The Gothic Horror Sub-genre
What is Gothic Horror?
- Gothic horror comes from the popularity of Gothic fiction and novels from the 1800’s
onwards. Two of the most famous gothic novels are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)
and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
- It is of much importance in the evolution of the ghost story and horror. They were
tales of mystery and horror intended to chill the spine and curdle the blood and
contain a strong element of the supernatural.
- They are intended to create an emotional even visceral response from the
audience not an intellectual or moral one.
- To stir up fears and anxieties and desires that are attractive but dangerous
and/or taboo. These are feelings that we don’t acknowledge on everyday life but
Gothic fiction uses these typical elements…
- Wild and desolate landscapes
- Dark looks and style – low key lighting
- Graveyards , forests
- Ruined abbeys – Dark Gothic architecture
- Medieval castles with dungeons, secret passages,
- winding stair cases, sliding panels and torture chambers
- Monstrous apparitions and curses
- An atmosphere of doom and gloom
- Heroes and heroines in danger
- Demonic power
- Wicked tyrants and malevolent witches
- Spooky effects with ghosts and spectres.
- All flesh creeping and spine chilling stories.
The conflict between subconscious desires and the need to conceal them is
represented as doubles…
Dual Worlds: which represent dark and light (sometimes good and evil) e.g.
- The diurnal world = light and familiar – the world of convention and institution
- The nocturnal world = dark and unknown, where the layers of socially
acceptable behaviour (social conventions) can be stripped away.
Setting: Duality – where it is split into two levels (e.g. the house an the cellar etc.)
A Journey: The characters often take a journey between the two worlds – could be
physically or psychologically such as through dreams etc…
Characters: The duality of characters – often shown in shadows on the character
or in actual transformation ( Jekyll and Hyde.)
Gothic fiction has kept the cinema and writers going for years. The first were the in the
1930’s- 40’s with the Hollywood Universal Horror films such as Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera to name
a few. The rights to these were then bought by Hammer Studios in the UK.