Dark fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy literary, artistic, and cinematic works that incorporate darker and frightening themes of fantasy. It also often combines fantasy with elements of horror or has a gloomy, dark (or grimdark) atmosphere, or a sense of horror and dread.
A strict definition for dark fantasy is difficult to pin down. Gertrude Barrows Bennett has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy". Both Charles L. Grant and Karl Edward Wagner are credited with having coined the term "dark fantasy"—although both authors were describing different styles of fiction. Brian Stableford argues "dark fantasy" can be usefully defined as subgenre of stories that attempt to "incorporate elements of horror fiction" into the standard formulae of fantasy stories. Stableford also suggests that supernatural horror set primarily in the real world is a form of "contemporary fantasy", whereas supernatural horror set partly or wholly in "secondary worlds" should be described as "dark fantasy".
Additionally, other authors, critics, and publishers have adopted dark fantasy to describe various other works. However, these stories rarely share universal similarities beyond supernatural occurrences and a dark, often brooding, tone. As a result, dark fantasy cannot be solidly connected to a defining set of tropes. The term itself may refer collectively to tales that are either horror-based or fantasy-based.
Charles L. Grant is often cited as having coined the term "dark fantasy". Grant defined his brand of dark fantasy as "a type of horror story in which humanity is threatened by forces beyond human understanding". He often used dark fantasy as an alternative to horror, as horror was increasingly associated with more visceral works.
Dark fantasy is sometimes also used to describe stories told from a monster's point of view, or that present a more sympathetic view of supernatural beings usually associated with horror. Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain, and Neil Gaiman's The Sandman are early examples of this style of dark fantasy. This is in contrast to the traditional horror model, which focuses more on the victims and survivors.
In a more general sense, dark fantasy is occasionally used as a synonym for supernatural horror, to distinguish horror stories that contain elements of the supernatural from those that do not. For example, a story about a werewolf or vampire could be described as dark fantasy, while a story about a serial killer would simply be horror.
Stableford suggests that the type of horror conveyed by fantasy stories such as William Beckford's Vathek and Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death "is more aesthetic than visceral or existential", and that such stories should be considered "dark fantasies" rather than the "supernaturalized thrillers" of conventional horror fiction.
Karl Edward Wagner is often credited for creating the term "dark fantasy" when used in a more fantasy-based context. Wagner used it to describe his fiction about the Gothic warrior Kane. Since then, "dark fantasy" has sometimes been applied to sword and sorcery and high fantasy fiction that features anti-heroic or morally ambiguous protagonists. Another good example under this definition of dark fantasy is Michael Moorcock's saga of the albino swordsman Elric.
The fantasy work of H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and their emulators have been specified as "dark fantasy", since the imaginary worlds they depicted contain a large number of horror elements.
Dark fantasy is occasionally used to describe fantasy works by authors that the public primarily associates with the horror genre. Examples of this would be Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, Peter Straub's Shadowland and Clive Barker's Weaveworld. Alternatively, dark fantasy is sometimes used for "darker" fiction written by authors best known for other styles of fantasy; Raymond Feist's Faerie Tale and Charles de Lint's novels written as Samuel M. Key would fit here.
Bastard!!: Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy (BASTARD!!-暗黒の破壊神-, Basutādo!! Ankoku no Hakaishin, lit. "Bastard!! The Dark God of Destruction") is a manga by Kazushi Hagiwara. It first appeared in Weekly Shōnen Jump, in 1988, and continues to be published irregularly today in Ultra Jump. Currently, it spans 27 volumes.
Kazushi Hagiwara is an enthusiastic fan of heavy metal music and Dungeons & Dragons, using ideas from both of these in the Bastard!! story. Many characters and places in the story, for instance, are named after members of Hagiwara's favorite bands. Hagiwara also attributes the manga Devilman by Go Nagai as a primary influence on his artwork.
The manga was published in English by Viz Media. Only volumes 1–19 have been translated, with no plans to release the rest. Additionally, a six-part anime OVA was released in 1992. The OVA was released in North America by Pioneer in 1995. Bastard!! is one of Weekly Shōnen Jump's best-selling manga series of all time, with over 30 million copies sold by 2008.Bram Stoker Award
The Bram Stoker Award is a recognition presented annually by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) for "superior achievement" in dark fantasy and horror writing.Dark Fantasy (song)
"Dark Fantasy" is a song by American hip hop recording artist and producer Kanye West from his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). The song serves as the opening track of the album, and was written by West, Ernest Wilson, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean and Robert Diggs. It features an opening narrative delivered by rapper Nicki Minaj, and singers Teyana Taylor and Justin Vernon contribute to the song's hook and provide background vocals. The track is built around a sample of "In High Places" by Mike Oldfield (sung by Jon Anderson). The song introduces several of the themes presented on the album and features numerous pop culture references, a gospel-inspired production style, and piano-driven composition. The song received acclaim from music critics, who praised the song as a strong opener to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, complimenting West's vocal delivery and the song's production.
