Suburban Gothic

Suburban Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction, film and television, focused on anxieties associated with the creation of suburban communities, particularly in the United States, from the 1950s and 1960s onwards. It often, but not exclusively, relies on the supernatural or elements of science fiction that have been in wider Gothic literature, but manifested in a suburban setting.


Suburban Gothic is defined by Bernice M. Murphy as "a subgenre of the wider American Gothic tradition which dramatises anxieties arising from the mass urbanisation of the United States and usually features suburban settings, preoccupations and protagonists".[1] She argues that a common trope of the suburban Gothic is the danger within a family or neighbourhood, rather than an external threat.[2] Teenagers and children are often major protagonists or sources of threat and characteristic conflicts often focus on issues of individuality and conformity.[3]

Important early works identified with the subgenre include Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (1954) and Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959).[4] Works that incorporate environmental concerns include Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives (1972), Anne Rivers Siddons's The House Next Door (1978) and the Todd Haynes film Safe (1995).[5] Important films include versions of these written works and Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (1982).[6] Several works by David Lynch, notably the television series Twin Peaks and the film Blue Velvet have been identified as part of the suburban gothic subgenre.[7] Films with threats from a female protagonist, including Fatal Attraction (1987) and Disclosure (1994) have also been identified as part of the genre.[8] In addition, films that feature a more character-driven or dramatic standpoint also inform the genre notably Todd Solondz's Happiness, Sam Mendes's American Beauty, and Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko. TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, and Desperate Housewives have also been seen as dealing with concerns about hidden Gothic worlds behind the suburban façade.[9] The 2011 Australian film Snowtown also concerns suburban gothic themes. Other films described as within the suburban gothic genre include Carrie (1976), Halloween (1978), The Amityville Horror (1979),[10] Fright Night (1985), The Stepfather (1987),[11] The 'Burbs (1988),[12] Parents (1989),[12] Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990),[12] The People Under the Stairs (1991),[11] Serial Mom (1994),[11] Little Children (2006),[11]The Girl Next Door (2007), The Sisterhood of Night (2014), The Invitation (2015),[11] and It (2017).

See also


  1. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, p. 2.
  2. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, p. 3.
  3. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, pp. 2–3.
  4. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, p. 15.
  5. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, p. 4.
  6. ^ J. E. Hogle, The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), ISBN 0-521-79466-8, p. xxv.
  7. ^ The Anadromist (2012) American Gothic Films: An Incomplete List . The Anadromous Life, [blog] November 7, 2012, Available at: [Accessed: December 9, 2012].
  8. ^ K. I. Michasiw, "Some stations of sub-urban Gothic", in R. K. Martin and E. Savoy, eds, American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative (University of Iowa Press, 2009), ISBN 1-58729-349-8, p. 240.
  9. ^ B. M. Murphy, The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), ISBN 0-230-21810-5, p. 166.
  10. ^ Hughes, William (2015). The Encyclopedia of the Gothic. John Wiley & Sons.
  11. ^ a b c d e Crow, Charles L. (2013). A Companion to American Gothic. John Wiley & Sons.
  12. ^ a b c Mulvey-Roberts, Marie (1998). The Handbook to Gothic Literature. NYU Press.
Barbara Niven

Barbara Niven (born February 26, 1953) is an American actress and producer, best known for her performances in Lifetime movies and Hallmark movies, and television roles in Pensacola: Wings of Gold, One Life to Live, Cedar Cove, and Chesapeake Shores. Niven also had the leading role in the independent film A Perfect Ending (2012).

Crutch (film)

Crutch is a 2004 autobiographical coming of age film written and directed by Rob Moretti.

Eugene McGuinness

Eugene Michael McGuinness (born 11 August 1985 in Leytonstone, London) is an English singer-songwriter and frontman of Eugene + the Lizards.

Hellmouth (film)

Hellmouth is a 2014 Canadian horror film that was directed by John Geddes, based on a script written by Tony Burgess. The film had its world premiere on 17 October 2014 at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and stars Stephen McHattie as a grave-keeper that finds himself traveling to hell to save the soul of a beautiful woman. Funding for Hellmouth was partially raised through an Indiegogo campaign.

