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I thought that perhaps a thread on Gothic films could be a swell idea. Last night I watched Nosferatu the Vampyre which was directed by Werner Herzog. I am a fan of Nosferatu the silent German Expressionist film by F. W. Murnau and I had always thought that Herzog's film was a remake of the Murnau film but I was wrong. The Murnau film merely served as inspiration with Herzog's film containing plenty of homages. I thought Klaus Kinski played a wonderful Dracula.
Does anyone have any good Gothic films to recommend? I have seen several of the Hammer Horror films that I believe fall in this category.
BTW, has anyone seen The Monk?
I'm up for this. The Herzog Nosferatu must be one of the first horror films I ever watched (on late-night TV), not counting a (wonderful) season of Universal horror films in 1983 (I was 16, and came to the genre quite late).
I think I prefer the German-language version, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. It's a slow-moving film, and there are many scenes where Herzog holds a shot for a long time. There's a risk of this becoming boring. In the German version the shots are held even longer, but the effect is to get over or break through the 'boredom barrier', and become almost hypnotic. It must be even more so on the big screen.
This isn't really playing the game, but when trying to think of 'Gothic' on screen, I keep coming back to a children's TV programme I caught a little of in 1986 - still, that was enough for it to stay with me. So despite it being small- rather than big screen, and unavailable, I would repectfully direct your attention to this Wikipedia entry for 'Tottie":
As for something that should be available, how about:
The Ghoul (Boris Karloff, 1933 (I think) a UK Horror film almost as good as the early Universals. A beautifully clear print has recently surfaced and is available on DVD in the UK).
Blood on Satan's Claw AKA Satan's Skin
The BBC adaptations of MR James's stories from the 1970s - if any of these are available in the US (Jonathan Miller's 1968 'Omnibus' (an Arts Programme) Oh Whistle and I'll Come To You and 1972's A Warning to the Curious came out on DVD from the BFI.)
Actually, I have seen these uploaded on YouTube, and in addition a version of Le Fanu's Schalken the Painter. This is a poor-quality time-coded VHS copy that must have originated from the BBC Production Office. Still, it may be the only way we'll ever see it.
That's if it's still there - the Beeb jealously guards it copyrights!
Slightly off-topic, but I've recently bought a DVD of Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams - an enthralling documentary film, though I'm not sure if Herzog and his preoccupations aren't slightly getting in the way of a fascinating story. But it did strike me that these 30,000-year-old paintings or similar would make a great basis for a fictional story.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is great. I think we are very lucky that those paintings have lasted as long as they have. Truly one of mankind's treasures.
That Tottie series sounds interesting. The BBC seems to put out some great adaptions. I liked their version of Sweeney Todd that I saw about a year ago. I'll have to check some sites to see about the availability of those MR James adaptions along with the LaFanu. Thanks for the recommendations.
I've only seen the trailer for the latest version of The Monk, but I've seen the two earlier versions.
The 1972 film was shown on UK terrestrial TV some time in the last ten years (the BBC again - bless them!)
whilst the 1990 version starring Paul McGann was on satellite TV (Rupert Murdoch's Sky) around 2005.
I've just looked on UK and US Amazons and none of them seem available on DVD.
But now I'm going to be niggled all day wondering why 'The Bridges of Madison County' came up in the first page of search results for the UK site. And if you go down a couple of pages on the US site you get to 'The French Chef With Julia Child'.
Never fails to mystify me, Amazon.
Some films have never been released on DVD (and will probably never see a Blu-Ray release) and in those cases I take the freebooting route sine the only other option is to allow them to remain unwatched. Not sure if that is the case with any of the films listed here though. Some of the BBC stuff you might be able to watch on Youtube. I have used Youtube to view several BBC documentaries.
BFI films (the British Film Institute) released two M. R. James titles about 10 years ago. Another BBC production brought out at the same time (Ghostwatch) has just been re-released by another company, so maybe the BFI let then all go out of print.
I've edited this post for fear I've inadvertently breached LT terms and conditions, or that BBC lawyers will come after me.
However, it can't hurt to list the BBC MR James adaptations, and the loose "Ghost Stories for Christmas" series of which they formed the major part.
(Please note a couple of story titles were slightly changed from James's originals. The programmes are between 35 to 50 minutes long.)
Whistle and I'll Come to You (1968) film, b/w
The Stalls of Barchester (1971) film, colour (as are all the following)
A Warning the the Curious (1972) film
Lost Hearts (1973) film
The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (1974) film
The Ash Tree (1975) film
The Signalman (1976) film (Dickens, not M R James)
Stigma (1977) film? (this is an original modern-day screenplay)
The Ice House (1978) film? (another original screenplay, and apparently not highly regarded)
A View From A Hill (2005) video (but processed to look "filmic")
Number 13 (2006) video ("filmic")
A short animated film, "Alma":
You may suspect I've lost my marbles, but I'm going to suggest "Carry on Screaming".
I recently watched Tales of Terror with Vincent Price. I just love the costumes, sets and atmosphere in these films.
I was aware that there had been a well-regarded Russian (Soviet-era) Sherlock Holmes TV series, but had never seen any more than one or two grainy publicity photos or stills. However, the series' 1981 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles has recently been released on DVD in the UK.
It's a handsome production (shot on film) and the plot is faithful to the novel (the running time of 146 minutes allows for this). Vasily Livonov's Holmes is more genial than most modern portrayals (and is less sharp-featured, bearing a faint resemblance to the English actor Peter Egan). Vitaly Solomin is a very good, youngish Watson.
Costumes and sets aim for fidelity to the late-Victorian English setting. There are a couple of deviations. Sir Henry seems to be presented as a caricature of an American (he's been living in Canada, you'll recall) and Laura Lyons is presented as a vamp (perhaps her "fall" had to be presented in stronger terms for it to make sense to the Russian audience - a women doesn't have to fall very far at all, in Victorian society, to be a "fallen woman"; in the terms of Conan Doyle's fictional world, at any rate.
As this production was filmed in the USSR, the locations cannot always replicate 19th Century London or the environment of Dartmoor. On their own terms they are effective, often impressive.
On a technical level, it doesn't say anywhere on the packaging but I assume the 2 DVDs are coded for Region 2. It does say that it's authored from a DigiBeta source; this may explain a couple of moments where the picture breaks up in shivers and blocky artifacting.
One the whole this is one of the best screen versions of Doyle's novel I've seen, allowing for it's idiocyncrasies.
I'm quite intrigued by that. I've put it on my Amazon wishlist, if only for curiosity's sake.
Incidentally, in hunting for that I've been quite astonished at how many versions are available. I even found one with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore! I have absolutely no memory of that one coming out.
#8 - I distinctly remember composing a post on 'The Signalman'; obviously I didn't post it - must have got distracted.
Anyway, I just wanted to give it a recommendation - brilliant performance by Denholm Elliot. I seem to remember the BBC showing it again on his death as a tribute to him, so it must be a widely-admired piece.