Despite not being released as a single, the hype generated by the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy caused the song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at position 60. It was the opening song of West's 2011 setlist at the Coachella Music Festival, and was performed at the 'Vevo Presents GOOD Music' musical venue. "Dark Fantasy" was utilized during the opening sequence of West's short film Runaway, during an extended scene with West driving down an atmospheric forest.Dororo
Dororo (どろろ) is a Japanese manga series from the manga creator Osamu Tezuka in the late 1960s. An anime television series based on the manga consists of 26 half-hour episodes that aired in 1969. It was also made into a live-action film in 2007. A new anime adaptation began airing in 2019 and will consist of 24 episodes.
During the late 1960s, manga featuring demons was popular among kids. Dororo was first serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday between August 27, 1967, and July 22, 1968, before being cancelled. Parallel to the anime broadcast the manga was then concluded in Akita Shoten's Bōken'ō magazine.Tezuka's childhood memory of his friends pronouncing dorobō (どろぼう, "thief") as dororo inspired the title of this work. In the live action movie series, the name is explained to be a southern term for Hyakkimaru, meaning "Little Monster".
The anime series bears the distinction of being the first entry in what is now known as the World Masterpiece Theater series.
A new anime television series adaptation by MAPPA and Tezuka Productions premiered on January 7, 2019 and is streaming on Amazon.Dragon Con
Dragon Con (previously Dragon*Con and sometimes DragonCon) is a North American multigenre convention, founded in 1987, which takes place annually over the Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. As of 2017, the convention draws attendance of over 80,000, features hundreds of guests, encompasses five hotels in the Peachtree Center neighborhood of downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park, and runs thousands of hours of programming for fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and other elements of fan culture. It is owned and operated by a private for-profit corporation, with the help of a 1,500-member volunteer staff. Dragon Con has hosted the 1990 Origins Game Fair and the 1995 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton, produced by Denise Di Novi and Tim Burton, and written by Caroline Thompson from a story by Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson, starring Johnny Depp as an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation who has scissor blades instead of hands. The young man is taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Additional roles were played by Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Kathy Baker, Vincent Price, and Alan Arkin.
Burton conceived Edward Scissorhands from his childhood upbringing in suburban Burbank, California. During pre-production of Beetlejuice, Caroline Thompson was hired to adapt Burton's story into a screenplay, and the film began development at 20th Century Fox, after Warner Bros. declined. Edward Scissorhands was then fast tracked after Burton's critical and financial success with Batman. The majority of filming took place in Lutz, Florida between March 10 and June 10, 1990. The film also marks the fourth collaboration between Burton and film score composer Danny Elfman. The leading role of Edward had been connected to several actors prior to Depp's casting: a meeting between Burton and the preferred choice of the studio, Tom Cruise, was not fruitful, and Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman turned down the part. The character of The Inventor was devised specifically for Vincent Price, and would be his last major role. Edward's scissor hands were created and designed by Stan Winston.
Edward Scissorhands was released to positive feedback from critics, and was a financial success. The film received numerous nominations at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, and the Saturn Awards, as well as winning the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Both Burton and Elfman consider Edward Scissorhands their most personal and favorite work.Hells Angels (manga)
Hells Angels is a Japanese manga series by Sin'Ichi Hiromoto. It was adapted into an anime film which premiered at the 2008 Tokyo International Film Festival.Horror Writers Association
The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is a worldwide non-profit organization of professional writers and publishing professionals dedicated to promoting the interests of Horror and Dark fantasy writers.Joe Hill (writer)
Joseph Hillstrom King (born June 4, 1972), better known by the pen name Joe Hill, is an American author and comic book writer. His work includes the novels Heart-Shaped Box (2007), Horns (2010), NOS4A2 (2013), and The Fireman (2016); the short story collections 20th Century Ghosts (2005) and Strange Weather (2017); and the comic book series Locke & Key (2008–2013). Locke & Key won British Fantasy Awards in 2009 and 2012, and an Eisner Award in 2012.
