A Vault of Horror
(Telos, £12.99, 427 pages, paperback, published 2004; ISBN 1903889588.)
This is billed as a "A Book of 80 Great (and not so great) British
Horror Movies from 1956-1974", but Topping, to me, just asserts that
all the films within are great in their own way, and proves that Britain
once had a film industry that ruled the cinema screen.
From Asylum to Vampyres, Topping concerns himself with cataloguing
the golden era of horror from the likes of Hammer and Amicus, not to
mention the UK independents that produced a production line of scares
Topping is obviously a fan, and is a man after my own heart, and readily
acknowledges that the book is not an exhaustive list--despite that,
it is still a chunky volume with a wonderful internal design and fantastic
original poster art: they just don't make posters like they used to!
Without doubt Keith Topping is an authority, with little in the way
of pretentiousness in his writing style; this volume is no Alexander
Walker or Pauline Kael critique, and for that I applaud him.
This is also a book for fans of great British cinema, with each film
given several pages to describe the plot, a review and any other tid-bit
of information that Topping has unearthed. As I've stated, Telos has
produced a great looking book, which is easy to read, and includes the
original poster artwork that is worth the cover price alone.
You may not agree with everything Topping says, but this book is still
great just to dip into now and again. It's not exactly cover-to-cover
If you have just a fleeting interest in Hammer movies, or you're a
rabid fan, then I urge you to buy this book: the 80 films on show get
regular airplay on television (usually late at night) and as a source
of reference, it is indispensable.