Gothic film

The Gothic film is a film that is based on Gothic fiction or contains Gothic elements. Since various definite film genres—including science fiction, film noir, thriller, and comedy—have used Gothic elements, the Gothic film is challenging to define clearly as a genre. Gothic elements have also infused the horror film genre, contributing supernatural and nightmarish elements. To create a Gothic atmosphere, filmmakers have sought to create new camera tricks that challenge audiences' perceptions.[1] Gothic films also reflected contemporary issues. A New Companion to The Gothic's Heidi Kaye said "strong visuals, a focus on sexuality and an emphasis on audience response" characterize Gothic films like they did the literary works.[2] The Encyclopedia of the Gothic said the foundation of Gothic film was the combination of Gothic literature, stage melodrama, and German expressionism.[3]

In The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction, Misha Kavka says Gothic film is not an established genre, rather contributing Gothic images, plots, characters, and styles to films. These elements are often found in "the broader category of horror". Kavka quotes William Patrick Day's definition of the Gothic, "[it] tantalizes us with fear, both as its subject and its effect; its does so, however, not primarily through characters or plots or even language, but through spectacle". Cinema suits the Gothic definition in creating images that establish the spectacle.[4]


Gothic films were part of early cinema, adapting Gothic fiction on screen like stage melodramas had previously done. Gothic works that strongly influenced cinema were those from the 19th century: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.[1] Like most early cinema, many silent Gothic films were lost or very short.[2] In the aftermath of World War I, the horrors of war pervaded Gothic films. Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), though not based on a Gothic text, exhibited German Expressionism that Heidi Kaye said "transformed the American approach to Gothic cinema".[5] The Encyclopedia of the Gothic said The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari became a "milestone in Gothic film".[6]

According to New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass, scholars consider the Gothic films Frankenstein (1931) by James Whale, Dracula (1931) by Tod Browning, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) by Rouben Mamoulian "a foundational triptych, from which they in turn look back to earlier Gothic films and forward to later ones".[7]

In Australia, the first modern Gothic film is considered to be Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).[8]

Notable films

When the British Film Institute in 2013 launched a program celebrating films and TV shows with Gothic themes, The Guardian identified the following as the ten best Gothic films (ordered by year):[9]

  1. Nosferatu (1922)
  2. Dracula (1931)
  3. Frankenstein (1931)
  4. Rebecca (1940)
  5. Dracula (1958)
  6. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
  7. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
  8. Suspiria (1977)
  9. Near Dark (1987)
  10. The Orphanage (2007)

See also


  1. ^ a b Kaye 2015, p. 239
  2. ^ a b Kaye 2015, p. 240
  3. ^ Hughes 2015, p. 239
  4. ^ Kavka 2002, p. 209
  5. ^ Kaye 2015, p. 241
  6. ^ Hughes 2015, p. 238
  7. ^ Rall 2015, p. 43
  8. ^ Hughes 2015, p. 58
  9. ^ Kermode, Mark (October 25, 2013). "The 10 best gothic films". The Guardian. Retrieved October 15, 2015.


  • Hughes, William; Punter, David; Smith, Andrew, eds. (2015). The Encyclopedia of the Gothic. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-21041-2.
  • Kavka, Misha (2002). "The Gothic on screen". In Hogle, Jerrold E. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge University Press. pp. 209–228. ISBN 978-0-521-79466-4.
  • Kaye, Heidi (2015). "Gothic Film". In Punter, David (ed.). A New Companion to The Gothic. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 239–251. ISBN 978-1-119-06250-9.
  • Rall, Hannes; Jernigan, Daniel (2015). "Adapting Gothic Literature for Animation". In Piatti-Farnell, Lorna; Brien, Donna Lee (eds.). New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature. Routledge. pp. 39–53. ISBN 978-1-317-60902-5.

Further reading

  • Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film. BFI Publishing. 2013. ISBN 978-1-84457-682-1.
  • Punter, David; Byron, Glennis (2004). "Gothic Film". The Gothic. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 65–70. ISBN 978-0-631-22063-3.

External links

Crimes of the Heart (film)

Crimes of the Heart is a 1986 American southern gothic film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay by Beth Henley is adapted from her Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.

