Lockdown watch: Garth Marenghi creator Matthew Holness on appropriate horror – and its antidote

Continuing our series in which artists suggest self-isolation cinema, the man behind Darkplace on why pandemic-related movies require music documentary offset

Alas, I watch little TV and rarely stream. My lockdown viewing is largely DVD-based and commences with an immersion in pandemic-related cinema that is sufficiently removed from the current crisis yet close enough in theme to temper my brain between news updates. Foremost among these is Phase IV, an exceptional 1974 science-fiction horror from renowned graphic designer Saul Bass. I pair this with its thematic and technical predecessor, The Hellstrom Chronicle, a 1971 fake “scare doc” employing similar macrophotography of insects, blowing them up, I warn you now, to terrifying proportions. Then, a succession of Shōwa-era Godzilla films, followed by Robert Wise’s sombre 1971 adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel The Andromeda Strain. This, unfortunately, proves an eco-horror too far and I opt instead for escapist fare.

Watch the trailer for Electric Boogaloo

Electric Boogaloo, an enjoyable 2014 documentary charting the rise and fall of Cannon Films gives me my sole lockdown belly-laugh: a recounting of Cannon boss Menahem Golan’s ambitious (and mercifully short-lived) plan to distribute a series of orangutan-themed screen comedies starring actors in monkey suits, beginning with infamous Dom DeLuise flop Going Bananas (which I do not view).

Several mindless 80s Chuck Norris actioners later, I foolishly Google-stumble on his recent pro-firearm lobbying and dive instead into archive documentary. Finest of these is Michael Woods’s In Search of the Dark Ages, an atmospheric and genuinely exciting 1979 BBC series that broadens considerably my scant knowledge of the period and renews, unexpectedly, my love for Jean-Michel Jarre’s album Oxygène.

Music emerges as the true solace of lockdown, courtesy of Ken Russell’s 1960s documentaries on Elgar, Debussy and Delius for the BBC’s Monitor and Omnibus series. These wonderful and stylistically innovative films lead me inevitably to the veritable haven of their subject, which succeeds more than any other art form, I discover, in settling the anxious mind.

Matthew Holness

The GuardianTramp

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