Thursday, October 20, 2016

31 Days of Gothic Romance | Hammer Films

It's amazing how much tastes can change in a decade. In the '40s, gothic romance movies were moody, shadow-filled things like Rebecca and The Uninvited. But in 1957, Hammer introduced a whole new way of doing it. Starting with adaptations of gothic romance staples Frankenstein and Dracula, Hammer told stories of young women being threatened by sinister aristocrats in spooky, old buildings, but in lurid, colorful ways.

They continued to glean from classic gothic stories like The Hound of the Baskervilles and Phantom of the Opera, but they so perfected the uncanny, fog-filled atmosphere that they were able to lay it over many different kinds of tales - everything from mummies to Satanists to Jekyll and Hyde - and still have them feel gothic.

The result was some confusion about the definition of gothic romance. For many, it's less about specific themes than just a particular atmosphere, usually in a period setting. We have Hammer to thank for that. Not that I'm complaining. One of the reasons I wanted to talk about gothic romances this Halloween was to help myself circle around a working definition, but there's no need to be snobbish about it. What follows is a long list of Hammer horror films with gothic elements; some much more authentic than others, but all of interest.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Revenge of Frankenstein has to be the most inaccurate title in movie history. Not only does Dr Frankenstein no t take revenge on anybody, but he's a good guy throughout the film, doing work that actually benefits humanity!

Though I do love the line reading on the detective in the third act who says "I don't think this is an ORDINARY murder."

Wings1295 said...

I totally associate a Gothic feel with Hammer's output. Two of them that I love, that just are the epitome of the Hammer style are Dracula: Prince of Darkness and The Gorgon. Not saying they are masterpieces, but there is something earnest and genuine in them, to me. A feeling of just mystery and terror.

AND even better, Gorgon, Prince of Darkness and many more of the Hammer classics are on tomorrow on TCM. They are having a marathon starting in the afternoon!

Michael May said...

One of these days, I'm going to do a proper Hammer marathon. I did one with their Dracula movies a couple of years ago, but I've never done Frankenstein and have trouble remembering which I've seen.

I do like The Gorgon a lot, especially for Patrick Troughton as the inspector.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Given have crazy I was for the Universal monsters as a teenager I wish I had known about Hammer to follow them up.


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