The film tells the story of the three Magrath sisters, Babe, Lenny, and Meg, who reunite in their family home in Mississippi to regroup and settle their past. Each sister is forced to face the consequences of the "crimes of the heart" she has committed.

Dark Waters (1944 film)

Dark Waters is a 1944 Gothic film noir based on the novel of the same name by Francis and Marian Cockrell. It was directed by Andre DeToth and starred Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone and Thomas Mitchell.

Dracula (1958 film)

Dracula is a 1958 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same name. The first in the series of Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, this original also features Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen. In the U.S. the film was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the earlier Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi, and the film was released in the U.S. in 1958 on a double feature with the Universal film The Thing That Couldn't Die.

Production began at Bray Studios on 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000. As Count Dracula, Lee fixed the image of the fanged vampire in popular culture. Christopher Frayling writes, “Dracula introduced fangs, red contact lenses, décolletage, ready-prepared wooden stakes and – in the celebrated credits sequence – blood being spattered from off-screen over the Count's coffin.” Lee also introduced a dark, brooding sexuality to the character, with Tim Stanley stating, “Lee’s sensuality was subversive in that it hinted that women might quite like having their neck chewed on by a stud”.In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine saw Dracula ranked the 65th best British film ever. Empire magazine ranked Lee's portrayal as Count Dracula the 7th Greatest Horror Movie Character of All Time.


The duduk ( doo-DOOK; Armenian: դուդուկ IPA: [duˈduk]) is an ancient double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia. Variations of the Armenian Duduk are found in other regions of the Caucasus and the Middle East including Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey and Iran. It is commonly played in pairs: while the first player plays the melody, the second plays a steady drone called dum, and the sound of the two instruments together creates a richer, more haunting sound.

The unflattened reed and cylindrical body produce a sound closer to the English horn than to more commonly known double reeds. Unlike other double reed instruments like the oboe or shawm, the duduk has a very large reed proportional to its size.

UNESCO proclaimed the Armenian duduk and its music as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005 and inscribed it in 2008. Duduk music has been used in a number of films, most notably in The Russia House and Gladiator.

Gothic (film)

Gothic is a 1986 British horror film directed by Ken Russell, starring Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron, Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley, Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley, Myriam Cyr as Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley's stepsister) and Timothy Spall as Dr. John William Polidori. It features a soundtrack by Thomas Dolby, and marks Richardson's film debut.

The film is a fictionalized retelling of the Shelleys' visit to Lord Byron in Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, shot in Gaddesden Place. It concerns their competition to write a horror story, which ultimately led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein and John Polidori writing "The Vampyre." The same event has also been portrayed in the films Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Haunted Summer (1988), among others.

The film's poster motif is based on Henry Fuseli's 1781 painting The Nightmare, which is also referenced in the film.

Gothic romance film

The Gothic romance film is a Gothic film with feminine appeal. Diane Waldman wrote in Cinema Journal that Gothic films in general "permitted the articulation of feminine fear, anger, and distrust of the patriarchal order" and that such films during World War II and afterward "place an unusual emphasis on the affirmation of feminine perception, interpretation, and lived experience". Between 1940 and 1948, the Gothic romance film was prevalent in Hollywood, being produced by well-known directors and actors. The best-known films of the era were Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Gaslight (1944). Less well-known films were Undercurrent (1946) and Sleep, My Love (1948). Waldman describes these films' Gothic rubric: "A young inexperienced woman meets a handsome older man to whom she is alternately attracted and repelled." Other films from the decade include The Enchanted Cottage (1945) and The Heiress (1949).The Gothic romance films from the 1940s often contain the "Bluebeard motif", meaning that in the typical setting of the house, a certain part is either forbidden to be used or even closed off entirely. In the films, the forbidden room is a metaphor for the heroine's repressed experience, and opening the room is a cathartic moment in the film. In addition, the layout of the house in such films (as well as Gothic novels) creates "spatial disorientation [that] causes fear and an uncanny restlessness".In 2015, director Guillermo del Toro released the Gothic romance film Crimson Peak. He said past films had been "brilliantly written by women and then rendered into films by male directors who reduce the potency of the female characters". For Crimson Peak, he sought to reverse this cinematic trope.

