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Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror

3h 12m Documentary, Horror, Film Theory 2021

A spellbinding documentary that elegantly explores the cinema genre that has come to be known as “folk horror”, from its beginnings in a trilogy of films – Witchfinder General (1968), Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) and The Wicker Man (1973) – through its proliferation on British television in the 1970s and its culturally specific manifestations in America, Asia, Australia and Europe, to the genre’s revival over the last decade.

Touching on over 200 films and featuring over fifty interviewees (over a three-hour+ running time), the film also examines the rise of paganism in the late 1960s, the prominence of the witch-figure in connection with second wave feminism, the ecological movement of the 1970s, the genre’s emphasis on landscape and psychogeography, and American manifestations of folk horror from Mariners’ tales and early colonial history to Southern Gothic and backwoods horror.

It also investigates the many ways that we alternately celebrate, conceal and manipulate our own histories in an attempt to find spiritual resonance in our surroundings.

Directed by Kier-La Janisse, a genre-film expert, writer, programmer, producer, and academic, it includes an original score by Jim Williams (A Field in England) and animated sequences featuring collage art by filmmaker Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg).

The film exhibited at the City Gallery Wellington, October 2023-February 2024. Listen to the interview with director Kier-La Janisse on RNZ National (38m.).

“Filled with thoughtful commentary, lush visuals and a myriad of perspectives, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a must-watch that chronicles humankind’s most intriguing cinematic stories.” ~Marisa Mirabal, Slashfilm

“Overflowing with film clips, and populated by truly insightful experts, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a cinematic graduate-level course – in the best sense.” ~Christopher Schobert, The Film Stage


Kier-La Janisse




United States, Canada



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