This chapter explores a few of the female Gothic dramas in an attempt to define the particular ways in which narratives of domestic fear and entrapment appear on television. It outlines the ways in which the heroine negotiates her position within the domestic space of the Gothic narrative. The chapter focuses on a topographical analysis of the mise-en-scene of female Gothic fiction on television, and identifies the connection between text and domestic viewer. The television adaptation of Northanger Abbey plays upon the representation of Cathy as a diegetic stand-in for the female Gothic reader-viewer by fully visualising extracts from her reading matter through imagined point-of-view sequences at key moments in the narrative. The Wyvern Mystery alters the generic approach to the heritage location to express the distinct uneasiness attached to domestic spaces within the female Gothic narrative.
In thematic terms, a sense of desire as a dangerously uncontrollable force can be seen to inform Terence Fisher's later films. In the horror work, the powerful and effective heroes tend to be celibate while those individuals who succumb to desire usually end badly. In the pre-horror work discussed in this chapter, one gains a sense that Fisher is more engaged in those scenarios which afford him the possibility of exploring or commenting upon the perils of desire. Possible traces of Fisher's input are minimal, as one might expect from a project in which Noel Coward was so obviously the leading light. Most of the films he directed at Highbury and Gainsborough were thoroughly conventional, both generically and in broader aesthetic terms, and rarely went beyond the norms and types that characterise British cinema at this time.
Terence Fisher was always something of a latecomer, so far as his career in cinema was concerned. However, there was something about Fisher's career in what might be termed his 'wilderness years' that, while of no apparent importance at the time, would in retrospect become significant. Of the nineteen low-budget films directed by Fisher up until 1957, eleven were for a small, up-and-coming independent production company called Hammer. Hammer's horror production represents one of the most striking developments in post-war British cinema. Particular genres can be seen as organising both an audience's belief and interactions between realism and fantasy within films. A neglect of the collaborative contexts within which film production takes place, and a reliance on what might be termed 'elitist' concepts of artistic value. Both these factors seem seriously to undermine the credibility of looking at film in terms of directors.
The Frankenstein and Dracula myths in Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos
Fulcanelli, an early twentieth-century alchemist, describes his art as 'a spiritualistic chemistry, for it allows people to catch a glimpse of God through the darkness of substance'. In the opening scene of Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, a fictional representation of Fulcanelli has discovered the secrets of the unknown animator. Cronos is, therefore, just as much an atypical Frankenstein film as it is an atypical vampire film. Toro has combined the myths of Dracula and Frankenstein in order to form his own creation myth. His film, therefore, takes the evolution of these myths one step further. Rather than containing an image of one dark twin that conjures the other by contrast, as in films like House of Dracula, Cronos presents people with the scientific, vampiric Fulcanelli and his vampiric monster, Jesus.
According to its director, Terence Fisher, The Gorgon was not a horror film at all, but a romantic fairy tale and 'frustrated love story'. Although the film is set in Hammer's usual stylised middle Europe, the Gorgon herself derives not from Gothic literature, like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, but from classical mythology, unfamiliar imaginative territory for the British studio. Relocating an ancient monster within the paraphernalia of Victorian Gothic, the film was Hammer's most striking experiment in free adaptation before the frankly bizarre transnational genre-fusion of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. The Gorgon was Fisher's first Hammer film since The Phantom of the Opera and his only film about a woman. Significantly, it marked an attempt to invent a new monster at a time when, as the Dracula and Frankenstein films trailed off, Hammer sought to diversify its range for a wider international audience.
The gothic and death is the first ever published study to investigate how the multifarious strands of the Gothic and the concepts of death, dying, mourning, and memorialization – what the Editor broadly refers to as "the Death Question" – have intersected and been configured cross-culturally to diverse ends from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. Drawing on recent scholarship in Gothic Studies, film theory, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Thanatology Studies, to which fields it seeks to make a valuable contribution, this interdisciplinary collection of fifteen essays by international scholars considers the Gothic’s engagement, by way of its unique necropolitics and necropoetics, with death’s challenges to all systems of meaning, and its relationship to the culturally contingent concepts of memento mori, subjectivity, spectrality, and corporeal transcendence. Attentive to our defamiliarization with death since the advent of enlightened modernity and the death-related anxieties engendered by that transition, The gothic and death combines detailed attention to socio-historical and cultural contexts with rigorous close readings of artistic, literary, televisual, and cinematic works. This surprisingly underexplored area of enquiry is considered by way of such popular and uncanny figures as corpses, ghosts, zombies, and vampires, and across various cultural and literary forms as Graveyard Poetry, Romantic poetry, Victorian literature, nineteenth-century Italian and Russian literature, Anglo-American film and television, contemporary Young Adult fiction, Bollywood film noir, and new media technologies that complicate our ideas of mourning, haunting, and the "afterlife" of the self.
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.