What’s Gothic?

by kubular

Just a quick one this evening.

Been reading Art of Darkness: The Cinema of Dario Argento (edited by Chris Gallant – FAB Press, Surrey, October 2001) and the second chapter In the Mouth of the Architect: Inferno, alchemy and the postmodern Gothic starting on p21. It starts out by quickly sumarising how problematic defining what is Gothic. Admittedly, this is something that I’ve found myself struggling with often, and the first couple of pages more or less followed my thought process exactly (but better read).

The highlight is when it references the venerable Peter Hutchings from “Sage, Victor/Lloyd Smith, Alan: Modern Gothic (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1996), p89″. That’s Gallant’s reference, fyi. I don’t always agree with Peter but on this he pretty much marks the spot.

Quote from Art of Darkness:

Peter Hutchings has observed that ‘horror’ is frequently identified as “a vulgarised, exploitative version of Gothic” and that ‘Gothic horror’ cinema is often perceived as a genre or sub-genre which draws on the iconography of medievalism and feudalism (Roger Corman’s Poe films, for instance, or the Argento/Soavi collaboration The Church). Hutchings extends his argument to the slasher films of the 70s and 80s, with their emphasis upon the consequences of a repressed, hidden or forgotten past (the hit-and-run accident in I Know What You Did Last Summer, to cite a recent example) and the transformation of the familiar, domestic environment into a dark, alien space concealing imagined terrors, vengeful assailants or the threat of unfamiliar sexuality.