I probably saw most of the pieces you listed as that was a period - my twenties - when I really loved that kind of stuff, but 'The Signalman' and 'Whistle and I'll Come to You' are the only ones that seem to have really stuck in my mind down through the years - especially 'The Signalman'.
The television companies must have so much good-quality, old stuff that they're presumably unlikely to show again: I wish they'd work up some sort of system analogous to book-publishing's 'print on demand'.
The Peter Cook/Dudley Moore film is reputed to be dreadful, unfortunately. But, your mentioning it did remind me of Gene Wilder's film, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. The film features a couple of blink-and-you'll-miss-him seconds of Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock.
Wilmer played Holmes for one season on the BBC in the 1960's ('season' would not have been UK television usage at the time, of course) and is still held by some to be the best screen Holmes ever. Unfortunately I've never seen any of these stories. They may even no longer exist (although, Peter Cushing replaced Wilmer in a second BBC series, and his stories not only exist, but have been released on DVD. So maybe they have survived).
Even Wilmer's one official BBC publicity photo fails to give any idea of him as Holmes, as it makes him look more like Roddy McDowell than himself. So the film may be the only indication of what his performance on TV was like.
A company called Network DVD have been releasing masses of material from the old ITV companies (that's the commercial television companies that have been broadcasting in the UK in competition with the publicly-funded BBC since the mid-'50s, for anyone reading who didn't know).
There's a lot of sitcoms and children's TV (some of the latter may be of interest - Children of the Stones or the surviving 3rd series of Ace of Wands, say) but also material that should fit squarely here, for example:
- All the surviving episodes from Mystery and Imagination.
- A 1979 updated Casting the Runes (includes as a bonus a short adaptation of Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance, made for schools, which has much of the atmosphere of the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas).
- The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, the first series of which includes Donald Pleasance as Carnacki the Ghost Finder in a version of The Horse of the Invisible.
These are all coded for Region 2, I should mention.
I should have said that the Region 2 DVDs I mentioned earlier are also PAL rather than NTSC.
I have just discovered - flitting aimlessly around the Internet - that a multi-disc box set of BBC M R James adaptations has been released. IN AUSTRALIA!
It's encoded for Region 4. It apparently includes all the M R James "Ghost Stories for Christmas" (including the two "Noughties" titles) plus the 1968 and 2010 (or 2011- not sure) versions of "Oh Whistle..." (I haven't said anything about the new version because I recorded it off-air but haven't seen it yet).
The box set also includes "Christopher Lee's Ghost Stories for Christmas" from (I think) 2000, which was Lee reading M R James stories, in character as James.
Non-James stories are not included, so no "Signalman" and no chance to assess the two original screenplays (although since I posted above, the whole of "Stigma" appeared on YouTube, so I've seen that now. Only "The Ice House" remains a mystery).
The Box Set is distributed by Shock Records, if it's worth your while getting hold of Region 4 discs.
I recently watched Hands of the Ripper which is one of Hammer Studios films I had not seen before. I guess they still have quite a few film I have not seen that I will make my way through slowly. HotR is an interesting 'What if' sort of take. It is about the daughter of Jack the Ripper who has recurring visions of her father murdering her prostitute mother and having her own series of murders that are set off by those memories being triggered.
Mystery and Imagination sounds like a good one to keep my eye out for.
Yes, Hands of the Ripper is a good one.
My brother got me the coffee mug for Christmas (no comment on my character, I hope!)
Return to Glennascaul: A Story That Is Told in Dublin
This is a short film from 1952 credited to Irish actor-managers Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammóir (founders of Dublin's Gate Theatre Company), and notable for the presence of Orson Welles as star and narrator.
At the time of production Edwards and MacLiammóir were involved in Orson Welles' Othello. This was a project subject to many delays, mostly financial in nature but including the fact that Edwards and MacLiammóir had to return to Dublin for their company's regular season.
The feel of the film is very like radio dramas of the time (which of course Welles had plenty of experience of), with Welles as the host who recounts the story rather than being at the centre of events. The fact that all the sound was clearly added in post-production added to this feeling, for me.
The film starts on the set of Othello but swiftly moves to Ireland. Welles (as himself) is driving into Dublin when he stops to assist a man whose car has broken down. He gives the man a lift, and during the journey the man tells Welles about a supernatural experience he had, at the very spot where his car broke down tonight...
We see this story played out in flashback, with a voiceover narration from Welles. The story is quite slight (and very similar to Oliver Onions' short story "The Cigarette Case"). Despite almost nothing happening, the film does have an authentic feeling of the uncanny. It was well-thought of enough to be nominated for an Academy Award, and then disappeared from circulation for the best part of 40 years.
In the early 90's a producer called Richard Gordon acquired the film and made it available again (with an introduction by Peter Bogdanovich and a new overall title, "A Tribute to Orson Welles".
I know that this version has been aired on British television at least once, but it's now available commercially, as the bonus feature to a 1955 portmanteau film called Three Cases of Murder (Odeon Entertainment, Region 0). Welles is also in this "main feature".
I'm sure you're sick to death of this subject now, but I will just say that the BBC M.R. James adaptations, plus "The Signalman" and the two original plays, are scheduled for release from BFI films on DVD between August and October, on 5 separate discs, and then available in one box-set in October.
These are, needless to say, Region 2 PAL discs, but if you're overseas (from my perspective) and have a multi-region DVD player you may be able to view them (as a comparison, I have a 10-year old television set that's happy to display Region 0 NSTC discs).
#24 - On UK Amazon, they're giving the release date as October 22nd - when the nights will have drawn in and just about the time round here when the weather tips over into colder, wintry mode - perfectly timed for those cold, dark evenings.
Quite a reasonable price for a five-disc set, too.
I'm wishlisting that.
["I'm not sure, but I have it in the back of my mind that BFI releases tend to be in limited quantities. Do they tend to sell out; or have I got my wires crossed somewhere?" Should I pre-order or wait till it's released in the hope of finding a cheaper deal?"
"Am I being a cheapskate?"
"Yes, you are - pre-order it!"
"Okay - I'm pre-ordering it."
"Honestly! The way you faff about with these things - it's only a couple of quid!"
"I should think so!"]
Sorry about that - just thinking aloud.
["Just shut up and post!"
I am not sick of this subject. You have reminded me of a couple of Christmas eves when I still lived at the family home and watched some of those programmes on their first broadcast.
"The Signal Man" and "The Stalls of Barchester" are ones I particularly remember. I also remember watching Tales of Mystery and Imagination.
> Thanks for the reassuring.encouraging words. I first saw three of these stories in similar circumstances. They were repeated over three Christmas Eves in the '90s.
Following on from the discussion of the BBC Ghost Stories, I was too impatient to wait for the box set, so I can confirm the full contents of disc one:
"Whistle and I'll Come to You" (1968) (42 mins)
"Oh, Whistle and I'll come to You, My Lad" (the original story) read by Neil Brand (over a still from the 1968 film) (42 mins)
Introduction by horror writer Ramsey Campbell (16 mins)
Ramsey Campbell reading his M R James-inspired story "The Guide" (27 mins)
Campbell's stuff is recorded in a horribly echoey acoustic. The story, in particular, is best listened to on headphones.
