This chapter analyses four films written and directed by Mario Bava between 1960 and 1966: La Maschera del demonio, La Frusta e il Corpo, Operazione Paura and Sei donne per l'assassino. The first three titles belong to 'the supernatural horror film', the latter to the Italian genre of the giallo. The first point worth noting is that the three examples of 'supernatural horror' are all 'period pieces', set in the nineteenth century, whereas Sei donne per l'assassino is set in the contemporary period. Since he is directing a 'period piece', Bava chooses to concentrate on questions of honour, the family, patriarchy and the selfishness of a power that goes without saying as everyone accepts it. La Frusta e il Corpo extends the notion of submission to take in the male members of the family, but the concomitant notion of adapting for the woman remains intact: now two women are unhappy.
The last decade has seen a diffusion of the Gothic across a wide range of cultural sites, a relative explosion of Gothic images and narratives prompting a renewed critical interest in the genre. However, very little sustained attention has been paid to what we might term 'Gothic television' until this point. This book fills this gap by offering an analysis of where and how the genre might be located on British and US television, from the start of television broadcasting to the present day. In this analysis, Gothic television is understood as a domestic form of a genre which is deeply concerned with the domestic, writing stories of unspeakable family secrets and homely trauma large across the television screen. The book begins with a discussion on two divergent strands of Gothic television that developed in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s, charting the emergence of the restrained, suggestive ghost story and the effects-laden, supernatural horror tale. It then focuses on the adaptation of what has been termed 'female Gothic' or 'women's Gothic' novels. The book moves on to discuss two hybrid forms of Gothic drama in the 1960s, the Gothic family sitcoms The Munsters and The Addams Family, and the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. Finally, it looks at some recent examples of Gothic television in the United States, starting with a discussion of the long-form serial drama, Twin Peaks, as the initiator of a trend for dark, uncanny drama on North American television.
Women, domesticity and the female Gothic adaptation on television
Popular television drama produced for a specifically female audience has been thought about and discussed in relation to a number of key dramatic genres within British television. From the end of the eighteenth century onwards, popular, inexpensive outlets for the female Gothic narrative attracted the female reader. It was presumed that they avidly 'devoured' the serialised fictions of domestic terror, following the fates of a bevy of female victim-heroines. A number of female Gothic adaptations were broadcast on television in the UK. These included three BBC adaptations of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and adaptations of Peter Godfrey's The Two Mrs Carrolls and Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (Hour of Mystery). Rebecca, as with the other female Gothic narratives, implicitly critiques the representation of the domestic space as ideal home, and in fact expresses an anxiety around the image of the perfected woman or wife.
Terence Fisher offered much more complex and less moralistic treatments of the independent women in his post-1962 work for Hammer, but Night of the Big Heat is interesting precisely because of its difference from that Hammer work. Between 1964 and 1967 Fisher directed three science fiction films, The Earth Dies Screaming, Island of Terror and The Night of the Big Heat. A shift of focus is certainly evident in The Gorgon, Fisher's 'come-back' film for Hammer. Scripted by John Gilling from a story by John Llewellyn Devine, it was the first Hammer horror to centre on a female monster. Given that Fisher's first horror film was about Frankenstein, it seems appropriate that his final horror film should deal with the Baron. The Devil Rides Out turns out to be one of Fisher's most impressive films so far as its mise-en-scene is concerned.
The 1957-1962 period was crucial for Terence Fisher. This chapter argues that it was a period of considerable achievement for the director. If one discounts Hammer's The Terror of the Tongs, Fisher was actually responsible for all of Hammer's costume horror films in the 1957-1962 period. Later, from 1962 onwards, Fisher's relationship with Hammer would become more sporadic, but during Hammer's initial burst of horror-related activity, Fisher was, even by his standards, astonishingly prolific on behalf of the company. The authority-subjection nexus around which Fisher's Dracula had been structured was carried over into The Revenge of Frankenstein, with a strict division observed between strong and weak men. Fisher's The Stranglers of Bombay offers a half-hearted, qualified and somewhat confused defence of certain aspects of British rule in India while the more interesting The Mummy traces the collapse of British authority.
