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A Vault of Horror

by Keith Topping

(Telos, £12.99, 427 pages, paperback, published 2004; ISBN 1903889588.)

Review by Christopher Teague

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 and chills.

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 reading.

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.

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