: Frankenstein Goes To Hollywood

Sherlock co-producer and writer Mark Gatiss has a long association with the notion of "horror". The League Of Gentlemen (which Gatiss starred in and co-wrote) had its fair share of grotesque characters and numerous nods to the "horror" genre. His stories for Doctor Who included scares aplenty and Christmas 2008 saw his excellent mini-series, Crooked House, spooking it up on BBC Four.

The same channel is also the new home to this three-part documentary series looking at the cinematic "history" of horror. Though, not quite the history.

Gatiss, an engagingly and informative presenter, makes it quite clear that this study stems from a personal passion and is "unashamedly selective" in the films chosen for discussion. His account is purely based on his own favourites and eras and this is where A History Of Horror excels.

Rather than some all-encompassing effort, taking in the actual history of the genre, Gatiss uses his own love to drive the documentary. His enthusiasm and interest leads us to equally sprightly interviewees; namely the gigglesome duo of Donnie "voice of Bambi" Dunagan and Gloria Stuart (who sadly passed away recently).

Other highlights include the unearthing of original, and very personal, props used by Lon Chaney (The Phantom of the Opera), the reveal of some horror film 'trade secrets', and horror director John Carpenter (Halloween) disagreeing with his interviewer's opinions.

Even if you have no interest in the genre, or find it redundant, A History Of Horror will, at the very least, entertain (and educate) and, at best, leave you digging out those old Frankenstein films to partake in Gatiss' joy.

For the writer/actor, "horror" is anything but that, it's a celebration - never more so evident than in the opening scenes when we witness Gatiss watching a horror film, smiling and revelling at the images, drinking in the moment.

A great introduction for the horror novice and a fantastic journey for buffs.

Airs at 9pm on Monday 11th October 2010 on BBC Four.

Reviewed by Cameron K McEwan.