Networked spectrality in Charlie Brooker’s 'Be Right Back’
‘Be Right Back’ (Black Mirror 2011 - ongoing) fictionalises the possibility of reconstructing a deceased loved one based on posts to online social media sites as a means of managing grief. This chapter reads the episode according to a new theoretical framework, ‘networked spectrality’, which considers the relevant historical, technical, social, and political dynamics of digital networks as they relate to the concept of haunting. By paying attention to the affordances of networked publics, including the problems of context collapse in mediated social interactions, networked spectrality helps explore the significance of Ash as an enduring multiplicity of haunting and the uncanny in the lives of Martha and their daughter. As an allegory of contemporary media use, networked spectrality offers an approach to consider the implications of mediated remains and technical persistence in a society that tends to identify and articulate such encounters as spectral.
Identity and culture in Clive Barker’s ‘The Forbidden’ and Bernard Rose’s Candyman
This chapter analyzes Clive Barker's 'The Forbidden' and Bernard Rose's Candyman, highlighting the feminine aesthetic of horror and how this is played out with respect to transformations of identity within horror film and fiction. It proposes that this form of comparative analysis, of the main elements of horror in a British story and its 'Americanised' Hollywood film version, can underscore the gendered dimensions of, and reactions to, horror narratives. The main themes of the short story, namely poverty, slums, class difference and folk culture, are easily mapped onto the film adaptation, replacing class with race as the main locus of the horror. In many respects, Candyman is a key text. Fans mention the strong female lead, the erotic appeal of the monster, their delight in the horrific imagery and themes, and a narrative that makes the viewer think.
Adapting the metaphor of psychopathology to look back at the mad, monstrous 80s
This chapter examines American Psycho and Donnie Darko, two films that look back at aspects of the American experience in the 1980s. These titles represent only two out of a larger series of recent 'Monstrous 80s' films, including Capturing the Friedmans and Monster. Each of these films adopts the framework and language of psychopathology in contextualising its monstrous protagonist. The apocalyptic tenor of the films suggests an emerging national metaphor, as if the cultural pathology which was latent in the 1980s is finally becoming manifest in the retrospective understanding of history. The retrospective analysis of US history through film and the overarching metaphors of psychopathology and prophecy that characterise the cycle of movies are explored as constituting an adaptive interpretive process in the horror genre. Horror films are consistently reactionary in terms of their internal politics and serve to reinforce normative values and ideas.
As in the case of the major European film industries, Australia's history of filmmaking represented a source of nostalgia, pride and regret for those who sought the rebirth of the national cinema during the 1970s. The standard to which all other national forms of film expression are compared is that of Hollywood, and the American film industry casts an equally long shadow in economic terms. The ideological purpose behind the dominant representations and images of nationhood produced by the Australian cinema is linked to enduring colonial, cultural associations. The stereotypes of Australianness which emerged in early, successful or favoured cinematic representations have entered the consciousness of local and foreign audiences. The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and They're A Weird Mob stressed the contrasting commercial and generic influence of America in Australian cinema. These films depict the solitary Australian either abroad or at home and successful at home and overseas.
As in Gothic literary studies, it is possible to produce an initial taxonomy of Gothic television in order to distinguish the genre from the other generic categorisations which are applied to its texts. A study of Gothic fiction on television in the UK and US which attempted to be encyclopaedic in its coverage would include consideration of the some programmes, such as A Ghost Story and The Night Stalker. The uncanny is located in the moments in Gothic television in which the familiar traditions and conventions of television are made strange, when television's predominant genres and styles are both referred to and inverted. The chapter presents some key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book aims to construct what Umberto Eco might call a 'model viewer' by reading the Gothic television drama's modes of address and by scrutinising its semantic and syntactic elements.