This chapter discusses two hybrid forms of Gothic drama in the 1960s, firstly the Gothic family sitcoms The Munsters and The Addams Family, and secondly the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. In a sense, both The Addams Family and The Munsters 'worried at' the home lives of their viewers, albeit in a humorous way, thus acting as classic American Gothic texts. An examination of the formation of Gothic television in the US shows that, as with early British television drama, the Gothic anthology series on American television was prefigured by the genre's popularity on the radio. This highlights the relationship between the domestic reception context and the Gothic text. Dark Shadows' particular brand of the 'fantastic-marvellous', the blending of stock characters and narrative events from the soap opera and the Gothic genre, therefore bringing into congruence the ordinary and the supernatural, might be seen to render viewer identification somewhat mystifying.
The male ensemble film, in its first phase up to Breaker Morant, is strongly influenced by the posture of the ocker; blunt, loud, hedonistic and conservative in the populist manner. The first revival film to foreground the male milieu and masculine ethics was Sunday Too Far Away. The absence of female characters in Sunday Too Far Away highlights the exclusivity of the male group and professional affiliations. The Club's depiction of sporting and business rivalries within a football club offers a further example of a male-dominated milieu within Australian society. The inevitability of fate in Gallipoli is comparable with the inexorable socio-political forces exerting their influence over the characters of Between Wars. Portrayals of male mates in later Australian film have outstripped the ambiguities, recessiveness or conservatism characterising the earlier cycle of male-centred dramas.
This chapter suggests that Van Sant's film Psycho extracts, exteriorises, and diffuses gender onto the surface of consciousness. The film is less of a romantic secret to be penetrated through shadowy hints and cloaks of anxious ambiguity and more a uniform topography of social fact, presence, utility, and kinesis. If it was earlier a catafalque and chrysalis for desire, it is now a banality, like weather. The rainstorm through which Marion Crane drives to the motel, once pathetic fallacy, is now nothing more than a realistic setting. There is realism, too, as Marion packs to take flight in underwear that is money green. The film brings to the surface of awareness and attention a stash that was earlier a guilty secret. Dying a second death, Marion is not packaged in guilt or gender, but is only and pathetically a passer-by in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Terry Gilliam suggested a film based on Lewis Carroll's nonsense verse, 'Jabberwocky', taken from Through the Looking Glass. Gilliam reworked the traditional fairy tale narrative, so that the storyline would precipitate 'a collision of fairytales'. In Holy Grail the many-eyed monster had been an animation, but that was not an option in Jabberwocky. Drawing from Carroll, Pieter Bruegel, Paolo Pasolini and others, and incorporating elements of social document, social satire, evocative nonsense, slapstick comedy, distorted fairy tale, the grotesque and the monster film, Jabberwocky did not play safe. Jabberwocky offered Gilliam the chance to represent the intricacies of medieval society, celebrate its vital humanity, offer a comically inflected critique of his own world, and learn his craft. Despite its huge success, in terms of Gilliam's career as a film-maker Life of Brian was a step backwards from Jabberwocky.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explains generic and thematic adaptations in horror cinema from a wide range of aesthetic, cultural, political and theoretical perspectives. The history of horror film is full of adaptations that draw upon fiction or folklore, or have assumed the shape of remakes of pre-existing films. From its earliest days, horror film has turned to examples of the horror genre in fiction (such as the Victorian Gothic) or legend for source material. The book offers an insightful and timely investigation of adaptation in horror film as an increasingly trans-cultural activity. To account for why horror film narratives remain a consistently successful source for adaptations, be they generic or thematic, in horror cinema, one needs to consider horror's relation to the broad concept of myth.
From its earliest days, horror film has turned to examples of the horror genre in fiction, such as the Victorian Gothic, for source material. The horror film has continually responded to cultural pressures and ideological processes that resulted in new, mutated forms of the genre. Adaptation in horror cinema is a useful point of departure for articulating numerous socio-cultural trends. Adaptation for the purposes of survival proves the impetus for many horror movie monsters. This book engages generic and thematic adaptations in horror cinema from a wide range of aesthetic, cultural, political and theoretical perspectives. These diverse approaches further evidence the horror genre's obsession with corporeal transformation and narratological re-articulation. Many horror films such as Thomas Edison's Frankenstein, John S. Robertson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, David Cronenberg'sVideodrome, Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers, and Terence Fisher's The Gorgon are discussed in the book. The book sheds welcome light upon some of the more neglected horror films of cinema's first century, and interrogates the myriad alterations and re-envisionings filmmakers must negotiate as they transport tales of terror between very different modes of artistic expression. It extends the volume's examination of adaptation as both an aesthetic process and a thematic preoccupation by revealing the practice of self-reflexivity and addresses the remake as adaptation. The book analyses the visual anarchy of avant-garde works, deploys the psychoanalytic film theory to interpret how science and technology impact societal secularisation, and explores the experimental extremes of adaptation in horror film.
Several Australian films of the 1990s incorporate Gothic elements, and often exaggerate the irony, black humour and reflexive characteristics exhibited by Gothic films of the 1970s and 1980s. Death in Brunswick adopts the Gothic sensibility wholeheartedly in its blackly humorous portrait of individual inadequacy, family authority and racial tension. A superior rendition of formative experience, which combines the rite of passage with the Gothic and the period film, is found in Celia. Having been made with the assistance of the Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC), Death in Brunswick went on to become the second highest grossing Australian film at the home box office in 1991. Muriel's Wedding is centred in the rite of passage formal. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert extends the motifs of personal growth allied to travel seen in Muriel's Wedding by adhering closely to the road movie genre.
The factory-based drama series, Clocking Off, provided the BBC with an opportunity to return to its traditional strengths with a northern working-class drama intent on updating social realism for a new 'postmodern' television audience. The use of primary colours is one of the most distinctive features of Clocking Off and one of the several ways in which it 'updates' social realism for a new audience. Like the camerawork, editing and production design, the music in Clocking Off is designed to enhance the vibrancy and vitality of the drama. It provides an example of the way in which the series reworks and updates social realism for the twenty-first century. A concession to postmodernity in Clocking Off was the introduction of a number of stylistic changes which differentiate the series from its more sombre and sometimes pedantic social realist predecessors.
Monstrous becomings in Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers
Approximately one-third of the way through Abel Ferrara's 1993 film, Body Snatchers, army doctor Major Collins questions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative about the toxicity of chemicals stored on the military base. In Ferrara's adaptation, monstrous becomings have an erotic potential absent from earlier cinematic incarnations of Jack Finney's novel. Ferrara's revelation of the social and cultural logics is at work in US millennial culture. It is only fitting that the most pronounced moments of cinematic horror in Body Snatchers arise not from the fear of what one may become, but from the very act of becoming. In their increasingly spectacular representation of the narrative, social, familial and corporeal body in flux, Don Siegel, Philip Kaufman, and Ferrara's adaptations of Finney's The Body Snatchers engage historically-specific cultures in transition.
This chapter looks at the apparent simplicities of the situation comedy, comparing some 'classic' 1960s and 1970s British sitcoms with a more recent example, The Office. It aims to clarify the relationship of narrative form to ideological and historical content. The chapter focuses on the question of linear narrative development in sitcom: a vexed question in a genre that has traditionally been marked by, and has indeed in important respects relied on, a distinctive episodic circularity. By comparison with other forms of popular television drama, and notwithstanding its eternal popularity with programmers and audiences, sitcom remains notably underdiscussed. The fine line between humour and grim psychological realism trod by Alan Simpson's Steptoe and Son's comedy of frustration and entrapment was seized upon by critics as a means of redeeming the series from sitcom status.