All the above was on the BFI 2001 release. The following are new:
"Jonathan Miller and Christopher Frayling discuss Whistle and I'll come to You" (3 mins)
It's actually the opening of the 1968 film (Miller's spoken introduction), then two very short unused bits of interview from a 2012 BBC Documentary on Miller; first Miller, then Frayling (separately, not discussing the film "head to head").
"Whistle and I'll come to You" (2010)
This got quite a mauling when it first aired, and it actually put me off watching an off-air copy that I made. It's better than I'd been led to expect from its reception, and sad as well as scary. I think the ending does let it down, though. I won't say any more though - no spoilers.
A 26-page booklet.
More on the BBC Ghost Stories DVD releases:
Disc two contains:
'The Stalls of Barchester'' (1971)
'A Warning to the Curious' (1972)
Both films have 10-minute introductions by director Lawrence Gordon Clark (evidently he's being interviewed and his answers edited together to remove the questioner.)
There are also the versions of these stories from 'Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee' (2000) in which Lee (or rather, Sir Christopher, plays not M R James but the narrator of M R James's stories, for whom the events are real. (The relevant article in the booklet makes this clear despite the voiceover in the opening scene.)
A 43-page booklet.
You might want to note that the extra from the 2002 release of 'A Warning to the Curious', a reading of the story by Michael Hordern, does not appear on the new disc.
'Lost Hearts' (1973)
'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas' (1974)
'The Ash Tree' (1975)
All stories have introductions from Lawrence Gordon Clark in the same format as on the previous disc.
A 30-page booklet.
'The Signalman' (1976)
'The Ice House' (1978)
The first two stories have introductions from Lawrence Gordon Clark in the same format as on the previous disc. 'The Ice House' was directed by Derek Lister and has no introduction.
A 22-page booklet.
The 2002 release of 'The Signalman' included a reading of the story by John Nettleton. It's not included here.
I did order this box set, after all.
Currently, they're saying I should have it at the start of November.
Just too late for Halloween!
I'm hoping that the other two Christopher Lee stories are bonus features on disc five.
The essays in the booklets are very good (i.e. I tend to agree with them!)
Harking back to the earliest posts here, I have a little more information on the 1990 version of 'The Monk' starring Paul McGann.
It's also been released under the titles 'Seduction of a Priest' and 'The Final Temptation'. It's directed by Francisco Lara Polop. Somebody is currently trying to sell a VHS copy on Amazon.co.uk for £46.00.
following on from # 32
I'm currently watching the latest version of 'The Monk'.
It's not currently available in the UK, but I've been able to order a German Region 2 DVD of Ken Russell's 'The Lair of the White Worm'. On YouTube (search for 'Trailers From Hell'), the producer describes it as 'Wildean'. Well, we'll see...
#24, #25 - Box-set just arrived. Quite excited.
Okay - I can work up a near nervous breakdown about practically anything: I haven't read one or two of the stories - now I'm stressing over whether I read them first or watch them first!
I wasn't a fan of the new version of The Monk with Vincent Cassel. The book is one of my all-time favorites in any genre, and I was hoping for the same face-clawing bleakness and terror in the movie, but it took a lot of liberties (most likely for budget considerations). The acting was quite good, but as a whole, it lacked a lot of atmosphere.
> 34 There's a lot to be said for watching a horror film and not knowing how it ends!
I thought the film worked well enough on its own terms. It's a long time since I read the novel, so I wasn't in the position of constantly being brought up short by changes to the story, dropped subplots and characters, and things like that.
#24, #25, #34 - I was a little surprised that the BBC 'Ghost Stories for Christmas' box set doesn't include 'Schalken the Painter'.
It was broadcast on December 23rd '79, but the BBC seems to have classed it as part of their 'Omnibus' rather than their 'Ghost Story for Christmas' series; but the same seems to go for 'Whistle and I'll Come to You', and that's included.
Oddly, if you search UK Amazon for it this box set is the only hit you get. In reality, it doesn't seem to be available on DVD.
ETA - If you search US Amazon for it you get 'Doctor Who' Season 5 - work that one out!
There's plenty of comment online, bewailing the fact that 'Schalken the Painter' has never been released on commercial DVD. More surprising to me, in regard to this set, is that one episode of the Christmas 2000 Christopher Lee series has been omitted from the 'extras' (I couldn't find it on YouTube either - surely 2000 is far too late for the BBC to be losing/wiping programmes?).
Oh - Doctor Who season 5 included the Richard Curtis episode about Vincent Van Gogh. So both include real-life painters and are scary (to a greater or lesser degree!). It's a bit of a stretch, but it is a connection.
The Uninvited (1944)
This apparently has some reputation as (possibly) the first Hollywood film to treat ghosts seriously in a drama. It leans very much towards the mainstream/romantic side of the gothic - perhaps that's why I wasn't really aware of it (unlike notionally more obscure or even lost films whose memory is kept fresh in books and magazine articles illustrated with a few familiar stills - 'London after Midnight', 'Phantom of the Opera', 'Black Sunday', say).
It's just become available on DVD in the UK. Brother and sister Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) discover a clifftop mansion while on holiday in Cornwall. Pamela (reminded of their childhood home) persuades her brother that they should buy the house. It's haunted, naturally, but the danger isn't primarily directed at them. It's directed towards Stella (Gail Russell), the orphaned daughter of the previous owners, and a woman that Roderick finds himself falling in love with...
Critic Jonathan Rigby's judgments are generally pretty sound, but I think he was a little harsh in his estimation in American Gothic: sixty years of horror cinema: "wrapped in so suffocating a mantle of faux-english gloss that it turns its tale...into a peculiarly twee after-dinner anecdote." Points against the film are it general air of a 1940s 'women's picture', and Ray Milland's wisecracking sometimes breaks the tension instead of coming over as 'whistling in the dark'; but there are enough moments where it succeeds in capturing the atmosphere of a Val Lewton horror film.
As an aside, Stella by Starlight (later to become a jazz standard) was created for this film - Milland's character is a composer.
The Mask of Satan (1960) is a not-bad vampire movie with Barbara Steele, interesting location, and direction by Mario Bava.
I never expected YouTube to compete for my viewing time, but the searchability and unexpectedness of finds make it seriously addictive.
Oh, I think The Mask of Satan and Black Sunday are the same film. I had a VHS copy back in the '90s, when a lot of films that I'd only known as plot summaries and a handful of stills started to become available. There are still some I've never seen, or not for nearly three decades.
Since my last post, I've read that The Uninvited is currently only available in the UK. I've always assumed (mistakenly, it seems) that where DVD releases are concerned the US has everyone we get and more, and what we do get is shorn of extras.
I value YouTube for old TV and films and music videos - in fact as a free international b******s-to-copyright audio-visual library. The people ranting against evolution or falling off skateboards - what it was originally designed for - I can cheerfully do without. Or at least stop recommending them, YouTube!
The reason I'm here at this ungodly hour (1:33 GMT) is that I looked on Amazon.co.uk earlier and The Stone Tape is listed as another BBC Ghost Story for Christmas, due (I think) 26 November.