Jeffrey Combs

Jeffrey Alan Combs (born September 9, 1954) is an American actor known for starring in horror films, such as Re-Animator, and appearances playing a number of characters in the Star Trek and the DC Animated Universe television franchises.

Jessica Camacho

Jessica Camacho (born November 26, 1982) is an American actress. She is known for her recurring role as Gypsy in the CW series, The Flash. Camacho also stars on the second season of the NBC drama series, Taken.

John Waters

John Samuel Waters Jr. (born April 22, 1946) is an American film director, screenwriter, author, actor, stand-up comedian, journalist, visual artist, and art collector, who rose to fame in the early 1970s for his transgressive cult films.

Kat Dennings

Katherine Victoria Litwack (born June 13, 1986), known professionally as Kat Dennings, is an American actress. After making her acting debut in an episode of the HBO dramedy series Sex and the City, Dennings has since appeared in films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Big Momma's House 2 (2006), Charlie Bartlett (2007), The House Bunny (2008), Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008), Defendor (2009), Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). From 2011 to 2017, she starred alongside Beth Behrs in the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls.

Mackenzie Phillips

Laura Mackenzie Phillips (born November 10, 1959) is an American actress and singer best known for her roles in American Graffiti, as rebellious but ultimately loving teenager Julie Mora Cooper Horvath on the sitcom One Day at a Time, and for the Disney Channel science fiction show So Weird.

Matthew Gray Gubler

Matthew Gray Gubler (; born March 9, 1980) is an American actor, filmmaker, fashion model and painter. He is best known for his role as criminal profiler Dr. Spencer Reid in the CBS television show Criminal Minds (2005–present), of which he has also directed eleven episodes. Gubler has appeared in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, (500) Days of Summer, Life After Beth, Suburban Gothic, Newness, and as the voice of Simon in Alvin and the Chipmunks and its three sequels.

Mel Rodriguez

Melvin Dimas Rodriguez (born June 12, 1973) is an American actor best known for starring as Nurse Patsy de la Serda on the HBO comedy Getting On and as Todd Rodriguez on the Fox comedy The Last Man on Earth. Other notable works include recurring as Marco on AMC's Better Call Saul and co-starring on the short-lived Fox sitcoms Running Wilde and Enlisted.

Muse Watson

Muse Watson (born July 20, 1948) is an American stage and screen actor. He became known for his roles as Ben Willis, the primary antagonist in the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise, Charles Westmoreland on the Fox television series Prison Break and as Mike Franks in CBS television series NCIS.

Ray Santiago

Raymond "Ray" Santiago (born June 15, 1984 in South Bronx, New York) is an American actor of Puerto Rican descent.

Ray Wise

Raymond Herbert Wise (born August 20, 1947) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Alec Holland in Swamp Thing (1982), Leon C. Nash in RoboCop (1987), Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks (1990–1991, 2017) and its prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Jack Taggart Sr. in Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), Don Hollenbeck in Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Vice President Hal Gardner in 24 (2006), and The Devil in Reaper (2007–2009). He currently stars as Marvin on Fresh Off the Boat (2015–present).

Sally Kirkland

Sally Kirkland (born October 31, 1941) is an American film, television and stage actress. She received Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Awards, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her performance in Anna (1987). Kirkland was also Golden Globe-nominated for her work in The Haunted (1991).

Shanola Hampton

Shanola Hampton (born May 27, 1977) is an American actress best known for her role as Veronica Fisher on Showtime dramedy Shameless.

Southern Gothic

Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction in American literature that takes place in the American South.

Common themes in Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may be involved in hoodoo, ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime, or violence.

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.

Urban Gothic

Urban Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction, film horror and television dealing with industrial and post-industrial urban society. It was pioneered in the mid-19th century in Britain, Ireland and the United States and developed in British novels such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), and Irish novels such as Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). In the twentieth century, urban Gothic influenced the creation of the subgenres of Southern Gothic and suburban Gothic. From the 1980s, interest in the urban Gothic revived with books like Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and a number of graphic novels that drew on dark city landscapes, leading to adaptations in film including Batman (1989), The Crow (1994) and From Hell (2001), as well as influencing films like Seven (1995).

Late medieval
Modern literature
and art
Modern subculture,
music and film
See also
By style
By theme
By movement
or period
By demographic groups
By format,
or production

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.