Infinitum Nihil

Infinitum Nihil is an American film production company, founded by Johnny Depp. The company is run by Depp's sister Christi Dembrowski. Depp founded the company in 2004 to develop projects where he will serve as actor and/or producer.


Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (German: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens), or simply Nosferatu, is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) as The Stoker Estate held the books copyright & refused permission. Various names and other details were changed from the novel: for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula" became "Count Orlok".

Stoker's heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.The film was released in the United States on 3 June 1929, seven years after its original premiere in Germany.

Rebecca (1940 film)

Rebecca is a 1940 American romantic psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock's first American project, and his first film under contract with producer David O. Selznick. The screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison, and adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan, were based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. The film stars Laurence Olivier as the brooding, aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the young woman who becomes his second wife, with Judith Anderson, George Sanders and Gladys Cooper in supporting roles. The film won the 1940 Oscar for Best Picture.

The film is a gothic tale shot in black-and-white. Maxim de Winter's first wife Rebecca, who died before the events of the film, is never seen. Her reputation and recollections of her, however, are a constant presence in the lives of Maxim, his new wife and the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.

Rebecca won two Academy Awards, Best Picture and Best Cinematography, out of a total 11 nominations. Olivier, Fontaine and Anderson also were Oscar-nominated for their respective roles as were Hitchcock and the screenwriters.

Scared to Death

Scared to Death is a 1947 thriller Gothic film directed by Christy Cabanne and starring Bela Lugosi. The picture was filmed in Cinecolor. The film is historically important as the only color film in which Bela Lugosi has a starring role.

Sofia Coppola

Sofia Carmina Coppola (; born May 14, 1971) is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and former actress.

The daughter of filmmakers Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola, she made her film debut as an infant in her father's acclaimed crime drama film, The Godfather (1972). She later appeared in a supporting role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and portrayed Mary Corleone, the daughter of Michael Corleone, in The Godfather: Part III (1990). Her performance in the latter was severely criticised, and she turned her attention to filmmaking.

She made her feature-length debut with the coming-of-age drama The Virgin Suicides (1999), based on the novel of the same name by Jeffery Eugenides. It was the first of her collaborations with actress Kirsten Dunst. In 2004, she received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the comedy-drama Lost in Translation and became the third woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2006, Coppola directed the historical drama Marie Antoinette, starring Dunst as the ill-fated French queen. In 2010, with the drama Somewhere, Coppola became the first American woman (and fourth American filmmaker) to win the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. In 2013, she directed the satirical crime film The Bling Ring, based on the crime ring of the same name.

At the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Coppola became the second woman in the festival's history to win the Best Director award, for the drama film The Beguiled.

Stephanie Bachelor

Stephanie Bachelor (May 23, 1912 – November 22, 1996) was an American film actress. During the 1940s, Bachelor briefly achieved leading status in supporting features such as Republic Pictures' Secrets of Scotland Yard. However, most of her appearances were supporting parts.

Stonehearst Asylum

Stonehearst Asylum, previously known as Eliza Graves, is an American Gothic film directed by Brad Anderson and written by Joseph Gangemi. It is loosely based on the short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether" by Edgar Allan Poe. The film, starring Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, and David Thewlis, was released on October 24, 2014.

Suburban Gothic (film)

Suburban Gothic is a 2014 American comedy horror film directed by Richard Bates Jr. It had its world premiere on July 19, 2014, at the Fantasia International Film Festival and stars Matthew Gray Gubler as a young man who returns home only to find himself faced with the supernatural. The film was released in select theaters and via video on demand platforms on January 30, 2015.

The Beguiled (1971 film)

The Beguiled is a 1971 American Southern Gothic film directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page. The script was written by Albert Maltz and is based on the 1966 novel written by Thomas P. Cullinan, originally titled A Painted Devil. The film marks the third of five collaborations between Siegel and Eastwood, following Coogan's Bluff (1968) and Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), and continuing with Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979).

The Last Minute

The Last Minute is a 2001 British-American urban gothic film, written and directed by Stephen Norrington.

It shows a struggling man hitting bottom and finding light in unexpected places, and trying a huge alternative as the solution to his problems while giving up the life he recently found.

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