So if the series is being extended maybe, just maybe, Schalken the Painter will get a release at some point.
I'll also mention again, for completists, the Network DVD of the updated ITV Casting the Runes from 1979 (stars Edward Petherbridge, Jan Francis, Iain Cuthbertson; it's shot on a mixture of studio videotape and location film (like 'classic' Doctor Who)). It also features a made-for-schools Mr Humphreys and his Inheritance from 1976, and a documentary from 1995.
Time for bed!
Just playlisted The Mask of Satan but I couldn't find The Uninvited. Perhaps I'll pick up the DVD some time. I think I've seen both, but so long ago I hardly remember them so I'll be watching 'fresh', as it were. Never seen The Stone Tape and I gather it's very good; but lousy quality on YouTube, so I'll have to look out for that, too.
I like YouTube but I'm getting really annoyed lately by their continually trying to get hold of my mobile phone number and me to use my real name. It was a sad day when Google took over YouTube. Tangent - sorry (but it's a sore point).
I watched another from my 'Ghost Stories for Christmas' box set, last night - Stigma.
I wasn't impressed - a quite sketchy storyline and in large part an excuse to get a serious actress to show her breasts. This was 1977 and around that time, I remember, they'd stick bare breasts in almost anything, so I can't say they were to cover the shortfalls in the story; but, that attitude of 'it's legitimate nudity because this is a really serious drama and it's really in context' makes me uncomfortable. So often it's hypocrisy and, of course, it makes you complicit in it. I'm not a prude (oh ye gods - a negatively-loaded cliché if ever there was one - shades of Mary Whitehouse), but I prefer honest, upfront titillation.
#44 - I watched another from ...
I wrote that under the impression I'd already posted here about watching 'The Signalman' - obviously I hadn't, so ...
It really was as good as I remembered. It's faithful to the story - which I read for the first time immediately after watching - no liberties taken at all.
Denholm Elliot was painting the portrait of the signalman with a really subtle brush, as it were - nothing showy or over the top - and his performance convinces me he was perfectly familiar with Dickens's story (though he didn't actually look much like Dickens's signalman; but that's not at all important).
If I have any criticism it's that Bernard Lloyd, who played 'The Traveller' (equivalent of the narrative voice of the written story), wasn't quite up to Elliot's weight in terms of acting (broader brush strokes?). He was perfectly adequate, though, and it seems a bit carping even as I'm writing it.
Reading the story was something else again, though - a tremendous piece of work, I thought. But that's for elsewhere ... actually, I was so impressed I'm working up a post about it for my blog.
But, if you're going to "do" body horror, don't you need a body? I was more impressed by this story than I expected to be, given the reputation of the two modern day stories. Also, I first saw it on YouTube back in the spring. The whole programme had unexpectedly been uploaded and it had the air of an unexpected treat.
It seemed to be a very "70s" story, insofar as a male writer was obviously trying to address "women's issues" and doing it via some familiar ingredients: the domestic round, friction between mother and teenage daughter, unobservant/useless men, haunted bronze age tomb ... well maybe that last one was not quite so familiar (but if it was going to turn up anywhere, it would be in the 1970s!).
The YouTube comments, by the way, were split between surprise at actual bare breasts on YouTube, and indignation at the cavalier treatment of an archeological site. It must be the influence of Time Team.
Speaking of the seventies and bare this and that on YouTube, Britt Ekland's bottom adds quality to The Wicker Man (1973, with Christopher Lee).
#46, #47 - Now, I've absolutely no problem with the nudity in The Wicker Man - it 'belongs', as it were - I thought the bare breasts in Stigma were just plain contrived. Anyway, if you're putting Christopher Lee in a long wig and a hippy-girl's dress you can surely get away with anything else.
Incidentally, it wasn't really Britt Ekland's bottom.
The story goes that she had no problem at all with showing her breasts, but absolutely refused to show her bottom - didn't like her bottom, apparently. So they waited till she was safely off set one night and secretly sneaked in a stripper and filmed the scene with her. Ekland didn't find out till after filming was finished, and is said to have been furious about it.
Just my curiosity, but I've always been mildly intrigued as to the exact reasons why she was furious. It's not as if the use of body-doubles was unusual.
The irony is that the scene has become iconic in a 'laddish' kind of way and 'Britt Ekland's' bottom has been referenced in a number of Brit comedy shows and so forth.
Back to Stigma: I must be 'Time-Teamed', too - my first thought was, "Whoa! They can't do that to an archaeological site!"
And what about the onions? I'm going to have to watch it again to try to work out the onions - they've been niggling at me.
Really, must've been wicked cunning editing, she's shown mostly in full figure! Splendid bottom whozeverz it was, though. Deserved billing of its own.
I would have mentioned The Wicker Man a long time ago, but I thought it might be too obvious a choice in such well-informed company. I went for Blood on Satan's Claw as the No. 2 '1970s British folk-horror classic'.
The BBC's 'Ghost Stories for Christmas' had some competition in 1974. Two TV films that aired over the Christmas holiday on the commercial ITV network have been brought out on DVD, under the umbrella title 'Haunted".
They consist of 50-minute adaptations of 'The Ferryman' by Kingsley Amis and 'Poor Girl' by 'the other' Elizabeth Taylor (At Mrs Lippincote's, etc.).
'The Ferryman' is clearly an offshoot of Amis' novel The Green Man, in that a novelist who has written a successful 'literary' horror novel (the counterpart to The Green Man) finds himself living in the setting of his novel.
'Poor Girl' is about an Edwardian governess taking up a post in a house where there are
unspoken tensions ("not in front of the servants")between the master of the house and his wife, and their son is creepily knowing (Echoes of 'The Turn of the Screw' here).
In truth, I don't think these are as successful as the best of the BBC films, but my guess would be that it's because of the inherent difficulty in dramatising modern fiction. What works on the page may be too allusive and ambiguous to be easily dramatised, and on the other hand, what would be a throwaway line of dialogue on the page can clumsily signpost the way the whole plot is to unfold when spoken by an actor. 'Poor Girl' suffers from the first problem, 'The Ferryman' from the second.
Region 2 PAL DVD, 100 minutes duration (no extras) from Network DVD.
One of the blogs I've started following has put up some screen grabs and a brief appreciation of the BBC Ghost Story for Christmas 'A Warning to the Curious'. Lovely!
(there's a small mistake - the story was shot on 16mm film, not videotape).
Happy Christmas, all!
Please don't think me too much of nit-picker, but clarification of thought -- and language -- is always in order. Since when does "Gothic" equal "horror" equal "ghost"? Of-course, I remember what happened to Socrates when he bugged people once too often about defining their terms, and I'm certainly no Socrates. Anyway, the films of Louis Feuillade richly replay investigation -- when they can be found. Happy trembling, friends -- and of-course, Happy Christmas!
While I would have preferred it if the word had remained reserved for things pertaining to Ostrogoths and Visigoths (and, if need be, their language), the word "Gothic" has a long tradition of spinning out of control.
