A journey into the horror films inspired by Bloomsbury, an area once called the nexus of occultism in London.
Whether the Druidic curse cast on Dana Andrews, Charlton Heston performing ancient Egyptian rituals in the British Museum, or the Masonic undertones of Jack the Ripper, the stories of London horror cinema have long been under the spell of ancient powers and occult.
The area of Bloomsbury, in particular, was a natural inspiration for filmmakers. It houses some of the most mythic buildings in London, including churches by architect Nicholas Hawksmoor and the British Museum, as well as societies which practice spiritualism and alternative forms of Christianity.
Horror films made the most of this longstanding relationship with the mystic and the otherworldly, bringing Egyptian gods, Druidic runes, werewolves, and long-dead spirits to its streets, while the very real occult societies of the area inspired a range of horror films all over the world involving serial killers and mythic beasts.
Last night I had the great privilege of giving the above talk on the horror movies of Bloomsbury for Kensington Central Library’s Festival of Folklore and Customs.
Thank you to anyone who logged on to my talk. For anyone inspired to watch – or rewatch – these movies, the film list is online here.
For anyone who missed it, the full lecture has been put up online by the Kensington Central Library and should be available through the summer of 2023.