Herbert Wise’s 1989 TV gem wowed critics, inspired Oscar-winners and ruined Christmas for a generation. Then it was never seen again … until now
“I saw it when it was first shown,” says the film critic Kim Newman. “Christmas Eve with my mum and dad. We all just wanted to watch a spooky ghost story. But there were after-effects, a mood that carried on after the film ended. You wake up next morning, Christmas Day, you’re still scared …”
He laughs darkly. “The Woman in Black ruined Christmas.”
Few horror films have acquired the cult reputation of Herbert Wise’s TV production of The Woman in Black. Adapted by visionary British sci-fi screenwriter Nigel Kneale from Susan Hill’s 1983 novella,
“XXXX” is a series of digits – 1089 is “Mind-bending Movies”, for example; while 354 is “Movies Starring Matthew McConaughey” – currently a genre of one film.
Not all numbers will result in a subgenre, and given Netflix’s ever-changing algorithms, they might move around every now and then, while there may be regional differences meaning that some codes don’t work.
Codes for the main genres are available here. At the foot of the list is a link to a list of even more.
The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late ’40s and ’50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.
Boring British Movies
Growing up as a callow nascent film buff, lost in the candy store of VHS tapes and TV Guide, I gathered that British films were mostly dull old things. With a few exceptions, they were talky sub-Hollywood productions, at best well-acted but lacking oomph and pizzazz and élan and je ne sais quoi. I partly got this impression from English critics, and some of the tatty VHS and TV prints I saw reinforced this idea.
As the years passed, I had to note more and more exceptions until the old canard became festooned with mental asterisks and parentheses. Today, with so many classic British films that haven’t circulated in the US finally hitting Region 1 in sparkling restorations on Blu-ray, I’m officially concluding that the spotty dismissal of British cinema is what deserves to be dismissed.
The West End producer says 70 per cent of performing arts companies will close by Christmas if there is no government rescue package
British theatre is on the brink of total collapse. All the performing arts – theatre, dance, opera, comedy, theatre in education, Christmas pantomime, community shows – are facing the real possibility of complete obliteration. I know it sounds melodramatic. It beggars belief – but it is a statement of fact.
Without an urgent government rescue package, 70 per cent of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year. More than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good.