Well, in defence of ghosts, one appears (and a giant one, at that) in The Castle of Otranto.
Feuilade's Fantomas and Les Vampires are available on DVD in the UK. The way the camera holds still on a scene for minutes on end, no cuts, and suddenly something genuinely startling happens, is almost like watching CCTV footage. It's curious that something from so early in cinema history can anticipate something so ubiquitous today.
>57 No one said there can't be ghosts. It's just that something having ghosts doesn't mean that it's Gothic.
Interesting topic, the meaning of Gothic, and it various variations and loose usage.
housefulofpaper, The Swan River Press discussion on Longsword by Thomas Leland, first published in 1762, included the claim that Longsword qualifies as a gothic novel that pre-dates The Castle of Ontranto by two years. It has an evil Monk.
Albert Power, the editor, gave a brief definition of what he considered to be gothic which included family secrets, revenge or some such motivation, and a medieval setting, amongst other things. The supernatural was not an essential ingredient in his opinion.
By the way, a very Gothic Christmas to one and all.
To my mind, a big part of the problem when defining "Gothic" is that, like "natural philosophy" it has been refined and subdivided over the years (natural philosophy into physics, chemistry, biology, etc.; Gothic into suspense, thrillers, horror, ghost stories, etc.)
In both cases it's difficult to say what if anything is left as "pure" Gothic or "pure" natural philosophy (maybe it's easier in the latter case, if a case could be made for the kind of theoretical physics where it is impossible to test the theories by experimentation because the resources needed are so huge - although I suppose it could be counter-argued that this is a practical rather than philosophical distinction).
For cinema, it must be even more difficult what constitutes an example of "pure" Gothic because literary Gothic had begun subdividing into the various genres before the new medium of film was out of its infancy.
I don't think the presence of the supernatural necessarily lessens a work's claim to be Gothic: surely the 1981 adaptation of Peter Straub's Ghost Story is "more Gothic" than, say, Get Carter (both involve revenge and family secrets).
The reason I've posted about ghosts recently is that these are the DVD releases that I was excited about, or that caught my eye and that I thought others would be interested in hearing about.
I'd be interested in hearing about what other members of this Group would consider to be a Gothic film.
After all that, I'm no longer sure what a "Gothic Christmas" would be ; ) - so I'll settle for wishing you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous one.
>60 There are sub-genres of Gothic, yes, but they all still must have the specific elements that define "Gothic." Just because something has a ghost in it, that does not define it as Gothic. Yes, plenty of Gothic works (since the beginning) have had some supernatural elements, but again, that is not what defines it as Gothic. Wiki provides a list of elements that make up Gothic works on the Gothic fiction page, if you're curious. Also this site on Gothic novels (which was one of the sources on Wiki) has some good information as well.
Thanks for those links. I think you'd agree that the Wiki list of elements needs to be treated with some care. There are unquestionably Gothic works that don't include all of those elements, and no doubt works that few (or none) would define as Gothic, that do include one or more of them. The main article talks about the English Gothic works of the 18th Century, parallel works in other languages, and subsequent works that developed from or borrowed from the Gothic. The Gothic novels site uses a much more restricted definition.
My feeling is that any attempts to define the Gothic, and say what works are or are not Gothic based on that definition, can only be a quasi-legal exercise and not definitive.
Some of the works we've looked at here, including Arabian Tales and Pulp Science Fiction, are arguably the more interesting for being on the borderline of Gothic. Considering them perhaps helps to sharpen a personal sense of 'the Gothic' - but only, I think, a personal one and not definitive.
No ghosts in this one ; )
The Seventh Victim (1943)
I think this might be my favourite of the horror films that Val Lewton produced in the '40s. It's at least as much film noir as gothic horror. The set up is that a teenage boarder at a fee-paying school (Mary, played by Kim Hunter) has no other family than her wealthy older sister. Mary discovers in the space of a few minutes that her sister has been missing for months, and that the school fees have not been paid. This propels Mary into the dangerous outside world in an attempt to find her sister.
It's still an enclosed world, though, as one character explains to Mary: "Manhattan is only nine miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide. I ain't never been off it. I know it like you know your own back yard". And visually it's all a succession of rooms connected by dark corridors, dark streets, the subway.
The story weaves its various strands of Chandlerish detection, popular Freudianism, genuine old-style gothic horrors, familiar Lewton tropes (including nerve-racking "night walk"), Hollywood romance (although - I suppose due to the War as much as the film's budget - the male lead actors aren't, let's be blunt, as handsome as one would expect from Hollywood's golden age) and, famously and surprisingly (in the days of the Hayes Code), a secret society of devil-worshippers as the villains, and most surprising of all, a persistent thread of morbid lust for death. This runs from the opening shot - a quotation from Donne in a stained glass window to the last shot of the film - which I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't seen it.
Scandalously, Lewton's films are still not all available in the UK, but this one be had on DVD (budget price, no extras, sadly).
How could we have forgotten Luis Bunuel's incomparable VIRIDIANA, with the yummylicious Novice? Lola, you suprise me! -- G
Anybody ever seen Polanski's THE TENANT? With its themes of duality, relative identity, and madness (not to mention some wonderfully lurid, spooky little scenes), I think it qualifies as 'Gothic,' in a sense. I've yet to meet anybody who has ever seen this, which is a pity, because it's one of my absolute favorite films...
I know I am pushing definitions here, but if any of you have the chance to catch Bette Davis in DEAD RINGER, you might be surprised. Or as the The Two Thousand Year-Old Man would have said, "t'rilled and delighted". Happy shudders, -- Goddard
I own--and ADORE--Dead Ringer! I'm a great fan of all those 'psycho-biddy' films. And I don't find you to be pushing definitions: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte are probably as archetypal as Gothic film can get... :)
#65 - Not only am I another who's never seen 'The Tenant', I'd never even heard of it. Which suprises me a bit as it has pretty high ratings online.
I've got Viridiana and The Tenant to watch on DVD (the UK's only remaining high street retailer has been on the brink of collapse since the start of the year. New stock dried up, and for a brief period they found interesting stuff from - somewhere - to fill the gaps on their shelves. That's how I got these films). And I recorded Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte from TCM around Christmas time. (That's the UK version of TCM.)
On the question of "Gothic - yes or no?", what about "Old Dark House" films (or movies, if you prefer)? I would guess that James Whale's The Old Dark House (1932) would be on most people's lists, but how many others? What prompted the question is, in part, the recent UK DVD release of The House in Nightmare Park, a film from 1972 starring (of all people to make an appearance in this forum) the comedian Frankie Howerd. (The US title was Night of the Laughing Dead and it was recut; at the very least, the pre-credits sequence was discarded and a new title sequence filmed).
Last Halloween, the discussion turned to the BBC's 1979 adaptation of 'Schalken the Painter', and its unavailability on DVD or - dare it be hoped - Blu-ray.
Well, the British Film Institute (the BFI) has launched a thing ... not just a 4-month season at the South Bank, but open air screenings around the country, books, DVD and Blu-ray releases. And the subject is Gothic: the dark heart of film.
