There's a fantastic season starting at the BFI Southbank celebrating the Gothic in cinema. Here I pick out some of my favourites from a rich programme.

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  • Comment number 21. Posted by One_Hundred_Years

    on 11 Nov 2013 18:02

    Many of the films mentioned in this blog are not gothic. The words 'gothic' and 'horror' are not interchangeable, neither are they mutually exclusive. 'Gothic' is a particular feeling and atmosphere as much as it is a particular style. Not all albums by The Cure are gothic either : )

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  • Comment number 20. Posted by Sam Shaw

    on 11 Nov 2013 17:50

    Bava

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  • Comment number 19. Posted by Chris_Page

    on 22 Oct 2013 23:29

    Anything with Vincent Price - the man WAS Gothic.

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  • Comment number 18. Posted by markofcain

    on 22 Oct 2013 13:08

    After a steady diet of Vampires,Werewolfs and the resurrection of man/woman in Dr.Frankenstein's laboratory,i then viewed a movie were upon sound was the core effect and it's flamboyant usage brought about an old house dripping in atmosphere.
    The 1963 production "The Haunting"introduced me to a change of pace and an emphasis on the intelligent employment of audio.
    Take one monstrous Mansion,a collection of like minded individuals examining it's interior's for rattling spirit's and the building's responsiveness to their curiosities.
    This production by Robert Wise perfectly set the tone,by being shot in black and white,it captured the character of the central player,the property it's self.
    With every room huge in stature,with dense doors and strong hinges,long corridors,high ceilings,now all that was required was unseen commotion,coming from the chamber of it/their choice.
    Our collective of house guests,and i will use that term loosely,led by the determined Julie Harris,try to to keep the emerging paranoia of the group under control.
    No gore of slashings,beheadings or stabbings,no thunder or lightening bolts come midnight,no hand appearing from know where resting on a shoulder.
    Just simple sporadic varying levels of murmurs moving from room to room,draining it's current occupants of valour.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by babyfacemichael

    on 21 Oct 2013 21:12

    Its funny that you should post this, as I just scoured from A to Z every DVD in HMV Preston.The one that struck me, the one I instantly had to buy, the one my subconscious mind shot out for, was the profound joy that is ` Theatre of Blood`` Critics KILL EM ALL !!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by Sebastian Morden

    on 20 Oct 2013 16:26

    P.P.S.: Though the original Whistle and I'll Come to You is definitely still superior, but wasn't released as a film -- but considering I mentioned Crooked House I should've put it in -- I don't know what I'm getting at. I'm sorry, I really should learn to keep it short and keep it together. I'll stop this now before I give everyone a headache.

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by Sebastian Morden

    on 20 Oct 2013 16:15

    P.S.: Can't believe I've forgotten this one in my post, but 2010 gave us a film adaptation of Whistle and I'll Come to You, starring John Hurt, with minimalist but beautiful art direction, so add that to the list as well.

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by Sebastian Morden

    on 20 Oct 2013 16:11

    Mere words could not describe my love for An American Werewolf in London, it's my absolute favourite film of all time, the perfect combination of darkness, humour, fantasy, horror, and eccentricity. (A great follow-up to it is the short film Deer Woman, also directed by Landis and written by his son, which references American Werewolf; though maybe not truly gothic, it's more of a film noir that happens to include the titular monster.) So that's easily my number one film in the category.

    It's really wonderful to see Dellamorte Dellamore in the line-up, which is another one of my favourites, I love the dream-like quality of it. It's the first film I ever saw Rupert Everett in; I think he should do more work in the genre, because he has that brooding, gothic hero archetype down -- Byron would be proud.

    The Wicker Man, obviously, and Sleepy Hollow, which I still think is the best movie Tim Burton has ever made. I loved A Field in England and think it easily fits into the category, I hadn't heard about it prior to the release and was thrilled when I saw it, it caught me unaware and really got under my skin in the best possible way.

    Other favourites of mine include:

    Nightbreed, Clive Barker's great overlooked gem, in my opinion his finest work as a director and creator, with a haunting portrayal of a sort of monster's pilgrimage, a completely different take on vampires, and with a chilling, absolutely wonderful performance by David Cronenberg alongside Craig Sheffer's lead. Like Clive Barker, I am a gay man, and Barker has said on a number of occasions that Nightbreed is inherently a metaphor for the experience of being queer-identified, moreso even than other queer horror cinema (and queer subtext in horror is certainly a long-standing tradition). It works on a number of levels -- spiritual, psychological, sensual, primal -- it's, to me, the heart and soul of Barker and a movie everyone -- or at least every genre fan -- needs to see.

    Devilwood is a great short film directed by Sacha Bennett that was meant to be adapted into a longer format but wasn't picked up -- a crying shame, because I think it has a lot of potential and is brilliantly atmospheric.

    There's the 2007 Cthulhu, another gothic movie involving themes of gay identity, a supplemental story (I wouldn't call it an adaptation) of Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It captures the the spirit of Innsmouth and the mystic darkness of the sea perfectly. On the subject of Lovecraft, there's also the 1970s Dunwich Horror film, which I have a fondness for; there's been a more recent adaptation which is a lesser film but has Jeffrey Combs, so you win some, you lose some, but I think the 1970s version, with its great art direction, and its romanticising the monster, Wilbur Whateley (though he is certainly a lot less monstrous than he is in the source story), is more in the gothic tradition than the new production and still superior.

    I'm not sure whether Ken Russell's The Lair of the White Worm counts, since it's more outrageously funny and bizarre than it is dark, but you know what? I'm going to throw it in there, because the source material is a gothic novel, it's a fun film, it's beautiful, doesn't take itself too seriously, it features the soon-to-be Doctor, Peter Capaldi, in one of his early roles (playing bagpipes to charm snake monsters, as you do), and at one point Hugh Grant cleaves a vampire in half with a sword, what more do you want from a movie?

    While we're mentioning Mark Gatiss, it's not a movie, but fans of the gothic genre should have a go at his miniseries Crooked House, which he both created and features in. Let's just call it a horror anthology and say it's a very long movie, shall we? Because it's essentially a love letter to the genre by a terrific writer and character actor who knows his craft, and is absolutely worth watching.

    I've been a longtime horror fan but it's especially the gothic subgenre that I love, and have gotten slowly tired of a lot of other subgenres of horror -- gore is easy; atmosphere, beautiful writing and art direction is rare and difficult. I'm very pleased to see a festival dedicated to the gothic, even if I'm stuck in (suitably gothic) Glasgow and can't make it down to see any of the screenings at the BFI.

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by Kevin Crighton

    on 19 Oct 2013 17:22

    I wish I could make it to London to see some of these films, but at least my local independent cinema, Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) are having a series of tie-in screenings for halloween, showing Hammer's Dracula, Blood On Satan's Claw, Witch Finder General, The Wicker Man - The Final Cut and Haxan.

    As for a wider point, if I get the chance I will try and see older films on the big screen, even if I own the DVD. I think there's nothing better than seeing a film I may have seen many times at home at a cinema, as it was intended.

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by goodfella2459

    on 19 Oct 2013 16:35

    Good selections. I personally love Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. Vampyr, by Carl Dreyer, is also fantastic.

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