Film, Media and Music

The heritage of horror on British television

This chapter begins by examining the effects-laden anthologies of the 1960s and 1970s which, in their heyday, offered original and adapted teleplays that pushed the boundaries of television production through the visualisation of the supernatural and the grotesque. It turns towards the moment in which grand guignol Gothic was no longer confined to a dim and distant past but was brought up to date, with a shift towards a more quotidian kind of horror. The sense of innovation and experimentation in Harry Moore's instruction is very clearly coupled with the explicit portrayal of gory horror in Late Night Horror, emphasising both the need to display the possibilities of the new technology and the desire to place blood and gore on show in close-up. By comparison television horror is authenticated through its representation of the everyday life of the composer within a recognisable domestic space.

in Gothic television
Queer As Folk and the geo-ideological inscription of gay sexuality

This chapter explores the ways in which, within a geo-ideological analysis of the controversial Channel 4 drama series Queer As Folk, one may view fundamental issues regarding the politics of the representation of gay sexuality. Queer As Folk had its first broadcast in 1999-2000 on Channel 4 television, screened in eight hour-long episodes. A crucial incident in the exploration of the tensions between confrontational and assimilationist strategies comes in the penultimate episode of the second series relating to a secondary character called Alexander. Alexander is constructed in such a way that he embodies the stereotypical attributes of camp, 'feminised' homosexuality. The use of a popular cultural colloquialism, 'kinky sex', is deliberately, ironically provocative. From a dominant reactionary, heterosexual viewing position, homosexuality in and of itself may be viewed as a profoundly disturbing 'kink' or deviation of sexual imagination, conduct and practice.

in Popular television drama
Abstract only
Jonathan Rayner

The recreation of the Australian film industry in the 1970s and its subsequent survival on economic and aesthetic terms have been inseparable from debate over sources of finance. The reception and encouragement of the period film cycle has been taken as evidence of a regimentation of treatment in the service of a primary political objective. This is to define and broadcast an expedient, respectable and marketable form of Australian identity at a crucial moment in the development of national consciousness. The groups of films addressed in this book have been categorised by critics or have aligned themselves with generic patterns, in response to their maker's intentions and their audience's expectations. Stereotypical representations of Australian masculinity are found in The Overlanders, They're A Weird Mob and Crocodile Dundee. These representations strive to designate the white, classless, individualistic male as the archetypal Australian, defined strictly by or in relation to outsiders.

in Contemporary Australian cinema
Abstract only

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts covered in this book. The book examines the dialogue between the textual domestic spaces of Gothic television and the extra-textual domestic spaces of the medium. In doing so, it argues that structures of identification are laid in place which render the Gothic on television as one of the most affective of genres. It is possible to look to the very fabric of the programmes in question to create a picture of the 'model viewer', who is 'recorded into' the texts of Gothic television. The recent bevy of supernatural serials on US television discussed in the book have a certain self-regenerative quality, guaranteeing that innovation and formal experimentation soon become repetitive and mundane. The anxieties surrounding the broadcast of Gothic television identified in the book might be seen as indicative of broader concerns around the propriety of television viewing as a whole.

in Gothic television
Abstract only

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in this book. The book examines Terence Fisher as a director dependent on and at ease with the industrial and collaborative nature of film-making. Praised by David Pirie in the early 1970s as a Gothic auteur, he has since come to be seen as the reactionary face of British horror against which more radical and innovative approaches can be defined. The book presents Fisher as a more complex figure than this, as not entirely the auteur identified by Pirie but neither the wholly reactionary film-maker imagined by others. Isabel Cristina Pinedo has suggested that Hammer horror forms a transitional stage between 'classical horror' and more modern forms of horror. Fisher's horror films perhaps represent more clearly than other Hammer horrors some of the tensions and uncertainties involved in this transition.

