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Gothic Horror Cinema

Uploaded by riaero on Nov 04, 2001

The genre of Gothic horror film has existed almost as long as the cinema itself, and it has always fascinated me. As the definition above suggests, the word can be loosely used to define any horror story with suitable settings, but such themes as disturbing dreams, desperate, undying love and melancholic romanticisation of death are also usually important in Gothic cinema.

The following is a brief and superficial overview on Gothic horror film and some classics of the genre.

Directed by Robert Wiene in 1919, Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari was one of the first Gothic horror films. Although the more usual Gothic environment was replaced by disturbingly dreamlike sets, this incredibly inventive story of dream, madness, love and evil is thematically more truly Gothic than any of your average graveyards-castles-and-living-dead spook flicks. Being also the film that first introduced the character of a mad doctor to a horror audience, The Cabinet ★★★★ remains a first rate masterpiece nearly eighty years after its original release.

It is obvious that there are few things more Gothic than vampires. This was to be noticed by the world in 1922, when the German expressionist F. W. Murnau made the first ever film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Although the Count was called Orlok, and the story was set in Bremen instead of London, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: The First Vampire) was so identical to Stoker’s story that major legal trouble for Murnau followed right after the release. The Count was portrayed by Max Schreck (whose last name is actually German for ‘terror’) as an undead bestial bloodsucker. In the story, the vampire can only be brought to rest by a woman who shall willingly give her blood to the beast until the sun rises, and the vampire turns to dust in a well-known scene. Many scholars describe Nosferatu as the best film ever made in the vampire genre.

Released ten years later, Tod Browning’s Dracula,1931 gave the character of the Count a different treatment - the one that we now call ‘the classic Dracula’. (Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó) Bela Lugosi’s Dracula dressed in an elegant Victorian suit and a black and red satin cloak, and was closer to a mysterious, charmant aristocrat than a blood-thirsty monster. Despite the fact that neither the film or its sequel Dracula’s Daughter ,1936 Lambert Hillyer were cinematic masterpieces, Lugosi’s immortal portrayal of Dracula would be copied by...

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Uploaded by:   riaero

Date:   11/04/2001

Category:   Film

Length:   7 pages (1,495 words)

Views:   1969

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