King is the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King.Maleficent II
Maleficent II is an upcoming American fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Pictures, with the screenplay written by Linda Woolverton, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, and Noah Harpster. The film is directed by Joachim Rønning and is a sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent, with Angelina Jolie returning to portray the title role, with Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville also returning. Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Skrein, Harris Dickinson, and Chiwetel Ejiofor join the cast. The film is set for release on May 29, 2020 by Walt Disney Pictures.Sleepwalkers (film)
Sleepwalkers (also known as Stephen King's Sleepwalkers) is a 1992 American horror film written by Stephen King and directed by Mick Garris. The film stars Brian Krause, Mädchen Amick and Alice Krige, who respectively portray Charles Brady, Tanya Robertson, and Mary Brady. The film revolves around the last two survivors of a vampiric shapeshifting species that feed on the life force of human female virgins.Sword Gai
Sword Gai (ソードガイ, Sōdo Gai) is a Japanese manga series written by Toshiki Inoue with original character design by Keita Amemiya and scenario by Wosamu Kine. The first twelve episodes ("Part I") of an anime adaption titled Swordgai: The Animation (also stylized SWORDGAI The Animation) were released on Netflix worldwide on March 23, 2018. Part II was released July 30, 2018.The Originals (TV series)
The Originals is an American television series that began airing on The CW on October 3, 2013. Created as a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, the series follows vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson as he and his family become embroiled in the supernatural politics of New Orleans.On May 10, 2017, The CW renewed the series for a fifth season. On July 20, 2017, it was announced by series creator Julie Plec ahead of Comic Con that the series' fifth season would be its last. The final season debuted on April 18, 2018.The Outer Limits (1995 TV series)
The Outer Limits is a Canadian-American television series that originally aired on Showtime, Syfy and in syndication between 1995 and 2002. The series is a revival of the original The Outer Limits series that aired from 1963–65.
The Outer Limits is an anthology of distinct story episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end. The revival series maintained an anthology format, but occasionally featured recurring story elements that were often tied together during season-finale clip shows. Over the course of the series, 154 episodes were aired. Its stories are described as more science fiction-based and less dark fantasy than those of The Twilight Zone.The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland (Japanese: 約束のネバーランド, Hepburn: Yakusoku no Nebārando) is a Japanese manga series written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 1, 2016 with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into ten tankōbon volumes as of August 2018. The story follows a group of orphaned children in their escape plan from a farm. Viz Media licensed the manga in North America and serialized The Promised Neverland in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. An anime television series adaptation by CloverWorks premiered in January 2019 in the Noitamina programming block.The Witches (1990 film)
The Witches is a 1990 British/American dark fantasy horror-comedy film based on the 1983 children's novel of the same title by Roald Dahl, directed by Nicolas Roeg and stars Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher. As in the original novel, the story features evil witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, and a boy and his grandmother need to find a way to foil and destroy them.
The Witches was produced by Jim Henson Productions for Lorimar Film Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. as the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar, before the company shut down in 1993. The film was very well received by critics, but performed poorly at the box office, and was also hated by Dahl because its ending differs from the book.The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant
The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant is a 1954 novel by Douglass Wallop. It adapts the Faust theme of a deal with the Devil to the world of American baseball in the 1950s.Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul (Japanese: 東京喰種（トーキョーグール）, Hepburn: Tōkyō Gūru) is a Japanese dark fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Sui Ishida. It was serialized in Shueisha's seinen manga magazine Weekly Young Jump between September 2011 and September 2014, and it has been collected in fourteen tankōbon volumes as of August 2014. A sequel titled Tokyo Ghoul:re was serialized in the same magazine between October 2014 and July 2018, and was later collected into sixteen tankōbon volumes. A prequel titled Tokyo Ghoul [Jack] ran online on Jump Live.
A 12-episode anime television series adaptation by studio Pierrot aired on Tokyo MX between July 4, 2014, and September 19, 2014. A 12-episode second season, Tokyo Ghoul √A (pronounced Tokyo Ghoul Root A), which follows an original story, began airing on January 9, 2015, and concluded on March 27, 2015. In North America, Viz Media is publishing the manga while Funimation has licensed the anime series for streaming and home video distribution.
A live-action film based on the manga was released in Japan on July 29, 2017. An anime adaptation based on the sequel manga Tokyo Ghoul:re began airing from April 3, 2018, and concluded on December 25, 2018, with the series being split into two seasons.