in Terence Fisher
An introduction
Editor: Jonathan Rayner

This book offers introductory readings of some of the well-known and less well-known feature productions coming out of Australia since the revival in the national film industry at the end of the 1960s. The interpretations of the texts and the careers of their makers are considered in relation to the emergence of an indigenous film culture and the construction of national identity. The majority of the films examined in the book have had theatrical or video releases in the UK. The independent development of several indigenous film genres has been an important feature of recent production, and helped to punctuate and bracket the streams of feature production that have evolved since 1970. These Australian genres have been identified and evaluated (the Australian Gothic, the period film, the male ensemble film) and are worthy of consideration both in their own right and in their intersection with other conventionalised forms. These include science fiction, fantasy and horror in comparison with the Gothic, the heritage film and literary adaptation in connection with the period film, and the war film and rite of passage in relation to the male ensemble. More recently, an aesthetic and thematic trend has emerged in the examples of Strictly Ballroom, The Adventures of Priscilla, and Muriel's Wedding, which foregrounds elements of the camp, the kitsch and the retrospective idolisation of 1970s Glamour. Such chronological, stylistic and thematic groupings are important in the interpretation of national filmmaking.

Abstract only
Zombies and the spectre of cultural decline

This chapter investigates the Gothic as a mode of writing that escaped generic literary boundaries during the British debates over the French Revolution in order to express more widespread fears of cultural decline. Positing the current ubiquity of the zombie as a resurgence of this Gothic mode, the chapter explores zombie-apocalypse texts as expressing a return of Malthusian worries about population growth, climate change, financial instability, and energy insecurity. The zombie-apocalypse genre, popularized by George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), released within a few years of U.S. peak oil production, has become a mainstay of global cinema, fiction, and television in the recent international scramble for alternative energy sources. These texts, like the Gothic in its first heyday, demonstrate a conflicted desire both to confront and dismiss problems that seem as inconceivable as they appear to be insoluble. Today’s zombie stands, then, much as the envisioned undead did for earlier British writers like Edmund Burke and Mary Wollstonecraft, as the spectre of regression so unimaginable within the reigning cultural narrative of the time that its nightmarish possibility may be repressed by the very same spectacle of apocalyptic carnage used to figure it.

in The Gothic and death

The Gothic has become a dominant mode in children’s and young adult fiction published in the past decade. This chapter considers how Sonya Hartnett’s The Ghost’s Child (2007), Chris Priestley’s Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror (2007), Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2008), and Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2011) all represent dead or ghostly children who, in diverse ways, work to critique or remedy adult actions, particularly through their interactions with history. Contemporary Gothic children’s literature is, this chapter argues, distinctly different from Gothic fictions for adults, which often represent children as the bearers of death. In contrast, Gothic children’s literature displaces the anxieties that ordinarily accompany the representation of child death in realist fiction.

in The Gothic and death
Cycles of death and transcendence in Byron’s Gothic

A number of Byron’s works – in particular The Two Foscari but also The Prisoner of Chillon, Manfred, and Sardanapalus – can be located firmly within the Gothic. The tyrannical burden exerted by ancestry, for example, is a Gothic theme seen in these works, while The Prisoner of Chillon and The Two Foscari also feature the Gothic scenarios of incarceration and torture: in both cases that which is loved and familial repeatedly becomes a source of pain and death. Yet Byron also moves beyond the Gothic view of death by presenting so many figures, from Manfred to Jacopo Foscari, who appear to actively exhibit a death drive, which is dramatised as a means of transcending different forms and conditions of imprisonment and torture. Death is a repeated event in these works where significant and extended claims are also made by Byron for the existence of variously imagined (mental, physical, and textual) afterlives.

in The Gothic and death

This chapter examines the ‘Lost World’ genre, a staple of late-Victorian popular fiction, exemplified by H. Rider Haggard’s stories featuring Allan Quatermain, and Ayesha, known as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. These fin-de-siècle tales, while ostensibly celebrating British Imperialism and the continuation of colonial power, reveal layers of anxiety concerning degeneration, the collapse of civilisation, the rise of the Victorian ‘new woman’, and perhaps most potently the fear of death. Canadian writer James De Mille, in his book A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, inverted Victorian values to satirise the capitalist economy, and the glorification of war, by creating the Lost World of the Kosekin where wealth is a burden and death worshipped. The presentation of the Lost World as a Gothic Space allows for a critical examination of the way that Victorian cultural certainties were challenged, by divergent belief systems, and the mystery and terror of death.

in The Gothic and death