On the BFI website, a DVD (and, I think, Blu-ray) release of 'Schalken the Painter' is promised.
I hope their website can be viewed outside the UK. Here is the link:
Or not. Let's try this page:
I don't know why that didn't work...I think you get most of the way there with that first link, now.
Does it all work now? Weird...
Thanks for the heads-up on that, houseful. There's a lot of very interesting stuff in there.
Am I'm definitely looking forward to that book, Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film .
#70 houseful, the first link gave me an error message stating the site could not be found. The second link was perfect and I was able to view it from Dublin without any difficulty.
The one problem I do have is that I will not be near any of the venues when the films are showing.
BTW I watched Polanski's "The Tenant" last night. Very well done, both eerie and, in parts, hilarious.
Today I am introducing my older son and his girlfriend to the original Nosferatu. After that we will watch...Shadow of the Vampire.
My wife is away so I have some control over the day's activities. ;-)
Thank you for posting the BFI Gothic link. The trailer was great with memories of old movies watched with my family in the 1960s coming to the surface.
#72 - Oh yes! I meant to mention that trailer in #71 and forgot. Good fun and nostalgic.
Thanks. to be honest, the screenings aren't necessarily the most enticing thing for me either (certainly not the open-air ones - have you looked at the do's and don'ts for the British Museum screenings, for instance?). In any case, I'm not a BFI member.
That lovely trailer (which is also on YouTube, by the way) reminded me of quite a few films that deserve to be seen again (or in some cases, to be seen for the first time, like Night and the Hunter, which I recently got on DVD, or Eyes Without a Face, which I must have recorded onto VHS video from a TV screening nearly two decades ago.
Has anyone seen Dark Shadows? The trailer gave a silly impression, but I'm thinking of giving it a shot anyway.
I watched Dark Shadows on DVD and enjoyed it more than I'd expected, but that may have been because my expectations had been lowered by the poor reviews it gone on its theatrical release. It does admittedly revisit a lot of themes in Burton's earlier work. Like Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice, this one sets a full-on Gothic aesthetic (over-designed, some argue, or a sort of theme park version of Gothic) against a garish, nylon-and-polyester mid-20th century (specifically 1972) America. And it's played for more for laughs than for pathos. In that sense, it's closer to Mars Attacks! than Edward Scissorhands (but not as broad).
One thing that disappointed me was the climax to the film. In essence, it's a big CGI-heavy super-hero fight, which doesn't really fit tonally with what went before and also brought up memories of the 1999 remake of The Haunting.
I imagine if I had fond memories of the original TV series I wouldn't be very happy with Burton's treatment of it.
However, there is a lot going for this film. The cast is excellent. Johnny Depp in particular, I thought, did a great job, all fish-out-of-water, olde-worlde courtliness played throughout with stiff, Max Schreck body language. There are some good funny bits and genuinely creepy images. And there's a Christopher Lee cameo.
Some news - announced last month actually, but I missed it ... Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen; Doctor Who; Sherlock) is writing and directing an adaptation of M. R. James' "The Tractate Middoth" for BBC2, to be broadcast this Christmas.
He's making a documentary about M. R. James too, also to be shown this Christmas (he's been tweeting from various James-related locations in the last few days, during filming).
Just had a weird touch of dyslexia, or something - read the first words as 'Sad news -'. I thought, "Wow! Houseful really doesn't like Mark Gatiss ..."
I think I remember seeing an interesting documentary by him on horror films, so I must watch out for the M. R. James doc.
I've never read The 'Tractate Middoth'! The exclamation mark is quite inadequate, there, to express the notes of aggrievement and surprise in which I'd liked to have written. I've just discovered I've been tripped-up yet again by my creation of a 'Long term reading' collection. I've been putting things - especially anthologies and 'collecteds' - in there and then completely forgetting about them - I have a hard enough time keeping track of my 'Currently reading'! I've just checked and I've still got James, Hawthorne, Bierce, Poe and Lovecraft in there - only the gods know how many unread stories - not to mention some more 'collecteds' (I'm trying not to cause confusion between 'collections', as on LibraryThing, and 'collections', as in 'Collected Works of ...') that I've forgotten to put anywhere. And that's not to mention the physical act of finding the things in the chaos around here - just been hunting and the M. R. James has gone AWOL. Must buy more bookcases.
After your previous post I'd meant to put Dark Shadows on my 'to see' list over on Amazon (just done it) - I've quite liked what Tim Burton stuff I've seen in the past. Having said that, I've just been looking on IMDb and I'm surprised to find that he wasn't the director of A Nightmare Before Christmas - always the first thing to my mind when someone mentions Tim Burton. Perhaps something about the boundaries between producer and director blurring?
Incidentally, on IMDb, to me the cast and crew of Dark Shadows look a lot creepier in the pics of the premier than they do in the movie stills.
Now I feel guilty about writing that - is Michelle Pfeiffer an LT member, I wonder, and reading the Gothic Lit forum? Apologies ma'am (just in case).
(sighs) It's not easy being me.
Hello - good to hear from you again! I ought to put on record that I have high regard for Mr Gatiss (indeed, for all members of the League...).
I think the thing about A Nightmare Before Christmas is that it's very much Tim Burton's vision, but he needed Henry Selick's skill as a stop-motion director to bring it to life. Burton's early career was in drawn 2-D animation.
I can definitely empathise with you over the unread books and inaccessible stuff, especially as I'm currently redecorating (slowly) and have one empty room and the others looking ripe for a reality TV show about hoarders.
#79 - Hello - good to hear from you again!
Yes, it is getting quiet around here, lately. Perhaps The Gothic is more a pursuit for the winter and the darker evenings?
The nearest I am at the moment is the 'Globe Theatre On Screen' DVD of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. I'm not sure if it counts as Gothic but it's 'in the same ball-park'. Haven't watched it yet - I'm saving it for the weekend.
Oddly enough, I've seen it on stage and, of course, I have the text (and a DVD of Gounod's opera), but I don't remember that I've ever seen a screen version, even on telly.
I seem to remember the Burton-Taylor version doesn't have much of a critical reputation. The part of Helen of Troy was increased (from a walk-on!) for Taylor. I wonder if it would have worked if she'd played Mephistopheles? I did see a little of the film on TV a few years ago. The look of it was a lot like the original "Star Trek" when it did Gothic - a lot of lurid red and purple lighting. Maybe this was just at the end though. It may have been a scene set in Hell.
I also saw excerpts played in - I think - an open-air theatre (not the Globe, as far as I can recall; it was filmed too long ago) and recorded for the Open University. This was back when OU programmes were shown on TV. It wasn't all calculus!
Good grief, I haven't read the play for 20 years. I do recall feeling that it consisted of a wonderful beginning - the initial scenes between Faustus and Mephistopheles; a wonderful ending - Faustus's long monologue during his last night; but the middle is just trivial knockabout stuff. Of course I can see the reason behind it, it shows Faustus squandering both his God-given and his infernal gifts, but even so it seems to weaken the play as a work of art (or maybe I was a bit precious 20 years ago and wanted my art to be high-flown and poetical; or again maybe I couldn't appreciate that what lies dead on the page comes alive on the stage. I've never seen a live performance, so I can't make a judgement there).
