'The Woman In Black' Writer Jane Goldman and Filmmaker James Watkins Scare Up BFI Gothic Season Interest

The pair were on hand to launch the British Film Institute's series of screenings to celebrate the local roots of the genre.
Jane Goldman   |   Getty Images
The pair were on hand to launch the British Film Institute's series of screenings to celebrate the local roots of the genre.

LONDON ­ -- Filmmaker James Watkins and screenwriter Jane Goldman, who worked together on the Daniel Radcliffe movie The Woman In Black, talked up the launch of the British Film Institute's Gothic film season.

The pair were joined by "scream queen" Madeline Smith, whose resume boasts turns in the 1970s' Taste The Blood of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, among others.

And self-confessed gothic aficionados, cult British author Charlie Higson and Reece Shearsmith (Shaun Of The Dead, The Cottage) also crept on stage for the event.

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The season, divided into four themes -- Monstrous, The Dark Arts, Haunted and Love Is A Devil -- will feature digitally restored copies of various cult gothic classics from U.K. shores.

The BFI promises 150 titles and around 1,000 screenings during the season that will run from August through January.

Goldman, who penned the screenplay for The Woman in Black, directed by Watkins, said she looked forward to being scared in the movie theater again "as a collective experience."

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She noted that like comedy, horror and gothic are genres where the the audience leaves no doubt over whether your script had worked.

"They're either scared and jumping out of their seats or not," she said.

The Woman in Black is the highest-grossing British horror film of the past 20 years, grossing over $33 million in the U.K. and crossing the $120 million box-office mark worldwide.

Watkins said at least part of that movie's success in the U.K. stemmed from the fact that British audiences enjoy a spooky movie.

"The Spanish were having a lot of fun with the genre so I just thought, 'why not us'? We practically invented it," Watkins said.

He noted that while Hollywood was adept at "mythologizing" society and itself on screen, the Brits were more wary of doing it.

The BFI's Gothic season titles to unspool include Robert Wise's The Haunting, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and John Landis' An American Werewolf In London

  • Stuart Kemp