William Fowler and Vic Pratt - The Bodies Beneath(Book) [Strange Attractor Press - 2019]The Bodies Beneath is a recent-ish book that digs deep into the more bizarre, quirky, and strange side of British film & television. The four hundred page paperback selects, then thoroughly dissects around forty titles- with the twin authors nicely balancing well-researched facts, personal observations, sly humor & scholarly critic of these oddities- that come from both the large & small screen.
The book presents its self as a balky A5 sized paperback- which is well-produced, so as not to spine-split on repeated revisits. It features a good paper stock, with the black and white pages having a good blend of texts & well-presented stock photos/images- making the presently around £10.00 to £15.00 price tag rather reasonable.
It’s jointly written by William Fowler and Vic Pratt- who work for the BFI as film archivists/ curators, and in recent years the pair set up BFI flipside imprint- which has seen both screenings of obscure UK TV and film fare, as well a series of DVD & Blu Ray releases of similar titles. The pair evenly split the writing credits throughout the book- and both have a fairly readable style that mostly mangers to be down-to-earth, though at times it does skirt more scholarly/ academic side of things- though these are kept fairly minimal- making the book approachable for all.
The book split up into eight sections each dealing with a different themes/focuses- so we start off with The Tunnel Of Love section, and here we move from a 1930 short about the mystery of marriage, onto slightly triply 1960’s homosexual drama, through to a 1970’s anthology/portmanteau film, that blends elements of soft-core, horror, surrealism, and philosophical themes. Later on, in the book, we get sections focusing in on Kids TV, True Stories, and War fueled fare- each section presents a fairly varied selection of shorter & longer productions- blending bizarre one-off episodes of shows, quirky series, made for certainly industry shots, and beyond. I personally found the most interesting/ appealing sections coming later in the book where the pair go from sections focusing in on Music & Movement, Fantastic Fiction, and Horror- with the final section moving from a cinematic meeting between a classic film vampire and music hall drag act, gothic fuelled vampire priest film by US gutter auteur Andy Milligan, and a 70’s TV cooking show featuring none other than the horror maestro Vincent Price. So as you can see alot of ground is covered.
The Bodies Beneath will certainly appeal to those who enjoy different genres of small and big screen bizarre-ness, with each been covered in a balanced, even and at times amusing manner. So whatever your preference I’m certain you'll find something of interest here- it would be great to see the pair do a sequel to this book down the line, as I’m sure there is way more bizarreness to be uncovered.