Funnily enough, I was talking about Richard Burton in The Medusa Touch at work today. Although, I doubt it's a film he'd like to be remembered by, particularly.
UK Amazon is advertising a Bfi, two-disc set of the 1977, BBC series 'Supernatural', to be released on November 18th (in the UK, at least - couldn't find it on US Amazon, sorry).
This sounds as if it would have been right up my street (there's an excellent, detailed and lengthy review if you scroll down a bit from the other end of the link), yet I have no memories of it at all - either of seeing it or hearing about it. It was obviously on when I had more interesting things to do than watch telly - wish I could remember what they were! Anyway, it's tempting enough that I did the pre-order thing.
I would have been 10 years old when this was transmitted, but I had no memory of it either (mind you I wasn't a "horror kid" then, I was into Science Fiction and Super Hero comics at the time, plus a new BBC drama series could come and go without a lot of hoopla in those days).
However I've since found out a bit about the series. It gets a favourable mention (and a b/w still) in Jonathan Rigby's English Gothic: a century of horror cinema. A couple of years after reading that book, a copy of the novelisation of Supernatural turned up in my local Oxfam bookshop.
As Rigby puts it, the stories/individual episodes offer "clever speculations on the origins of the main Gothic stereotypes." Rather like the US miniseries of a few years earlier, Frankenstein: the true story, the 1977 Supernatural present a spin on the old stories as, well, as the true stories.
#83 - 'As Rigby puts it, the stories/individual episodes offer "clever speculations on the origins of the main Gothic stereotypes." Rather like the US miniseries of a few years earlier, Frankenstein: the true story, the 1977 Supernatural present a spin on the old stories as, well, as the true stories.'
Ah. I'd been wondering what, exactly, the reviewer I mentioned - 'peter41' - meant by 'original back stories and human interest elements'. That gets me even more eager to see them.
I found some info on the career of the series' screenwriter, Robert Muller - http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/902572/.
Given what I'd read about the series, I suspected he might have been a fiction writer as well. I found Supernatural: Haunting Stories of Gothic Terror was published in the same year as the series was released, but most of the editions on LT have him as editor rather than author. On the obvious questions - Did he author the book? Which came first, book or series? - I can't find answers.
Actually, though the author list needs cleaning up - there seem to be a number of writers of the same name lumped together - he was definitely a novelist - http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0014_0_14363.html - so it's a pretty fair assumption that he wrote the short stories, too.
And I only came online to check the local weather forecast and now it's ten-past-ten and I haven't even had my breakfast yet. Got carried away again, didn't I?
The cover of the Fontana paperback just has Robert Muller's name without any modifiers or additions, but the title page says "Devised and Edited by Robert Muller".
Here's what the contents page says:
"Dorabella or In Love with Death" by Robert Muller Adapted by Rosemary Timperley
"Lady Sybil or The Phantom of Black Gables" by Robert Muller Adapted by Mary Danby
"Heirs or The Workshop of Filthy Creation" by Robert Muller Adapted by Brian Leonard Hayles
"Countess Ilona or The Werewolf Reunion" by Robert Muller Adapted by Roger Malisson
"Viktoria or The Hungarian Doll" by Sue Lake Adapted by the author
"Mr Nightingale or Burning Masts" by Robert Muller Adapted by the author
"Gall or Ghost of Venice" by Robert Muller Adapted by Rosemary Timperley
I think it's clear that Supernatural was at least as much Robert Muller's baby as (say) The X-Files was Chris Carter's. He wrote all but one of the original "teleplays". The TV series came before the book. He only wrote one of the adaptations.
As an aside (or two), I assume Mary Danby is the anthologist who co-edited the "Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories" series, while Brian Leonard Hayles must be the screenwriter who created the Ice Warriors for "Doctor Who".
#85 - Thanks for that, houseful.
Actually, I couldn't resist ordering a copy on Amazon - like I need any more unread books around here! It was just 1p plus postage, so ...
Speaking of Amazon: because I've pre-ordered the DVD set, a DVD of John Wayne's 'Red River' has appeared on my 'Recommended for you' list. I'm not even going to try to work that one out.
I'm never sure whether to be relieved or alarmed when those algorithms get it wrong. It's not that I think the computers know something about me that I don't, it's the worry that anybody who sees the results will assume that they do.
It's not that I think the computers know something about me that I don't, it's the worry that anybody who sees the results will assume that they do.
Rest assured, it's the same technology supermarket chains use with their loyalty cards data. Oh!, and Yes, it's the same technology the US security agencies use to interpret people's library loans and purchases to identify potential security risks and to direct surveillance.
I was up to my uxters in these systems (from a supermarket loyalty card viewpoint, honest) when I read Philip K Dick's Minority Report. Having finished the book I thought, "Why would one need pre-cogs, the sales data tells all."
It is quite scary how much one can deduce from these massive amounts of data and how behaviour can be influenced on-foot of that knowledge.
Of course, your comment, "the worry that anybody who sees the results will assume that they do." is the key that opens the door of error.
And just in time is CNN's report on "Big Data" and what it knows about us. And how often they get it wrong...
That, I hope, is a link the 19 September edition of Night Waves on BBC Radio 3. It was a broadcast from the British Film Institute (BFI) and is a panel discussion about The Innocents, Jack Clayton's 1961 adaptation of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw".
I imagine it was a pre-screening talk, although the events timetable for September is no longer on the BFI website, so I can't check.
I listened to that when broadcast, but had forgotten about it till I read #90. I found it quite interesting (though I've never read the film or seen the book).
As I remember, there was rather more focus on the actual film and its making than the 'Sound of Cinema' series title would suggest - which much added to the interest.
I was intrigued to hear Peter Wyngarde on the programme - I hadn't heard or seen anything of him in years. An actor misfortunate (or not - don't know) to be indelibly associated in the minds of Brits over a certain age with 'Mexican' moustaches, curly perms, medallions, flared trousers ...
ETA - from the bottom of the webpage:
The Innocents is re-released by the BFI as part of GOTHIC: The Dark Heart of Film in selected UK cinemas on Friday 13 December 2013, certificate 12A.
Also, looking at the pictures, Wyngarde's still got that 'tache (though, like so many of us, no longer the luxuriant locks).
Casting around for a way to mark Hallowe'en this evening, I decided to watch my DVD of 'The Haunting' (original version) - haven't watched it for several years.
It's STILL one of the best and scariest horror films I've ever seen. One of the best Gothic mansions, to.
Yes! It lives up to the description in the book (I'm quoting from memory): "The house was vile."
Now it's Ettington Park Hotel (the interiors were studio sets, of course).
Looking on the Web, I see that, despite the luxury makeover, the building still boasts (I suppose that's the right word) a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Britain.
#93 - It's actually rather warmly beautiful - all that honey-coloured Cotswold stone. It's much creepier-looking in black and white. Have a look here at a pair of photos from roughly the same viewpoint.
