Origins It’s a genre of literature that combines romance and horror. Believed to have been originally invented by author Horace Walpole, in 1764. Started to be adapted into films in the 19th century, with such films as Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde. Gothic literature is associated with gothic architecture of the same era. The first great gothic horror classic, was by Mary Shelley with Frankenstein in 1818. Dracula (1922)
Turn of the century Le Manoir Du Diable (The House of the Devil) is considered to be the world first ever horror film. The film’s plot is about a demon produces skeletons, ghosts, and witches from its bubbling contents before one of the summoned underworld cavaliers holds up a crucifix and Satan vanishes in a blast of smoke. This is in fact the entire plot to the film as the films running time is only 3 minutes. LeLeManoir du diable (1896)
1900-1910 Frankenstein: The first adaption of Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ was in 1910, when a 16 minute film was based on the novel. This was directed by J. Searle Dawley, and was filmed in 3 days, at the Edison studios. The plot follows the studies of a student, who has the desire to create a monster, and therefore does, although it is not a thing of grace and beauty as desired. The most famous shot of the 1910 Frankenstein film
1913 By this point films were starting to become longer, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde” (1913) reached a run time of 26 minutes which was nearly twice as long as the first adaptation made only a year ago. Although films were getting longer the prospect of films which sound dialogue was still years away. Dr. Jekyll’s transformation into Mr. Hyde
1915 By this point films were almost what is now considered feature length, films like “The Golem” (1915) had run times of up to and over an hour . Despite this though the idea of sound or colour film were still nearly a decade or longer away. Famous ending to “The Golem” in which the child unintentionally kills the monster
Dracula Adapted into a film in 1931, and based on the novel by Bram Stoker. The film had a budget of $355,000, and was a 75 minute film. When the film premiered, members of the audience were shocked at the horror on show, and within 48 hours of it being released, it had sold 50,000 tickets. The poster for the Dracula film
Post Gothic era It wasn’t until the early 1940’s that horror started to go in a direction other than gothic adaptations, by this era films where more to do with body horror with such films as “The wolf man” and “Cat people”. That was not to say gothic horror was no longer revisited there would always be adaptations of these films and the likely scenario is that there always will be. Its is unlikely that the use of gothic horror is ever likely to disappear.