It does look much friendlier in daylight. Actually - the image looks a bit squashed and distorted in the top picture. If that's how it looked in the film, maybe Robert Wise or his Director of Photography used a special lens to make the building appear creepier.
The black and white is taken from a somewhat lower viewpoint - there seems to be a definite slope to the forecground - I'm not sure if this makes it 'loom' a bit more?
#81 - I seem to remember the Burton-Taylor version doesn't have much of a critical reputation ... I wonder if it would have worked if she'd played Mephistopheles?
Over the weekend I watched Helen Mirren playing 'Prospera' in The Tempest and it reminded me of your suggestion. I think Taylor and Burton missed a trick, there.
I think we've touched often in these threads on Shakespeare as forerunner of the Gothic - plenty of the elements are there in The Tempest (I'm talking about the play in general, here).
Haven't really made up my mind about this DVD at the moment, though - need to watch it again.
I actually treated myself to a bunch of DVDs, including 'Viridiana' (#64, #69). Haven't watched that yet, though. One I did watch was Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.
Does it qualify for mention in a Gothic film thread? I think so ...
What's it about? Err ... ummm ... well ... the thing is ... there's this young girl and ... ummm ... there are possibly vampires - or possibly not ... and there's a polecat-ferret masquerading as a weasel which may or may not be - well, I'm not sure really ... and there are dubious priests or monks or there may not be ... I spotted a theorbo towards the end - I'm always happy to see a theorbo - but that's off-topic ... and there's a cobwebby inside of a clocktower - I think (it may be down a dark stairway) ... chickens have a hard time of it ... there are sinister family secrets - or, there may be, anyway ... there are definitely more cultural references than you can shake a stick at ...
Okay, I don't know what it's about, but it was quite fascinating - going to have to watch it a few more times (having said that, I find 'Celine and Julie Go Boating' fascinating, but I've been re-watching that for years and still haven't figured it out, so don't hold your breath on this one - that's not a random tangent, by the way, there are some parallels). A lot of it is quite beautiful to watch, to.
If you started off with a traditional Gothic tale and then accidentally lived through the sixties and went to a lot of happenings and stuff and thoroughly earned yourself the traditional scrambled-memory and so on, and only then got round to making a film of your tale, you might end up with something like 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders'. Possibly.
#98 - When I wrote that last paragraph I'd temporarily forgotten the film was made in 1970 - so it's right of that time, really. Not noticeably dated, though, which is probably why I forgot.
The Hauntological crowd are very fond of this film (the term originates with Jacques Derrida and puns on "ontological", I understand. The current meaning seems to have settled on a nostalgia among British 40-somethings for '70s "folk horror" and Radiophonic music: the sights and sounds of '70's television - with forays further afield, such as here, into Czech surrealism).
The source is a novel by Víezslav Nezval. It's a surrealist novel that uses the props and tropes of Gothic in a similar way to Max Ernst's use of 19th century commercial and magazine engravings in his "surrealistic novel in college" Une Semainé de Bonté. The cover of the Twisted Spoon edition makes this point with an Ernst-style collage.
#100 - I've occasionally come across those strange collages down the years and often wondered where they came from - now I know! Yet another one to go in the wish list ...
Incidentally, there's a regularly recurring march tune in 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders' that I defy any viewer to get out of their head in less than twenty-four hours - just can't stop myself humming and whistling it.
#82 to #86 - The 'Supernatural' box-set turned up a couple of mornings ago and I watched the first two or three (the second and third episodes are one story) last night.
I wasn't overly impressed with the first one, 'Ghost of Venice'. I wasn't bored, but, somehow or other, the story didn't seem to flow very well. Also, I wasn't sure Robert Hardy, who was the main actor, fitted very well in the piece. It's possible the main character, Galt, an actor, was intended to be a bit hammy, but I thought Hardy was a bit unintentionally hammy.
The next story, spread over the episodes 'Countess Ilona' and 'The Werewolf Reunion', I thought rather good; not great telly, perhaps, but pretty good stuff. In this case, Ian Hendry was rather better at hamming it up - very much an ensemble piece, though, nobody was really the main character. One or two quirks, though - if anyone's seen it and could explain to me what the hell the countess kept doing with her manservant's gloved hand ...
I'd actually forgotten
I need to order a copy. This month's other BFI Gothic releases - The Thorold Dickinson version of Gaslight, and (hooray!) Schalcken the Painter, were in HMV yesterday. They're not there any more...
Sold out that quickly? That's interesting.
My local HMV is long gone - victim of the recession - makes me feel a bit guilty about buying so much online.
I think I can recommend 'Supernatural'. I watched three more stories last night and I can at least say that it's quite entertaining - and I don't get any sense of formula or 'sameyness' about the stories - they're quite varied. And there are good actors* giving good performances. You notice that it's quite studio-bound, but I'm not sure that's actually a minus - for me, at least, it gave a quite nostalgic, 'period' feel which I liked - or even a touch of the stage.
I was a little surprised to see John Osborne in 'Lady Sybil' - I'd forgotten he was also an actor.
ETA - *I meant, of both sexes - I was long paused over that by the treachery of language in a politically-correct age, then I was guilty of imprecision!
I've run into another of those dead ends I occasionally seem to hit when I think I've found an interesting writer.
It's been a while since I finished watching and reading the 'Supernatural' stuff and I've realised that the stand-out one for me now, both the TV prog and the more subtle, short story version, is 'Viktoria'.
I hadn't really taken on board at the time that this is different from the other stories by being both screen-written and adapted to short story by someone other than Robert Muller - Sue Lake (though I should have, because it says so in black and white up in houseful's post at #85).
I don't want to say she was a 'better' writer than Muller and the others - I'd have to watch and read the whole lot again to make up my mind on that - but she seemed at least to have been a more ambitious writer, in that she was seeking to engage with, or at least reacting to, topical concerns. There's a sub-text of male and female homosexuality.
To be honest, her treatment might be a bit problematic; I don't want to go into that, though - not least because, at this distance in time, I have no clear memory of the 'state of play' of our culture's attitude to such things in 1977, and I have way too much reading going on at the moment to take time out to research it.
My point is that I imagined she was 'pushing the envelope' of her brief on this series and, so, she caught my attention enough for me to want to find out more about her.
I can't. Apart from a handful of screenwriting jobs between '75 and '81 she seems to have no online existence at all. And the one job, 'Triangle' where she might have had a fair amount of work - 'unknown episodes', so I don't know how much - I seem to remember as rather soapy.
It's annoying. I started off thinking I might have found a promising short story writer; now I'm wondering if she might not have been a hack and I'm wondering if the subtext might not have been part of her brief after all - some producer or executive's idea to 'spice up' the series a bit. It does seem a little odd to have a script by a different writer stuck in the middle of what was clearly Muller's pigeon.
I'm wondering if 'Sue Lake' might have been a nom-de-plume and she more active under another name. It seems difficult to believe in a writer simply not writing, but I suppose there could be all sorts of reasons for that to be so.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.